So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Tag Archives: Cool links

A World of Curries redux

I reviewed a book called The World of Curries the other day by DeWitt and Pais. Well, Dave DeWitt  wrote:

“Thanks for the plug on my out-of-print book! Your readers might like to know that an abridged version exists on my Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite. Also called “A World of Curries,” there are a lot more illustrations, including food shots. See? I figured out what to do with out-of-print books–recycle, recycle”!

So, let’s give you the link (and you can bet that it’s going to be put in my Foodie blogroll as well).

http://www.fiery-foods.com/

Some might remember his Chile Pepper Magazine from over a decade ago. He also still has several books in print, one of which, The Whole Chile Book is in my queue for review. He is one of the pioneers of writing about “fiery foods”, having done it way back in the 70s.

So, go forth and patronize his web site. You’ll find scads of info on peppers, curries, BBQs – heck, virtually anything that falls in the “heat” category.

And this is a good time to remind you why I write about cookbooks on a waiter’s site. The more you know about food, flavor profiles and esoteric knowledge about various cuisines and food styles, the better prepared you will be to serve the guest. I hope that the food books that I recommend get you interested in picking some of them up to expand your food knowledge. Plus, maybe it will make your kitchen one that friends, neighbors and family come to know as the most interesting place to catch a bite to eat outside of a restaurant.

Just so you know, I only review books that are in my collection. I don’t crib from other sources or speculate about books that  I’m sure are great books until I have them in my hot, sweaty hands (although I use stock photos in most cases). In fact, when I write these short promos (I consider them as much promo as review because I want you to seek them out), I always have them in my hand for reference. Oh yeah, as DeWitt points out, some, if not many of these books are out of print. Virtually all of them can be had either used or NOS (New Old Stock) at sites like eBay, Amazon, or the many websites that specialize in used books. You can find them in your local used bookstores as well.  When an author has taken the time to move information from an out-of-print book to a commercial website, I vigorously recommend patronizing their websites because they obviously get no income from an out-of-print book.

As far as DeWitt and Pais’ book goes, despite the fact that he’s moved a lot of this information over to virtual form, I highly recommend you get a copy of the book. Just make sure that you go to his website early and often. And hell, buy stuff there.

Finally, if you want to browse through the books that I’ve highlighted, just type in cookbook in the search box and you’ll get all of them back to back. But you knew that, didn’t you?

Dave DeWitt

Dave DeWitt

New link added – Restaurant Gal

Posting from as far south as you can get in the United States (and formerly from the very cool state of Colorado), this Key West bartender has some great stories and trenchant insights on the behavior of Homo Barstoolis, that species of Homo Sapiens known for a dominant lizard brain,over-sized ego and poorly developed and alcohol-impared ability to summon common sense and decency. The part of the brain that controls social functions is also rather fractured in this showy member of the human genus and thus, it’s an infinitely fascinating species to watch in the wild, especially during its mating rituals.

Let’s all welcome R.G. to the fold with a hardyZum Wohl! Click the link under Waiter Stuff. Now.

coffeehead

Cookbook of the day – Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue

PaulKirkBBQ

Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue

Publisher: Harvard Common Press; illustrated edition edition (April 2004)  

ISBN-10: 1558322426

ISBN-13: 978-1558322424

 Paul Kirk is one of the superstars of the BBQ circuit – just ask him.

This book not only explains the various Barbecue techniques and throws 575 “Lip-Smackin’ ” recipes at you, covers the differences between various regions’ methods thoroughly and tells you in great detail how he got the title of “The Baron of Barbecue” (more recently corrected to include his native Kansas City in the name), he also goes behind the scenes and reveals many of the nuts ‘n bolts of competition, giving away a ton to “trade secrets” that will allow those who crave competition to come armed before they even hook a single trailer up to a Ford 250. Just don’t think that you’re going to beat Paul Kirk though. He could tell you every single thing he knows and then shut down the rest of his brain and only cook with his lizard brain and he’d still whomp your ass. Don’t believe me? Just ask him.

The chest puffing gets old pretty quickly. Not only can Kirk cook better than you, he can make up a new recipe for a sauce on the spot after drinking a keg of beer followed by 12 shots of tequila while he’s saving a GM plant in Tennessee and running a major cattle rustling ring and 24 hours later, he’ll be standing in front of you with the trophy that God had intended you to win.

But…

This is one hell of a book. There are more sauces and rubs than you can shake a stick at, although, he still hasn’t cracked the code to the secret ingredient to my dry rub. He goes into great detail about smoking (although I think he’s a little rigid with some of his thoughts) and he ain’t afraid to grill him up some tuna or vegetables. He’s even got a North African Spice Paste hanging around, although it’s no harissa. His chapter, Barbecue Sauces, Salsas, Relishes, and Dipping Sauces is a valuable resource. when you combine that with Marinades, Mops, Sops, and Bastes, you’ve got the world of barbecue laid bare at your feet.

