About Me

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Haddon Heights, New Jersey, United States

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Sad State of the SJ Dining Scene

I've been very fortunate to have been reviewed by Craig LeBan at the Philadelphia Inquirer and he's been complimentary. 

But in Craig LeBan's year end review, out of 44 reviews, he only reviewed 1 NJ restaurant and that was a chain restaurant at a mall--Season 52. 

I hope Elements can take the next step in 2010 to make the public aware of the great dining opportunities in South Jersey. So look forward to a new edition of Chef Wars, guest chef dinners, feast in the fields and new theme dinners.

Thanks for your support in 2009 and hope to see you in 2010

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Something To Think About

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.”---Washington Irving, America's first Author

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Chef and His Ego

"Whenever the chef begins to feel his ego growing, he need only consider that no matter what the dish or the work or skill or thought involved, the end result of his creation will after being consumed is to be transformed basically into shit by the eater (hard to feel high and mighty after that realization).  You can also take the opposite view that some part of the 'art' will actually become integrated into the eater's body... thusly becoming a small part of the person.  Perhaps somewhere in the middle of these thought schools lies the balance necessary to creating excellence (humbleness and vision)".---chadzilla
Just something to think about when your a little to proud of yourself.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Farmer and Scenes From Feast in the Field dinner at 1895 Organic Farm

I have tried over the last 6 years to support the small guy, the farmer. But like every small business, farmers have their own set of issues. The biggest for me is distribution. I can't spend all my time driving from farm to farm and the farmer can't spend his time driving to me for a $100.00 order.

So how do we fix the problem?

I don't know other then to continue supporting the good ones I do find. Where do I find them? At the local farmers market, I have 2 that are both convenient and good quality-- Burlington Ag Center in Moorestown and the Haddonfield Farmers Market.

Restaurants are just a marketing tool for a good farmer, and I'm proud to be one. I've made some good friends when getting to meet the people that grow our food. But none better then Kim Batton of the 1895 Organic Farm.

This summer Kim and I have worked closer together, with Kim asking   me about her growing variety and style. So I thought it time for me to get Kim's opinion about my cooking. So the 1st annual Feast in the Fields Dinner at the 1895 Organic Farm took place on Sept. 27th, 2009.

It did not start out as a very good day with rain in the forecast and on the ground. But Kim's husband Wayne told me not to worry that it would clear by afternoon and be great for dinner. I dropped off my delivery of equipment and left Mari and Adam to begin the set up process and headed back to the restaurant and right into a down pour.

That was the last of the rain I would see until it was time to back up and go back to the restaurant around 7:30pm.

I really can't do the day justice in my writing, you should have been there. Mari took some really nice pictures, give them a look and make plans to join us next year.

Going to try and catch up

Well, I haven't done a good job over the last couple of months of keeping up with this blog.

I could blame it on the few complainers that wrote in, but I really don't care what they think or I could blame it on being to busy, but who are we kidding I own a restaurant in S Jersey in the summer.

The truth is -- life got in the way.

I'm going to try and post a few times over the next couple of weeks on some of the events we did this summer. At least it sounds like a good plan tonight.

Stay Tuned!!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Let's toast and Bottoms up!)

Facciamo un brindisi e vuotate i bicchieri
(Let's toast and Bottoms up!)

I heard it through the grapevine, there's a new gig in town. We at Elements are pleased as punch (ummm, wine to be exact) that there's a new pairing that we'd like to be sharing - enjoy your fine dining experience with Elements as you sip a glass of Auburn Road wine.

Elements Cafe, which is owned and operated by Chef Fred Kellermann and his wife, is located in historic Haddon Heights, N.J. Always striving to offer the customer a unique dining experience, Chef Fred uses his culinary talents combined with the freshest ingredients available to create palate pleasing fare. With a flair for trying new things in the kitchen, Chef Fred is always on the lookout for something different. Coupled with the desire to support locally owned businesses, he wanted to do the only thing that seemed natural. And what goes better with food than wine? So, on a muggy summer day at a wine tasting in Medford, Chef Fred came across the booth for Auburn Road Vineyards and was impressed. After sampling several glasses, he decided this was the local vineyard he was looking for.

Located in Pilesgrove, N.J., Auburn Road Vineyards is a locally owned and operated winery and enoteca. The co-operative effort of three couples (and several willing helpers), this vineyard is a sight to behold. Stepping onto the property, and surveying the terroir, one truly feels as though they have entered wine country. From the beginning, when the idea was first planted in their minds and with no practical experience in making wine, they forged ahead. Since then, they have cultivated their dreams and their business into what it is today - an award winning vineyard. Read their story here. http://auburnroadvineyards.blogspot.com/2009/06/continuing-tale-of-auburn-road.html

With an eye to the future and the hope of providing our customers with more dining options, Elements has begun the application process to become a retail outlet for Auburn Road wines. Should we receive approval we will be able to offer our customers the ability to purchase these wines in house. Rest assured, we are still a B.Y.O.B and you will always be allowed to bring your own bottles with you, this is simply another service we hope to provide to our patrons.
But with this future union in mind we are proud to offer the opportunity to enjoy and explore the Auburn Road Winery while enjoying a specially prepared dinner from Elements café and Chef Fred Kellermann.

