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New Year’s Resolutions

January 4, 2010

We are curious creatures.  Every year we decide before we get drunk New Year’s Eve, to set aside goals for the coming year that we know we will never keep.  There is something about the end of the year that calls for introspection, and something about a new year that offers optimism that we can change.  With that in mind, we present our New Year’s 2010 resolutions.  I know, we’re a bit late, but procrastination was not on the list so we’re golden!

Monsieur Anton’s 2010 Resolutions

Cook more at home It is easy to fall back on the excuse that it is too much effort for a single guy to just cook for himself.  That is just lazy.  While Gusteau is the chef here, I am not devoid of any cooking skills.  I can navigate my way around the kitchen.  It’s just that I’ve always found the excuse that either I didn’t have enough time, or it wasn’t worth it to cook for just one.  Bullocks!  It’s time to cook more.  Who knows; a year from now it may be Chef Anton and Monsieur Gusteau!

Get out to more restaurants And I’m not talking about fast food and diners.  There are so many fine dining options available to us in Cleveland that we don’t take advantage of.  When choosing what places dine at, I will always show preference to independent restaurants, thereby supporting all the fine chefs the North Coast has.  I will not be persuaded by “celebrity” chef status or dissuaded by it.  Every restaurant will be judged on its merits, not its reputation.

Get out of my comfort zone I will expand my horizons!  I pledge to eat food from non tradition cuisines such as Ethiopian, Middle Eastern and Vietnamese.  I swear that if a food item looks weird to me, I will not judge until I’ve placed it in my mouth and tasted it for myself.  I shall also get out of my single malt scotch, beer and wine rut when it comes to the bar.  It’s time to drink other liquors (except tequila…not a fan) and white wines even when I’m not matching it with dinner.

Drink more classic cocktails I resolve to educate people that just because a drink comes in a Martini glass does not mean it is a Martini, even if it means pestering them at the bar.  OK, I won’t pester them at the bar, but I will on this blog.  I’ll strive to drink more of the classics and rediscover why such cocktails as a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Sidecar, Stinger and a real honest to goodness non-frozen Daiquiri made from fresh ingredients are the standard to which all mixologists should aspire to when creating new cocktail; and they should create new drinks.  Respecting tradition does not mean you have to sacrifice innovation.  Perhaps as part of this resolution, I will resolve to create a new classic!

Stay close to old friends in the business The restaurant business is a paradox.  While working at a dining establishment you make close friends with your co-workers.  There is a bunker mentality that goes with surviving a busy Saturday night that bonds you.  That is why it is so perplexing when you don’t keep in contact with the very same people you went into battle with every night once you move on.  Moving on is part of the restaurant biz, maybe more so than any other industry.  We food pros tend to live a nomadic lifestyle, going from one job to another.  Been in the same place for three years?  You’re a veteran here!  In 2010 I plan to keep up connections with my colleagues from my most recent job, and to reconnect with ones from my past.  We used to go out for drinks and swap war stories every night after work, and I’ll be damned if we shouldn’t still be doing.  Of all my resolutions, this is my most important.  These people have played a huge part in making me who I am today, and I shall not forget them!

Chef Gusteau:  Nice list Anton!  For our faithful readers, notice Anton’s list…very impressive, particularly when one considers how long Anton has been in the business!  He and I both believe that we are still learning, and still enjoy learning!  I am not sure how I got demoted in the process via his list, but we’ll have to wait and see on that!  As far as trying new things and getting out of one’s comfort zone, I believe that to be the key to personal growth and excellence.  The only limits in life are the ones you perceive for yourself!  Finally, I see that Anton has more drinking on tap for the future.  Surprised?  Hardly, but it will be fun reading about all his “research” during the year.  I think I should start writing a book entitled, “The Death of a Liver: The Story of Anton.”  Ok, now for my list, soon to be disparaged by Anton no doubt!

