Wednesday, August 3, 2016

We have started to charge for our house bread at Peck's Arcade. Needless to say, we have received some feedback.

Personally, I would rather pay for good bread than eat bad bread that is complimentary. 

One guest remarked how much she loved seeing bread on a menu (as opposed to it being complimentary) - saying, ' I know the bread is going to be good if they're charging money for it'

Because it is treated as a menu item, it is given with more respect. People seem to be universally enjoying it more. Ive heard the 'best bread Ive ever had' line more times since we started selling it than I have throughout my entire career.

Some people aren't thrilled about having to pay for it - and they usually don't. 

The idea behind it was -  if I am investing at least 48 hours of time into each loaf  - its worth giving the respect of a proper pick up on the menu. What that means is holding it correctly, reheating it correctly and serving it with respectable accoutrements. 

Part of the reasoning behind the change was that it would make bread production a little more manageable for me - but the reality is that I am actually making more bread now. 

little pecks is open!

The bread I am making for little pecks is a classic pain de mie. It is built into the menu throughout - as an accoutrement and as a base for a lot of our offerings. The process is remarkably different (faster) than the house bread at Peck's Arcade. I really enjoy the bread and love making toad in a hole with it.

Its hard to not obsess over restaurant and cafe design. Current favorite: Arthurs Nosh Bar

Its been difficult adjusting to my new schedule -  from working dinner services to  breakfast/lunch services. I go to bed too late, wake up too early, am exhausted by the middle of the day and wind up taking a nap in the early evening which makes me in turn go to bed too late.

My coffee intake has increased dramatically. Today I drank 3/4 of a gallon of coffee....and still felt sluggish. My go-to order is an (iced) Americano. 

Living in downtown Troy is really nice. It feels like more of a community than anywhere else I have lived - in any city. 

We are on a first name basis with more dogs than people.

While Im still conceiving and designing pastry menus for all places - my sous chef, Bryan, is now executing desserts at Peck's Arcade every night. He has been a life saver and I couldn't do it without him. Its good to see someone step into a roll and be totally dependable. 

I really want to see Devils Tower and Banff on my next vacation

Pie has been very popular at little pecks. We have discussed offering it a la mode.

I had a good time slinging tacos with Nick on Troy Night Out.

I have a tendency to write posts and never publish them. There are several finished drafts on my account.

I only got into cooking fairly recently. I dropped out of high school in 2002 and made the rounds in a series of dead end, miserable jobs. I travelled a bit, and then in 2008 (if I recall correctly) I was fed up with where my life was and decided to goto school. I didn't have much direction, but knew I had a lot of interest in food. SCCC was local, affordable, and had some reputation for being a good program so I figured why not. I applied, signed up for classes and the rest is history.

I didn't cook professionally until my last semester at SCCC - and at that point it was simply to fulfill an working requirement so that I could graduate. I spent that summer and a bit of the fall at Prime at Saratoga National. While there were both good and bad things about the job - it was very important in my evolution as a person, cook, whatever. It taught me a lot about what the food scene is around here. What is acceptable, even lauded.

I moved to Chicago in late December that year to goto school. This was a move that remains one of the more significant things I have done with my life. I learned what it is to be a true professional. To be the absolute best in the world at what you do. To mentor. I met people who remain some of my closest friends still.

I have deep regrets about leaving Chicago. My girlfriend at the time was living in Albany still, and applying to schools. The plan was to have her finish school in Chicago and we would permanently relocate there. Unfortunately she was only accepted to a school in Baltimore, where we wound up going. Its really bittersweet for me - looking back at my friends and colleagues and seeing how far they have gone and thinking where I would be had I not left. I gave up a job offer at a michelin starred restaurant I was staging with to come home and sit on my ass for six months before finding employment at Sperry's.

The summer I moved back from Chicago, I had the opportunity to help a friend train for a national competition that was being held in Texas. In return, I had access to the SCCC kitchens that summer to play around in. I drove the equipment to Texas and on the way had a meal at John & Karen Urie Shields townhouse - which to this day, remains the best restaurant meal of my life. It was a profound experience for me because for the past year or so I had become so obsessed with high end fine dining and contemporary American cuisine - yet nearly every meal I had was such a let down. This was different. It was everything I wanted it to be. It was deeply personal, delicious, and beautiful. Their hearts and souls were on their plates and in their food and it was very moving. They have just opened two new restaurants in Chicago, and I really cannot wait to try them both.

Its an amazing thing, thinking about how one meal could have such a profound effect on me - and how the people responsible for that meal likely have no clue. To them, I was just another table during just another dinner service. Yet five years later I still think about that meal and the whole experience.

I often wonder how many times something like that has happened with me in that roll - where something I had something to do with really had a lasting impact on someone - and to me it was 'just another dinner service'.

In my early twenties I was driving south to visit a friend, and I found myself stuck in some heavy traffic -- where a very wide toll plaza merged into three lanes in a very short distance. It was just a sea of cars moving very slowly. After sitting for a while I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed an attractive girl in the car behind me. After a few seconds I looked forward and noticed a gap had formed between my car and the one ahead of me. I quickly pulled up, not realizing a semi was trying to merge into my lane. This all occurred at such a slow speed there was no real danger - but the driver hung himself halfway out his window and screamed at me, 'thanks a lot ass hole!' I have wanted to apologize to him since.

I was driving back to Albany from Baltimore - while I was splitting time between the cities - when a car not too far ahead of me had a tire blow out. It hooked left and hit the medium, causing it to roll several times. This was one of the more surreal things I have ever experience - where the entire universe seemed like it stopped. It was just like what you see in the movies. The world was deafening with its silence. All there was was the vehicle crashing. I remember seeing it hook left and instantly thinking its going to hit the grass and roll  - and then thinking I couldn't believe how long it was taking for it to cross the three lanes. I immediately put on my blinkers and started to slow to pull over but before I was even off the road there were several people already approaching the car. One truck driver stopped so quickly Im shocked his trailer didn't slide out. I remember him jumping out of his cab, the door still in motion by the time he was across the highway.

When I was a teenager I worked for Ted Etoll / Step Up Presents. This was my first job. I was working one night, breaking down a venue after a show when a tour manager pulled me aside. He asked me if I could give someone a ride to the bus station. I was heading to Albany afterwords and agreed. It turns out the person I was bringing to the bus station was a young man from Japan. He was visiting the capital district because he had found and fell in love with Troycore (a hyper-local style of hardcore). He came to see this specific show (if I recall correctly it was Hatebreed, Madball, Murderers Row, Agnostic Front) - and was then heading to New York City to see some more shows before returning to Japan. He eagerly showed me a NYHC tattoo he got while he was here and expressed that he could not show anyone in Japan because his family would think he was a gang member.