So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Daily Archives: September 10, 2009

My friend and former headwaiter Pete

Best. Waiter. Ever.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Top Chef Las Vegas – episode 4

I’ll be typing this in stages, as I watch it. So, it’s in chronological order, as it happens, so to speak (thanks to the pause capabilities of DVR).

The girl contingent is shrinking and the girls are worried. No worries, the law of averages is catching up although it might not happen this week  (Mike, I’m looking at you).

Collichio doesn’t feel that Daniel Boulud needs an introduction, so naturally he goes on to list his CV.

Our little Marcel Marceau gets a gleam in his eye when snails are mentioned. Perhaps he’s working out a new snail routine involving motor oil and a canteen taped to his back.

Daniel Boulud – “And I want to taste something that I’ve never tasted before”. I’m sure you will.

Boulud is a bit scary in a James Bond, mongoose sort of way. I wouldn’t want to be eyed by him before a Quickfire.

OK, pause for the cause – this looks like a 4 brandy in the middle of the day sort of show…be back shortly…

Oh dear – someone’s going home from the QF – knees buckle, heads bob, jaws drop, hearts race.  Sounds like love to me.

OK cocky Frenchman – remember what Boulud said – he wants to taste something different, not snails swimming in butter like you made when you were 15. At least, that’s what it looks like you’re plating. Maybe I’m wrong – we’ll see when I get back into the episode.

Poor little Nazi Girl. They didn’t serve snails to the concentration camp guards. What kind of 1000 year Reich are we running here?

I have to wonder – did anyone think of doing a snail tempura? That would have been my first thought. Within 5 minutes, you’d know whether snails would hold up under a tempura batter. I’d think they would. After all, they are roughly the same shape and size as button mushrooms, although they are more tender, of course. And who doesn’t love fried mushrooms?

OK, back to cheftestants scrambling around each other in panic…

OK, back to the computer…

The dominatrix pulls a yuzu out of her hat.

Frenchy actually did a little extra, but it wasn’t enough to clear Daniel’s Maginot Line.

Southern cooking rules! Jam, baby, jam!

Well, looks like at least one distaff chef is biting the dust. But WAIT! cook-off time! Oh, one distaff chef is still going home. Jesse is the obvious choice, but who knows? It won’t be the gay one that looks like Steve Forbert though, unless she implodes completely.

OK, brandy in hand I return…

And I was right. Jesse bites the dust.  I’m surprised that she has the constitution to work in a kitchen.There’s no crying in cooking (except when cutting onions, I suppose).

Nice perk for the winner of the QF – dining with a bunch of snotty French chefs with over a dozen Michelin stars amongst them. Dining with the chef of the century? How very 20th century.

Frenchy sees this as a slam dunk. Always dangerous on this show.

Trout with bearnaise? Maybe I’m wrong, but that doesn’t seem like a natural pairing. Delicate trout with a tarted-up hollandaise? I dunno. Yes, bearnaise with steaky fish like swordfish or salmon – that I can see. Bearnaise with darker fish like mahi-mahi, that I can see. Trout with bearnaise? Not so much.  I still wonder about the “natural pairing” thing.

I note that they’re doing “young chicken”. I guess there won’t be any nitpicking of the dish as they did in a previous season with Casey and her “coq au vin” – I’m looking at you Tom. Of course, if someone uses a cock, they’re screwed. But where you find a cock in Las Vegas? Oh wait…let me rephrase that…

OK…back to the show and the brandy…

Hic!

Oh Mike, you’ve semi-redeemed your braggadocio by deconstructing the bearnaise. That’s just twisty enough to create a positive impression as long as you execute it.

Uh oh, the funny music with Robin’s team. Garbanzo bean flour. Personally, I say why not? This could be the classic case of editing fairies’ misdirection. Time will tell, I suppose. It doesn’t help that Caribbean dude is a bit over-confident in his ability to cook chicke…I mean frog’s legs.

More cooking, more cooking. More exposition fairies explaining sauces to ‘mericans. Robin, turns out, is a motor mouth while Ron suffers under the weight of words. Things aren’t really looking that great for Frenchy and tattoo’ed lady (apologies to Rory Gallagher). 

Chateaubriand au poive?  Hmmm, not sure if that’s going to impress anyone, especially if it’s rare as a baby’s bottom. But you still have time. In the words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t panic”! Hopefully, you can turn it into something special. But I have my doubts.

OK, I’m into my second brandy now (don’t worry, I’m off today). Time to return to the dinner portion of our entertainment.

