home brewing
i have zero concept for who reads this, which is for the best since i write better thinking that it’s just me. it’s the whole “dance like no one’s watching”, but with a keyboard and some pixels. i’ve been as lazy as ever, in terms of writing and keeping myself busy away from work. while that has been inconsistent, i’ve been steady in my search for really good beer. i’m at a point where most of what i find is good or better, and so the thrill is fading a bit. i’ll always be glad to tip a nice pint, but i’ve been looking for something else to get the blood pumping for a while. and so, it makes sense that since i’ve been intermittently reading about home brewing for the last couple of years, that i would finally get over the fear of fucking up twenty litres of beer and try my hand at it. 
let’s be clear: this is not an effort to save money. i’m interested in learning how to make my very own good beer, and there isn’t a hope in hell i’ve got the patience to work through 20 litres of anything before moving on to the next. this is good news for people who know me well enough to capitalize on the impending overstock. i’ll probably sit on 25% of it for myself, and the rest will go out into my circle of friends and acquaintances in exchange for some feedback. the turnaround on a batch is about three weeks, and i’d like to brew as often as possible without crowding my apartment with bottles and brewing equipment.
for my first batch, i’m brewing an ipa from extract and  am fortifying it with a few varieties of hops and some specialty grains. this is probably meaningless, but the best way i can describe this method is that i’m learning to fly but am starting in the air. all that’s left to do is land. depending on the results, i’d like to make my next batch the way a professional brewer would, by starting simply with whole grains instead of extract. it’s a little bit more difficult, but years of cooking and a decent knowledge base should yield a product that is much more fresh and personalized. i’m still boiling hops right now, and i can’t wait to get into the next batch, which is likely a month away. i’m interested in crafting my own recipes and toying with beer styles, but i’m miles away from doing any of that with a modicum of confidence. 
i’ll keep you posted.

home brewing


i have zero concept for who reads this, which is for the best since i write better thinking that it’s just me. it’s the whole “dance like no one’s watching”, but with a keyboard and some pixels. i’ve been as lazy as ever, in terms of writing and keeping myself busy away from work. while that has been inconsistent, i’ve been steady in my search for really good beer. i’m at a point where most of what i find is good or better, and so the thrill is fading a bit. i’ll always be glad to tip a nice pint, but i’ve been looking for something else to get the blood pumping for a while. and so, it makes sense that since i’ve been intermittently reading about home brewing for the last couple of years, that i would finally get over the fear of fucking up twenty litres of beer and try my hand at it. 

let’s be clear: this is not an effort to save money. i’m interested in learning how to make my very own good beer, and there isn’t a hope in hell i’ve got the patience to work through 20 litres of anything before moving on to the next. this is good news for people who know me well enough to capitalize on the impending overstock. i’ll probably sit on 25% of it for myself, and the rest will go out into my circle of friends and acquaintances in exchange for some feedback. the turnaround on a batch is about three weeks, and i’d like to brew as often as possible without crowding my apartment with bottles and brewing equipment.

for my first batch, i’m brewing an ipa from extract and  am fortifying it with a few varieties of hops and some specialty grains. this is probably meaningless, but the best way i can describe this method is that i’m learning to fly but am starting in the air. all that’s left to do is land. depending on the results, i’d like to make my next batch the way a professional brewer would, by starting simply with whole grains instead of extract. it’s a little bit more difficult, but years of cooking and a decent knowledge base should yield a product that is much more fresh and personalized. i’m still boiling hops right now, and i can’t wait to get into the next batch, which is likely a month away. i’m interested in crafting my own recipes and toying with beer styles, but i’m miles away from doing any of that with a modicum of confidence. 

i’ll keep you posted.

work

i haven’t been on here because i’ve been working. more importantly, because i’ve been enjoying my work. and so it follows that i haven’t much to gripe about these days and thus have nothing to write here, the home of all my work related whining. i’m trying to sort out how to move forward with writing because i enjoy it. i think the way to go is to do what i’ve always done, and write about the way to make things better in the kitchen, except it won’t be rooted entirely in fantasy, but reality, because i’m in a position that allows for progress and the like.

