Kicked out of Disney World

My good friend John Blazon is in town today.  Hopefully, we’ll grab a bite together.  He’s busy though.  You see, John is an MS, or Master Sommelier.  There aren’t many of them in the world, much less here in America.  He worked hard for it.  It took him four years to pass the test.

Now he works for a wine mogul.  But before that he was the wine guru at Disney World.  So when I was invited to participate in their Epcot Food and Wine Expo, I got to hang with my old buddy.  Well, not so much.  Disney provided my family with a VIP guide and we got to go to the front of the line on any ride we wished.  I highly recommend taking this route.

We had so much fun that when I spoke with John a couple of weeks later I told him I’d be glad to return next year.

“Not going to happen,” he said.  “Apparently you made quite a scene when you checked out, yelling and complaining about your accommodations.”

Now, I’ve been accused of a lot of things, none of which I will address here.  But yelling and complaining at a desk clerk?  Not me, not ever.  Something’s wrong here.  Anyway, it seems I’m banned.

Then I get a call from John a few weeks later.  It seems that it was a case of mistaken identity and the perp was one of the winemakers, not me at all.  Haha.  Joke’s on us.

“So,” I said, I’ll be back next year?”

“Well, not quite.  Remember the restaurant where you cooked dinner for 150 people?”


“Remember when you began plating up, two of the cooks had disappeared?”


“And when they showed up 10 minutes later they reeked of cigarettes so you told them that if they were so unprofessional as to walk out to smoke a cigarette in the middle of service they were no longer needed, so you sent them home?”


“Well, one of them was the Executive Chef of that restaurant.”

Give It a Rest

I have steaks on the grill as I write this.  I’m going to turn them, again, in a couple of minutes.  So wait… “The French” say that you should always sear a steak to seal in the juices, and turn them only once.  The logic is that since the juices (blood) move away from the source of heat they will rise to the upper half of the steak.  By turning them once, you now have the juices (blood) on the bottom half.  Perfection is achieved when the juices return to center.  Now, take them off the heat, put them on a rack and let them rest at least ten minutes.  THIS IS CRITICAL.  The rack keeps the steak off of a flat surface that would in effect keep cooking the meat.  The resting does magic.  It allows the meat to reabsorb the juices and ‘relax’.  It’s quite amazing, this resting phase, and critical.

Except this logic is flawed.

When Chef Guenter Seeger took me under his wing, he had ideas and techniques that ran quite contrary to what I had been taught.  For example he would take a nicely seasoned venison tenderloin steak and put it into a cold pan with a dab of butter and a smidgeon of grape seed oil.  A cold pan?  Stupid German, doesn’t he know the basics?  As the pan heated up he would turn the steak over, baste it, turn it again, baste it, and again and again.  Since the heat source kept changing, there was no place for the juices (blood) to go so they stayed put and cooked the meat from within.  Now, instead of driving the juices away and reabsorbing what you could, you kept all of the juice and flavor and ended up with a tender, melt in your mouth delight.  Who knew?

What I’ve really described here is rotisserie cooking.  Think about it.  A chicken on a spit slowly turns in front of the fire.  The juices stay inside and leave you with a succulent bird.  Again, letting the bird sit for 10-20 minutes does a world of good.  It finishes the cooking process.  When you roast your turkey this year, let that puppy rest a good half hour before carving.  You’ll impress.

Oh, another thing.  The flavor of a steak is in the juice, and fat.  I watch all these folks at Sam’s Club pick out the lean ribeye steaks, leaving the marbled ones for me.  Thank you so much.  Then, cook it rare plus.  Rare plus.  What the hell is that?  Somehow the new generation of cooks got off track on their temps.  If I order a steak rare, it comes out raw.  If I order it medium rare, it comes out medium.  I want it between rare and medium rare please.


Take It Off!

I once sat on a panel with noted food writer John Mariani where we discussed the evolution of food. John got up and said “I have seldom met a dish that wouldn’t benefit from the removal of two or three ingredients”. I noted that if you took two or three ingredients off of my plate, you would have a plate.

As Coco Chanel famously said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”