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Saturday, November 27, 2010

“Culinary Essays at the New Elemental News of the Day—the Chef as Manager, Part III” by Chef Stinkbug

Today’s Flamin’ Groovies’ album is their fourth release, “Flamingo,” which came out in 1970 and saw the band break into mainstream with this, their first release on the Kama Sutra label.  Never like the rest of their San Francisco, psychedelic compatriots, the Flamin’ Groovies charted their own course.  This is a great album so please go to Amazon.com right now and BUY it by using the convenient link!


Here is the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 745 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!


Chef Stinkbug

END Commentary 11-28-2010

Copyright © 2010 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 2,568.



Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Sunday, November 28, 2010 by Chef Stinkbug


Culinary Essays at the New Elemental News of the Day—the Chef as Manager, Part III” by Chef Stinkbug

Bakersfield, CA, 11-28-2010 Su: Today, we are going to continue my dissertation on the “Chef as Manager,” and we will build on yesterdays and Thursday’s articles and will see the Ten Commandments of being a Chef.  Being a chef is not an easy road to travel and I know, I’ve been doing it all of my life, from being young and becoming an apprentice to now, where I am still working at one of the area’s more popular country clubs. Foodservice is like a marriage, and the job is a hard spouse to love and to care for but matrimony means that we always do our best, we persevere, we fight, fight, fight in order to accomplish our professional goals and aims. Let us begin our discussion now:

When the reps from the grocery companies would be preparing to leave, the meat suppliers would come in. Before the first batch of salesmen would leave, Chef Olague would ask for quotes on the meats we needed; if the meat men like Holiday Meats couldn’t come in lower than the grocers, sometimes they would get the meat deal as well as grocery companies like S.E. Rycroft, U.S. Food Service, Sysco, and others carried meat as well.

     Although we bought from a dairy company, we could also duplicate those items through the grocers if their prices were better, too. As for produce, we had two companies, one local, the other out of L.A. competing for our business. In the end, we bought much of what we needed from whoever had the best quality and prices. If somebody slipped and tried to pawn rotten lettuce off on us, we might punish them for a week or two, even if it cost us more just to keep them in line for the next time we bought from them.

     The only company that never had problems with us was our bread supplier as the supplier of our regular, every-day needs was more-or-less a monopoly. However, we did buy our sourdough rolls and breads from another local outfit that specialized in that type of baking but they, too, always dealt with us right. Finally, we maintained an account with a nearby grocery store with which to cover emergencies, forgotten items or specialty needs that was paid-off every month.

     Therefore, when you do a large amount of business, you can have things your way. It was not hard for Chef Olague to give up a Monday so he could spend it with the purveyors because either the owner’s sons or I could step in and fill his role in the kitchen. The bottom line is we had a lot of business, made a lot of money and provided quality products. We utilized all of our by-products and made money off those as well. No, we would have been well off, each of us, if the family that owned the business had not sucked it dry but that is another story.

     Businesses that have a director of purchasing have it even better than the last example (if you can trust them) because it frees the chef up to do other duties within the kitchen. The chef in conjunction with the purchaser put the order together on a weekly basis but the first person is responsible for shopping around for the best buys and doing the legwork, which is a boon to most chefs who have enough to do on any given day.

     Furthermore, the purchasing agent checks in all deliveries making sure that the weights and quality-control issues of each delivered item are the way they are supposed to be. If things are unacceptable, he immediately sends them back and shops around for appropriate replacement products. He then puts all deliveries away where they are supposed to go and completes all necessary paperwork.

     In this regard, we expect the purchasing agent to assist the chef in keeping within the budget and helping with the end-of-the-month inventory. If he-or-she is not the one who actively computes the monthly food cost report, then that person works closely with the chef and food-and-beverage director in doing so. While the chef may be the one who ultimately feels the heat if the food cost is too high month-after-month, the purchasing agent is the next to feel it and may find him-or-herself out of a job as well.

     The downside to having a director of requisitions is that if that person is un-trustworthy, he-or-she can greatly benefit from the position by taking gifts such as samples, foodstuffs, alcoholic beverages and even trips to Alaska or Hawaii or elsewhere in exchange for bringing in items that the purveyors want to promote or off-load. If higher management does not keep the purveyor in-line, then that position can become one of person- al-gain through graft and favoritism. While the person that holds that position might be a long-term trusted employee, we must monitor every employee—even the head chef. Everyone is human and can succumb to temptation occasionally.

     As for smaller operations like my last managerial tour-of-duty at Alterra, a nationwide chain of assisted living residences for the elderly, each operates on a shoestring budget as far as feeding the residents is concerned. I was to buy ONLY from Sysco, which was a pre-designated supplier by the over-all company headquarters back east. Sysco provided me with all of my grocery, meat, and dairy products as well as much of my produce, bakery, and miscellaneous items such as paper products and chemicals. The only two other companies I could buy from was a regular bread supplier and a local produce company. The last of these was always sticking me with garbage because I bought in the smallest quantities imaginable.