growing

keeping my head above water has been my primary goal since starting my life as a sous, but now that i’m a couple of months into the job i feel ready to pay attention to things other than mere survival. the dream as a young cook is always to put your own stamp on the food, whether specials or menu items, it’s a porny fantasy to create a dish that people pay for and hopefully enjoy. on friday, my first stab at a menu adjustment gets released to the dining public. it’s small, but i’m a baby steps kind of guy. saturday, however, represents the first service of a completely overhauled brunch menu, which will be presented as part of a condensed lunch menu for ease of service. attaining a base level of comfort with the job has been important for dealing with all of the little things that come up throughout the day. now, much more than on my first day, i feel ready to help mold the restaurant into something that resembles the utopian blueprints i’ve been typing about for the last three years: i want a calm, motivated, interested, passionate, and respectful kitchen. every day i think of ways to get there.

the way
i’m approaching two months on the job as sous chef, and while things are going well, i’m engaged in a personal struggle to be the person that i wanted to be my boss when i was coming up. to be blunt, that person wasn’t an asshole, cared about both food and people, and avoided hypocrisy like bullets in the matrix. i’ve been exposed to all kinds of bosses, each with strengths and weaknesses, and i’d be a fool to think that i’m no different, so in order to figure out what i’m okay at and what needs working on, i’ve had to become extremely self aware.
people are watching, always. young, impressionable minds are constantly nearby, sensitive to the way i do things and the way i say things. this has been enlightening, primarily in the way that i now understand why the “asshole” chef exists: it’s easier than being patient. patience with people is different than it is with a braise or other culinary pursuits, because of the dynamic nature of people and their relationships. i’ve been in kitchens that were generally dismissive of an individual’s needs, letting them toil away in mediocrity, and other places where people would be bullied into quitting. i’ve caught myself leaning in that direction, and i need to stay far away from that territory. it’s managerial laziness, and genuinely unfair. a manager’s job is to manage, even in a kitchen, and though i long for the fantasy based version of the job that revolves solely around food and cooking, it just isn’t that way. it’s my job to give my team the tools they need to become better. conversely, it isn’t my job to eliminate weak links by cutting them out of the chain. i’m there to fix them; fixing people is difficult, but not impossible.
i’ve discovered this task to be exhausting, mostly because it requires more time and effort than you think it will when you reach out. small corrections sometimes take weeks to be completed, while larger, more complicated issues, take weeks or months. everyone responds differently to the learning process, too, so comparing cook A to cook B is futile. it’s my job to figure out when we’ve hit a wall. from there, it’s up to me and those above me to figure out the next plan of attack.
i always imagined the job to be all about the food, but i spend most of my time thinking about people and the things they do to the food. if it sounds like a venting session, it isn’t, i’m just surprised by the job and its challenges. i’m genuinely stimulated by my work right now, and it suits my natural inclination to find a better way for everything. it’s nice to be in a position where i can actually try to make it happen, for myself, and the people that i work with.

the way

i’m approaching two months on the job as sous chef, and while things are going well, i’m engaged in a personal struggle to be the person that i wanted to be my boss when i was coming up. to be blunt, that person wasn’t an asshole, cared about both food and people, and avoided hypocrisy like bullets in the matrix. i’ve been exposed to all kinds of bosses, each with strengths and weaknesses, and i’d be a fool to think that i’m no different, so in order to figure out what i’m okay at and what needs working on, i’ve had to become extremely self aware.

people are watching, always. young, impressionable minds are constantly nearby, sensitive to the way i do things and the way i say things. this has been enlightening, primarily in the way that i now understand why the “asshole” chef exists: it’s easier than being patient. patience with people is different than it is with a braise or other culinary pursuits, because of the dynamic nature of people and their relationships. i’ve been in kitchens that were generally dismissive of an individual’s needs, letting them toil away in mediocrity, and other places where people would be bullied into quitting. i’ve caught myself leaning in that direction, and i need to stay far away from that territory. it’s managerial laziness, and genuinely unfair. a manager’s job is to manage, even in a kitchen, and though i long for the fantasy based version of the job that revolves solely around food and cooking, it just isn’t that way. it’s my job to give my team the tools they need to become better. conversely, it isn’t my job to eliminate weak links by cutting them out of the chain. i’m there to fix them; fixing people is difficult, but not impossible.

