Friday, February 25, 2011

Like a treasure hunter looking for gold...

I sat down a few months ago and did an estimate of what I thought equipment was going to cost me. I looked all over, new/used etc for median prices, with the thought that the economy is so sucktastic I should be able to get some really good deals (it is a sad fact that many restaurants are going out of business).

My original estimate looked something like this:

  • Smoker $2000

  • VacMaster $1800

  • Freezer $1200

  • Fridge $1200

  • Cold Display $2500.00

  • Kegerator: $1200

  • Steam Table $800

  • Slicer $600

  • Sandwich Prep $1000

  • Fryer: $600

  • Tables: 5 @ $35

  • Chairs: 20 @ $15

  • Bar Stools: 6 @ $50

  • POS System: $2000

  • Hand Sinks: $300

  • Prep Sinks: $400

  • 3 Comp Sink: $500

  • Mop Sink $300

For a total of about $170000.00

Well I already found a great deal on the cold display ($700) and the kegerator ($750) and today I found a Hobart slicer for $350! This is SO cool! This means I've already chopped $2500 off my potential total. I also saw a commerical smoker on Craigslist for $1800. I might wait until the very end to buy my smoker, because if I save enough money on the other items I might be able to splurge on the Alto-shaam smoker I really want. I've seen it online used for $3k this week.

I should also be able to get all the sinks used already plumbed.

I looked thru the tome that is the Health Department's "Plan Check Guidelines for New and Remodeled Retail Food Facilities" yet again this morning. I really need to get a copy to Dave... it is voluminous. Not something to read whilst one is all hopped up on pain meds for sure (albiet, I am starting to feel better, thank goodness!).

I also ordered my t-shirts and aprons. I am trying to prioritize according to what needs a bunch of lead time. I am SUPER Excited about Ob doing this mural thing on one of the walls and hosting Esme's art on the other wall, with Ysabeau doing my patio plantings... I am so SO lucky that I know so many talented artists.

I was having this email discussion with Giles about food and life in general... I am not a food snob (despite turning my nose up at hamburgers)... you guys who are artists will understand what I am about to say (and I use the word Artist here in a very broad sense) things that are made by hand by people who have passion and love for what they do have a life... a vibration and energy... that things made in a factory do not. I love my friends and I am grateful for the soul their art embues into my life.

I have always felt loved by a generous God/dess and blessed by the richness of the universe more than I deserve. You can't just be blessed with amazing children, amazing people, an amazing lover, gifted with "sweet hand" AND also have magical match making powers and not think to yourself... "Ok the universe has done all this stuff for me... I better get my butt in gear and show the universe the depths of my appreciation."

It is amazing how gratitude can flavor a life. LIFE IS YUMMY!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Quest is ON!

So, now that I have a lease, a space, a Sous, a concept and two months free rent... it's time to knuckle down and gather all of the small details together. I ordered a $11 decal that says, "THE COMPASS STAR Coming May 2011", business cards for Stein and I, a first run of menus (that need to be redone) and Monday I spent the day in San Jose looking at a good used restaurant supply place for equipment.

Originally my investor wanted to write one check so I was trying to find everything in one place. Some items are super easy to find used everywhere... range, refirigerators, sandwich prep stations, chairs, tables, deep fryers. ALL super available. Stuff that is REALLY hard to find used and cheap are a smoker, a front cold display merchandiser, the vaccuum sealer and the under counter kegerator.

We saw a decent mechandiser at the place in San Francisco for $2500, this was the CHEAPEST one I'd seen. Most in this price range also have stuff like "Red Bull" in giant letters written all over (when I don't have any plans to sell Red Bull). So Wednesday I saw a $700 merchandiser on Craigslist and it was super simple, white and just what I am looking for. So Todd and Vander helped me go grab it. Then we went to the Meadery for some brews and Mike (the proprietor) mentioned he had a two keg under counter kegerator up in the rafters he would be willing to sell me. I'd seen them for about $1100, but mostly it was hard to find them new. So Mike said I could have that one for $750.00 AND he would store it there until we needed it. Whew! Second hard to find item down!

