Archive for April, 2013

University of Denver – Speaking With Our Future

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

As some of you know, I attended the University of Denver’s Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management (formerly Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management) in the Daniels College of Business and take great pride in my university, including being a member of the school’s Executive Advisory Board. I am happy to dedicate my time and efforts to the further success of our program, students who are committed to hospitality and the university as a whole – giving back to what you are most passionate about is extremely important to me.

I was recently invited once again to speak with Dr. Cheri Young’s Restaurant Development class, which I had the pleasure to have done last year. This year, Dr. Young is teaching the class with a great restaurateur (also a former classmate and good friend of mine), Jon Schlegel, the founder of Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. I immediately committed to speak with the class and was all set to head to Denver on Tuesday morning, when a freak Spring snowstorm hit and changed my plans. However, we had modern technology on our side and Dr. Young suggested a call via Skype to connect me with the class – a great idea!

All of the students in the class were seniors, poised to graduate this June and head out into our amazing industry; so I wanted to make sure that I was supportive, informative and captivating of their attention. When you have a chance to speak with high school or college students, especially with the current generations, you must make every effort to keep their attention/keep them involved since they process information at such a fast rate with the technology, information and everything around them.

My conversation with these students was exactly that – I wasn’t speaking towards them, but rather with them. We kept a great back and forth going on the do’s and don’ts of restaurants, design elements, how to gather research/information and other elements of the business. I think I enjoyed the hour and a half Skype session as much as they did – these students are extremely bright, very engaging and forward thinking with the concepts that they are putting together. I look forward to having a chance to check out the 5 groups restaurant concepts at the end of their class and prior to their graduation.

I can’t thank Jon Schlegel and Dr. Young enough for this opportunity and look forward to the chance to speak with future classes at the school in the near future. My closing message to each of you is this – it’s not enough to follow your passion and embrace that passion; it is your task to SHARE your passion with others and support those who are just getting started in your industry. Take time, give back; the rewards you gain from that will be endless.

Las Vegas Weekly

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Nation’s Restaraunt News

Friday, April 19th, 2013

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The New York Times

Friday, April 19th, 2013

My first independent dining experience occurred when I was 10 years old. My mother gave me 50 cents, and I took the bus from our home 20 blocks south to downtown Columbus, Ohio, and had lunch in the tea room of Lazarus, the department store. I remember the meal in exquisite detail: a dainty plate of chicken dressing with giblet gravy accompanied by a glass of milk. It was perfect. Even today, slabs of perfect foie gras and glasses of 1921 Chateau d’Yquem don’t always surpass the memory I reserve for that first taste of self-determination. And I may still have a bias in favor of department-store dining. I love the Cafe SFA that opened last week on the eighth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue.

It’s a tailored, wainscoted room with sponged gold walls that wraps around the store’s west and north sides, opening up to a bird’s-eye view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the roof-top gardens that float like a mini-Versailles around Rockefeller Center, the skaters and the Christmas tree. It’s a quiet room with a view and the cooking doesn’t detract from the experience.

By offering nearly half a dozen different salads as well as carrot dill soup with half of a shrimp and vegetable sandwich or a warm chicken, tomato and spinach sandwich, the menu is sensitive to the needs of those trying to preserve their girlish figures. The Thai chicken, crab cakes, fettuccine with ginger, broccoli and ginger, or the hefty roast-ed-duck salad and Oriental chicken salad set new epicurean standards. All seem a long way from crustless cucumber sandwiches.

Nevertheless, the spirit of ladies who dressed to shop and lunched in cloche hats and kid gloves seems to linger in the room. They might raise a penciled brow over the Cruvinet that is stocked with eight well-chosen wines, or about the lunch or tea tab that is much closer to $25 than it is to 25 cents. I thought it was reasonable rent, and the deftly run, 154-seat dining room is such a well-placed oasis that I didn’t miss chicken dressing and gravy at all.

The Richmond News Leader

Friday, April 19th, 2013

WASHINGTON — “Do you, by any chance, have fish tweezers or a pair of pliers?” Wolfgang Puck asked as he pulled off a rumpled sports coat and slipped his arms into a pristine white chef’s jacket.

Puck pulled the first of two salmon from a red ice chest he had carried into the kitchen of the U.S. Senate restaurants.

When Daniel O’Brien, sous chef, said they had no fish pliers or tweezers, Puck began pulling bones from the center of the fish with miniature tweezers from a Swiss Army Knife.

A half-dozen kitchen workers kept walking back and forth as Puck and Robert Nyman, a friend, worked, speaking in culinary shorthand, to prepare hors d’oeuvres for 150 people ready in 40 minutes.

Chef O’Brien already had cut russet potatoes into ‘/4-inch slices and arranged them on baking sheets. When Puck gave the word, they would be brushed with olive oil and baked in a 400° oven until crisply browned on top and soft in the center.

