Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hey Foodies! Check out Waiting on Others - Truly Independent Media

Hi everyone,

Buffalo-Chicken-Moments was born out of frustration working a culinary survival job, as they're called. Most of us have had jobs like this before, something to pay the rent or help bring down debt and student loans. The new webseries Waiting on Others ( is the closest that I could imagine to a TV version of this blog. The show brought me on as its producer and I am thrilled to join the project.

Check out the Facebook page and the trailer, now showing on a dedicated Waiting on Others YouTube channel. This is a really exciting time for creative enterprise. If you believe in independent media, creative people removing all obstacles to create something unique and interesting, show us some love and view our clips, Like and Share our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter. Be part of something building from the ground up.

And when you do watch our clips and trailers, say hi on the Facebook page. We're a community and we want to hear from you. Your voice matters!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Exciting New Project - "Waiting on Others"

Hello dear readers,

I will begin with my most sincere apologies for being so terribly absent for most of the last year. In a new job with a new, strict confidentiality clause and little customer interaction, I have lacked material. But I am very lucky to have met and joined a phenomenal creative team that will launch a hilarious new webseries in 2012 called Waiting on Others. Check out the website.

This show is everything that I ever hoped Buffalo-Chicken-Moments could be, only with better writing and narrative development. As their new producer, I will begin using this forum to promote the series. And I am inviting every food or media blogger out there to view and review each episode as they air.

We are planning a launch party for January 2012 and I expect to extend a limited number of passes to bloggers interested in covering the show. Let's be honest everyone, blogs like this one and readers like you are the wave of the future in entertainment. I am inviting everyone to join us as we show the restaurant industry as it is (with wit) and honor the spirit of making it in New York, the things that make this city so special. Please feel welcome to contact me with questions. This is an exciting project and I'm happy to bring it to my readership first.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just Blowing Through

Let's see - it's been about 10 months since I last wrote a blog entry (oh, how I've missed you my dearest bloggie). Leaving Cafe Confidential was a solid career and life move, but, back in a kitchen and far from my patrons, I just didn't have any good material to work with.

So, why the post now you may ask? Huricane Irene is absolutely battering the East Coast and, rather than curling up in bed comforting my assuredly scared cat, I am finishing a double shift at 5 AM leading into a tripple shift before I get to drive home on Monday around four in the AM. That's the thing about my current gig - royal treatment means royally painful hours and 24/7 service, even amidst natural disasters.

That's the restaurant industry people. When this is all over, I'll be able to say that Huricane Irene was nothing more than a long weekend. I can barely hear the wind, rain, or destruction tearing apart my beloved city... just another day and night at the office. To everyone from the Bahamas to New England, please be safe and be well.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Oh How the Tables Have Turned

It has been less than one week since my last shift at Cafe Confidential and I eagerly await orientation at my new job in the coming days. As I sit on the plane flying away from the corn and soy bean fields for the concrete jungle of my adopted NYC, I'm forced to recon with the fact that I don't do well when unemployed. Over the last three days, today in particular, I have become one of those borderline rude customers that drew my ire, but for different reasons. Honest person that I am, this entry will serve myself up as the annoying customer.

My problem began two days ago during a celebratory dinner at Bacaro in Champaign, IL, easily the finest restaurant in town, no doubt a result of the NYC influences of its executive chef/owner. The meal was superb, exactly what a restaurant experience should be. The bartender, who briefly worked with with my best friend at another restaurant in town, started us off with glasses of Prosecco followed by one each of the two drink specials. Neither disappointed. Next, we were treated to complimentary amuse bouche, a savory smoked shrimp with orange and fennel before our appetizers and entrees arrived. We shared a slice of pumpkin cake for dessert complemented by a fine glass of Riesling. I was in culinary heaven, made that much better by the personal connection my friend shared with the bartender and server and I with another server and the executive sous chef who prepared our meals. I felt connected to the restaurant.

Sounds like a good thing, right? Wrong. The next day, I encountered two customer service professionals before going for dinner at the award-winning BBQ restaurant, Black Dog where, as I discovered, I knew two of the cooks and one server. With each customer service pro and then the Black Dog bartender and host, I found myself obnoxiously trying to help them manage their stations more efficiently, on the one hand, and making demands based on expectations for speed and multitasking held for myself, that were unreasonable for people accustomed to working at a slower pace. I could clearly recognize the bartender's contempt for me and could hardly blame her. Although I will maintain that it is not unreasonable for a person to take two separate drink orders at once.