Friday, February 18, 2011

ARGH! Part Deux

So today was my first round of serious equipment shopping...

I've been checking out prices on Craigslist for a while but I wanted to hit one of the larger used equipment places in the city, plus East Bay Restaurant Supply, which I thought had a bunch of used equipment (they advertise like they do oneline!)

Well, the one place was pretty good, they had some gorgeous stuff in there for people who might be interested in the old gorgeous enamel french style wood burning stove/ranges. And they did a have a decent selection of the stuff I might need, but they can't store stuff for me, so I would have to hope and pray that when the time came, they had the stuff I need in the right sizes. Plus they can get good prices on new stuff from this co-op they belong to, so technically I could get a Vacmaster and smoker on the cheap from them as well... so I found one stop shopping, but would have to deal with storage until we could get the plumbing etc done...

East Bay Restaurant supply is just way over priced... it's like shopping at William's and Sonoma for kitchen basics.

The place in Vallejo is fine for small purchases but it is just not big enough to have everything I need all on one place. I am going to check out Castillos on Monday or Sunday in San Jose to see what they have. I wish some of these places advertised a bit better :(

Katherine Goodasture suggested I maybe look into a PODS storage thing. They seem to have short term business storage.

So the press is on to get equipment, get it cheap, figure out where I am storing it and get all the specs sheets so they can be submitted in the permitting process.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ARGH! (Into each dream a bit of rain must fall)

So my primary funding source is also my contractor, and it is time to go get some of the equipment so we can have all the info needed to plan space etc. and submit to the Health Department. He wants me to find everything at one source so he can write one check. I TOTALLY understand why he would want to do that but...

I checked Tri-mark (SF) and East Bay Restaurant Supply (Oakland) and they are SO expensive. I can get the same open front merchandiser on Craigslist for $600 that Tri-mark has (used) for $2300.00 and that is pretty much the price difference for everything. But Craigslist, it will be really hard to find everything in one place. I might get lucky and a deli goes out of business and is selling everything for a set price... but then I will have to look up spec sheets for everything online, IF they exist.

I just need to actually go out and go to the places and see what is avialable... but Sam has been sick and I can't be dragging him around in the rain.

I am just worried that my cost projections are going to be WAY off (they are based on craigslist prices) and we are already doing $10k worth of work more than I'd planned with adding the hood and range.

And I talked to Stan this morning and I think he was really surprised that the process is so long. Health Department alone is a HUGE packet of information, much of which is coming from sub contractors (plumbing, building, hood/range etc) and then once I finally submit it, the estimated processing time is 20 days. 20 days before I can go apply for a building permit, business permit or anything else. And I can't submit to the Health Department until I have the specs for my steam table, kegerator, range, fryer, smoker, sandwich prep table, sinks, and shelving.

Here comes Stress-Time #2 (after Stress Time #1: Negotiating the Lease)... I better put on my Chef-Patronne Toque and git 'er done!

I am going to check Stockton and the place Roric suggested for equipment. I think are not in as high rent areas and their prices may very well reflect that. I am also going to keep an eye out for small cafe's going out of business that might be able to sell me a group of items for cheap.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lots of movement... sort of!

Things are coming together (knock on wood)

Had a great meeting with Stein about seasonal menu, got my opening menu designed and ordered, ordered Stein and I business cards and got my t-shirts and aprons designed and handed off to Brion so he can talk to Benin from Trimaris about getting them done before we open.

Today David sent me an ever shrinking to-do list to get my packet ready and sent into the Health Department Today I had to call the Sanitary district and ask about grease traps and how many I will need and what equipment has to flow thru them. I also had to add up my total potential BTU useage since Dave is expanding the gas line to adjust to all the new equipment.

