Let’s be honest with ourselves. We live in a time full of imposters, shortcuts, instant gratification, the “easy” button generation… a fast frenzied world driven by faster & cheaper.
In this country low cost is usually quickly connected to low quality. The problem that lies ahead is that the average consumer is in denial.
Have you been inside a market lately?
First, take off your sunglasses, because that’s annoying.
If you buy all the same ingredients to make your favorite restaurant dish at home…how much does it cost? Better yet, before you answer that…how much is your time worth to follow a recipe (or wing a culinary adventure with no insurance on your supermarket investment)?
This is beginning to sound like a chef rant, which is not what I was going for at all. Let me take a deep breath.
From all the “real” chefs with food in their souls…
We want you, our foodie friends, to understand just how many variables are at the mercy of the chef to decide…every day, all day. Some based on cost, some based on culinary integrity, but a must that all are based on the bottom line.
I’ll give you a Sunday morning play by play:
I choose this selection for you with a bonus secret…
Every chef hates brunch. (so, it’s usually vivid in their minds)
If they tell you otherwise, they’re lying.
Chefs are nocturnal creatures, finishing up Saturday night challenges and heading home very rarely before 1 am. By the time I make it into bed, my baker is rolling over after being in bed for hours, nervously anticipating his *5:45 am shift… *a time HE set based on how long it would take his dough to rise and bake. The morning begins with the sweet scents of deliciousness rising. Sticky buns rolled late last night, Danish filled with whipped cinnamon cream cheese, flaky cream cheese biscuits baking away…
Dough is being made for breakfast calzones..from flour that is fresh and still has nutrition left for you.
We could buy premade dough or cheap, all-purpose flour that was milled last year and not last month.
We could have easily found a decent frozen danish, ordered English muffins from a bakery (instead of making and branding our own) or scooped batter from a bucket with an ice cream scoop. It would have been faster, easier and less expensive than using real ingredients and real people with passion. We could have charged you less because we spent less. Instead, we choose to bake from scratch. As a patron, is that what you want or do you want less than we can offer? This is often a confusing question for chefs.
Back to being ready to open for 10 am. Sunday morning …..
Freshly braised and chopped corned beef is going into a pan with perfect tiny cubes of Yukon gold potato…CUT BY HAND. Why? Because they look and cook more uniformly that way.
We could have pulled this from a dry storage area in a big metal can that slides out like jellied cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, or even upgraded one step and bought precooked and chopped corned beef. We would have saved 10 hours cook time and 4 hours labor to clean, chop and portion. We could have, but we didn’t.
Cold brew coffee has made its morning debut. Twice as many beans to half as much yield, and it takes 24 hours….but who’s bean counting …(get it? hahaha) because IT TASTES BETTER!.
See the trend?
I’ll go on because someone has to tell you these things.
Beautifully smoked breakfast sausage links are coming off the smoker out back, stoked every hour with kiln dried wood, by a person…. only short hours before your final Sunday funday itinerary has been decided. One of our best decisions.
It wouldn’t be brunch without the incredible edible….
Enter egg zone.
All fresh shell eggs from the local farm.
Egg whites are being whipped by hand to fold into pancake batter because fluffy is always better and that’s a last minute thing. Or, we could whisk a box of mix with water and cut our prep time to almost nothing, requiring no skill and no technique.
Freshly cracked egg yolks are being whisked into mellow buttery thickness as we drizzle pure ghee into them in the most satisfying way. One wrong move, one second of too much heat and this expensive bowl of hollandaise becomes a bowl of scrambled eggs. I could choose not to take the risk and open a bag of powder and add hot water. Faster, cheaper, easier. I decide to take the risk. No risk no reward right?
Tired or not from what we call Saturunday (*when Saturday extends right into Sunday), when I look around Sunday morning, my chef soul is at ease on my most hated shift ever. I’m proud. I see people cooking things from scratch and showing respect for ingredients. They are doing this with only you in mind.
The decisions we make matter. Both yours as a diner and mine as a chef. I choose to take a risk when I charge you what I have to, to give you the quality I think you deserve. I’m making a choice for you without permission because it is what I believe is right.
I hold myself responsible for that decision with each dish I serve you because I respect the choice you made to eat at my house. There’s nothing cheap, or easy about it.