Blogs > Cooking from Scratch

Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Pirate's Life for Me

As I sit at my desk, preparing for tonight's Famous Local Restaurants class at Mirepoix, I run through all of the recipes I want to feature in our recipe packet. When I reflect on my time at The Golden Mushroom, I can't help but smile when I reminisce about the completely unreasonable state of the kitchens, the hilarious and varied cast of characters, the everyday stresses of working in a professional kitchen(which were exponentially increased by the spontaneous and unexplainable defrosting of our walk-in freezer) or the time I got so stressed out, I broke out in hives and had to run out to the drug store in the middle of my shift(funny - now the former site of the Golden Mushroom is a CVS). Good times. Really.

Though I have a true fondness for restaurants and their never-ending outrageous pace, many people ask me if I want to own my own restaurant, and my answer has always been (without hesitation) "NO!". My little nook in the food industry here at Mirepoix is my dream; I'm doing what I always wanted to do but could never quantify until I got here. Still, sometimes, I miss the frenzy, chaos, mayhem, and pirate ship mentality of a working kitchen.

Restaurant life is not for everyone. My father owned a Ram’s Horn restaurant in the 70’s and hated “the business” so much, he sold his interest to his partner for a dollar. He went on to pursue other opportunities and refers to the two happiest days of his life as, “the day he bought the restaurant and the day he sold it” (I’m sure his marriage to my mother and the birth of each of his children, are implied, though not enumerated).

Just over 20 years later, I announced that I would be attending culinary school and quitting the family business. My parents, certain that I would never actually quit, my ignored my formal and written resignation, and after I finished my 2 week’s notice, everyone was amazed when I really did stop coming into work.

Culinary school was a revelation. After graduation, my career in “the business” began. 5 Lake Grill, Café Bon Homme, Gravity Bar & Grill, and The Golden Mushroom were all ports on my tour of duty. Each place had its special little brand of "crazy".

Sadly, after the 90’s drew to a close, and “The Big 3” and other major players (advertising execs, law firms, etc.) put the crack-down on expense accounts, fine dining (what little of it we actually had) in Metro Detroit took a major, and unfortunately, almost fatal hit.

Famous Local Restaurants is our way of acknowledging and paying tribute to the places where many Metro-Detroiters celebrated life’s accomplishments, anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions. It’s our way of celebrating the chefs who taught us so much, such as Brian Polcyn, and of course, “The Godfather”, Milos Cihelka (just to name a couple). Real chefs, real trend-setters, and most importantly, real mentors.

We offer this class a couple of times a year. Should you ever decide to take it, I hope you enjoy it as much we enjoyed working in 100 degree kitchens at a break-neck pace with the chef breathing down our necks, loud cursing in the background and no end in sight; you have my word we won’t yell at you and it's significantly cooler in our kitchen.

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