The Sanitary district was super nice and very helpful. I spoke to a Colleen Henry and once again I am very heartened by the patience and helpfulness of the people at the various County offices I encounter. I will need to run my mop sink, prep sink and 3 compartment sink thru the grease trap, but they are all within like 10 feet of each other so that shouldn't be too big of a deal. I need a minimum 100 lb grease trap and it will go under the floor.

I also needed to copy the section in the Health Code on air gaps to send to my plumbing sub contractor, which I did this morning.

AND I am very excited that one of my favorite photographers is willing to do my food photography in trade for selling her AWESOME art in my cafe! I LOVE THE BARTER SYSTEM!

I would guess I will be prepared to submit to the Health Department (knock on wood) within two weeks! Then I need to go thru the buidling dept, then Sanitary District... I am not sure when Fire comes in there? I better check (add to the to-do list)

And for your veiwing pleasure! Sammy at the Wine Stroll eating ice cream! Photo by Aaron Cole

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It costs WHAT?!

So got the hood estimate back at about 18k. Dave thinks he can find it cheaper, so that is on hold until I know for sure. I ordered a small run of my opening menu and had a great chat with Stein yesterday about how we want the menu to flow. The place is too small to (and has too little storage) to change out the specials every day so we will keep them on the menu for at least a week at a time. They will go in as a paper inset to the static menu which will look something like this to start
We will have a changing weekly Salad, Pasta, Salumi (on the Ploughman's lunch) and Soups (likely three of them so we can do a soup trio of 2 ounces of each soup). The first ones will be:
Special Pasta: Deep fried butternut squash gnocchi with guanciale and brown butter
Special Salad: Cold smoked duck with deep friend duck egg on bitter greens with honeyed parsnips
Soups: Corn Chowder, Split Pea and Lemon Cream, and Chichi Bean and Red Pepper
I also ordered a "large window decal" that says, "THE COMPASS STAR! Coming Soon! May 2011"
So now I just have to hop we can actually get open in that time frame (deep sigh).
I need to talk to Brion about having his friend do the jerseys. That will take some lead time as well. I have to get over feeling like if I spend money on anything I am going to jinx myself. I will feel better when I've submitted to the Health Dept and gotten some positive feedback. It just still feels like... so up and down.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Like a tigress ready to pounce!

I am just getting more and more excited!

I got a phone call from a friend today that went kind of like this...

"Hi Rachael!"

Me, "Hi! Wow, one of my most favorite people in the world! How have you been??"

"I hear you are opening up a cafe? How come you haven't called me? I want to give you money."

This is SO awesome! This means I can pay for the stuff for the Health Department, plus all my permitting right away instead of haivng to wait until the end of the month... I am so humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support I have received.

Plus, I got the most awesome pep talk... about how I have what it takes to do well... passion, energy, focus, drive... all that stuff. I think I know what Danae must have felt like when Zeus showered her with gold.

This makes such a huge difference in how fast I can get things done! I could potentially turn in my whole packet to the health department in a week or two! It's such a weight off my shoulders.

Tomorrow I meet with Stein to revamp the menu to reflect the expanded kitchen equipment. I think I shall go laze in the bath with beer and read thru all my notes.

OH and guess what else I did? I know it is a real long shot but I sent in my resume to stage for Cosentino for the Nose to Tail dinner!

I sent in the link to this blog and also to my lamb slaughtering blog. It is the first week of April, and I think I should be able to squeeze it in before the end of April when I plan to open my shop.

Have I mentioned how much fun it was to meet my new neighbors on the Main street this past weekend? So many creative down to earth fabulous people. I am just SO so so SO excited!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Amazing Day

So for "research purposes", Bri and I went down to check out the Martinez Wine Stroll. I cannot believe the magical worm hole I have leased for the paltry sum of $1500.00 a month (for the first year anyway). We found history and memorabilia and this tiny new wine tasting room (today was opening day!), plus the building that was rebuilt by Mr. Hook in 1926 after it burned down in 1925 (I am fairly sure this is the newest building on Main St) which houses the tiniest and most beautiful salon, plus a candy store from a different time and place. With hand made candies and walls lined with apothecary jars full of dime candies of every stripe and color. Some hard and shiny, some soft and chewy... colors that would put a spring rainbow to shame. A small ice cream display, with six different ice creams. They had wines from the local Vintner and salted caramels on the counter to sample.

