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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

“Soup Seminar, Pt. VII: Elvin P. McCardle shares his Insights into the Soup-Master’s Position, Pt. 1”

The Steve Miller Band exploded onto the scene in 1967 and a year later, put out their first album: “Children of the Future,” released on Capitol Records.  The Steve Miller Band played a brand of psychedelic blues rock that was unsurpassed because of Miller’s guitar virtuosity and because of this, he and the various incarnations of his band have been around for five decades and are still going strong.  Their debut album, “Children of the Future,” remains among their best work and this one is a definite must for any collector of the Bay Area-Summer of Love genre of music.  We urge you to take the handy link to Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer and buy it now! You won’t be disappointed! Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day.  


Here's the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 514 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!


                                                   STINKBUG 2011


Chef Elvin P. McCardle

END Commentary 07-27-2011

Copyright © 2011 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 3,215.



Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Wednesday, July 27, 2011 by Chef Elvin P. McCardle


 Soup Seminar, Pt. VII: Elvin P. McCardle shares his Insights into the Soup-Master’s Position, Pt. 1

Bakersfield, CA, 07-27-2011 W:  I am going to continue our soup seminar today by giving you some background on what it takes to be a maker of soups, the prepmaster, or the sous chef, even the chef, depending upon the size of one’s establishment.  Making soup is about making money for one’s foodservice operation, about economizing at home or on the job and utilizing every single shred of scrap material in order to create something amazingly delicious, delightful, and dignified. 

Now, we’ve arrived at one of the major job assignments in the kitchen, a post normally held by either the sous chef or the chef, him-or-herself. It is one of the areas which can get a restaurant put on the map or erased from it, can cause it to be held in highest esteem or removed from it, the subject of laughter and/or disregard; the area I’m talking about is soup, home-style soup, freshly made, each and every day.

     It seems that nowadays that we as chefs have less time to do our work, that we’re stressed out over other situations and that it’s easier to break down to our salespersons suggestions and bring in some frozen soups and see how well they go over with our customers. I’ll you right now, once this door is opened, it’ll be easier and easier to bring in other commodities until we’re full of them and our personal styles are swallowed up.

     Basically, what I’m saying is that places known for their fine soups like well-known restaurants and country clubs must always stick to their regimen of home-made soups because once they deviate from that path, it will become a buzz throughout the house and one day causes the chef to lose his-or-her position.  It’s OK to keep something for emergency use in the freezer but we shouldn’t use it matter-of-factly; however, we do need to routinely work it out of the deep freeze, say on a month-to-month basis, so we can move the old out and bring in fresh product. I never find it attractive to see bulk-this or bulk-that covered by an inch thick of permafrost all the way around it. No, that is definitely not a well-received sight in a Carrick-run kitchen.

     When I went to work at Freddie’s Top-of-the-Hill, the establishment was really big on homemade soups and believes me, we used to make gallons every day and gallons were consumed by the customers. When I had the chance to learn how to mass-produce them, I jumped in with no-abandon and set out to learn everything that Chef Olague and my friend-and-boss Chuck Downey were willing to teach me. Soon, due to Fred’s poor health and the lackadaisical work ethics as personified in Mama Jean’s oldest boy, Chuck, I began to increase my knowledge every day.

     The thing is that back in those days with me in my infancy as a cook, I recorded ingreds but not quantities. It’s always good to know lists of ingreds but it’s much more important to have recipes written down so that recipes are the same from one time to the next. It’s also good to keep a written record of what goes well with one soup but not in another. In this way and only this way can we offer the same delicious soup time-and-time again?

     Technique is important as well and if you’ve read the chapter on sauces, you will understand why. Say, for instance, that you’re making a batch of cream of cauliflower soup. If you’re going to add the seasonings towards the end, you run the risks of creating “spice pockets”. Imagine, you’re spooning this delicious soup from a china bowl and all of a sudden you bite down on a pocket of white pepper that didn’t get assimilated by the soup in its final preparations- yuck! It can ruin the entire experience and cause you to push the cup or bowl away from you on the table.

     Therefore, I’ve basically come up with a formula that works well 90% of the time- when I make the roux for a cream soup, that’s where I add my seasonings. Since I know the outcome of the soup, I know the outcome of the particular spices I’m going to use. So, if I’m using such-and-such, it’s added at the earliest stage of the soup so that the flavors can mellow out and there’s no risk of spices clumping together.

     Furthermore, just as this sounded strange under the chapter on sauces, I also utilize the mixer as much as I can, especially if I don’t have a steam kettle to work with: (these are large restaurant-size pieces of equipment that are like a large bain-marie- hot water is at the sides and the bottom of the pot and it utilizes steam to keep the soup, chili, or gravy from sticking to it. What’s even better yet, most of the newer ones can be turned to dump out the food into smaller pans, buckets, or whatever. We also utilize these kettles to make our stocks in.