i’ve discovered this task to be exhausting, mostly because it requires more time and effort than you think it will when you reach out. small corrections sometimes take weeks to be completed, while larger, more complicated issues, take weeks or months. everyone responds differently to the learning process, too, so comparing cook A to cook B is futile. it’s my job to figure out when we’ve hit a wall. from there, it’s up to me and those above me to figure out the next plan of attack.

i always imagined the job to be all about the food, but i spend most of my time thinking about people and the things they do to the food. if it sounds like a venting session, it isn’t, i’m just surprised by the job and its challenges. i’m genuinely stimulated by my work right now, and it suits my natural inclination to find a better way for everything. it’s nice to be in a position where i can actually try to make it happen, for myself, and the people that i work with.

my weird year
this year’s most recurring theme on the peach has to be my confusion with my personal trajectory. i had very different ideas for myself one year ago than i do now. for starters, i was done with professional cooking. i’d set new years eve as my final day ever behind the stoves, and then went about student life and all the crap that goes with it. three days into january i had accepted a part time job cooking asian street food. after all, it made the most sense financially to get paid as much as possible while hitting the books. the first few months of my new journey were spent going through the first two stages of grief: a bit of denial, and plenty of anger.
i felt angry about the way i was treated as i left the old job - my work was instantly subject to a different kind of scrutiny once i had given 6 weeks notice. if i made a mistake, it wasn’t a human one, it was the failings of a burnt out line cook that simply didn’t care to do things right. perception is everything, and i suppose it’s natural to push away something that either appears poisonous, or doesn’t want to be a part of your team any longer. it’s an emotional thing to work in a kitchen, even more so to run one. to leave one can be the most emotional thing, and feelings are often hurt. mine were hurt, definitely, and i probably hurt theirs. over the course of a year i had transitioned from a knowledge hungry and enthusiastic line cook, to an embittered and spiteful one. when i started to be treated like one, it exasperated an already substantial problem. i should have quit the day i gave 6 weeks notice, or just toughed it out. it probably would have been fine either way.
working in a casual place while going to school was probably a bad idea. it kept me anchored to an industry that i was dying to escape. if you can believe it to be true, i was, as a line cook, hooked on the money. more believably, i was hooked on the work. the most important thing about this time was that i was working with people who cared about people more than about food. that isn’t to say that food didn’t count, but it wasn’t everything, and the team was well bonded when i walked in, and remains that way now that i’m long gone. atmosphere contributes to the product, as i had always suspected. i also became painfully aware that things aren’t always better somewhere else, but just different, and that at certain stages in life, it takes a very specific kind of different to be just right. when i started in victoria, the restaurant i worked in was perfect for me. when i was tired and sad, the casual asian place was ideal. i did well in school and did enough to get by at work, and by may i was on my way back to vancouver.
the plan was to get into sfu and plug away at a communications degree. i had been accepted, but in order to enter in a comfortable way, i told myself that i should make a little bit of money before jumping headlong into a four year program. it made sense then, that i try my hand at cooking in hotels. i knew only what i had heard according to kitchen lore: the cooks in hotels are highly paid and under worked, the exact formula i was looking for. given my mental state, i thought that i could deal with the shortcomings of institutional cooking. i endured a foolishly long interview/hiring process only to discover that, even as a wounded and hate filled cook, that i cared too much about the craft to use it in a way that went against my personal constitution. i’ve written at length about the specifics, but it was approximately here that i knew that i wasn’t all the way finished with cooking properly. i quit, for the first time in my life, without having a plan for afterwards.
craigslist is a mixed bag of bullshit cook jobs, but it is the way i usually find my way into a good job. word of mouth is good too, but i barely knew anyone in the city and was being really passive about my search. this passivity manifested in lethargy and a general uselessness that probably didn’t do much in the way of impressing my girlfriend. that was the lowest of the lows or the peak of the shit heap, depending on how you look at it. and then i found an ad from my current employer, so i sent a resume in and very quickly found myself having a chat with the executive chef of the company, as well as one of the chefs de cuisine. interviews are a funny thing; it’s usually two way sales pitch with each side explaining their own virtues and desires. i did little to oversell myself and tried to be both candid and honest about my goals. i said i would choose writer over chef, any day of the week, and that a life in the industry was not my ultimate goal. i thought i presented myself as a written off amc pacer, but apparently they saw something of worth that just needed a bit of help to get back on the right path. i did some work in a couple of the kitchen, and ultimately had the choice of where i would work. i took the job that did the least to disrupt the life i was hoping to have; full time days in a small restaurant with a small staff of nice and talented people. it was the smartest thing that i could have done, and perhaps the most important decision i have made in my cooking career. it didn’t feel like it at the time, but it was.
i wasn’t hoping for easy, i just knew that i couldn’t handle crazy. the night shift is home to the latter in most kitchens, and if i had signed up for it right away, i’d be getting ready for my second semester at sfu. no question. i did get a taste of the crazy though, but more importantly, i found that there are people out there that cope with it the same way i do. a dinner rush was challenging and pressured, but calm and organized. i kept expecting something to crack, but it never did. this was encouraging. i had given up on the possibility of this kind of environment coexisting with good food, yet there it was.
by the end of the first month i was postponing my education indefinitely, deciding instead to stay put and see what happens. after spending the first part of the year twirling about in a state of confused panic, i felt it would be better just to stay grounded and assess the situation from a sturdy place. then it all started to come back. the bitterness loosened its grip on me, and i quickly found myself approaching the job with passion as opposed to reluctance. opportunities for creativity were presenting themselves on a regular basis, something i hadn’t been faced with in years, so i jumped on it. things were going well. really well. and it was just when i was planning on telling the powers that be that i’d be interested in something more than a line cooking job that they approached me. there wasn’t any discussion of where, and the when was pretty vague. two months later, things became pretty clear.
a chat with the bosses in late november resulted in one of those “impossible to refuse” offers; a sous chef job at the largest restaurant in the company. i had been over this situation in my mind dozens of times in my career, but the actual experience was much less celebratory and more solemn than i had imagined. i knew, immediately, that what was coming was going to be much harder than being a line cook. i also knew that i was ready to take it on, so i did, and i am.
with one full month of the job behind me, i’ve already experienced the restaurant at its busiest and craziest. there have been 7 and 8 day stretches, complete with 14 hour days, and now i’m on the last day of a 5 day mini vacation. it all feels so unlikely, but i’ve come to expect that from life. the opportunity at hand is so good that i don’t feel wistful towards the path i am now leaving behind.
it has been a weird, but good, year.

