Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So here's the deal

The whole reason I got into this field of work, cooking for a living, was instant gratification.  I was always was a little too impatient to wait around for the results of hard work.  I wanted to know now, if it had all been worth it.  You can always tell with food, too.  It's in the look on people's face after they had just tried one of your new (and hopefully not ill advised) creations. That one look never lies.  Either it's "SUCCESS!" or "what did I do to deserve this?"  Being stuck in the restaurant kitchen, I never get to see that.  I don't even get to know your name.  Most of the time I end up looking at rows of tickets with table and seat numbers.  Completely anonymous.  And on top of that, I never spend anytime with my family.  My wife, Cristina, and I have been looking for ways to iron this out, prioritize and get everything we want out of life.  You just want every last minute, you know?  How do I get to cook what I want, interact with the people I feed and spend good time with the missus?  Here's the perfect solution...

Follow the progress on Twitter (@pushstartcook).  I am going to keep this blog throughout the week, yammering on about what's happening at the markets, local farms, things I think are cool, and plates I'd like to put together.  Then, come the weekend, I'll write up a menu, you'll make reservations and we'll have ourselves a good old fashioned dinner party, underground supper club style. 

We're in the process of wrangling together a communal table and a roof to cover it, and when I do, we'll get started.  In the meantime, I'll be keeping tabs on progress here so check back often.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A moment of clarity

A lot of times you realize where we are long after you made the turn down that road.  As cooks and eaters, we are unwittingly analyzing our food, noting roots and influences, mapping our detours, and remembering landmarks.  At certain points along the way, if we stop and look around, we're surprised to find how far we've come and how much we've seen.  We become more intuitive, get a better sense of direction and finally our purpose starts to shape up.  We can define our values, envision plates, and throw in a couple of snarky jokes about "foams" to boot.  We finally know where we're going. 

Since coming back from living and traveling in Central America, I have been noticing our proud food heritage here in the South. The ingredients we used to define our table, all overlap with those of Mexico, Central America and further south.  Plates of sweet corn, ripe tomatoes, spicy chiles, unctuous pork, and fluffy rice.  "Grits" aren't too far off from "guisa" and "chow chow" looks a lot like "vegetales encurtidos."  I started to see how foods I would consider distinctly Southern aren't as distinct as I thought.  While we've been serving up plates of humble tradition for generations now, there was an opportunity to grow in a different direction.  To try and redefine what I felt was familiar cooking.  Beans, rice and tortillas for breakfast had become as comforting and normal to me as a bowl of grits and toast.

This is direction.  I've wanted to focus on the similarities and overlaps of the two cuisines while keeping certain traditions and concepts unique.  Bringing together familiar ingredients, with foreign preparations almost as the next step in my own food evolution.  Crossroads cooking.  This is my forum and will be my opportunity to share what I've found along the way.  Soon there will be a long, banged up, wooden, table for ten and I'll be serving all of these dishes to those who want to be there.  This is our jumping off point, our PushStart.