Ming Tsai made his first meal for someone other than his family at the age of 10. It’s customary in Chinese households to greet someone with not “Hi, how are you?” but with “Chi le ma?” which means “have you eaten yet?” You either reply “chi le” which means you have eaten, or “mei ne” which means you have not eaten.
He was home alone at age 10, when friends of his parents stopped by. He asked them if they had eaten, and they said no, so he went about making fried rice, a dish he’d seen made 200+ times but something he never made himself. He said nearly every Chinese household has cold rice in the fridge, so he went about making the eggs, chopping up leftover veggies he found in the fridge, admitted that he probably used way to much soy sauce, but once he presented the dish to these people, and he saw the look on their face, he knew right then and there that he was going to be a Chef.
What struck me about him, is that he kind of seems serious on shows I’ve seen him in, but he’s fricken hilarious. He swears just as much as me, was really down to earth, but was telling members of the audience that if it’s the life of a chef you want, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. It’s hard work. He said some people believe that if they graduate top of their class at Johnson & Wales that they’ll graduate into a sous chef position right out of the gate. Nope. You’ll be a prep cook and maybe stay at that position for a year, cutting onions, before moving up to line cook. And it takes several years to even get a nod at a sous chef position, all while making around $14 an hour. So he said “you have to love it with everything you have to stick with it.” So if you go to a fancy restaurant, I’d ask to thank the sous chef because they’ve worked really hard to get to where they have gotten.
I found my food truck guys! You can have it custom built, and this model starts at only $200,000!
Did any of you guys watch Master Chef where Tommy Walton of Chicago made it almost all the way to the end? I was walking down an aisle at the show, and saw him walking towards me with his husband. I shouted “Tommy!” He was super nice, and I told him what a fan I was of his on the show being a local and all. His husband then said “let’s get a picture of you two together!” So sweet.
I also found a pizza oven that I want installed in my house whenever I get around to redoing my kitchen. Something, you know, simple but effective. It goes up to 900 degrees!
Yesterday morning I knew the first event I wanted to go to was a presentation with Jon Taffer and Robert Irvine. It started at 10:30, so I took an earlier train because I thought I’d walk from the train station to McCormick place. My sister called me on the train and when I told her I was going to walk it, she said “how far is it?” I guessed about a mile and a half. Nope – try 3.3 miles one way!
With traffic lights, it did end up taking me about 55 minutes to get there, but it was perfect timing. The main entrance led right to the grand ballroom, and I snuck in and got a seat with the Sysco people – who sponsored the event. We had these super comfy chairs and it was a great presentation.
It was interesting because both shows are basically the same – Robert rescues restaurants and Jon rescues bars. But each said that there is a common denominator in any failed establishment. The owner of the failing restaurant almost always blames their lack of success on everything but themselves. The economy sucks, a new restaurant just opened up next door, etc. They said the list of excuses could be a mile long. It isn’t until they can convince the owner to stop making excuses, have them admit that they are the reason they are not successful, that they can then go ahead and take the steps to be successful. They said that of all their rescues, after one year 72% are still in business and going strong.
But what their talk did was make me realize that I am just like that failing owner of the restaurant making excuses and not getting me get to my weight loss goal. It’s easy to say “I didn’t sleep well” “I have to work late” “the kids are sick” – whatever the excuse is, I am the only one that can get me to my goals. Um, for the record, Robert’s biceps in real life are pretty impressive. He said he takes pride in his health and work out schedule, and no matter how busy a day he has, that is already his number one priority each and every day. We all have the same 24 hours, I just plan to use mine better after that talk.
I loved the NRA app that I had on my phone. I had already scheduled several events that I wanted to attend, but it’s easy to lose track of time because the show is just that big. But if I had something on my schedule, about 10 minutes out I would get a message telling me to “head to the Foodamental stage for No Bones About It.”
I’ve never actually deboned a chicken before, so it was a great hands on class. I decided not to show you the finished product because it’s just a leg quarter with a bunch of bones on the side, but it was really great to learn how to do it. We made a ground chicken stuffing with parsley, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon and then learned how to truss the chicken for cooking. Here’s a youtube video if you want to try it yourself.
Next up was Aarti Sequeira! I started watching Aarti’s Paarti on YouTube a long time ago and was so shocked when she was on Food Network Star – I remember telling Tony “I know her!” Well, I don’t personally know her, but it was fun to see her win Food Network star. She actually didn’t start cooking until about age 30, and was much a recipe follower. She was brought up in a typical Indian family where you are to get a job in a “respectable” field which in turn would bring in a big paycheck. It’s the goal of Indian families for each generation to be more successful than the last. She ended up getting downsized in a job, and started tinkering in the kitchen. Her husband had always wanted to be an actor and invited her to one of his improv classes. But she is a linear person and likes rules, and the thought of having to get up on stage and wing it was WAY outside her comfort zone. But she did it! And loved it. One of her friends in the class dropped her off after one of the classes and told her how well she did, and said “maybe now you can start improvising in your kitchen too!” And that once comment jump started her creativity in the kitchen.
While I was standing in line to have her sign her cookbook (which I’ve already flagged about a dozen things already!) I opened the book up to page 196 and my eyes were immediately drawn to the last paragraph:
“What small step can you take, that one that scared the knickers off you, but the one you know might be the key to unlocking some of the potential written into your soul? Just take a little step, dear heart. Then take another one. You have no idea where it will lead.” Wow. It was as if she was speaking directly to me! And when I finally got to talk to her, she looked at my name and said “I have a friend named Biz in California!” So we are basically best friends now. Ha! Well, she did like my Instagram post, so that’s something!
So I told both Ming and Aarti that I quit my day job to pursue a career in the food industry – I like how both of them gave me encouragement, when I know I am just a face in the crowd, but I love it! Ming said “follow your dreams – peace and good eats!”
And Aarti said “good for you!! Cook with Joy.”
It was such a fun event, and I am glad that I went. Um, not only did I walk to McCormick place from the train station, but back as well! I ended up with just over 27k steps, which is why I slept in a bit this morning and am posting later than usual.
Alright, time to catch up on some of my computer work and decide if I am going to be taking a job of the three that I was offered. Love that I got job offers from all three of the interviews I went on!
Make it a great day!