It takes quite a bit to be an executive chef. The planning of menus, the sheer amount of math involved with food cost and making a profit, and the ability to lead while under extreme duress are just some of the necessary characteristics needed to be head of a kitchen. Since yesterday was my dad’s birthday, I knew of no better gift to give him other than to please his culinary taste buds with some good old fashioned cooking. This meant that I’d have to make everything perfect, since this being a gift, sloppyness would not be tolerated.
In my head, I thought of all his favorite dishes, should I make beef wellington or crusted salmon? Then I realized I’d need to actually think outside the box. So I took a stab at 4 brand new recipes that I had never tried before. If all four could come together as one, then the meal would be a success. I decided to do a green bean salad, complete with gruyere batonettes and diced prosciutto, a roasted pepper salad with toasted pine nuts and golden raisins, and some stuffed mushrooms with hot and sweet sausage. For the main course came my real pride, the guava glazed baby back ribs.
The side dishes seemed simple enough to prep early on, whereas the ribs would take 48 hours to truly prepare. On a very sleepless night I decided to begin the ribs by soaking them in a mixture of spices, acids, and some red wine vinegar. Stuff looked like soupy grass clippings but it sure tasted great. After a full 24 hours of marination, i removed the ribs to be cooked exceptionally slow and low on the grill. As they became a spectacular caramel brown color, I lathered a guava based glaze making sure to turn the ribs every few minutes. After a solid 2 hours of cooking, we ate like kings.
Executive chefs know all aspects of the game, and they can handle the stress of multitasking with ease. While I don’t consider myself of that caliber just yet, my ultimate goal would be to master everything just like they do. I know that so many culinary students dream of being famous chefs, being masters of their domains and being respected by public and peers alike. It just takes hard work and love for the art, and lots and lots of birthday dinners.
Next week we’ll finally begin the series on techniques, which I unfortunately couldn’t start this week because of my schedule. Til then!