But there are also cooking charts and history lessons, peoples’ personal recipes freely given up for publication, on-point observations scattered at key parts of the book, and, most importantly, many stories about Paul Kirk, the myth and the legend. Hell, even Pecos Bill had to bow down to him and Paul Bunyan laid down his axe and gave him Babe, his prized ox, so that Kirk could smoke him whole on his smoker, which is the size of Rhode Island and requires a 10th of all of the wood in the Amazonian rain forest.

paul kirk

His website, which is the best website ever created since Kirk created the internet and gave it to Al Gore, is here:

http://www.baron-of-bbq.com/index.html

Foodie Link of the day – Rouxbe

rouxbe-200px

http://www.rouxbe.com/

One of the best instructional/cooking school/recipe sites on the planet.

Lots of instructional step by step videos on everything from proper knife skills to making the perfect demiglace. Especially useful for even advanced cooks is the “drill-down” section. Here you’ll find everything from basic to advanced concepts of cooking. You can learn about the “water test” for testing the heat of a pan, removing tendons from chicken, how to make a balsamic reduction, deglazing a pan, and many more tasks and skill sets.

When you sign up, they give you 30 days of free access to everything on the site. After the 30 days, you can join for a yearly membership fee. If you don’t join, you’ll still have access to much of their content, but you lose most of the videos. The videos are clearly organized and easy to follow, even when the dishes and techniques are complicated.

This should be in everyone’s Favorites folder. Hands down.

Article in Slate about cookbooks by Sarah Dickerson

http://www.slate.com/id/2219280/

I don’t know how long Slate keeps their articles up before throwing them in the archives, but anyone who actually reads my little cookbook blurbs should read this article while it’s still up.

“Some cookbook authors are decidedly domestic, writing about common ingredients with an eye to easing weeknight pressures of the kitchen. Others are professional: They attempt to translate commercial restaurant artistry to the lay masses. Then there are those writers who aim to bring another culture to life through recipes and observations. These authors are the cooking world’s equivalent of Alan Lomax, who ventured to the farmsteads and hollers of rural America, microphone in hand, collecting a nation’s folksongs before interstates and television blurred our regional cultures into a homogenous mass. Whether writing about a childhood home, an ancestral haunt, or a land discovered in full-grown adulthood, these ethno-culinarians try to convey, along with recipes, a sense of how history and geography affect the shifting habits of what we eat every day. They interview grandmothers and street cart vendors to understand the technique and gestalt of vernacular food (and to give the readers a wood-fired whiff of authenticity—a knotty but essential concept). They provide guidance in buying unfamiliar ingredients, be it Greek  mastic or Vietnamese culantro”.

Paula Wolfert is specifically mentioned (remember my praise of her in one of last week’s Cookbook of the Day segments)?

Najmieh Batmanglij is also mentioned. I discussed her book, Good Foods of Persia last week as well. Her book, which I don’t have, The New Food Of Life, is highlighted by Ms. Dickerson.

And praises are heaped on my favorite Vietnamese author/blogster Andrea Nguyen. The very book that I mentioned in the first weeks of this blog is reviewed:

“With Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Nguyen, who immigrated to the United States as a child, unearths Vietnamese traditions and describes how they changed in the immigrant community here among the supermarkets and food processors of the States. She spends ample time demystifying the Viet pantry with practical advice—”Premium fish sauce is reddish brown and clear. Avoid dark inky liquids that are overly salty and flat tasting”—but not without true sentimental moments:

‘One of my most vivid memories is of our cook, Old Sister Thien, squatting and fanning the small charcoal brazier on which she grilled corn on the cob. As the corn cooked to a charred chewy sweetness, she brushed on a scallion oil made with home-rendered lard. The aroma and taste were heavenly’.

So, three out of the six authors (and one of the books) mentioned by Ms. Dickerson on Slate were also spotlighted on my own humble blog. Not bad for a blog that’s only been doing this for a month, even though she chose a different Thai author than I did. But, no worries, I still have another 4 Thai books to review in the future and I’m intrigued about the one that she mentioned, Cracking the Coconut. Great title.

Just a reminder, you can find my reviews of the three authors that I mentioned here:

https://teleburst.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/cookbook-of-the-day-a-taste-of-persia/

https://teleburst.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/cookbook-of-the-day-good-food-from-morocco-paula-wolfert/

https://teleburst.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/and-speaking-of-pho/

You can see all of my Cookbook of the Day posts by inserting that phrase into the search engine. However, I didn’t do a full review of the Nguyen book as it was done before I started this series. It was really as much a touting of her website as it was a recommendation of her wonderful book, the link of which website you’ll find in my blogroll. I really should go back and make it a true Cookbook of the Day report.

