March 27, 2012

The New Normal

I've been back in LA for about 10 days now, and I'm catching up on the last few days of my trip. I'll put them in chronological order on the date they occurred, rather than the date I'm writing them, so do check back and read everything. I'm also planning on inserting some short videos here and there once they are squashed down to a reasonable size, as well as some epilogue-type entries to collect my thoughts on a great trip.

Thanks again to everyone who made it possible.


March 09, 2012

I Am A Stubborn SOB

Most guidebooks, most Spainards, most anyone that's been to Spain, will advise against foreigners driving in Spain. Having now completed the driving portion of my trip, I must say I agree with them. I spent a lot of time being frustrated, cussing myself out, cussing out the designers of the streets and roadways, going many km out of the way, down one road just to have to backtrack. Then cussing myself out more. Mind you, I have a fairly decent sense of direction. Beyond that, I also have a compass with me. I also have maps and directions. But a good deal of the areas I was driving in do not label their streets nor building numbers. It was a poor choice on my part.

But I did it anyway. Because I am a stubborn SOB. And I got to see some things and do a few things that I would not have been able to had I gone the more prudent, more relaxing, more economical train tracks.

But I do not recommend it. Seriously. Just go to a more convenient restaurant. One that's closer to a train line. Or a bus line.

Respectfully yours,

May 21, 2010

I'm Bad. I'm Nationwide!*

This is weird and funny and sorta cool. The last restaurant I where I worked, Huckleberry Cafe and Bakery was just listed as one of the Top 10 Best Places for Fried Chicken by Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appetit magazine. It's a nationwide list, and Huck is the only restaurant in LA that is mentioned. I helped develop that recipe! Congratulations to Zoe and Josh.

Here's another article where we got some recognition for the chicken. There's a photo if you scroll down a bit. Top Fried Chicken in Los Angeles on Thanks, Josh!

These lists are fraught with problems, but I'll save the modesty for another time. It's just a cool thing to have happen. Woohoo!!

*ZZ Top reference

February 20, 2010

What A Difference A Year Makes...

It's been too long. Much has happened since my last post. As it turns out, Las Vegas wasn't for me. Or at least for the time being. I didn't much enjoy the corporate/casino work situation. I actually was enjoying living in LV - it snowed while I was there, and I drove through the Asiatown twice a day. I still hadn't found a Mexican restaurant that I loved, but new opportunities came calling.

I moved back to LA almost exactly a year ago. I served as a sous chef at a new cafe and bakery, which was one of the most engrossing, demanding, and challenging things I've ever done. I worked hard, did the best I could, and learned a ton. We were fortunate to be very busy, even during hard times for most restaurants. Most of the time, it was just a race to keep up with all the food we were selling. I had a great team of cooks, we figured out a lot of things as they were happening, and the guests seemed to enjoy it. Good times.

At one point, it seemed like I had found a home where I could be for a long time - indefinitely, even. There were some areas of difference of opinion, difference of style, and difference of priorities. At first, it seemed like those differences could be complementary. Ultimately, I decided, it wasn't the right fit for me. I wish them continued success and every happiness.

I spent most of January sitting in my bedroom thinking about all the things I coulda/woulda/shoulda done, but more importantly, all the things I wanna/hafta/will do next.

One of those things is writing more regularly. Perhaps the cliche'd blogger resolution. But there's a multi-pronged plan in the works. More on that as it develops. Thanks for reading.

February 02, 2009

May I Suggest...

It's pledge time at KCRW, and here's a message from Evan Kleinman. Both she and the show are a great source of information for all things food, definitely worthy of any support you can offer.


December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays from LV

I'm still getting settled, but so far, so good. Happy Holidays, and a healthy and prosperous new year to you and yours.

November 14, 2008

What Happens in Vegas...

A few months ago, had someone asked me if I would move to Las Vegas, I probably would have said, "I wouldn't bet on it." I'd already been looking for a new work situation, I was ready for a change, but I was waiting to find the right thing. I would have considered moving, but I hadn't seriously looked anywhere outside of Los Angeles.

But a lot can happen in a couple of months. A friend of mine, with whom I have done lots of catering and teaching, was offered a gig at a plush new hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas. I want to get more experience with opening new restaurants, and in a variety of circumstances. After getting over some hesitations, I am officially bound for Las Vegas.