     I was unable to dictate to the salesman the time that was best for me to see him because the commission that he made off of my monthly purchases was probably only enough for a few rounds of golf each month so he more-or-less came when it was convenient for him. An interesting fact to note here, too, is that all grocery companies base their systems on three-to-four different prices for the same goods depending upon how favored your company’s business is. If you buy a lot, your price structure is much better than if you buy less; therefore, since my weekly purchases did not amount to much, I had to pay more for them as well.

     To make matters worse, since my dairy expenditures were not enough to warrant having an independent company supply me each month, I had to throw those on to Sysco’s truck along with more-and-more of my produce needs because the local company only gave me crap of lesser-and-lesser value. I mean, if I bought eight different produce items for $20.00 on any given day of the week, it really was not worth their trouble to give me the best. Consequently, Sysco had me completely in their monopolistic grasp, which further clouded the issue in a couple of more ways as well:

I couldn’t dictate when I wanted my delivery to come in so it always came in right at the start of lunch which was terrible in a two-man kitchen and if the truck was delayed, I had to find time to scramble to the grocery store which wasn’t cheap or always easy to do either.

     I think that that was the worst aspect of being in charge of a small operation- the small of it as well as being in the grasp of something over which I had no control was making me nuts. There were times I got fresher and better produce at the grocery store and for a better price than what my local purveyor could offer. I am not usually one to tuck my tail and run but when I hurt my back on the job, I was glad I got a job at Seven Oaks Country Club as the Lead Line Cook on the P.M. line rather than have to go back into that schizophrenic atmosphere.        

     The other issue of note is who is stuck with the paper goods and the chemicals used by the house. We code every invoice from every delivery to the individual department responsible for the purchase in its budget. I am aware that in the past, many a chef that might have taken a new position was not entirely clear who was obligated to pay for what. As the chef is generally the one who might make the purchases for the entire food-service establishment because he or she is the person who deals with all of the purveyors and should, in fact be the one who codes off the invoices to the different departments. If someone higher up the chain does this, he might be in for a big surprise.

     Let us look at a hypothetical situation- besides making the necessary kitchen purchases, he might also order the paper products and chemicals used by housekeeping and the bar. If the

We do not debit different departments with their share of the purchases and they are included on the kitchens, food cost can be high every month. Like I said, I recall a couple of chefs from the old days with their backs against the wall finding out that they were being debited with the paper-and-chemical purchases for the entire establishment each month! Why should the kitchen be responsible for the toilet paper used in the rooms of the motel? Why should the kitchen be responsible for the sanitizing agent used in the cocktail lounge?

     We need to clear these issues up front before one assumes the mantle of head chef. The aspiring culinarian has to see the overall budget for the entire operation as well as that of each individual department. If your prospective employer is vague or unwilling to provide you with information pertaining to your job longevity and success, then you do not need to work there, not even for experience. It is better to wait for a better position to open down the road than to take one that will detract from your resume rather than benefit it.

     It is important to learn and to gain experience in your upward movement within the industry but one has to be aware that there are many unscrupulous restaurant owners who will attempt to squeeze out every ounce of enthusiasm and dedication from the people they give “opportunity." Do not fall into the same trap that I did, choose carefully and move up when it is right for you.

     I remember words of advice given to me by a chef-friend of mine from long-ago, Chef Henry Gutierrez: “once you hold that first chef’s position, you only go from there to the next and the next after that. If none is available when you find yourself out of work for any given reason, you draw your unemployment and wait for the next one to open... in this way and in only this way can you be considered a chef...”

     I have come to realize that he was right. I made many of the wrong choices in my career, which I now see so I feel competent enough to offer advice to you based upon my mistakes. It is important enough to know and understand the formulas offered at the beginning of this chapter just as it is important to know the ins-and-outs of basic restaurant management and purchasing. Now, I would like to offer my final bits of advice before we tackle the intricacies of the resume in the next chapter:


     I) To teach those coming behind me, regardless of whomever they are and where they’re going and even if they aspire to my position.

     II) To be fair to my employees and treat them with the respect they deserve as fellow human beings.

     III) To remove myself from speculation or gossip and to keep my opinions of others to myself.

     IV) To discipline my employees fairly and with the hope of furthering their best interests and education in the ways of life.

     V) To hire within the community at large and promote the culinary arts to the disadvantaged and those needing a helping hand.

     VI) I will deal fairly with all purveyors and will keep everything above board in a spirit of fairness and competition.

Everyone shall have a chance at the same sales opportunities and if denied, they shall know the reasons why.

     VII) I will work with management and ownership at keeping costs down and profit potential up without sacrificing quality or sacrificing the trust of my employees in me.