We started in the art gallery next door to my place (GOD IT FEELS GOOD TO SAY "my place"). We purchased the "Wine Stroll" for $15 each. We had Sammy, Sara and two of her friends with us. They gave us a wine glass with a jaunty heart (it's nearly Valentines day) and a bright orange arm band and a trusty map of participating merchants. We chatted up one of the local artists, a local photographer and the local candy maker. Which was awesome. I introduced myself (I need to put more business cards in my purse... I am flat out) we chatted. Everyone told me I had the best spot in town :)

We struck out on the journey that is... the Wine Stroll. Stopping for a glass of wine, a stamp on our map and sometimes nibblies at every spot on the map... Brion getting gigglier and gigglier as we strolled. Man there are some COOL friggin places down there. There is this place that has all this sports memorabilia, signed and stuff. Like awesome pictures of Joe Dimmagio, signed! Albeit he had the oddest wine... like... chunky. I think he may have made it himself? With stuff he found around the house. But I would SO go shopping for the Man Cave there!

Bri and I made it thru all of the wine stroll! And I am totally in love with downtown Martinez. I can't believe how much cool shit is down there! I have so much more to write... but I am tipsy, watching The Wizard of Oz in techincolor, just ordered the the best Indian food in town (Bombay Kitchen) for delivery and Deb is coming over to hang out... life is so ridiculously beautiful.

Still on Cloud Nine..

Not sure if it's the sunny day... or my dream so tantlizingly in reach... but I am feeling chipper!

Talked to Stein this morning a little bit about "the Plan" moving forward, but we will meet on Monday to go over menu changes, sausage schedule and other general stuff (like you know, what are going to WEAR!?).

It never ceases to amaze me how many little details go into something like this... no wonder people buy turn key restaurants! Just a few details that could easily slip thru the cracks...

What to wear? We've decided on baseball jerseys with Compass Star Cafe on them... but what about quirky sayings? And how long will take to get the jerseys made? And what pants? And what kind of aprons?

General Set up (this list is mighty daunting)

Plates or sandwich baskets?
What kind of wax paper inside?
Paper or platic... or linens?
Coffee cups... ceramic and paper... or just paper?
How to do the to-go food? I hate plastic wrapped sandwiches, they look like shit... so clam shells? Do I want to then wrap the sandwiches in wax paper to keep the bread from drying out? How to make that look right? Do I want to have some kind of garnish in the clam shell?
Salads: do I put the croutons in a 2 ounce plastic cup so they don't get soggy? Will it look too busy with the 2 ounce dressing in there too?
I still need to find a good source for local cheeses that is not astronomically priced
How much time will we need to prep the food before we open?
Which sausages on the opening menu? I can't do a ton of dry aged stuff because we won't have time to do the big ones before we open. I have some stock at home, but not a ton and some of that is already earmarked for clients. So early charcuterie will have to be emuslified (mortadella), hot smoked (Spanish style chorizo), quick cured (gravloxs), and cooked (rillette). But that should be a pretty decent Ploughman's lunch. We should be able to roll out the non-pork farmer's lunch pretty easily too (fish and poultry based until the bresaola is done)
Pickled items... we are doing seasonal pickles, but I will have to do the cucumber dills right away whether they are in season or not. Apsragus will be coming soon, that will be our first seasonal pickle. Need to map out a pickle schedule too.
Need to have a tight schedule of prep for the pre-opening time. First cured items and pickles (most need to cure/pickle for 2 weeks or so), then emusifiled items and terrines, then stocks and sauces and soups. Finally hot smoke cured items. Unless we have pancetta in a dish early on, I can't think of a reason we would need to make some... Bacon we will need to make right away for sandwiches.
Once all of that is done, all of the dry aged items will need to get started. Capicolla Lonza and Bresaola into cure. All of the meat processed for Magna Grecia, Tuscan Style Salame, Finocciona and Hot Coppa and cased and into cure.
Soups: I would like to have at least 5-6 varieties stored for early rotation, especially if we do the soup trio: three 2 ounce shots of different soups.
Bread: I need to nail down who is doing our breads
Morning pastries: I need to nail down who is doing our morning pastries
Decide if I want to do a morning individual quiche Which will be a great way to use up end cuts of salami.