Although I have a few concerns, it's an amazing situation with lots of resources, lots of upside, good people involved, and sky's the limit potential. Beyond our restaurant, Las Vegas has representation from the best chefs in the world, and there is an audience to support the finest of fine dining - all the way down to $4.99 prime rib. I'll have lots of opportunity to eat and work in some excellent restaurants. There's a lively ethnic food scene as well, with ready access to international ingredients. Although I'll miss being near the ocean, there's apparently lots of recreating do in the foothills surrounding Las Vegas, Lake Mead, etc. For me personally, another draw is the very real possibility of buying a home or a condo, which is completely out of reach in the LA area.

It's so ON!! I've been imagining that clap and wave of empty hands that dealers do in Las Vegas, always accompanied by, "Good Luck."

As per usual, I won't speak about specifics, but I'll continue to post about my experience in Sin City and as a cook. I reserve the right to edit or delete any post or comments that may be too identifiable.

November 05, 2008

A New Day in America

Besides being the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite, and the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, people forget that James Brown was as much of a social/political commentator as Chuck D or Bob Dylan or Bob Marley. JB had it right a long time ago... here are some lyrics from his 1974 song, Funky President.


People, people
We got to get over,
Before we go under
People, people
We got to get over,
Before we go under

Hey, country
Didn't say what you meant
Just changed
Brand new funky President

Stock market going up
Jobs going down
And ain't no funking
Jobs to be found

Taxes keep going up
I changed from a glass
Now I drink out of a paper cup
It's getting bad

People, people
We got to get over
Before we go under

Listen to me
Let's get together and raise
Let's get together
And get some land

Raise our food like the man
Save our money like the Mob
Put up a fight down on the job


Hey, give yourself a
Chance to come through
Tell yourself, I can
Do what you can do

People, people
People, people
Hey, people, people
Don't you see what's going on

People, people
We got to get together
Get on the good foot
Change it, yeah

Got to get together
And get some land
Raise our food just like the man
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey

I got to say it again
We got to get together
And buy some land
Raise our food just like the man
Save our money, do like the Mob
Put up your fight right on the job

We gotta get over
Before we go under
Time's getting short, Lord

Country, do you know
Just what I meant
We just changed, we got
A brand new funky President

I need to be the Mayor
So I could change

Some things around here
I need to be the Governor
I need to be the Governor

Or the President!

July 16, 2008

Under $4.50!

Today, I paid $4.38 per gallon for gasoline, and I felt relieved. Just a few months ago, it was $3.79/gallon and it seemed like an outrage. It's the new f_____ up normal. Oil companies act like they're just reacting to market forces, but they're making record profits. If there's anything that Enron taught us, it's that any market can be manipulated, and people will do anything to line their own pockets. Unfortunately, big business is full of bastards.

They broke through the psychological $4.00 barrier, and it won't be long before they see if $5.00 will fly. At least it serves as motivation toward alternative energy.

By the way, the best strategy for saving money in this situation is to fill your tank when you think that prices will be rising (hoarding at the lower price), and filling only a partial tank if you think the price will be falling (giving prices time to fall, and buying it as it falls).

May 02, 2008

A Word About Links

I like websites where if the discussion is about a thing, there is a hyperlink to a source for that thing, or more information about that thing. To me, that is one of the best aspects about the web. So for your benefit, dear readers, I will now become a link maniac, and try to link just about anything and everything that may or may not make good sense.

As a side benefit to me, I may be able to help out someone else who is peddling their widgets. But far from being completely benevolent, I do have my own interests in mind. I want more books. More gadgets. More stuff.

I think it is unlikely to turn into any significant amount of revenue. But books are books.

Just so everything is on the table and I can cling to a bit of street cred, I am letting y'all know that, where possible, I will be linking things to Amazon, where I have become an associate, and I get a small vig for directing traffic there. After that, I will try to link to a retailer or source that I have used myself. After that, I may or may not link to a source that I have not used.

Where I recommend things, I will try to give an idea of how strong of an endorsement it is, and some sort of context for the recommendation.

I certainly hope that these sources will prove to be reliable and satisfactory for you as well, but let the buyer beware. Your mileage may vary.

July 31, 2007

Speedy Recovery

My sous chef Diana was stung in the foot by a stingray while surfing the other week. The worst pain she ever felt, she said, and she's tougher than me. Already back in the kitchen, too. Heal quickly, D.