     VIII) I will work within the profession by maintaining relationships with others of my stature in order to promote and advance the culinary arts.

     IX) I will participate within the community by donating my knowledge and skills to students at all levels and to any others that request my time on a reasonable basis.

     X) And, most important of all and something that I learned the hard way in life, I will be true to my relationship outside of work by being a good boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancé, husband-or-wife and/or parent.

     This last commandment is the most important of all because it is only through its fulfillment that we can make the others work. When our lives are full of turmoil, we can hardly meet the requirements of the first nine. As I have mentioned earlier in this book, my life has had periods of self-caused problems that held me back in my professional development. At my present age of 55, I could have been an executive chef of long-standing but have remained as a working chef for 30 some years of my working career. Living on Maui allowed me to work in all of the hotels, restaurants, and even at Foodland cutting meat and fish, all of which was very rewarding and enlightening. It has allowed me to work with a wide-ranging assortment of eclectic characters, all of whom have made my life exciting and fun.


As always, we have a great time around here and that is why we want all of you to become a part of the organization by submitting articles to us for inspection and full-credit.  It is a great thing if you would do this, as it is a symbiotic relationship: we give you the space to share your recipes and in return, you send us more and more people who will become dedicated followers of the END.  Currently of multi-diversity across the Internet, it is important that we hear the voices of more and more people from all walks of the foodservice profession —join us. We urge our readership to write to us, leave comments, and if there are any of you, who would care to write an article for us, please get in touch via Magnolia Hilltop Brewers, P.O. Box 20669, Bakersfield, CA 93390-0669.  We obviously do not pay anything but give YOU full byline and that, my friends, is worth its weight in gold.  We want as many people who want to write to be able to do so and we believe that by presenting a forum for our fellow chefs, we are doing something for our beloved industry.  We love diversity and hope to add new and different authors to our pantheon of chefs, food and beverage directors, and culinary professionals.  Come on and join us, it will be fun! Expect that when all of us have run through our cycle, we will be introducing some brand-new talent or so Stinky says.

Please remember to avoid doing business with AARC Technology in Bakersfield, CA.  These people do not care about the small customer anymore but instead put all of their attentions onto their corporate customers. It is sad to not remember why one has the success they do or from where it came.

            This will do it for today, our third day of our new blog and we do hope you enjoy what you read.  We are thankful to Google Blogger for giving us the chance to redeem ourselves after Choseit.com unceremoniously dumped us due to the Federal Government of the United States shutting us down in this past August as a test run in their attempt to control the Worldwide Internet.  Google is marvelous, we love them, they love us, and most important of all: they support us! We begin our blog with great hope, vigor, and excitement and after a month or so; my fellow writers will join me one by one. 

                           Anyhow, let us close with this impassioned plea—please leave some comments and/or become a follower and why not spend some money and purchase an album by the Flamin’ Groovies’ and/or buy a cookbook from Amazon.com—we want to make some money here so help us out by buying something!  Allied with them, we are pleased to market their merchandise! See you next time around! Bye!  

Thank you!


American Bakers’ Association, ACF, CWC

This is I back in the 1980's when I was the sous chef of a large foodservice operation in Bakersfield, CA. I began my cooking career in the 1960's when I apprenticed underneath a great chef, Master Chef Ulysses S. Paz.  I have lived and worked in Hawaii, Washington State, Arizona, and California.  Even though I am in my late 60’s, I am still actively involved at a hotel here in Bakersfield, CA.

Stinkbug writes from OILDALE, CA.


The END Commentary for Sunday, November 28, 2010 by Chef Stinkbug

Please note that everyone who writes for the Elemental News of the Day is their own person entitled to their own opinions, attitudes, and insanity so does not necessarily speak for all of us.  Thanks, Stinkbug.


The one-and-only Chef Stinkbug wrote this original essay.

Recipe created by Chef Stinkbug on November 13, 1982 in Bakersfield, CA.



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This is #-00004 an original oil painting by Beverly Carrick entitled, “Blossoming Desert." It is among her more beautiful works and is available for sale. You can see much more of her work at her Website, located at http://www.beverlycarrick.com or at Brian Carrick's Facebook page. At her Website, you will see not only more original oil paintings but also lithographs, giclees, prints, miniatures, photographs, and even her award-winning instructional video entitled, "Painting the Southwest with Beverly Carrick." Beverly has been painting for more than 60 years and known around the world for both the beauty and timelessness of her artworks. Hanging in private and public galleries and followed by many fans encircling the globe—her works instill awe because of her artistic brilliance and personal beauty. We urge you to go to her Website NOW and view her work. It is possible that you will find something you like and will want to buy it for yourself, a friend, a loved one, or a neighbor! You will not be disappointed so please: do yourself a favor and go there IMMEDIATELY! Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day!

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