Hors d’ oeuvres
Carrot and Salmon “Tar Tar” with tarragon aioli
Crab Grits stuffed Mushrooms
Rabbit “Cordon Blue”
Grape Leave steamed Shrimp with black pepper grape marmalade
Fall Fruit Gazpacho with mint walnut pesto

1st Course
Jersey Sweet Corn Puree
smoked turkey and shiso
2nd Course
Compressed Melon and Blue Cheese Salad
arugula, lemon oil and Minus 8 vinegar
Main Course(choice of)
Slow Cooked Pork
Olive Oil Poached Tuna
Sole poached apples and Swiss chard
Dessert Course
Apples Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Sunday Oct 4th Hors d' oeuvres start at 5:30pm dinner at 6:30pn
$40/person plus tax and gratuity, please call 856 546 8840 for reservations

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chef Wars Act 3

It took me awhile but here is the pictures from the round 2 chef wars dinner.

These were taken at Ted's on Main in Medford.

Adam and I had a really good time that night and Ted's crew was great.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I finally got some sleep

Well anyone that knows me and how much I work will be surprised to here this--- I finally got some sleep!

Not a lot ,about 7 hours but enough to finish the week.

We had a great time last night doing chef wars against Ted's on Main--we lost--- oh well. It was a lot of fun and Ted is a great cook and fun to work with in the kitchen. He inserted a little excitement and enthusiasm when I was feeling a little run down.

I have pictures from both dinners, his place and mine that I'll post by the week end.

5 more days and I get a day off! 1st in over a month!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm getting behind......

Sorry the lack of good updates. I'm in the middle of working about 30 days straight. And that's a good thing.

Small recap-- We were at Ted's on Main on July 16th for a Chef Wars dinner. It went very well and Adam and I had a great time with Ted, his staff and guests. We lost... but it was close.

Ted will be at Elements on Monday August 3rd for our turn hosting Chef Wars. We have a full house now, so after the dinner I'll post pictures....I know I keep saying I'll post but I really will.

On Saturday Aug 22nd we'll have our 2nd Tomato Dinner, watch for the newsletter it'll have the menu and other great upcoming events.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dear Guests

After a couple of e-mails and a couple of comments to the blog-- which I love finally I have proof that someone reads this. I think yet again I must explain myself.

One person used the words "disdain for my guests" and I think this is completely unfair. Many times I'm found in the dining room talking with people, giving out recipes or just taking the moment to meet someone new. This part of the business I truly enjoy.

It is when I'm treated poorly that I boil over and I don't enter the dining room, instead I choose to vent my anger for a persons' total lack of common courtesy in this forum.

And quite honestly I'm shocked that people are so put off by it. But then maybe I shouldn't be.

People are so used to getting their every little wish, treating employees badly and just being a bad people in general that when they are called out on it, even anonymously they go running for the their "Mommy's apron".

With all this in mind I find it necessary that I offer you a bland, kiss your rear, insight into the restaurant world.

If I had known idea that offering frank straight forward views of the few bad seeds we get here in addition to the hundreds of great people was going to be so off putting to so many people.

So look for pictures of food and advertisements for upcoming events but if you want honesty--- sorry you can't handle it.

For the majority of you that know and understand me and have commented to me directly on your enjoyment of my writing and know where I'm coming from, please e-mail directly and I'll give you a link to my new blog-- it'll have all the inside ideas, passion, and dirt.

But remember it will be honest.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why do You go out to eat?

"Crab cakes weren't that spectacular, but we left full with money in the wallet."--- on a regular basis I read the reviews of other restaurants and this was written on a opentable review of a local restaurant.

I had always said that opening a restaurant in New Jersey would be a bad idea, too many chain restaurants and the people always look for the cheapest way out.

Now don't get me wrong I like a bargain as much as the next guy, my staff even refers to me as cheap.

But the event of dining out should be a social event from start to finish whether you're just 2 people out for the evening or a group of friends on a night on the town. You should be out for the total package service, ambiance, food and PRICE-- and this should be determined by your personal tastes.

If your biggest concern is price, stay home and learn to cook it will always be cheaper then dining out.

Ask any economist and they'll tell you the fastest way to save money is to cut back on non-essentials like dining out.

Ask me the fastest way to live a short, boring life is to cut back on the non-essentials like dining out, and enjoying the company of friends and the talents of the restaurant pros that excite you.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

No Class--Part 2

Just in case you thought I was going soft, I must give you a new edition of NO CLASS!