A little further afield, I just found out that Chef Grant Achatz from Alinea Restaurant in the Chicago area, has been diagnosed with cancer. I haven't been there yet, but it's fascinating food, with a non-traditional and technological emphasis. I wish him a quick and complete recovery.

April 26, 2007

The Wrong Kind of Egg

Henry Rollins performing with the Rolling band, from

The other day, some friends and I attended a spoken word/comedy concert where Henry Rollins, Marc Maron, and Janeane Garofalo performed. Rollins is an author, TV and radio host, and actor, but many people know him from being in Black Flag and the Rollins Band. It was a great time, and reminded me of the importance of connecting with people and expressing oneself. While each had their own style, they each seemed very in tune with their "instrument" and very much in-the-moment.

Then shortly afterwards, we were standing outside the theater enoying the experience and deciding what to do next when some fratboy-looking, matching set of tiny-brain-and-tiny-genitalia-having dullards whose-mothers-never-actually-wanted-them-nor-loved-them drove by and threw a raw egg which hit me in the arm and exploded all over me.

The universe is funny that way...
...but to end on an up note I'm going to Vegas this weekend!

February 16, 2007

Watch Iconoclasts

Although I've only seen two episodes, I'm an instant fan of a show called Iconoclasts on the Sundance Channel. Each episode is a documentary of two people who are well known in their field, usually in some form adjacent to the arts, but not always. Some are unlikely matchups, some are people who have had a long connection, like Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live and Paul Simon the songwriter. Often they talk about ideas and creativity. I highly recommend it! I'll be trying to catch up on all the ones they've aired so far.

January 21, 2007

Slow Start

Okay, so I'm already not doing very well with posting more often. Working 6 days a week makes it a little harder, but I waste enough time that I should still be able to find the time.

January 12, 2007

Showing Up at the Page

I haven't been posting very much, and I don't like that.

One of the things I'd like to do is to write and post more regularly, because sometimes the mundane stuff has a lot behind it. I'm going to try and post at least every few days, and see how that works out. Just to put some discipline into it and try to write as often as possible, to show up at the keyboard and get some thoughts down.

And by the way, Happy New Year!

December 17, 2006

Happy Holidays 2006

It's hard for me to believe that a year has passed already. Around this time last year, I was in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Good times.

I've been working a lot of hours lately, but Life is Good. I hope you can say the same.

May 25, 2006

New Category: Back of House

I just created a new category on the site called Back of House. This comes from the fact that the simplest segments of restaurants are the Front of the House (the dining room) and the Back of the House (the kitchen). The abbreviations for these are naturally enough, FOH and BOH, so it's common to say Back of House without the article "the." As in, "Fredro is a back of house guy - he doesn't do so well with customers."

There'll be a lot of overlap with the Cooking category, but I wanted to be able to separate the entries about restaurant kitchens from those about food and recipes. Some of the entries I have planned for this category are:
An Unabridged Glossary of Mexican Slang for Cooks
The How's and Why's of a Cook's Uniform
Knives, Spoons, and Gadgets - contents of my knife kit

Thanks for reading-

January 16, 2006


Currently about midnight, Sunday night the 15th of January in Los Angeles, California, USA.

All things considered, fairly smooth flights home. Amy was nice enough to pick me up at the airport. I'm gonna try to force myself to sleep now to get back on the right time.

Thanks for all the kind words. Stay tuned for more entries filling in the blanks and some postscript thoughts about my trip.

[To get back to the beginning, here's a link to the start of the walkabout.]

November 12, 2005

A word about chronology

It seems that I'm making two types of entries - brief ones that are entered on the fly, and longer ones that are created later, with pictures and descriptions. What I think makes sense is to insert the entries where they belong in time, instead of when I got around to creating the entry. So the quick entries will have their real timestamp, like 8:17am, and the inserted ones will be an arbitrary timestamp, like 9:00pm - whatever it takes to put the entries in order. Forgive me if I jump back and forth between the present and past tense.

Unfortunately, this means that until I catch up, new entries may occur further down on the page, or even directly to an archive page. I'll put in links in to make it easier to find entries as I create them.

For example, I just posted Day 2 from the Tsukiji Fish Market. Warning: lots of photos. Also, I added some linkage to discussion of my monjyayaki dinner on November 5th.

As you were.