     Clean-up time on the kettles is easy as well. All we have to do is fill up the kettle with cold water and turn it up as high as possible and most of the crud will boil right off. Then, all that needs to be done is to have it buffed out by a dishwasher. You can shine it up with stainless steel cleaner for maximum effect but not inside where the food is cooked.

     As I’ve said, my ways are unique in the manner I combine my ingredients together. The bowl of an electric mixer is just as important to me as is the cooking of the spices and herbs in the roux.

     The most dangerous place in the preparation of roux-based soups is the joint of assimilation of the roux and the liquid into each other. The worst thing that one can do is to rush the relationship between the two. If you get it lumpy, there’s no way to get the lumps out save you call it “Puree of White Bean” or “Puree of Broccoli” because the only way you’ll be able to straighten the mess out is by running it through the Cuisinart or Robo-coupe.

     So, you see, this is why I like the mixer method or the slurry method. As for the mixer, when the roux is done, transfer it into it and then begin to rotate the mixer’s whip on low speed. As it does this, just begin to pour the liquid into it slowly along the side. If the roux is having too great a struggle trying to incorporate the liquid STOP! Until it proves that is again able to do so.

     When you have a thick, dough-like mess, return it to the soup pot and place over medium-low heat until the rest of the liquid is raised to a boil. When it is, begin whisking it in to the first mixture until well-combined. Allow the soup to come to and stay at a boil for 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until lowering the temp to low, just enough to see a bubble appear here-and-there.

     I basically try to turn everything into a science so that it’s fool-proof  which means that the results will come out the same every time so that almost (yes, almost, there’s always a few ding-dongs that can’t do it right) every one can produce the same results time-after-time-after-time! Now, as for the other method of thickening soups once you’ve combined the roux with the liquid is to make a liquid starch or slurry which you make pretty much on a 1-1/2:1 ratio flour : water. Just whisk it in as needed to complete the soup.

       Once you’ve got the soup on the stove thickened, it is best left for at least an hour or so that the flavor can develop.  At the end of this time, you may need to add liquid but that’s ok, that’s the way soups are. If it’s a soup built upon stock, add stock and if it’s finished with cream and/or butter, thin it with that. Normally, seasonings do not have to be corrected but if they do, do them up! You know what I say! You’re your own best person so you do what you think, you’re the chef!

       I take pride in my soups and the compliments that I receive on them really pumps up my ego. Well, you know, it boosts it some but what can I do? The only thing bad about it is when I see one that wasn’t a mover being dumped on any particular day. That really hurts! Of course, some houses will allow you to run the same one a couple days in a row or transform it into an entirely brand-new creation say for instance, Potage ala Mongole, that classic blend of tomato and split pea soups which allows one to have a beautifully golden soup by service soup by serving time.

     Other than providing a key part to the dining process (a jump start on your meal while the cooks fire up your entree), it also allows you to have something completely nourishing to the body and to serve as an enticement for things to come. Never under-estimate the power of these potential as they will either get the meal to a good-or-bad start!

     Now, I have a story to tell you, dating back to the Seventies, when I was a young cook. I was working at George Bailey’s HENRY THE VIII RESTAURANT. Man, how I hated this place. It was truly a depressing truck stop on a depressing stretch of California state highway and although I worked the 2 to 10 p.m. shift, there was many times I had to work 2 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. because the graveyard man didn’t show.  (This happens a lot to the graveyard guys; I believe it’s a recessive thing in their jeans or something...)

     Anyhow, there were several different head chefs the time I was there because it wasn’t as easy as people thought. A thousand dollar shift in those days built up around $2.00 to $4.00 menu items was a lot of food, prep, blood, sweat and tears! But anyhow, back to the particular story I want to tell you:

     We had a guy who worked on-and-off there during the time I worked there. He was a strange one, one of the original flower power people in the Bay Area of California. He was there in ‘67, he lived the lifestyle, he took the drugs, he drank the drinks, and he did whatever there was to do. By the time I met him in ‘74-to-’75, he was basically a burnt out cook who relied on the few skills he had left to get him through life.

     One day I came into work and there he was, my slightly humpbacked whale of a friend peering at me through his normally reddened eyes with a big grin on his face. I said “hello” as I came into the kitchen and headed towards the time clock. He followed me right on my tail.

     “I’ve got something to tell you,” he said, grinning like a big Cheshire cat. Me, I leaped at the bait and took off running.

“What’s up?” I asked.

     He then began to relate the day’s events to me. All of a sudden, he began to relate the ingreds of the soup and I thought I heard something which caused him to redden.

     “You dropped your jar of amphetamine tablets into the soup, is everyone going to be alright?” I queried nervously. Harold said oh, yeah; just look at all your happy guests out there,

He said that when most of them were benefitting from the addition of vitamins “A” and “D” into the soup. He was disappointed that he lost a couple hundred but that it was good for the diners.