YO ASSHOLE! When you make a reservation for 10 people and we call you to confirm 2 hours before your reservation and you say-"yes, we'll be there at 7pm for a party of 10" and you show up with 4 at 7:30pm. Be prepared to be treated as well as you have treated us.

It goes beyond my ability to be professional to an ASSHOLE such as yourself.

If you're sitting in my dining room and I think you're taking to long to eat-- the next course is coming.

If I think you're finished you're entree-- you're finished.

And if I want to send your desserts out before you order coffee-- get the hint.

We'll take your money tonight but you are not worth the effort to have back.

And yes, you're in the dining room right now and I'm coming to shut off the air conditioning and turn up the lights --- get out!

Monday, July 6, 2009

It was a beautiful morning for a walk on the farm

One of the best parts about being a chef is getting to meet the people that produce the food I get to cook with. I've been really lucky to work with some great people and for about 2 years now I been working with Kim Batton from the 1895 Organic Farm in Lumberton NJ.

Well this morning I took a drive out to the farm to meet some fellow chefs about a project that I'll tell you about later.

It was a beautiful morning and I got to the farm a little before 9am and started walking around. I don't think people really realize how lucky we are to live so close to farms that really care about what they do. Kim has a small farm that she works basically by herself-- planting, weeding and picking 7 days a week from mid march to late October. She's able to produce enough organic vegetable to supply several restaurants including Elements, her own farm stand, her stand at the farmer's market in Moorestown and a Shop Rite in Marlton--- and I thought I worked a lot. Now I'm not talking about just a couple different crops, it's everything from strawberries in the spring to pumpkins in the fall, with everything you could want in between.

Now a days most people no what it's like to get fresh vegetables at a road side stand or at the local farmers market and don't get me wrong these are all great. But to go to the farm and pick them right out of the ground is just plain amazing. I've had farmers bring me stuff straight to the restaurant that was "just picked", but when you bend down and pull a beet out of the earth it's like it almost has a heart beat. Now I don't want this to turn into a discussion about the vegetarian vs carnivore or anything close to that. I'm just trying to say when you pull a beet out of the ground and bite into it and the juice leaps out of it like it was shot out of a hose-- that's fresh. Remember I'm talking about a beet not an orange or strawberry, things you think of having a lot of juice but a beet.

With the over abundance of rain in southern NJ and the abnormally low temperatures we've had the farms haven't been producing like the normally do. We've had about a week of basically dry time and they say the thermometer will be near 90' by Sunday so I'm hoping for a telephone call from kim and the farmers saying "Fred it's time, come get the vege's by the case".

In the mean time hope for good growing weather for the farmers and--

Here's a couple of random shots of the farm. I'll had more in the future when I remember to bring a real camera.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ideas I'm working on

Thyme roasted pork belly with honey poached turnips and black pepper gastrique

Coffee crusted beef rib eye with crispy beech mushrooms and bordelaise syrup

Rainbow trout and tasso ham wrapped in brioche with tomato caper vinaigrette

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chef Wars Act 2

This time it was a little harder then the first.

I had a really good time cooking this part 2 of this dinner series but it does let me know there's no place like home. You just know your area, your stove and are bit more comfortable in your own kitchen.

I want to think Rich, Marianne and the whole staff at Andreotti's for a great evening.

And here's the pictures.

On to the 2nd Round

Friday, June 19, 2009

I won!

Just a quick update.

Wanted to let everyone know that I had good time at Andreotti's on Thursday evening and got enough votes to move on to the 2nd round.

I'll do I picture post of the evening by Monday so keep checking in.

I don't know you I'll face yet in the 2nd round. the winners so far are Ted's on Main, Catelli's, and Elements. We're waiting for the winner of the Los Amigos vs Anthony's dinner on Tuesday the 23rd.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sometimes life needs an explanation

This blog is about my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

There are many blogs that you can read that are straight marketing tools, an advertisement.

There are just as many anonymous blogs that are some one's daily complaints and they are to embarrassed to let life know you they really are.

Then there's mine..... I'm not PC..... I'm going to tell you how I feel.... about everything. I'm 41 years old, a husband, father, son, business owner, and general pain in the ass. When life gives me lemons I don't make lemonade, I make a ceviche and tell life what I really think.

I wrote a post named "Why do i get so fucking angry"--there was only one reason to write that post, to stop me from telling a customer what I really thought of them. The post is short and angry(much like me) and from what my wife tells me it doesn't do a good job of explaining my anger. It wasn't meant to. It was meant to calm me down, at the very least to stop me from verbalizing to my guest's face what I really thought of their 'rude at best' comment.

Then I got this comment after the first post.

"Love your place.
We eat there whenever we can."

Thank You, that's why I cook.

"However, I just read your blog and the one paragraph about the emails was distasteful. I think it should be removed because it is unprofessional.