Man there is SO much.

Today we are checking out the Martinez Wine Stroll, which is one of the special events Main Street Martinez does each year. I want to see how they set up these smaller festivals to strategize the best way to capitalize on potential Saturday business. We won't be technically open on Saturdays, but for some of the larger festivals, if I am not catering I wouldn't mind picking up the extra day of business, especially if I can develop a good catering weekend crew.

Anyway... YAY for planning!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

100 Hurdles...

Ok, so lease signed... NOW WHAT???

I need to gather all of the things the Health Department needs. Here is the List:

  • Plan Layout
  • Finish Schedule (floors and ceilings)
  • Equipment: layout and specs
  • Lighting Plan
  • Water Heater Specs
  • Trash Inclosure Area (it's outside for me)
  • Ventilation/Hood Info
  • Storage (144 sq ft of shelving)
  • Plumbing/Indirect Waste Plan
  • Janitorial Facilities (Mop sink)
  • Vermin control
  • Grease Trap
I have the plan layout and equipment layout (on visio). I have the lighting plan other than the Hood light info. I have the water heater specs. I need to get the hood info from the place I will buy the hood. I have the storage mapped out but I need to list it on the visio. David needs to get me the plumbling plan. Mop sink is done. Vermin control done and Grease trap is on the layout. Then I just need $1700 bucks to submit!

So next thing on the list is get the hood design done and do the list of the shelving.

Also I have a ton of meet I need to finish processing thru.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


(yes, that was my best impression of a 14 year old girl stumbling across Justin Bieber and having him drop to one knee and propose)

I can't believe that tonight we actually got the lease signed! I have keys and everything! (happy dance, happy dance)

It was so gorgeous downtown tonight. I picked the kids up from school and headed over, parked, got them some McDonalds and then we walked over to the facility. Mark, Kevi and Stan met me there. We went over everything, Mark went back to his office to type up some of the small changes and then we went over each page and initialed them. I wrote out the check and then I was given the keys.

Meanwhile, the kids were wandering around Downtown Martinez and ran into Rhonda and Aelric! How funny is that? Rhonda is Sara's godmother. Sara LOVED the downtown area, full of funky thrift shops and antique stores. She and Sam came back with several interesting purchases. Sara says she will work for tip money in the Summer so she can go thrift shopping.

It was such a beautiful night. You can smell the Bay a little from the restaurant (the Martinez Marina is wialking distance) and Stan told me the Italian restaurant around the corner sold to someone who is going to make it a Chinese Restaurant. All those poor customers who used to get their pasta from Bella' Italian food will hopefully find me!

I am rediculously excited... I feel like a woman who feel madly in love at first sight, but had been playing it cool because she wasn't sure the guy liked her back... well then the guy DID like her back, in a big way... so now I am free to start planning the marriage and naming our future children. I can actually start to get comfortable with my investment in the place and start dreaming in color about my future there. I am on cloud nine. I know there will be problems and difficulties going forth, but one major hurdle has been conquered!

Now to just get thru the next 100 hurdles!

OH and PS. THANK YOU JOYCIE! I could not have done this without you. I am not sure how I will ever repay you...

Monday, February 7, 2011

All hopped up on pain meds...

And brain full.

Man whatever these muscle relaxers are... they are AWESOME. I spent a few hours in the bath today reading old Gourmet magazines. The best magazine in the whole world. And it's dead now. We just don't write about food and our world that way any more. Everything is dumbed down... which is ironic since home chefs are getting more and more sophisticated.

