The Guest Chef

Posted: October 1, 2012 in My experience
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The Guest chef Located at 5337 College ave in Oakland is a genius idea.  In a standard Restaurant your biggest concern is always two things, labor and Food costs.  These are two things we call prime cost on the accounting end.  At Guest chef the owners don’t have to worry about these things so much since they don’t have a full time chef and only have a staff of two.

For those of you that don’t grasp the concept allow me to explain.  You have a stand alone restaurant in a prime location on college ave.  They do not have a permanent chef in this kitchen, instead they have a brand new Guest Chef” every two weeks.  So essentially you have a brand new restaurant in the neighborhood every two weeks.  Its an incredible concept, new chefs, new tastes, new experiences.

My two weeks as chef were long and strenuous, but this is the life I chose.   This is my experience…..

Tuesday the 11th, I woke up at 7:00 am after closing Ozumo down at 10:30 pm….. crashing finally at 2:00 am.  I couldn’t sleep, I was up all night going over the menu, the shopping list, my prep sheets. First stop of the day was “Berkeley bowl”  they open at 10:00 am so I patiently waited outside at 9:55 am…. OK I wasn’t really patient, in fact I was pacing like a caged wild animal in the zoo.  The second the doors were opened I descended on the bulk dry goods…. chick peas, farro, rice.  Then straight to produce, pushing my way through the isles grabbing everything I could… Heirloom tomatoes, peppers, fennel, herbs…..

10:45 am out the door of  “Berkeley Bowl” and off to my meat and fish vendor.  Fresh fish arrives at 10 am, its a war zone, people pushing and shoving to get the best product, I move right in and grab a fresh Yellow Tail from southern California caught the day before.  11:30 am now to the house to grab the last of my equipment and dry goods.  I raced down Broadway breaking just about every traffic law there is.

12:45 pm I finally arrive at Guest Chef  I unpack evey thing as quick as possible and begin breaking down product.  First is the fish and poultry… I fly through it as quickly as possible moving on to produce…. stocks are on, sauces are simmering.  My hens are in the brine, my fish is marinating….  I prepped all day right up to 5:30 pm ….

Service begins right at 5:30 pm my first diners come in and the questions begin, “what is Azores?” “where is it?”  “what is the food like?” The interaction was great, banter back and forth with the customer.

First ticket comes in 5:31 pm,  1st course, Tomato soup, 2nd course Fried Sardines, 3rd course Game hen. The 1st course Tomato Soup goes out to the diner, she leans in takes a big breathe of the vapor coming off the soup and I see a smile, she takes her first taste and an instant smile followed by a gasp.  That was the moment when I knew she enjoyed it.  The next course is fired, Fried Sardines dredged in corn starch for that extra crunch then dropped into the fryer at 360 …..  2 min and it was done, golden, crispy and perfect….. drizzled with sherry and topped with arugula.  The final course is up, Game Hen crispy roasted skin, chile oil, fresh herbs, carrot puree and root veg hash.  This meal was simple, clean and in season.    It turns out this woman was a food critic, her final thought was, “why Doesn’t Miranda have his own Place”

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