Why, just because I'm not afraid to hide who I am. Why do people feel they have the right to tell me how to act. I'm sorry if that post offended you or you think it's unprofessional. You can ask my mom if I listened to her about things I felt strongly about... the answer would probably be, she could only calm me down but not change what I thought.

I could go in to depth about all the stupid comments that I had leading up to the one's that inspired this post but those weren't the important ones. The one that sent me over the edge was.

Everybody gets rudeness thrust upon them everyday. And a lot people just take it and then go home and kick the dog or ignore the family. I've had days like that, where I just shut myself off and hide from life rather then enjoy it with the ones I love.

Well I can't do it anymore, I've missed too much of life.

If you can't take my honesty you shouldn't read my blog.

If my blog offends you, you might not want to eat at my restaurant. But I think you'll be missing out on some great food.

But don't think that your opinion as a guest in my restaurant gives you the right to tell me how to act.

Everybody needs an outlet, a stress release and boy do I have stress. This just so happens to be mine.

Sometimes you'll get the good-- upcoming events and menus that excite me.

Sometimes you'll get the bad-- rude comments made to me or my staff that we shouldn't have to take.

Sometimes you'll get the ugly-- me venting my anger in words because nobody wants me doing in person.

But at Elements and from me, you'll get honesty-- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I have a saying and I may have said it to you "I did good today? Thanks. I'll do better tomorrow"

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why do I get so fucking angry!

You know I hear every stupid fucking comment there is:

Lady--"I have reservations at 6pm and we'll be late"
Me --"that's shouldn't be a problem, what time will you be in"
Lady--"I don't know, when my husband gets home"

What the fuck am I supposed to say to that. I had another couple of comments this week. They were both related to my e-mail marketing.

You know people if getting a couple of e-mails-- that doesn't cost you a dime-- takes up to much of your life DON'T FUCKING SIGN UP FOR THEM! I didn't buy your e-mail address you gave it to me.

I get about 2000 e-mails a week you know what if I don't want them I delete them and move on. But I don't send snide remarks, I don't send questions about why or when they were sent. I delete them.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'm getting dangerous...I'm learning all kinds of new ways to post. Aren't iphones the best.

Pan Seared Scallops Caramelized Onion Risotto Tomato Oil

Chef Wars Act 1

I had no idea how much work this is. This is my 1st major post and I thought I could knock this out in an hour. What a mistake. It took me almost 7 hours over 3 days to get this done. 

Chef Wars is a guest chef dining competition presented by the SJHotchefs. I was fortunate enough to host the 1st of 2 dinners with Chef Richard Marsh of Andreotti's Viennese Cafe of Cherry Hill NJ. 

We had a full house for the dinner and a great time. There is just too much to write about and I'm not that good of a writer anyway so just take a look at the pictures. 

I'll do individual posts about the different plates has I get them done but this is as far as I go for now.

I'll be at Andreotti's on the 18th so come on over and enjoy a great dinner and vote me into the 2nd round.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chef Wars--Good Food Good Friends

We are taking our own place in the media stream and are participating in the SJHotchefs "Chef Wars".

I'll be competing against Richard Marsh of Andreotti's this Thursday night at Elements. And following that up with a dinner at his place in cherry hill on the 18th of June.

This should be a lot of fun and a seriously good match-up. With Rich's classical background and schooling from the Culinary Institute of America I know we are going to turn some great food.

So wish me good luck.

I'll follow up with some pictures on Friday and hopefully a winning score.

Friday, May 29, 2009

What drives you to succeed?

Our Deepest Fear...

is not that we are inadequate, 
our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. 
We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" 
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. 
Your playing small does not serve the world. 
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. 
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. 
It is not just in some of us, 
it is in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, 
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson -

An inspiring quote that makes me think. Does it make you think? 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why do I do this?

I spend a better part of waking hours thinking about food, thinking about how to make my food better.

For What!

Most people in this industry would give the PC answer of "for the guest".

Sorry, that's just not me. I do it for me. Don't get me wrong, it makes me very happy even proud like a daddy when I go in the dining room and a guest tells me they enjoyed their meal. But at the end of the day I'm my harshest critic.

And don't misunderstand, I want everyone to like it-my food. But....

There have been only two people in my entire life that I actually cared what they thought of my food.

My father is number one and always will be.

For a long time I don't really think he understood what I was going for. But then when I graduated from the Greenbrier and he was able to come down and stay at the hotel, come in the kitchen and see me work, and see my graduation table he got it. I didn't want to be the fry cook at the local restaurant, I wanted more and still do.

The second person is chef Peter Timmons of the Greenbrier Hotel.

After my first year at the hotel Chef Timmons came on board as sous chef of the main kitchen. A position completely beneath him. But I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity and good fortune to work with him for two years. He, more then any other chef, has shaped how I think about working in the kitchen, how I think about food, and how I teach others.