In the later years, Gourmet was dumbed down too... but I remember when Ruth Reichle first took over and did this great series of writers doing short essays on all different topics... one was about this woman's childhood Thanksgiving dinners. Her mom would toss her into the car and drive all over town with the heat off (to keep the food fresher) to pick up the food from various merchants and the peice d'resistance... a ceramic cornocopia filled with flowers. A line stands out in my mind... "It wasn't quick and it wasn't easy. It was slow and delicious". The picture was of a 7 year old with curls and a bonnet, in a mid-thigh a-line wool button up coat with her mom, in a 1940's button up dress, hair looking very Carol Lombard, in front of a 56' Chevy.

Today I read this great article from the July 1970 issue which about a British guy traveling with his wife in Hong Kong. All tea and dim sum and boat people. They restaurant critique, also from that issue, focused on two British female chefs. La Chef-Patronne. I will be a chef-Patronne.

I wish I could say it was an egalitarian world out there... but in the last bundle of stuff from Pebble Beach Food and Wine that Katherine Goodpasture gave me there was a playbill of sorts for the event... not one female savory chef out of 50. Lots of female pastry chefs. Not a one on the savory side. I know I am good at this thing. I know I know my shit. I am not the greatest, or an expert. But I am confident in what I am. I can do this. I am not afraid to put my food up against anyone else.

But it is depressing to see how scarce we are out there. I think it is probably because if you are a woman who wants to earn as much as man and make it in a "man's world", you are far more likely to do something that is actually financially lucrative LOL (like be a doctor or lawyer). I've worked with a great woman chef, and I really loved it. I feel like I learned a lot from Sarah about how to handle myself in the kitchen. Nothing to prove... just do the job. Be respectful. Be nice.

I am also surprised at how common it is for vendors/etc to talk around me to whatever male is in the room. Even when I am catering, people will ask Brion (who is great help but is often the only person on the team with out a culinary degree) questions and not me. It is strange to me since I know I carry myself with confidence... I feel like it should be obvious just by my mojo/franchise that I am a leader!

I know there is no malice involved... it is one of those weird things... In supervisory management we studied communication barriers to communication. Communication can be stymied by subconscious predjudices such as... if you were abused by a man who was blond with a mustache when you were little, you might always be leery of blond moustachioed men regardless of their individual merits. I think my blond bubbliness just doesn't yeild to instant "She's the Boss".

I find my mind instantly adjusting in those situations... they are talking to David and not me, I will smile and ask David what he thinks of the situation. David will just look at me and say, "I think this, but you are the boss." Use the full force of my people skills to appeal to their inner Knight in Shining Armor so I get what I am after without making the situation a pissing match. I don't need to assert myself for all womankind 45 times a day... I need to know what my checklist is for my buidling permit in the shortest time possible... and I know next to nothing about what that checklist might entail. Am I a little bit taken aback that some of these guys have such deep seated cultural biases... I mean, I GET IT, there really are not that many female restaurant owners so it might not even be anything more than an unconscious stereotyping. I don't think I am annoyed... more like... surprised and interested from a cultural anthropology perspective.

Anyway, MAN I miss Gourmet magazine. The writing was so awesome MK Fisher, James Beard, Naomi Barry, Lucious Bebe... they just don't make 'em like that any more. It wasn't made for a mass audience, it was made for US... the shameless foodies. The true believers. There is a short story in a 1967 Gourmet about a wedding of minor Russian landed nobility where dad and his friends spend a month on the road by carriage gathering the wines and other wedding neccesities for his only daughter. Mom stops on her way back from the stables to cry by the lake where her daughter swam as a child. The townswomen personally decorate the curch with flowers for "their Erziske".

