perks of sleeping with a chef.

10 Aug

Something that might make you be incredibly jealous of the fact that I get to be in the restaurant business that you don’t is that today we had to taste test hamburgers from a new meat vendor. If you’ve never sat around a table prodding at perfectly charred rare meat patties with your family, I assure you that you are missing out!! I should probably mention that in the regular restaurant business, managers and other front-of-the-house employees don’t usually have the pleasure to taste test unless they’re sleeping with the chef. Fortunately, I am doing just that!

Basically the way a taste test goes down is simple. The delivery comes (usually via salesman but in today’s case, from the delivery truck) and Harry calls my dad to come to the restaurant, then cooks up whatever shit we’ve got that day. Sometimes it’s dumplings or tortillas or salad dressing or pork chops or, in my favorite instances, molten chocolate lava cakes and flourless chocolate raspberry tarts and chocolate chip cookie dough and if we’re fortunate enough, small batch farm-to-freezer hand churned ice cream in flavors like dark chocolate sticky toffee pudding deliciousness and jumbo marshmallow honey roasted almond madagascar chocolate rocky road. Today it was chop meat. I’m not trying to sound unenthusiastic about that but honestly compared to the flavor I just invented, would you really have any desire in the slightest to eat a burger with no cheese or bread or pickles or bbq sauce? No, I didn’t think so. Well you know what? We have to suck it up sometimes and taste test what the sample gods put on our plate.

Anyway, my dad got to the restaurant, and Harry placed a fancy post-it label on each of 4 plates. And we grabbed some forks and glasses of water with which to cleanse our palates, and we dug into each hunk of juicy fatty meat one by one. We all taste differently. Harry takes a big giant bite and rolls it around his mouth like it’s a fine wine. I try to fork a decent cross section of the specimen and judge my opinion immediately, because you can’t take back a first impression. My dad really mulls it over. He grabs a medium-size bite, chews a few extra times just to drain the meat of any life that may have remained, and then makes some sort of “tsk”ing noise by pressing his tongue on the roof of his mouth, as though to extract each minute element of flavor from whatever it is he’s eating. By doing this with something like a sauce, he can tell you in no more than 4 tsks each and every ingredient that comprises it. I’d say he’s a genius but I’ll just let him tell you that himself if he sees you.

SPOILER ALERT!: Don’t look at this photo if you’re a vegetarian.

So we all chew the meat and then we discuss each bite as we take it. We analyze how the fattiness in one creates a terrific sear, and how the mix of meats gives another incredible depth of flavor, and how the packaging on a pre-formed patty might make the burger become too overworked and therefore make it chewy. Bet you didn’t know there was so much to a burger! Well when you serve the best burgers in town, there sure as hell is a lot of shit to analyze. Next week is bun week, another personal favorite of mine. The best part of bun week is that we’ll have to try many breads from many bakers. It’s a tough job, but somebody (bloated) has got to do it!

My father-in-law was also at the tasting. He thought everything was delicious, but mostly because instead of chasing it with water he opted for more of this scenario:

We concluded our tasting with a family high five and final decision to switch meat vendors stat.

Speaking of burgers, I AM NOT A PIECE OF MEAT. I get it, random middle aged man customer, you are really happy to see me and you think I look great and you can’t even tell that I had a baby. But my eyes are located approximately eighteen inches above my breast, and it would be like totally awesome if you could perhaps pay a little attention to them. Your wife notices when you do that, just so you know. And she thinks you’re just as pervy as I do. So stop.

In other news, next week I’ve decided to write an exposé about the difference between Shelbytown and Regular Shelby. Surely it will be as enlightening as the Hunger Games and/or Great Expectations (the movie version with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Deniro, but it’s kind of you to equate me to Dickens). Also, Harry brought me a cheeseburger for dinner but after looking at the above photo I’m reminded that 4 is enough for 1 day.


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