Is that a yarmulke or a bald spot on our lucky cheftestant diner’s head? Oh, it’s a bald spot.

Uh oh, Gail got the end piece. I’m guessing that a chef is going to get the shaft.

The deconstructed bearnaise looks like a hit of windowpane with a couple of hits of orange sunshine dyed black on top. Turns out that it’s a mind-blower.

C’mon guys – no other season could have produced this food for these guests at this stage of the competition? I think not. But, what do I know? I’m not there season after season.

Awwww, Frenchy is disappointed. But I don’t think he has to worry about any of his team actually going home. But I’ve been wrong before…

OK, back to Judge’s Table®

You know, I’m waiting for the twist when they call the losers first. I’m surprised that they haven’t thought of that.

Praise praise praise. Nothing to see here folks. Please move along.

Oh SNAP! I wonder what the French expression for “throwing someone under the bus” is. I’m really surprised that Ashley showed the kind of class that she did (unless it was removed by editing). I really hope that our mime goes home for that, although it’s looking like we’re going to lose Puerto Rico at this point. A lying mime, while a contradiction in terms, is a good source of conflict in the future, so he’s probably going to end up staying. Now I know how Charles De Gaulle felt about General Pétain.

If Ashley goes home, then it’s “Katie bar the door’. But I don’t see that as very likely at this point. You send the guy who’s supposed to know about French cooking home when he doesn’t perform.

OK, time for the big finish. Better have another brandy.

Uh oh – the Ashley thing is being misinterpreted by our gang of 3. This is part of the game though – they’re not privy to “the facts”. It’s up to Ashley to defend herself. Still, I’m pretty sure that PR is on the way out. But, as I’ve said, I’ve been wrong before.

As I mentioned before, cooking Chateaubriand au poive isn’t the most challenging thing to do and to screw up that dish could be fatal and Tom confirmed that. Had they done something a little differently and thought outside the box, like doing a lightly seared piece of meat and doing a carpaccio au poirve, they might have fared better. It certainly would have been a lot easier. You only sear the meat quickly, you freeze it and then you slice it on site with a meat slicer like the type that they use at Arby’s (the type that took Rahm Emmmanuel’s finger. However, you don’t serve the finger if that happens to you as well.

OK, brandy break.

Time for the big reveal.

No great exposition, no big scolding. and yes, it’s Hector. A completely uncontroversial choice. I’m sure that some will make it so because of the Mattin thing, but his big sin was lying at Judge’s Table.

So big fella, you join Jesse in the recycle bin. Please take your “long knife” and go.

Just so you guys know, I rarely watch the teaser clips, either within an episode or for the upcoming episode. So I have no idea about what’s going to happen next week.

Are you ready for some football? A Thursday Night party?

Jesse Sandlin1

hector

Jack Daniels is not bourbon

Don’t ever forget that Jack Daniel’s, while tasting very similar to bourbon, is categorically not bourbon – it’s Tennessee whiskey. More precisely, “Tennessee sippin’ whiskey”.

First of all, it’s made in Tennessee, not Kentucky. Bourbon is named for a county in Kentucky where little bourbon is distilled today, but that doesn’t mean that bourbon can cross state lines. I mean, some try to do it and all, and legally it’s just a specific process with certain parameters, but is bourbon from Colorado really bourbon? C’mon people, let’s get real. If there is one state that could get away with it (and some of us have tried), it’s Tennessee. We are two states bound by a common heritage. If you look on a map, Kentucky looks similar to a pregnant Tennessee. Since we’ve been spooning since our births, this doesn’t seem out-of-place.

But Jack Daniel’s (and the other famous named-for-a-dead-guy Tennessee whiskey, George Dickel) is not, I repeat not bourbon, despite being made of sour mash just like bourbon. The key difference is that Tennessee whiskey is filtered through charcoal. Bourbon is not.

The last thing you want to do as a waiter is to upsell Jack Daniel’s products when someone asks for a bourbon drink. While some people think of it erroneously as a bourbon because, let’s face it folks, it does taste a lot like bourbon, there are some partisans who would cut out your heart and squeeze a few drops of blood out of it into a Manhattan if you lumped Jack Daniel’s in with bourbon (and this comes from both bourbon and Tennessee whiskey fans).

So, those of you young whippersnappers who are just getting started peddling the devil’s elixer, repeat after me -“Jack Daniel’s is Tennessee whiskey…Jack Daniel’s is Tennessee whiskey…Jack Daniel’s is Tennessee whiskey…”

I mean, you wouldn’t screw up and call Bushmill’s a scotch would you? I hope not.

Class dismissed.

jackfeet