Really guys?

Okay, here I sit on another Sunday morning at 6 am (one of the lovely benefits of new sobriety, a subject of a future blog to be certain) following a blessedly busy Saturday evening service.  I have coffee in one hand and a whole grain English muffin in the other. I’m staring at a blank screen and reflecting on how I’ve tossed and turned over this subject matter for three nights and now, for better or for worse, it’s time to purge.

Now let me begin by explaining, I have been reviewed numerous times over the eighteen years since I’ve taken the helm as “Chef” of my own kitchens. These reviews come from multiple sources, magazines, news papers, television, online forums, chatrooms etc… For twelve of those 18 years I have been fortunate enough to work for myself. As it turns out by the way, working for myself  has been as good for the industry as it has been for me. It’s become quite clear over the years that I am much better at asking for forgivness rather than permission on nearly every front. It seems this is not the best quality with which to lead when attempting to work for others. I have also come to discover that this is not a quality held in high esteem by my 2 ex-fiances, my ex-wife and literally dozens of ex-girlfriends. Who knew?

Anyway, moving on. I will begin by saying, before I get 120 responses telling me I have thin skin, that I should just suck it up, count myself lucky to be in a position to even be written about and so on. To these perspective responses I have a only this to say, Shut your face! You may also be asking yourself at this point, where is all the profanity and blue language I read in the last entry? Sit tight, you will soon be rewarded. In the interest of fair play I will share the review that got under my skin word for word:

My wife and I dined at Restaurant Michael for the first time last weekend. Not that it really mattered, but the Maitre d’ was very professional and poised, the staff all quite well trained and curtious. The Chef was extremely friendly and welcoming however, the food was just a bit above average. I will speak only to the dishes I had that evening. As an entree I had the Grilled Quail stuffed with foie gras & truffle risotto with natural game jus topped with a sauteed quail egg. The quail was perfectly cooked and succulent in every way but simply put, one dimentional in its flavor profile. I also had the tuna Nicoise as an appetizer, also perfectly cooked, rare seared tuna arranged around some greens with some other random items. Once again, for the price point of this restaurant, far too simple and lacking in flavor profile. Desserts were great. For those that prefer comfort food that delivers on execution but falls short on “POP” this place will suit them well.  3 out of 5 stars. 

Well Shit! Where do I begin? Clearly this mo-mo must have bumped his noggin before walking into the restaurant. When did a professional Maitre d, well trained staff and friendly Chef/Proprietor become a “not that it mattered”? These components, in my less than humble opinion, are now and always have been kinda important, don’t ya think? Lets move on to this balloon head’s critique of the one dimentional cuisine, I will focus on the quail as my skull will implode if I have to speak to “random items” in the tuna dish. We will move on to the words “flavor profile” our friend here is clearly a student of reality TV restaurant programs. Please, for the love of God, do me a favor, don’t use the words flavor profile when describing a dish unless you are indeed a food critic or a research and development Chef. It hurts my fucking ears to hear it. You see ladies and gentlemen, it seems the age of “I can be an expert on every subject with the help of a simple google search” has spawned a slew of wanna be Chefs. This is, quite frankly, a bit of an insult.

Do I sit back in the dentist chair and say “ahh yes, perhaps I will perform my own root canal next time. I mean it seems easy enough, after all, I do brush my own teeth at home.”

NO, I DO NOT! Why you ask? Because these people are professionals, that’s why they make it look effortless and easy.  Back to the food.

The one dimentional quail of which our boy spoke is actually incredibly complex. A semi-boneless, marinated quail that is grilled rare, filled with risotto that has been studded with black truffle and nuggets of foie gras is not so easy to prepare. It is roasted at service and placed on a bed of cabbage and duck confit, chanterelle mushrooms and roasted game jus. The whole affair is topped with a sunnyside up quail egg that when broken, becomes a component of the sauce. Yes, I know, you likely had this for lunch twice last week.

The lacking in flavor profile dish I just described was at one point a menu item at Restaurant Paul Bocuse. to which I am paying homage. You may have heard of him. I am in no way comparing myself to Bocuse. This is a man that has forgotten more about cooking than I will ever know. I prepare these dishes to keep the memory of such cooking alive. I cook them with respect. This is clearly a term that my penis-headed little friend is not familar with. Perhaps the waiter should deliver the dish to the table with a sparkler in each ear, dancing a little soft shoe number while suspending it over steaming pine needles so our over-stimulated friend can enjoy the nuance of the forest aroma which was at one point, the home of this perfectly cooked and succulent, albeit one dimentional bird. What the fuck?#!#

I have a better idea, I will deliver the dish myself to my new, very enlightend foodie buddy. We can sit and discuss the the importance of his work and I can ask him what chat room I can join to critique his sexual performance with his wife, who by the way, has fallen in love with my Chef coat and outrageous bravado! Lets face it pal, you want to be me so bad you can taste it, literally. The problem is you can’t be me so in turn you bash what you cannot possibly understand. Good luck with that. Oh by the way, I would never steal your wife away from you. After all, I am a gentleman!  Okay, in all seriousness, to those of you that choose to go online with your opinions, please take a second to think about what you are doing and the effects it may have. Please understand, your comments and critiques are of great value to us as restaurant owners. They allow us to grow and evolve as Chefs and business people. But realize this, the words you choose to paint the picture should indeed be as  carefully selected as the ingredients that make up my recipes. They may very well effect someone’s livelyhood. Not to mention the fact that there may be a chatroom developing as we speak that will focus on your work and passions. Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it……..

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2 thoughts on “Really guys?

  1. Dear Chef Michael,
    Hello again… I had the pleasure of meeting you tableside oh….sometime last year and enjoyed the meal very much. I am a recent grad of Kendall and had picked your brain on the possibility of creating an ice cream made with mate (tea from Paraguay). I was curious as to the best way to create a syrup and also to infuse the creme anglais. You had said to shoot you an email. At the time you weren’t blogging and I suspect my email got lost in the shuffle.

    Could you take a minute to share some specifics with me here? The mate is prepared hot by adding the loose tea to carmelized sugar in a saucepan on the stove. The tea leaves are later strained.

    Thanks again,
    Janet

  2. Interesting story…WOW…and I totally can see, with the passion that you have, why you tossed and turned for 3 days over that.

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