Saturday, 26 February 2011

Update! Shopping and Staging

Hello everyone,

It has indeed been a few days since my last post but very productive days at that. I am currently doing some staging in the Ottawa area in order to expand my culinary knowledge and to see how other kitchens and chefs operate. I have stages set up for a bakery, butcher, and two restaurants. However, first let me talk about the shopping aspect of my update. Last Thursday I decided that it was time to treat myself and go on a bit of a shopping spree. Being a man and not particularly inclined to clothing or electronics I decided it was a good idea to hit up C.A Paradis.

I took the bus over, which conveniently went from the front of my apartment to the front of the store, and entered with the prospect of grabbing a knife or two. Well an hour later and the helpful assistance of the staff I purchased over 300$ worth of items. First, I went to the knife counter because the knives at my old restaurant belonged to the restaurant and I decided it was time to own a good set for myself. I examined many a knives and chose: a chefs knife, boning, fillet, pairing, and some ceramic. My boning and fillet knives were sinelli they are a lower end brand but knifes for such messy work don't necessarily have to be toooooooop notch.However, I did splurge and get a Mac. The knife I purchased is not typical of most chefs, I tend to like my knives light and nimble. It gives them more versatility and the speed at which you move in a kitchen is heightened. It is important to make sure your knife fits your culinary personality, so don't always tend to go for bigger or more flash make sure the knife sits well in your hand and your purpose. This is the knife I decided on:
I also bought a knife bag just to keep the puppies safe and clean. I also decided it was time to get a new jacket and apron because my other two were getting stodgy and stained, and if you know anything about white jackets there about as hard to clean up as Charlie Sheen. Always buy a double breasted jacket so that it is reversible to keep up a clean appearance. I choose a maroon apron because if anything gets ultra dirty its going to be your apron. I believe the quote is "Judge a chef by the filth on their apron and the cleanliness of their sleeves"

Staging: Is when a chef works for free in a kitchen in order to gain experience and technique.
As I am a younger chef I believe that it is important to participate in stages in the early and late parts of your career. It allows you to gain positive insight into a kitchen even when they are not hiring. I also believe that it is important for chefs to know the other aspects of the culinary arts such as baking and butchery. With that in mind I have tentatively lined up some stages in a bakery and butcher here in Ottawa, and I must say I am excited. I also managed to gain stages in  very interesting restaurants in Ottawa, I will reveal the details after I have completed the stages. I did my first one on Friday with the awesome guys over at Sidedoor, 18's new venture. They were extremely polite and showed me a great deal. Their focus is more on Asian cuisine something I am not very familiar with, so the experience was very new to me. Although not Asian, they even have a new Taco station in which they make tortilla to order to each taco: including braised lamb and beef. I tried to take in as much as I possibly could and am debating asking them to do a couple more. So much thanks to those guys.

Anyways that's whats been happening lately and stay tuned I think I am going to do a restaurant review sometime soon and I have a judgmental palate so it should be interesting.

Cheers, MJ


  1. Nice Knife. How do you keep your knife sharp? Do you use steel or stone?
    You said it is important for chefs to know the other aspects of the culinary arts such as baking and butchery...I agree with you, and this is what I do... I do both pastry and hot food at my work. I love doing both. But it is not easy thing to do. Too often I have to compromise the quality of the desserts, have to think about food cost, labour cost, etc etc...that's the reality.

  2. I actually use a ceramic that it is set like steel on a handle. Mac knives are recommended ceramic, but depends on the knife. I totally agree with you on the desserts aspect, very hard for us to do without a dedicated pastry chef.