Chef Gusteau’s 2010 Resolutions

Eat vegetarian at least twice a week. My goodness that hurt to write, although it is true.  Good old Chef Gusteau needs to take better care of himself, and a “balanced” diet might be the start.  If I had my way, I’d be eating every type of red meat and fatty fish every night, all to be washed down with a bottle or two of my best wine.  At that pace, I wouldn’t make season 2 of At the Pass, though.  This will be as much a culinary challenge as it will be a dietary one, so I will provide updates on how long this one lasts!

Drink the best wine available, always! I have meant to do this for some time.  How many times have you heard someone say that they are saving a particular bottle of wine for a special occasion or time?  Almost a cliché, right?  Well, I mean it this time!  Each night I will drink the best wine I find in my wine cellar, and enjoy it selfishly with whomever happens to be eating dinner with us that given night.  Am I giving in to self-indulgence?  I’d rather see it as enjoying life to its fullest, and allowing wine to serve its number one goal: to be enjoyed and shared with friends.  Doesn’t that make every occasion a special one?

Try a new cuisine each month. I am not necessarily referring to going out to new restaurants, although that might be involved to some extent.  Instead, I am challenging myself to learn how to cook many different cuisines that I have never tried.  Granted, I should taste some indicative dishes from these new cuisines before I attempt to cook them as a baseline should be established on what a dish should taste like.   This is not so much getting me out of my comfort zone as it is making the time to try new things out in the kitchen.  It has become very easy for me to try mini-experiments around the cuisines I am already familiar with.  Although these tests have been fun and successful, I doubt that I am becoming a much better chef because of them.  So, what do locals eat in Botswana anyways?

Spend more time cooking with my kids. Make no mistake, my boys are very familiar with the kitchen, and have fun helping me cook (by making a mess, of course).   But I need to spend more time really teaching them more about good food, and having fun in the kitchen.  By helping prepare dinner, they will feel a sense of accomplishment while gaining a better appreciation for good food.  Most importantly, it’s fun to spend time with them.  They will grow up remembering our times in the kitchen, regardless of how much they actually wish to cook in the future.

Spend more time reading. I have so many cookbooks, textbooks, food history books, and other fun reading that I haven’t either finished or started that would be both informative and entertaining.  I actually picked up my textbook from culinary school last weekend and thumbed through it.  So many recipes seemed familiar, but not from school.  These were actual recipes that I remembered from professional kitchens!  Think about that for a moment.  Do you remember being at school and thinking “when am I ever going to need this again?”  And you were right 99% of the time.  But here in my culinary textbooks were all the tools that I needed and used while a chef.  That’s another thing about the culinary world; it is all very practical.  There is no need to imagine working with microscopic elements that may or may not exist (chemistry/physics) or dealing with psychological phenomenon.  You take food, cook it, and eat it.  That’s it.  Everything else is technique, patience, art and passion.  Now that I have learned so much, it’s time to go back and learn what I missed the first time around.  I am pretty sure that will be quite a bit.  Just ask Anton, sometimes I’m not too bright.

Monsieur Anton:  Well played my friend!  Your list shows two of your finest qualities.  You have a fine culinary mind, and you are a good father.  Not a bad place to start.  I can do without the vegetarian resolution though.  I’d like to think I’ll eat more veggies, but that will be on the side of some meat.  Sorry, I worked too hard to get to the top of the food chain to not have some meat in my meal.  I’m heartened by your commitment to continued culinary education.  If only you could be as supportive of the furthering of my beverage knowledge.  Maybe we could go over it with a couple of bottles from your wine cellar.

Have you made any resolutions for the coming year?  Let us know about them in the comments section!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    January 4, 2010 6:01 pm

    Nice list guys! My grandparents and parents were big cocktail party people. Nothing like cheese and crackers, shrimp cocktail and a manhattan straight-up to make me feel all sentimental. Gotta love the classics!

    • January 5, 2010 5:18 pm

      You said it, John! Shrimp cocktail…and ice cold vodka martinis…perfection. Chef Gusteau

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