Another story was of Americans traveling thru Persia in the early 70's and commenting on the common sex between men, amazing hopsitality and deeply flavorful pistachios. How the young American couple spent a month there and became good friends with a rug merchant who finally talked them into a beautifully hand woven wool rug they could not afford... but they bought it anyway, like a starving student buying fine art, to be treasured and admired in all of it's decadent glory... for what is life without art?

And the food, beautiful food. James Beard writes of decadent Italian small bites.... of pickled and preserved things, meat and fish... mushroom caps stuffed with fresh sausage, pineapple rum ice cream, steamed lobster with parsley potatoes. All doused with a civil dram of excellent wine.

These were the dreams of my youth. My young mother studying hard in college, suddenly the head of house for her three children. Times were always tight but I could always pick up a book and read about food, dream about the luxury of traveling the world. Always ALWAYS I wanted to know... what do they eat? We slipped into a quiet Chinese restaurant one night for cheap eats when I was about 10 and I asked, "What do you eat for breakfast?" The pretty young waitress looked confused by my question but answered, "We eat pickles and rice and sometimes some soup." I, of course, made myself rice with dill pickles for my very next breakfast... not understanding the complex variety of Chinese pickles might be different from my grocery stores German style kosher dills. But I WANTED to understand, I WANTED to experience.

The first time I had Pho I was leaving Rhonda's house with Sam and he was starved. We stopped at a place in San Ramon called American Food. It was a hole in the wall with a gaggle of professional women eating soup, large plates of condiments on the table. The menu read

  • Chicken Soup
  • Beef Soup
  • Hot Dogs
  • Hamburgers
  • Fries

I tried to order a hot dog for Sam... they were out. I tried to order a hamburger... they were out. Soup it was! He LOVES Pho to this day. And Hoisin sauce. American food, indeed.

I just can't WAIT to get back into the kitchen. God I miss it. I try to temper my enthusiasm because the process has been so difficult and had many ups and downs. I can't get hopelessly lost in my emotional investment until the day I open the doors. We watched Bourdain today during the day and he went to this little Salumi maker in Seattle. The guy lived in Italy for a year learning how to make salumi. They showed him casing capicolla and hot coppa. The glistening wet proto salumi hanging in sparlkingly clean cases. I felt painly palpable lust. For all of it... the space, the salumi, the lines out the door. I want the quiet afternoons in the kitchen casing salumi. I want to collaborate with my staff on specials. I want to spend a Sunday a month in the wine country scouting out wines. I want to engage with my customers. I want to feed them, get to know them. I WANT. The strange rediculous desire bordering on need.

Passion. I am familiar with the word.

Maintaining momentum...

I am coasting a bit this week, and I feel a little uncomfortable about it. I should drag Brion down to East Bay Restaurant Supply and get my hood designed so I can stick it into the building/health department file. I feel like I am not doing anything useful today. I did go track down the full checklist for the Health Department submission and sent David his part of the list.

I could go start scouting equipment, but I feel like it's kind of a waste of time since I can't buy anything for a couple more weeks and the turn over is pretty high in the used supply places. I also don't want to pay for anything until I have a lease signed. So it is hard to justify applying for the business license, beer/wine license etc. It makes me feel like I might jinx things if I do anything before having an actual lease.

Stan is working on getting the lease fixed. I am tempted to just ask Hagen to do it for me, but I've already stepped on toes in the past with the Broker and Landlord, which delayed things quite a bit, so now I am paranoid about it.

The steps are (between now and the end of Feb):

Sign the Lease
Apply for Beer/Wine
Apply for Business License in Martinez
Get hood designed
Finish lighting plan
Finish gathering items on Health Department checklist
Make ingredient list for all cured salami (for HAACP plan)

From March 1 to opening day

Apply to Health Department for pemit/license
Buy equipment (especially the stuff that has to be built in)
Meet with Stein about menu tweaking
Meet with Dave about colors finishes
Get building permit
(insert flurry of activity involved with remodeling space, which is still somewhat nebulous as of now)
Organize product testing and plating critique
Make ordering list for food staples and other items needed to prep food for opening week

I know this list should be ten times longer...