     Everyone seemed OK so I let it go; I had already seen some weird things in my culinary career so I didn’t push. Harold was Harold and the rest of us thought he was crazy which I think was a good assessment of the facts. But, back to the soups:

     I remember an old cartoon on TV or in a book about 3 soldiers returning from the Napoleonic wars in Europe who were very hungry indeed. They had come into some village or hamlet and were looking for food. The people said they had none to give the tired soldiers so one of them suggested they make their rock soup which was always delightful. Everywhere they had gone, they made it everywhere and everybody had enjoyed it. So one by one, the townsfolk drawn out of their houses approached the simmering cauldron the soldiers picked to cook in. The simple folk said that the simmering rock smelled so wonderful they wanted to know what they could contribute so their family would be able to share in the final outcome. The soldiers would say, “A chicken or two would be very nice” or “how-about some vegetables or whatever?” and through the powers of suggestion, allusion and perhaps a little sleight of hand, they had the villagers believing that the rock was the primary ingredient and everything else was only secondary.

This is where we shall conclude today’s lecture and I will return for tomorrow’s blog post to finish this story.  It is our desire to enlighten you on every single bit of foodservice knowledge as is possible.

Like my friend, The Hooter yesterday, I, too, have had a great time today and as always enjoy my opportunities to write for the Elemental News of the Day. We urge our readership to write to us and 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 don’t pay anything but you will be given a full byline and that’s 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’ll be fun!

Please remember to avoid doing business with AARC Technology in Bakersfield, CA.  These people don’t care about the small customer anymore but instead put all of their attentions onto their corporate customers. It’s sad to not remember why one has the success they do or from where it came. Anyhow, have a great day and I will see you all tomorrow. Take care.  

Thank you!

Elvin C. McCardle

Elvin C. McCardle

American Culinary Federation, Inc., CWC


This is me as a young chef back in the 1970's when I was working as a sous chef at a resort hotel over on the coast around Ventura Beach, California. I began my career working as a busboy in 1963, move to washing pots in 1965, became a chef's apprentice in 1969 and have been a career professional ever since. I am still involved in professional foodservice as a consultant for food and beverage professionals.


END Commentary for Wednesday, July 27, 2011 by Chef Elvin P. McCardle

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.


This original essay was authored by the one-and-only Chef Elvin P. McCardle

Recipes created by Chef Elvin P. McCardle on May 07, 1947 in Bakersfield, CA.



“Stinky” of the Elemental News of the Day for the best of the news, politics, sports, foodservice, hotel and restaurant business, the end times, the end of days, the apocalypse, armageddon, and whatever else happens to pop up!




This is #1325, a 16” x 20" original oil painting by Beverly Carrick entitled, “The Catnip Mouse." It's 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 is known around the world. Her work hangs in private and public galleries and is followed by a great many fans that circle the globe. We urge you to go to her Website NOW and view her work. It's 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!

Web Pictures I

 this is a shot of the drummer of the Magnolia Hilltop Brewers at Lake Isabella, CA, Brian Carrick, on 10-06-1978 standing high up in the sound system pretending to be high and mighty.

    this is a shot of Brian Carrick at Morro Bay, CA, on 11-08-1980 while on vacation from gigging with the Magnolia Hilltop Brewers. 

this is a shot of lead guitarist and vocalist Chuck Swartz on 11-04-1978 at the Garces Memorial High School gig in Bakersfield, CA. 

          This is a shot of Lupe Carrick, the Notorious Dragon Lady of Bakersfield, on 11-17-1978 at Shamrock in Bakersfield, CA. LC was the first wife of Brian Carrick. 

This is a shot of the Plynth in action on 10-31-1980 at Funworld in Bakersfield, CA. On the left is rhythm guitarist and vocalist Jim Traynor and on the right is the famed Chuck Swartz, lead guitar and vocals. 

 This is a shot of MHB bassist and vocalist, Victor Gaona at Taft, CA, on 09-15-1978 during a performance there. 

This is a photo of rhythm guitarist and vocalist Vernon McMahon of the MHB at Taft, CA, on 09-15-1978 during the drum solo of "Takin' Care of Business." 

    this is a shot of Stinkbug's famed Pineapple Upside Down Cake at the Stockale Country Club on 10-21-1989.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Magnolia Hilltop Brewers and What's Cookin' Productions Trademark of Quality and Symbol of Integrity. Copyright 07-27-2011, all rights reserved. No unauthorized reproductions of any of this material are permissible unless granted by written permission. Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day.

Chief Editor: Stinkbug.

Assistant Editor: Moses Scharbug III

Proofreader: Amos Mosby Caruthers.

Beer: Smokehouse.




Elvin P. McCardle, The Soup-Master, Gourmet Cooking, The Steve Miller Band, The Prepmaster, Soups, Stocks, Gourmet Soups, The Pantry Chef, Foodservice Career Notes,


Trademark of Quality c/o the Elemental News of the Day and Magnolia Hilltop Brewers Productions 2011 of Bakersfield, California, the United States of America.

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