Otherwise, it was up to Puck and Nyman to get salmon canapes, potatoes with caviar and pizza ready.

“Don’t slice them too thick,” Puck warned Nyman, who was sawing through four baguettes of French bread.

“Don’t slice them too thin either,” Nyman shot back holding up a ‘/4-inch thick bread slice that looked like a miniature doughnut.

“He’s my father, so I have to be nice to him,’ he winked at the kitchen staff gathered around. spiritual father.”

“I’m not sure if he adopted me or I adopted him.” We haven’t figured that out yet.”

The staff looked very puzzled.

Nyman finished slicing and passed the croutons on to a kitchen worker to be toasted.

He put several bunches of fresh herbs on a cutting board.

Chopped fresh thyme, basil

“Wolf, you want the basil with this or separate?” Nyman asked as he used the kitchen’s only chef’s knife to chop fresh thyme.

“With it, minced.”

In ten minutes Puck had finished pulling the bones from the fish. He drizzled it with olive oil and rubbed the oil in.

Puck checked the oven temperature and put the two huge pans of potato slices in. He realized that the kitchen workers were staring at them.

“OK students, come around,” Puck said genially. “We’re in class.”

“So you’re the big chef?” one woman said.

“I’m not that big,” he said and flashed her one of his disarming grins.

“Does that sauce go on the fish?” another worker asked, pointing to the herb? And a few flakes of crushed dried red pepper Nyman was beating with a wire whisk into Ligurian unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil.

“We gonna brush the pizza with it before we send them out,” Puck answered over his shoulder as he turned to check on the potatoes.

“If you could get me a few lemons, please, like 10, and some fresh parsley,” Puck said to the sous chef . . .

“Minced or sprigs?” O’Brien asked.

“Sprigs, and what about some kosher salt?” Puck continued.

‘We have to take care of the senators’

“We don’t use salt here or butter or cream or any of that good stuff. We have to take care of the senators,” O’Brien said.

Eventually, someone found a box of salt.

“Wolf, you want a little salt in this?” Nyman asked pointing to the herb oil.

“You don’t need salt,” Puck said matter-of-factly.

He walked over to the oven where the potatoes were baking.

“Thanks,” Puck said as the cook who was watching them opened the oven door. “Keep watching, don’t let them get too brown.”

Puck started rearranging slices of Italian plum tomatoes, rings of red onions and bits of sausage on the tops of pizzas. He stuck his arm in the oven to check the temperature. Hot enough. By the time he turned around, several pizzas were neatly arranged on a huge baking sheet. Without saying a word, he took three off and put them directly on the oven rack and rearranged ingredients on other pizzas.

When the first six 12-inch pizzas were done, Puck took them from the oven and blotted moisture off each one with a clean kitchen towel, brushed them with seasoned oil, cut them into 12 sample-size slices and shoved them onto platters.

The salmon canapes and caviar potatoes already were upstairs on the reception table.

Certain that the kitchen staff would keep the pizzas coming, Puck jumped on a service elevator, went upstairs and walked into The Mansfield Room for the reception.

Wood Stone Travels – “We are not afraid of Wood”

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Regional Sales Manager, Phil Eaton

“We are not afraid of Wood”

Those were the words that Robert and Corey Nyman countered when I asked them if they realized that the Fire Deck 9660 (WS-FD-9660) they inherited at Aperitif restaurant in Woodbury, Minnesota was entirely wood-fired.

Aperitif Restaurant & Bar Wood Stone OvenRobert and Corey are the principals of The Nyman Group a Scottsdale, (Arizona based management – concept development – consulting agency) who inherited an unopened restaurant space in Minnesota. The restaurant came with a collection of Wood Stone solid-fuel equipment including the Fire Deck oven already mentioned and a rotisserie/ broiler.I spent two days with them and their staff before opening night on Saturday, Jan 30th. A family atmosphere filled the entire restaurant during my time there. Robert and Corey are seasoned operators who assembled a skilled and enthusiastic staff to open a restaurant in this challenging economy. They inherited the only completely wood-fired Fire Deck 9660 that Wood Stone has ever built. Talk about intimidating. I had no idea how this piece of equipment would respond but I should have known, its a Wood Stone and an amazing piece of equipment to stand in front of.The oven held a consistent temperature of around 575 degrees with a medium sized fire on one side of the oven. Consistent 3-4 min pizzas, artisan breads, whole Asian snapper, salt crusted bass, it was an awesome display of diversity in the oven. The chefs were excited to use the oven and their creative juices started flowing as the day went on. It was really neat to see someone be excited about cooking with wood. The restaurant was built and outfitted by another group and the Nyman group came in to get it open and operating. They inherited a lot of challenges and rose to the occasion. Check them out!