On graduation night, after being up for about 3 days straight we had our graduation dinner. A grand event with my comrades, with wine and food cooked by Chef Timmons himself. After a few glasses of wine, great food, and no sleep I couldn't tell you if this actually happened but I remember it happening so it must have--- Chef Timmons said "you know Fred your a good cook". After 2 years of working with him that is the biggest compliment he ever gave me and a bigger compliment then anyone probably ever will when comes to my job.

That's all I'll ever need. The smile and understanding of my dad and a 7 word sentence from my teacher.

Friday, May 15, 2009

No Class

Yo! Asshole in the dining room right now, you know who you are. We take a lot of pride in ourselfs as restaurant employees and we think it shows in our work.

Don't ever come into my F--ing restaurant again and suggest that "we can share your scraps because your done". We eat better then you do because you have the palate of a 4 old with your well done steak and coke for dinner.

Thanks for your money but next time head to Mcdonalds it's more your speed.

P.S. --Just because your over 60 doesn't mean being a complete ass is ok. You would think that at your age you would have learned some manners by now.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Vegetarian vs. Vegan

Just a short word.
I have no problem at all with vegetarians. I always have vegetarian options on my menus, not vegan but vegetarian. My problem is when someone comes into the restaurant and looks at all the options and decides they don't like any of the 4-7 vegetarian options(not counting soup and salad) we have and wants something special.

Then on top of that they say that they are vegan, but they eat cheese.

Well, here it is.

Attention vegetarians--- you're not special! If you don't like the options we have I'm sorry but this is what we have.

Attention vegans--- If you don't know the difference between vegan and vegetarian don't bother to ask for vegan food! Vegans don't eat cheese!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Keeping Up

Just wanted to say this blogging thing ain't easy. Between running a small restaurant, participating in the local restaurant association and trying to have a family life, it just doesn't leave a lot of time for writing.

But I'll get back to soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


In 1989, the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) articulated what has now become a widely accepted definition of sustainability: " to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."-- Wikipedia

Sustainability has become the next catchall marketing phrase applied to everything from the food we eat to the gas we put in our cars--have you seen the ads for citgo they actually are trying to make us think that by buying their gas we are supporting our local community. 

I'm just as guilty as everyone else, I have come into the dining room and talked about "this sustainable farm or company" or the server uses the phrase "grown on this sustainable farm" but does this make my business sustainable?  No and Yes

I think as a conscientious member of the community and maybe more importantly a parent, we all try to do our part to save and prepare for the future. We pick up trash that is blowing by, we recycle everywhere,  not just at home, but at work and school as well, and we purchase items that agree with our personal ideas of right and wrong.  

But can a industry that survives on the idea that we want a guest to leave their home, burning fossil fuels in the process, then pay us for something they can do at home less expensively, really market itself as green or sustainable. (As I write this, I can't believe I'm suggesting people stay at home.) I just don't understand business owners that use terms like 'sustainability' or 'going green' to describe their business when their real and only motive is to increase their bank account any way possible. One should not be marketing themselves in the narrowest terms possible, just to claim they belong to a certain group so that they may attract more business.

I think that we all can do more and should do more to insure a better tomorrow. When I go into the dining room and I'm fortunate enough to hear the kind words of a guest about the food I always thank them and tell them " I'll do a better job tomorrow".  It's how I think, how I feel and I hope that that attitude rolls into my life outside of the restaurant. But I'm not trying to sell it.

If you want to "go green"-- do it. If you want to support the local farm-- do it. But don't do it to increase your revenue, do it because you believe in it, you'll get so much more from it then just a couple of dollars. You'll get a better tomorrow. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009


What seems like too many years ago, a person that I consider to be a mentor, told me "as soon as you start to work for money, instead of education, your career has ended and your job has begun".

When I think about why he would say that to me or anyone else, it has to be taken in context. I was finishing up my apprenticeship at the Greenbrier Hotel and getting ready to leave. A point ahead of where many culinary school graduates find themselves but facing the same decisions. What I needed to do, was balance my desires to express myself by taking a job as a sous chef or chef in a small restaurant where I would have to teach myself and others, or a line cook in a larger more well known place where I would learn from others. 

Too often, when a young person is at school, their heads are filled with "you're the next Bobby Flay or Thomas Keller" and they very well may be. But those great chefs didn't get there with their first job out of school. Read their books they'll tell you. For a person of 23 or 24 to take the job as sous chef or chef at a place right out of school - they will only hurt themselves in the long run. That's not to say there aren't exceptions to this or that they won't do a good job. But by and far most of them find a never ending circle of bad jobs with worse bosses that they can't seem to get out of. The money is too good or needed to much, the keys to a restaurant that isn't yours is too appealing, and the late nights at the bar too fun to give up--- or talk yourself into giving up.