my weird year

this year’s most recurring theme on the peach has to be my confusion with my personal trajectory. i had very different ideas for myself one year ago than i do now. for starters, i was done with professional cooking. i’d set new years eve as my final day ever behind the stoves, and then went about student life and all the crap that goes with it. three days into january i had accepted a part time job cooking asian street food. after all, it made the most sense financially to get paid as much as possible while hitting the books. the first few months of my new journey were spent going through the first two stages of grief: a bit of denial, and plenty of anger.

i felt angry about the way i was treated as i left the old job - my work was instantly subject to a different kind of scrutiny once i had given 6 weeks notice. if i made a mistake, it wasn’t a human one, it was the failings of a burnt out line cook that simply didn’t care to do things right. perception is everything, and i suppose it’s natural to push away something that either appears poisonous, or doesn’t want to be a part of your team any longer. it’s an emotional thing to work in a kitchen, even more so to run one. to leave one can be the most emotional thing, and feelings are often hurt. mine were hurt, definitely, and i probably hurt theirs. over the course of a year i had transitioned from a knowledge hungry and enthusiastic line cook, to an embittered and spiteful one. when i started to be treated like one, it exasperated an already substantial problem. i should have quit the day i gave 6 weeks notice, or just toughed it out. it probably would have been fine either way.

working in a casual place while going to school was probably a bad idea. it kept me anchored to an industry that i was dying to escape. if you can believe it to be true, i was, as a line cook, hooked on the money. more believably, i was hooked on the work. the most important thing about this time was that i was working with people who cared about people more than about food. that isn’t to say that food didn’t count, but it wasn’t everything, and the team was well bonded when i walked in, and remains that way now that i’m long gone. atmosphere contributes to the product, as i had always suspected. i also became painfully aware that things aren’t always better somewhere else, but just different, and that at certain stages in life, it takes a very specific kind of different to be just right. when i started in victoria, the restaurant i worked in was perfect for me. when i was tired and sad, the casual asian place was ideal. i did well in school and did enough to get by at work, and by may i was on my way back to vancouver.

