Articles from jim berman

  1. Restaurant Menus: The chorus of the kitchen

    The voice of a restaurant is in its menu. Yes, service is the backbone to hospitality. Certainly, decor is critical in ensuring a great experience for customers. Hours. Parking convenience. Pretty servers. All bits and pieces that make up the formula to keep the lights on.

    Ultimately, the cuteness of the place is shadowed by the need for great food; not food that has to educate the customer base; not food that has to be cutting edge; not food that has to be part of some new movement....
  2. What does Shake Shack's ChickenStack mean to restaurant menus?

    The cornerstone of the contemporary burger scene broke the internet with the launch of a chicken sandwich. Seriously. The Shake Shack chicken sandwich started trending on Twitter within minutes of the first chicken dip in the fryer. And that says something for the burger-only (mostly) establishment that kicked the stock market in the pants with an opening day initial offering that doubled, making a lot of burger investors very happy. So what does that mean for a burger-centric chain that...
  3. On the Road with Dega Catering and the Dave Matthews Band

    When the kitchen is always in motion, how do you feed one of the biggest bands in the world? Dega Catering is the long-running food crew charged with fueling the Dave Matthews Band as the group snakes its way across the country during their nearly annual summer concert tours. Feeding the band members, riggers, drivers, stagehands, sound technicians and guests with restaurant quality food can be daunting. Executing the food that is befitting the demands of a rigorous tour schedule is a feat...
  4. Mentoring New Cooks

    Mentoring the Food Truck Generation

    Building a successful kitchen includes shining the light for the minions that have shed the stuffy chef coat for the short-sleeved dishwasher shirt and black tee. Opening the restaurant door for the newer denizen of eager cooks that have kicked off Doc Martens for Mozo and Chuck Taylors is the mission. These are excited, quality-driven, foodistas that aren’t necessarily looking to work 80 hours this week and are probably not about to give up seeing the...
  5. Keeping Great Employees

    Keeping the best people on the team is critically important. Take a bit to think about the gravity of having good kitchen kin at the most vital times. When the printer is vomiting tickets onto the cutting board and the GM is freaking out about the gluten-free demands of table 21, who is best to be standing by? Does loyalty want to be questioned at that time? Or does the discussion about a pay raise make for a jagged moment? What about not getting the schedule just right for the line cook...
  6. Footprint on the Moon

    Cooking is a job. It is a way to take rough and raw ingredients, turn them into something palatable and, with a little experience and knowledge, perhaps make people happy with the bits and pieces on the plate. And that is all. Political opinion matters for nothing. Chefs that get all high and mighty by sharing their thoughts about, say, the fair treatment of wage-earners in Uganda are not lending any voice to the down-trodden and, more than likely, are laughable for their attempt. Stick to...
  7. A Happy Kind of Crazy

    The kitchen is an open stage to act like a complete ass. Seriously. You can throw things, aggressively sexually harass the guy standing next to you, work entirely too hung-over, be an actual nutcase, and still maintain a job. Hell, you may be even be the guy in charge. It is a stage, yes. But, an act? No way. Cooks love what they do. They have to. You must really like what you do if working under immense pressure in horrid conditions, with the constant threat of injury proves not to sway you...
  8. No Apologies

    Apologies have no place in the kitchen. Every movement is intentional, each gesture purposefully calculated. Every stroke, thrust and exploit have been prescribed as part of the cooking ritual. So, if Server Cody carelessly walks to the aft of a cook without the requisite “Behind!” bellow and gets burned, then Cody has, well, a scar to share with his friends at the next barbecue, and he has learned that cooks do not alter their paths for the sake of Cody’s peachy-white arm flesh. If Catering...
  9. I Met a Guy Named Jim, Just in Time

     
    I met a guy named Jim. I was sitting at the bar at the restaurant and I met a guy named Jim. The snow was that grayish, murky slush that is neither pleasant nor entertaining. Late February and nothing is fun. The flurries have lost their appeal. Now the weather is an annoyance and warmth seems so very far off. There is that bone-chilling cold that riddles everything with a nervous anxiousness that simply can not be warmed or comforted even with tequila. It just keeps coming back, that...
  10. The Dogs of War

    The boxing ring of the kitchen is full of choosing which battles to engage and those to which you turn away. It is full of days ruminating about the ass-hat wearing cook that refuses to wear a chef coat. Take that punch and look to the other corner. When it comes raise time, though, the war will be won while his battle has been lost. The seafood delivery comes in with questionable mussels, the driver insisting the quality is “exceptional.” That gets a body blow as the mussels go out the door...
  11. A Shiny Spot in a Grimy Industry

    There is always something screwing up the kitchen mojo. There are few travels across the restaurant universe that are smooth sailing. A surly cook that needs a good ass-kicking; a broken compressor in the walk-in is certainly going to make the day interesting; the seafood delivery didn’t get ordered in time, so no char, mussels and crab for tonight. There are also the larger, darker clouds that must get blown away before there is any basking under the sunlight of a well-executed meal; staff...
  12. Work the line. Or not.

    Cooks aren’t heroes. A chef is no celebrity. The crew of a kitchen is a gaggle of socially awkward miscreants and hooligans. The only revelry is in our own heads and from the sideways glance of other cooks with culinary envy. We are in the spotlight of our own minds. To be perfectly clear, when you walk down the street wearing chefs’ whites, you are not being mistaken for wearing a bright blue cape and the paparazzi will not stalk you. Get over it. I cook for sustenance and to provide a...
  13. Finding Comfort Between Two Slices of Bread

    Finding comfort between two slices of bread

    Jim Berman

    There is probably more in print - and on television - about Pittsburgh's Primanti Brothers than every James Beard Award winner. Combined. And that is the last the time "James Beard Award" and "Primanti Brothers" will appear in the same sentence. In case you missed the article in National Geographic, the spots on Man vs. Food and the Jon Stewart Show or are not a 'burgh resident, then you probably do not know about Primanti's goodness....
  14. Barbecue, Macarons, Pizza & Burgers

    Exploring
    A few days in Georgetown & Glover Park, Washington, DC
    Jim Berman

    While on hiatus from my day-to-day calling, I have explored some locales that I had not really ventured to and through. Going back to sixth grade, my long-time friend, David, is a gracious host and even more generous with the space in his Glover Park home. Invited to explore the area around Washington, DC, I bounded for the iconic Wisconsin Avenue strip with its (seriously) countless restaurants, dives, bodegas,...
  15. Orange Sherbet

    Orange SherbetThe ninth in a series on ice creams, custards and sorbetsJim Berman CCI
    Just in time for those fun holiday party punch bowls, I offer you orange sherbet. Yes, that bobbing mass of Titanic-sinking glacial mass of sweetened ice creamy goodness swimming in the overly-sweet, fruit juice and 7-up concoction that makes its way, front and center, to office parties, church bazars and uncomfortable family gatherings. Mispronounced as sher’bert, sherbet is a lower-fat version of the ice...
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