New link posted – Steakhouse Blues

http://www.steakhouseblues.blogspot.com/

I highly recommend this blog from “old school steakhouse general manager–80 hours a week putting out fires [sometimes literally], correcting grammar, opening wine, directing traffic, trying not to kill everyone, and happily receiving the financial tributes of our adoring guests one benjamin at a time

It’s not often that a post on a blog almost brings me to tears. But this is one of them. I demand that everyone go to this blog and read the entire post. It’s too long to reproduce here, and even the extract that I’m posting is longer than I prefer, because usually you can get the gist of a post in the first paragraph or two. However, to get to the essense of the post, I had to include the following:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I claim to be an average man of less than average ability. I have not the shadow of a doubt that any man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith“–Mahatma Gandhi

“Where’s Mr. O’Leary been?”

The question from one of our longest-tenured servers catches me unawares. Mr. O’Leary is one of our most prized guests and one of the richest men in our generally very prosperous city. He is a legend throughout the local dining community–out to dinner six or seven nights a week, choosing from a small group of favored restaurants and literally showering them with his largess.

Every time I see Mr. O’Leary I think of the scene in “My Blue Heaven”, an otherwise exceedingly ordinary comedy about a gangster stuck in middle America as part of the Witness Protection Program. Steve Martin plays the mobster, who attempts to tip his FBI caseworker [Rick Moranis] upon first meeting him–When Rick Moranis‘ character questions the action, the gangster responds matter-of-factly by saying, “Ay…I tip evvverrrrybodddy!”

Mr. O’Leary tips everybody as well. To use another gangster movie allusion, this one from “Goodfellas“, when Mr. O’Leary is in the house, the bartender gets $20 just for keeping the ice cubes cold.

Once the server mentioned Mr. O’Leary’s absence, it occurred to me that indeed we probably hadn’t seen him for nearly six weeks–immediately I was both concerned and embarrassed. Concerned because while in good health, he is an older guy, and I was afraid something might have happened. Embarrassed because over the last few months my attention has been diverted by other things and my observational powers have suffered as a result–I hadn’t noticed his absence at all.

<snip>
You simply must read this entry. In fact, this blog is a definite keeper. The posts are detailed, well-written and full of humanity; the first being a common trait of GMs, the second a sometimes quality that you find because GMs do a lot of their interaction on the phone and in person plus, they generally don’t have time to do a blog in the first place, and the latter, a quite rare quality in a GM . Therefore, it’s being enthusiastically added to my blogroll.
Let’s all welcome Steadkhouse Blues with a rousing Hurrah!

New link posted – “Don’t Tip The Waiter” blog

Self-described as “The Onion meets the restaurant industry”, and voted “Number 1 restaurant site on the Internet by The Amish Times”, this is a keeper. Here’s just one example of the content:

Natural Disaster Theme Restaurant Opens In Bloomington

BLOOMINGTON, IN—A new restaurant, designed to treat diners to the effect of eating while in the midst of a natural disaster, opened in Bloomington last week to mixed reviews. The biggest knock against the concept, it seems, is the downtime for clean up the restaurant requires between each seating.

General Manager and part-owner, Marley Biggs, estimates the staff spends approximately four hours cleaning up the various dining rooms, in contrast to the roughly 45 minutes it takes for diners to consume their meals.

<snip>

To read the rest of this hilarious article, go here:

http://donttipthewaiter.blogspot.com/2008/01/natural-disaster-theme-restaurant-opens.html

And to access the blog directly, go here:

http://donttipthewaiter.blogspot.com/

I give it two opposible thumbs and a donateable kidney up.

Look for the link in my links roster.

donttipthewaiterpub

Adding new link – Waiternotes

A very well-written and considered blog that combines tales from restaurants with practical information about the profession of waiting tables.

Plus, it has a slick, modern look that works well.

http://waiternotes.wordpress.com/

Look for it under “Water Stuff”.

Great “inside baseball” post from “Waiternotes – Inside the restaurant” blog

http://waiternotes.wordpress.com/2009/05/24/cover-counts/

Servers will sympathize with the issues brought up and guests will get a glimpse of some of the “office politics” that servers must deal with.

New link added – The Raging Server

Added this link not only because he’s a fellow Nashvillian and I can relate to his experiences, but it’s just a funny place to spend some time chuckling over the restaurant wars.

Check it out under “Waiter Stuff” or just click this link:

http://www.ragingserver.com/