"as soon as you start to work for money instead of education your career has ended and your job has begun"

I agree with that thought, live by it, and preach it to my staff. But at this point in my life I've come to the conclusion that my mentor was wrong. Your career ends when you stop striving to learn, and only the individual can control that. 

I find myself after 25 years in the business learning all over again, feeling like a freshman at college. There are so many new ways of looking at what we do and how we do what we do that if you really care about your career (your life) you can't help but try to learn. 

Over the next few months I will be posting about the things I'm learning but I thought I would start by thanking the people that make it possible for me to learn. I'm not going back to school of the traditional since but in the modern way. The Internet.

I read a lot of cookbooks and blogs, and recently it has been nothing but blogs. These people that write them are the new breed of chef, the ones that care more about the craft and are willing to share it.  I have noticed a new trend, it may have been started or at least pushed by Michael Laiskonis, of not only talking about what they are doing but posting recipes about it.

Thank You...

When you can't go out and purchase all the latest stuff needed to produce all these recipes from a cookbook. You can pick and choose which ones you do work on by a chef's first hand, up to the moment account of the recipe on their blog. They explain there thoughts, their process, their mistakes and you learn, from their mistakes and the yours.

When I learn how to use the back office system a little better I will start a blog roll of all the blogs I'm reading but for right now I thought I would just list a few.

Chadzilla -- excellent writing from a hotel chef's daily experiences
Workbook -- Michael Laiskonis pastry chef at Le Bernardin
Cannelle et Vanille -- great pastry chef with a great eye for the camera
Playing With Fire and Water -- a freelance chef in Connecticut

These are just a few but... But thank you all. 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Time for me to get on my soap box

I haven't been posting much but I think it's important. I friend sent it to me in an e-mail and I decide to post it.

Nationalized food? Say goodbye to the small town American farmer. No more tomato stands on the side of the road. Forget the fresh chickens from the coup. All your food will have to come from the grocery store. All your food will have to be checked through the government. Don't dare to grow corn in your own back yard or they just might come after you. This legislation is so broad based that someone with a backyard garden could have their property siezed. On the table before Congress is HR 875 which was introduced by Democrat Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut whose hubby Stanley Greenburg WORKS FOR MONSANTO. Does something smell fishy? Oh, watch out you salmon farmers. Remember Monsanto is the world's biggest producer of herbicides and genetically engineered seeds and wouldn't they love to throw the small farmers out of business. H.R. 875 is called the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 and if you want to talk about Socialism, here it is. This horrific bill would establish a "Food Safety Administration" within the Department of Health and Human Services. The mandate of this new department would be "to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes." Section 3 of HR 875 defines what type of establishments would be subject to the regulations in this legislation. It that section, a "food production facility" is defined this way: The term 'food production facility' means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation. Stalin nationalize farming methods that enabled his administration to gain control over the food supply? Stalin used the food to control the people? HR 875 gives the government the power to regulate what is "safe" farming. and therefore farmers are not using enough herbicide on their plants to be "safe" or they aren't following the same "quality control" procedures as the big guys they could be instantly put out of business. So if you want to go to the local farm stand and buy some fresh strawberries just picked by farmer Jed who uses no pesticides, you won't be able to. And what about meat? You won't be able to go to a local farm and pick your cow. You won't be able to buy fresh farmed milk. And the only fresh egg you will see is in a carton. What will America be without the roadside farm stand? What will happen to our families if the freshest blueberries they get to eat are from Chili? How will our children know the fresh taste of watermelon if the only one they taste has been shipped from Mexico? We cannot allow this bill to pass. Please forward this to every person on your email list Call your representative and demand that HR 875 NOT PASS http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt full text of the bill http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-875 We need to be free to feed our own people! Darla Shine www.housewifearmy.com Call Nancy Pelosi and say NO to HR 875 (202) 225-0100

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What Happened?????

I'm sure by now most people that enjoy good food have heard that the Fat Duck has temporarily closed due to a possible food poisoning outbreak.

I'm sure if you want you can find many blog posts that speak of the over reaction by the public and possibly Heston Blumenthal himself. But I won't link to them whether I agree with the blogger or not.

I'm more interested in someone that does not know the whole story, but I don't want to try to make you think I do. 

Everyday when you go out to eat, you trust that the restaurant you choose, and their staff is safe and responsible with the work they do.  But in this day and age, where you get your news from, the tv, internet, or your next door neighbor is more interested in shocking you then giving you all the information.  If that 'breaking news' happens to be wrong or skewed, where you got the information will never come racing back to you and say we were wrong. They'll bury it on page 12, not put it on your news home page, and they won't call you to tell you all is okay. Your favorite restaurant is run by people that work on the spur of the moment all the time. But people make mistakes. As much as I tell everyone that I don't, and I don't, people make mistakes. 

