My priorities in life right now have been challenging, rewarding, and costly. I could write pages upon pages about how each one applies but I’ll just give you one example. My lack of free time due to my daily challenge of being a good scientist by day and then putting on my cheesy cape at night have costed this blog, to say the least. I think of a story a day at least that I would love to sit down and share with you all but it always seems to be the thing I never get to. Running through labs and grilling up cheese take a toll on a man and I haven’t found my little block of time to slice out and serve you up some better stories.
Do not cry for me, my fromage friends. The rewards lately have been great as well. In this past year I have won $20,000 as the boldest man in America (go ask Bull’s Eye BBQ Sauce), worked alongside countless chefs and cooks and carts at countless events and fairs and fundraisers with countless people to meet and serve, hosted a few private dinners that went Beyond my Dreams while going Behind the Cart, and turned the ripe age of 30 with a smile on my face for all of this. Although I believe health and happiness is all we need, I can definitely say I am grateful for all these extra wonderful things that have come about in my life and the beautiful and talented people it has exposed me to.
I know my daily posts and twerpy tweets will never do justice in sharing some of these great moments with you and I apologize. Hopefully one day we will see a novel/recipe book entitled “The Cheese Stands Alone” or “Queesy: The Life of the Grilled Cheese Gay” or something along those lines. So, just like that one month where I tried to post everyday during National Grilled Cheese month or that other time where I tried to write a story-a-day about Berkeley (and did 15 which is half….give me that), this time I am just going to haul ass through some of the recent highlights that have been going on in the grilled cheese game and brie-yond.
I guess the most important one to mention is that time I was head chef and running the show for Grilled Cheese Night at Old Skool Cafe. Back in April I thought it would be fun to have a Pop-Up event where I could show off my recipe entries for this year’s Grilled Cheese Invitational. What a great idea right? Just have a simple little menu with 2 soups, 2 salads, 2 pickle types, 4 sandwiches, 2 desserts, and a cheese plate. Pssssssssht. I got this.
Don’t let those happy and optimistic faces fool you.
That night made me realize why food as reality TV is priceless and why Gorden Ramsey is a star. Because I had my Gorden Ramsey moment that night. I had my complete breakdown, scream at the top of my lungs at my buddy/line cook, and pretty much lose my shit right from the start. Well, actually not right from the start, because that morning really started outside when a person opened their door and tore open the front panel of my car while pulling up. That tense and slightly scary situation was the real bad omen to the start of that day and we never really recovered. A soup mistake to end all soup mistakes was made in the kitchen. I never realized some of the eclectic ways my fellow cooks thought a tomato soup could actually be made. So after the car and the soup came the actual challenge of running a full scale restaurant night with staff and servers and special requests and all that other sh(t you can never really prepare for. Although many think these Pop-Up events are super cool and seem easy, you have to realize it is like starting up a restaurant and just doing Opening Night. Who the hell has a good opening night for a restaurant. That’s the night that you learn your oven doesn’t fit that many dishes, your staff doesn’t really know the menu well, and so on. Despite the opening night problems, and I know there were, I was happy to see a good amount of smiles at tables and even had a fan ask to take a picture with me after their meal. Will I do it again? Damn skippy. But as much more of a humbled cook and captain of my grilled cheese crew.
For the kitchen is a wild place that must be tamed and prettied up before it’s released into the civilized side that is the front of the house. We still came out alive. A big thanks to all my friends, cooks, servers, and others at Old Skool Cafe who helped to make that night what it is. I hope everyone also enjoyed Dum Spiro Spero.
Oh, and I did smile and have a pretty good time here and there. Don’t let me fool yo. But that Ramsey moment, that was something……..
Next up this week (and possibly weeks later):
The Story behind the Story Behind the Re-Opening of Hibiscus in Oakland!
The 2012 Grilled Cheese Invitational. The true test of my cheese factor….
Florida. New York. New Jersey. The food revolutions going on there as compared to here!
Turning 30. How to Survive!
Outstanding in the Field. My first and still favorite pop-up dinner in the US of A’s.
Fleur de Lys, Family Style.
and much more!
In the meantime, make sure to mark your calendar for the return of the New Taste Marketplace on June 23rd at St. Gregory’s Church in Potrero Hill. If you didn’t hear the news, I’m the director of the event now and it is just another thing costing me my time, but the reward is truly great, and not just for me. Come try over 20+ local vendors food from 12-5 and be amazed and filled. I was a loyal vendor there for a long time and look forward to bringing it back to the masses. Feel free to follow us on Facebook or Twitter to find out more and see a list of vendors! We are always looking for more as well!