I feel at loose ends... I will feel better if I set deadlines for everything. My back is still killing me. I pinched a nerve... I am totally hopped up on muscle relaxers! And I am sad I am not going to Pebble with the rest of the kids this week.

Last weekend I worked on some product. I made the goat sausages, hot smoked them and packed them in the whey. I did not really like the inital flavor as much as I woudl have liked, but the texture and consistency is good. The hot smoked pastrami came out great tho! I am also curing a fleshy white fish from Canada in coriander and juniper for hot smoking later in the week for this same client.

so for the Viking reinactment group I have finished:

Pickled Beets in horseradish
Pickled eggs
Pickled fennel
Pickled carrots
Fermented Cabbage
Fermented Fennel
Smoked goat sausages in whey
Salted dried pork shoulder
Dry cured sausages with Fennel and wine
Salted dried beef
Stock for the stew
Fried smelt in whey with dill
Fresh cheese

Still need to do:
Make the stew and freeze it
Hot smoke the fish

I think that is it?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Back on track (knock on wood)

So We met eysterday and went over a bunch of stuff. Dave got up on the roof and I think we have a good concrete plan for how to proceed forward. Hopefully I will get the lease in hand in the next few days. I need to do the small revamp to the visio drawing of the layout (the current HVAC closet may become the mop sink/closet) and I think we are going to need to make the gas line a bit bigger.

The meeting was much more congenial... I think the biggest problem I have been facing is the dyamic between the landlords and the broker. The Son (Stan) has been doing the rental stuff and leasing stuff for a while, the Broker was kind of new to the scene, hired on a whim by mom. I think the son may have felt uncomfortable with the situation and not really happy with the broker's performance (honestly, he is a nice guy... but the lease he gave me... it had the wrong address on it LOL).

I need to wrap my mind around my new-new to-do list and get it all organized.

Beer and Wine in premise
Beer and Wine on-sale
Business License
Hood Estimate
Lighting Chart
Revamp visio drawing
Get the rest of the stuff together for the submission to the Health Department (I probably need to go get another packet)
Get stuff together for Building Permit
Check with Fire to see what they need
Check with Sanitation and Sewer on the grease trap perameters
Start scouting equipment (particularly undercounter keg storage, which may need to be built in)
Communicate with my food vendor about the coffee set up
Start scouting wines
Contact Kelly about beer stuff

Man... that's a lot of stuff... but it's happy busy work!

God it was so awesome to be in the space yesterday. The sun was streaming in and happy professionals were walking by and kept looking in the window. It such a tiny space, but hopefully soon it will be mine :) I can't wait to be back in the kitchen with Stein making all kind sof awesome food!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Finding my happy place...

Today I am meeting with Stan (the son of the landlady) and David to check out the roof (the vent will have to come up thru the roof) and measure some stuff. I need to map out the light fixtures and give Dave some of the worksheets that need to be filled out before I submit to the Health Dept officially. I am meeting them at 1:00pm. I am hoping we can nail down the lease so I can do some of the other things on the to-do list... like file for my on premise beer and wine and the off-premise one as well.

Yesterday and today I've been back in the kitchen... DAMN it feels good. It is good for me to remember why I am doing all of this in the first place... I really do love to cook. I am doing two small things this week; a cooler full of Viking food for Hagen to take to Estrella and my daughter's Sweet 16 Birthday party.

Yesterday I pickled beets, eggs, carrots and fennel. I also started to ferment cabbage and fennel. Then I mixed milk with acidophilous to start a simple fresh cheese. I also started the beef stock for Hagens beef barley stew and the stew for this weekend's Collegium side board.
It just feels SO good to be back in the kitchen. I dreamt last night that I was in the cafe kitchen with Stein, making little mushroom caps stuffed with Nduja for our Happy Hour. He was covering a brisket with a dry rub to be smoked and we were listening to Bob Marley on low and the sun was streaming in. If I can just hold that image in my mind... I will be fine!