Now we try everyday to adhere to every health code there is and I'm positive that the Fat Duck adheres to standards that a lot of medical research labs would be proud of but something happened and the Fat Duck staff will learn from it and move on. I just hope that the public will give them the respect that they deserve and the time they need to figure this out.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Modern Cuisine

Anyone who knows me, knows I take a long time to make a large purchase. Well I've been talking about buying an immersion circulator for over a year now and I finally jumped. I found a Fisher scientific 73 on EBay for a $175 and could not resist.
So I did like I always do, I wrote a menu using new techniques or food or recipes that I don't know and now have to figure out. It forces me to learn-- sounds dumb but it works for me.

Although I tried something different this time I actually tried to cook something before it was needed and had to be perfect.

The Experiment-- 130 grams Rib Eye Steak and 1 clove of roasted garlic cryovaced and cooked sous vide for 10 hrs at 54' C.

I seared the meat in a hot pan with a little 10% olive oil blend.
I've been reading about sous vide cooking on every blog I can find and books that I can't afford for over a year now and today I got my first taste---

Wow. The meat was a perfect medium-rare, tender as it gets.

All this did is really get my juices going. I can't wait to get i to work tomorrow and try lamb, pork, different cuts of beef. This is going to be interesting.

Long Week

Just got done a long week, we had a party on Saturday for 210 people. Time to get back to the restaurant work and get ready for Restaurant Week. Restaurant Week is 3 weeks away but I just wrote the menu and it's time to start practicing. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

What is my Direction

If you read from the beginning you might have said that this blog would be a marketing arm of my restaurants website. 

Then it it became my personnel complaint center...

Then it turned into my personnel soapbox.

It will be all of those things, but most importantly it will be my scatter brained view on life.
So where is it going? 


Friday, February 20, 2009

Why you don't bring food to a restaurant

In case you didn't know this restaurants sell food, it's what we do. The idea of asking to bring snacks for your party or a cake is just plain rude. 

There are so many business reasons that I could go into but I shouldn't have to.

~ the restaurant makes money by selling food... duh
~ the wait staff makes money by selling food... duh
~ it costs the restaurant money when you take longer to finish eating especially if you're not eating our food
~ the restaurant does not want to be associated with other business or your friends food.. it doesn't meet our standards that's why we don't sell aunt Cathy's cakes
~ it costs the restaurant money to serve the food, wash plates, and clean up the extra mess from the food you didn't buy from us.  

Restaurants provide a service, a place to dine and visit with friends. We make money by SELLING food and drinks while you are here. If you don't want to buy our cakes or hors d'oeuvres why did you choose to come here?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lisa is Back!

If you've been dining at Elements for a while I'm sure you remember Lisa. 

Well, we are very fortunate that she got some time off this winter and chose to spend it at home. 

She worked all last week including Valentine's Day(made my job so easy) and will continue through the end of the month.

If we're lucky she'll do a guest chef dinner in the beginning of March before she goes back for her senior year at the world famous(my alma mater) Greenbrier Resort.

Some come on out and say hello.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Valentine's Day Thank You

Just wanted to say thanks to all the brave souls that came to dinner saturday evening. It's was our best Valentine's in six years, the staff, the customers it all came to together great.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Common Courtesy

This weeks has to be one of my least favorite times of the year. Everyone in this business works long hours but we enjoy it, but the week before Valentine's Day is especially difficult when the dining public has no respect for anyone. Not their dining companion, not the server, and least of all the person waiting for the table when your done eating.

We know that your going out for that special meal at a place you can't always afford....
We know that you want everything to be perfect.....
We know that you know better then we do how to do our job.....

But just once, just once, if you decide to come to our little slice of the world known as Elements Cafe please assume we know what we're doing. The young ladies that work in the dining room will move as fast as they can, they will give you the table that we have available and they know this night is special and will treat it that way.

 I'm in the kitchen with my entire staff and I'm cooking the best I can to make this night perfect for you. But know this, in the past you've been rude, condescending, and down right mean, and if you do it again I'm coming out of the kitchen and I'm going to embarrass the shit out of you and treat you like the child you are!

So come out enjoy yourself, but be nice because I'm not!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday Night

Well I'm finally starting to get my feet under me. The staff did a nice job while I was less then ready to go. So I thought a better get back to updating folks.

Here's tonight specials:

Soup du Jour-- Potato and Corn Chowder-- vegetarian with a little cream

Salad Special-- Salad Italiano-- Roasted Baby Eggplant Pearl Onions and Roma Tomatoes with a Red Wine Vinaigrette

Fish Special-- Pan Roasted Golden Tile Fish-- Very similar to sea bass, thick white mild flaky fish
in a fish chowder style stew

Meat Special-- Short Rib Wellington
Slow cooked Boneless Beef Short Rib topped with mushroom duxelle, onions and arugula all wrapped in puff pastry

Hope to see you tonight

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sundays--My Day Off

Today is my regular day off. You know the day I usually reserve for cleaning, ordering, and paper work. But I'm not writing this to get sympathy.