the plan was to get into sfu and plug away at a communications degree. i had been accepted, but in order to enter in a comfortable way, i told myself that i should make a little bit of money before jumping headlong into a four year program. it made sense then, that i try my hand at cooking in hotels. i knew only what i had heard according to kitchen lore: the cooks in hotels are highly paid and under worked, the exact formula i was looking for. given my mental state, i thought that i could deal with the shortcomings of institutional cooking. i endured a foolishly long interview/hiring process only to discover that, even as a wounded and hate filled cook, that i cared too much about the craft to use it in a way that went against my personal constitution. i’ve written at length about the specifics, but it was approximately here that i knew that i wasn’t all the way finished with cooking properly. i quit, for the first time in my life, without having a plan for afterwards.

craigslist is a mixed bag of bullshit cook jobs, but it is the way i usually find my way into a good job. word of mouth is good too, but i barely knew anyone in the city and was being really passive about my search. this passivity manifested in lethargy and a general uselessness that probably didn’t do much in the way of impressing my girlfriend. that was the lowest of the lows or the peak of the shit heap, depending on how you look at it. and then i found an ad from my current employer, so i sent a resume in and very quickly found myself having a chat with the executive chef of the company, as well as one of the chefs de cuisine. interviews are a funny thing; it’s usually two way sales pitch with each side explaining their own virtues and desires. i did little to oversell myself and tried to be both candid and honest about my goals. i said i would choose writer over chef, any day of the week, and that a life in the industry was not my ultimate goal. i thought i presented myself as a written off amc pacer, but apparently they saw something of worth that just needed a bit of help to get back on the right path. i did some work in a couple of the kitchen, and ultimately had the choice of where i would work. i took the job that did the least to disrupt the life i was hoping to have; full time days in a small restaurant with a small staff of nice and talented people. it was the smartest thing that i could have done, and perhaps the most important decision i have made in my cooking career. it didn’t feel like it at the time, but it was.

i wasn’t hoping for easy, i just knew that i couldn’t handle crazy. the night shift is home to the latter in most kitchens, and if i had signed up for it right away, i’d be getting ready for my second semester at sfu. no question. i did get a taste of the crazy though, but more importantly, i found that there are people out there that cope with it the same way i do. a dinner rush was challenging and pressured, but calm and organized. i kept expecting something to crack, but it never did. this was encouraging. i had given up on the possibility of this kind of environment coexisting with good food, yet there it was.

by the end of the first month i was postponing my education indefinitely, deciding instead to stay put and see what happens. after spending the first part of the year twirling about in a state of confused panic, i felt it would be better just to stay grounded and assess the situation from a sturdy place. then it all started to come back. the bitterness loosened its grip on me, and i quickly found myself approaching the job with passion as opposed to reluctance. opportunities for creativity were presenting themselves on a regular basis, something i hadn’t been faced with in years, so i jumped on it. things were going well. really well. and it was just when i was planning on telling the powers that be that i’d be interested in something more than a line cooking job that they approached me. there wasn’t any discussion of where, and the when was pretty vague. two months later, things became pretty clear.

a chat with the bosses in late november resulted in one of those “impossible to refuse” offers; a sous chef job at the largest restaurant in the company. i had been over this situation in my mind dozens of times in my career, but the actual experience was much less celebratory and more solemn than i had imagined. i knew, immediately, that what was coming was going to be much harder than being a line cook. i also knew that i was ready to take it on, so i did, and i am.

with one full month of the job behind me, i’ve already experienced the restaurant at its busiest and craziest. there have been 7 and 8 day stretches, complete with 14 hour days, and now i’m on the last day of a 5 day mini vacation. it all feels so unlikely, but i’ve come to expect that from life. the opportunity at hand is so good that i don’t feel wistful towards the path i am now leaving behind.

it has been a weird, but good, year.

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