Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pouring Salt in my Wound

Occasionally we get complaints or comments on why we do not automatically put salt & pepper shakers on our tables at Pacific Grill restaurant.

The answer is very simple. I (like a lot of other chefs I know) want my guests to taste their food first. This is not a health issue--it is a taste issue.

I have a close friend named Charlene who always—almost unconsciously—salts her food the minute it is placed in front of her and she hasn’t even tasted it yet.

At dinner she would talk on and on relentlessly salting whatever dish it was, until I almost lunged across the table and shouted out to her to stop! This habitual, knee-jerk reaction is rude to the chefs that have toiled so long and hard to make a perfect dish. And especially rude to me since she was dining in my home.

When a dish leaves my kitchen it has been seasoned. It has salt and pepper, or soy sauce—or Thai fish sauce or some other seasoning particular to the dish and very carefully chosen. And hopefully it leaves the kitchen well-seasoned.

The only thing worse than over-seasoned food is UNDER-seasoned food!

Granted we sometimes make mistakes and under or over-season a dish, but please try the dish first, then if you would like additional salt please ask.

Many times when we garnish dishes, just before delivering them to the dining room, we add a final grind of a special exotic peppercorn blend, or we use an expensive finishing sea salt over juicy heirloom tomatoes, for example—if you then add table salt on top of the sea salt, you are most likely not going to like the flavor.

I had this happen to me many times where a guest returned a dish as being “too salty” with the waiter later explaining to me that they saw the guest flailing away with the salt before tasting it. A few restaurants ago I decided that I would remove the salt shakers from the dining room.

The worst example was once upon a time I had served a potato pancake with an ounce of expensive Beluga caviar on top. The guest told the waiter that it was too salty --when the waiter returned the dish he explained that the guest was seen salting the CAVIAR!!! (And the wholesale cost of caviar at the time was about $50/oz).

After that, the decision to remove the salt shakers from my dining room was very easy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

DaVita stays in Tacoma!

Great News for Tacoma!

Tacoma leaders toast DaVita’s new lease


Tacoma and Pierce County political and business leaders raised a glass Monday night to celebrate DaVita’s decision to keep its business offices in Tacoma.

In a cocktail gathering at the Pacific Grill Events Center, DaVita Vice President Jim Hilger accepted on behalf of the company the thanks of Tacoma’s mayor – as well as a proclamation declaring Aug. 10, 2009, “DaVita Day” in Tacoma.

Mayor Bill Baarsma presented the framed proclamation, then surprised Hilger with a key to the city – a gift Baarsma asked Hilger to deliver to corporate headquarters in Denver.
DaVita, which operates a network of 1,400 kidney treatment centers nationwide, announced in May that it would sign a new lease on the former Schoenfeld Furniture Store at South 15th Street and Pacific Avenue, and lease three floors of the nearby Columbia Bank Building to house its accounting and billing staff.

The company now employs some 900 workers in Tacoma, and it expects to add more over the next decade. Its decision to stay in the city has been celebrated in downtown circles and almost always is mentioned in the same breath as the forthcoming headquarters decision for Russell Investments.

The gathering Monday was put on by the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, and the Executive Council for a Greater Tacoma. Among those attending were U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, who Hilger has said called him on his cell phone while DaVita was making a decision.

When asked if he had Russell CEO Andrew Doman’s cell phone number handy, Dicks said with a smile, “I’m sure I have it in my files.”

Kathleen Cooper, The News Tribune

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pacific Grill's 4 Year Anniversary & Julia Child's Birthday

I am inviting our readers to join Pacific Grill on August 15th as we celebrate our 4 Year Anniversary and Julia Child's Birthday! We will be featuring a special 3 course Prix Fixe menu featuring great recipes from Julia Child including: Potato & Leek Vichyssoises, Beef Bourguignon, Lobster Thermidor a la Julia Child and Julia's Perfect Chocolate Mousse.

You can make reservations online on our website or by calling 253.627.3535 .

My personal remembrance of Julia Child:

My first professional kitchen job at Michael's in Santa Monica CA, was in the Fall of 1979. I remember standing at my station one night and looking up-I saw the imposing figure of Julia Child being given a kitchen tour-and making a beeline for me!

Towering above me, in her distinctive melodiously cheery voice, she asked what I was doing: "Boning quail," I answered, my voice hesitating.

"Oh wonderful" she exclaimed. "I just adore quail! -but-- be careful of those little bones," chuckling as she warned me, twinkling mischief in her eyes.

Then, as she turned to leave. a final "Carry on!" full of encouragement.

And with that she was off to the garden with husband Paul to finish dessert.

I will never forget how genuinely enthused Julia seemed to be in me- when I was doing something as mundane as boning quail. But that is, after all, the whole point. Her innate curiosity, her generosity of spirit, her talent and humor inspired me and gave an entire new generation of American chefs the confidence to pick up their whisks and follow her into the kitchen.

Happy Birthday Julia.

Carry on!

Julia Child Prix Fixe Online Menu (pdf)

(the normal Dinner Menu will still be available)

I am so grateful that customers like you have made Pacific Grill Tacoma's premier dining destination for the past 4 years. We look forward to many more years of serving you the best dining experience Tacoma has to offer.

See you on Saturday!