This is actually the second day in a row that I've been off. On a regular Saturday I stomp, growl, scream, push and pull everyone around me through what I hope is the busiest day of the week. But on this day I barely had the energy to come to work let alone lead my team. My staff saw this early in the morning and all pitched in to carry their load plus mine. 

So on a day when we had a very important party of 15 in the afternoon and 40 on the books for dinner. I wasn't there!
I say thank you to everyone that works for me everyday when they go home, I know it's small but I don't remember my various bosses saying thank you and I want to be different.

But after awhile I'm sure it just sounds like words, so today I wanted to say thank you to my staff for giving me my first Saturday off in 3 years with the restaurant open (and did very well from what I've been told) when I really needed it.

The Kitchen -- Adam, Lauren, and Kevin
The Servers -- Dana, Alexa, Madison, Julie, and Kate

Thank You


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Complaints

Every once in a while I'm going to let everyone know what bothers me. People let me know all the time so this blog will also serve as my sounding board.

We are in the middle of our Haddon Heights Taste of the Town and thanks to you we're quite busy. Some might not know, we are a small restaurant only seating about 40, so when guests don't show or are late, or don't show with number of people they left a reservation for it's hard on the staff and me.

Well tonight we had a classic that I must tell you about. We had a reservation for 2 people at 5:30pm-- a great reservation for a restaurant(if the people show). Well needless to say, but I will, they didn't show. It gets to be a little after six so--
I call-- "Yes is Mrs. So and So in"-- "yes this is she"---"Hi this is Fred from Elements, you have a reservation at 5:30"--"NO I didn't!" she said--" Oh I'm sorry, it must be the other Mrs So and So at the same number as yours."

For gods sake people it's bad enough that she didn't keep her reservation. didn't call to cancel it, but then blatantly lied about it. Come on grow up, have a little class.

This is the crap that small business owners have to deal with everyday.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Well, it's time to check in with the specials for the evening. We're thinking take the chill off today so think warm and come have a nice meal.

Soup du Jour-- Caramelized Onion, Sweet Potato and Chicken-- its broth based and no cream?

House-made Potato Gnocchi tossed with Smoked Trout and Asparagus in a Herb Butter Sauce

Elements Cassoulet-- Duck Sausage, Chicken Confit, and Apple Smoked Bacon served stew style with white beans and vegetables

Pan Roasted Halibut in a roasted portobello mushroom veloute with wilted arugula

Short Rib, Roasted Pearl Onion, and Crimini Stew with fresh herb au jus

There you have it, give us a call and make your resevation.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I've got an idea

Did you have an idea and not write it down? Well I'm going start writing things down. Here's the first one.
Fred's Fancy-- a five course tasting menu for $40 presented upon request after 8pm on Fridays. Fred will cook impromptu dishes that might be a future menu item or a spontaneous creation. It'll never be the same meal twice, so don't ask.

Well there you have it, this will be developed and promoted through our newsletter and website. If your one of the first to read this let your server know you read it on this blog and you'll get $5 off per person of Fred's Fancy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We'll I thought our first post should be about our next upcoming event--Haddon Heights Taste of the Town. This is second year presenting this event with Anthony's and Kunkel's. With it being such a huge success last year we thought we had to do it again. Here is a copy of our menu and for a printable version go to www.elementscafe.com

Haddon Heights Taste of the Town 2009

Dinner Tasting Menu--- 4 courses for $25 Jan 27th to 30th

First Course (choose one)

Shrimp studded Risotto Balls
tomato horseradish aioli

Garlic sautéed Spinach and White Bean Ravioli
red wine pesto

Cheesesteak Eggroll
mustard soy dipping sauce

Second Course

Manhattan Clam Chowder
Roasted Corn Bisque

Third Course (choose one)

Baby Arugula and Grilled Apple Salad
sun-dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, blue cheese, and orange juice vinaigrette

Hearts of Romaine Salad
creamy black pepper dressing and asiago cheese

Main Course (choose one)

Home-Made Cavatelli
roasted cherry tomatoes, broccoli rabe, and parmesan cream sauce

Herb crusted Scottish Salmon Filet
white bean and carrot stew

Southern Fried Chicken
buttermilk waffles and side of bacon braised greens

Osso Bucco
crispy polenta cake, green beans, and wild mushrooms

Beef Tenderloin Noodle Bowl
shiitake mushrooms and soba noodles

Sorry, no substitutions can be made to this menu
Hopefully this will be a regular posting of our specials, new menus, and pictures. This will be another place for our followers to find specials, coupons, and my own special view of life, food, and you the customer. Wish me luck, I'm adding one more thing for me to do each day.

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