Today, I reached my low point boarding the plane to Atlanta. Already frustrated by the deliberate (read: ungodly slow) pace of the passenger ahead of me, I interrupted him to request that he reverse the direction of his duffel bag, even as he was reaching to place it in the overhead compartment. Yes, I could already recognize that his duffel placement would be inefficient and decrease the available space for my bag and simply could not suffer the inconvenience of moving it myself. Needless to say, the passenger in 18A is not my biggest fan. Nor is the flight attendant that expressed frustration when I tried to assist his colleague in delivering a beverage to the person sitting next to me. No, I don't know her. But the young woman ordered a drink and shouldn't be expected to wait that long.

My lesson? First of all, sometimes I need to chill out and remember that I am in no way perfect. Second, I can recommit to the notion that line cooks and servers have a special kind of genius for organizing tasks and working efficiently. After three years as a cook, I am not at genius level yet. But I will always do my best to show appreciation to the people that prepare and deliver my food at a restaurant. There is such amazing mental agility to go with physical prowess and culinary knowledge. I am proud to be among them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

She Just Might 'Liquor

Who says you need to work with customers to get a daily dose of buffalo-chicken moments? This ex-cafe line cook hit the road today, leaving my beloved NYC on a jet plane only I know when I'm getting back again. Returning to my most recent roots where my cooking career began, I took a mid-morning flight to Champaign, IL. No, that's not a misspelling... trust me, there's little bubbly about this corn and soybean town. I had some good times in Champaign where I spent four years working on my PhD in Communications, one and a half of those years working on full-time in the evenings as a grill and fryer station cook at a local tapas restaurant. I also met my best friend - a brilliant professor/grad student who happens to have an accomplished resume as a server in NYC - thus my reason for returning.

But I digress. I arrived at LaGuardia in the morning on an empty stomach and made it through security by 10AM, where I found myself in line at a breakfast/lunch cafe and bar feeling overwhelming sympathy for the line attendant. There were three customers ahead in line: two high school or college aged kids (their maturity level gave me no indication either way) and a woman I'm guessing in her late 60s with comically red hair. The kiddies engaged in a spirited commentary bemoaning the cost of the $3.00 hot dog, laughing about the possibility of eating lunch food for breakfast (ever nurse a hangover, kiddies?). No real buffalo-chicken moment here... just a couple people that have probably never worked a day in their life complaining about food cost in A) New York City and B) an airport. I'm sorry, but are they new?

Red hair, on the other hand, is a different story. Actually, more of a muffled conversation. Truthfully, I couldn't hear much of what she had to say. But I caught every eye roll, forced smile, groan and response from the line cook. The exchange went something like this:

Lady in Red (Hair): Garbled sounds resembling any adult voice in the Peanuts cartoons.

Line Cook: The bar is separate ma'am. And it doesn't open until 11:00 AM.

Lady in Red (Hair): More garbled sounds, leaning closer to the line cook in a desperate attempt to emphasize her point.

Line Cook: I understand that ma'am. But I'm sorry, I can't open the bar early. The bar opens at 11 AM.

Lady in Red (Hair): Dejected look, pays for her food, turns toward the bar and then returns to the line cook, speaking in Peanuts voice again.

Line Cook: No, ma'am. The bar never opens before 11 AM.

Points for effort, I suppose. But here's a word to the wise. Asking the same question over and over will not inspire a new answer. It might, however, get you a phone number and address for a local AA meeting.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm Back

Hello dear readers! Did you miss me?

I know, probably not. But let this begin my second attempt to share the trials and tribulations of the line cook. But first, an explanation for my absence.

In spite of my best efforts at creating an entertaining, but professional, record of my bizarre and frustrating experiences at Cafe Confidential, this blog rubbed the wrong way a few important members of the parent company. Whoops. In an attempt to diffuse conflict, Buffalo-Chicken-Moments took a short vacation. Their concerns are legitimate - could a blog that serves up many of its customers be bad for business? Perhaps although I thought not likely. Still, I respect their concerns.

So, what's changed to make me bring the blog back? Big news for this lowly line cook - I'm moving on up to a new opportunity with an amazing culinary staff. A very exciting opportunity to say the least, one that will not involve any customer interaction. After finishing my final two weeks, I am gainfully unemployed until I begin my new venture next week.

So what does this mean for Buffalo-Chicken-Moments? For now, not much. I have plenty of stories that have yet to be told and I will happily share them two or three times per week until they run out. After that, I may explore a change in direction to focus more on food and nutrition while offering up classic buffalo-chicken-moments that I might observe during my own dining experiences. It remains to be seen.

But know this, dear readers. I've missed you and I'm happy to be back. Check back soon for new entries.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On Hold

Dear Readers,

For reasons that will become clear at a later date, this blog is going into the proofer for awhile. I'll be back.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Go Giants

Dear Readers,

I've done my best to write only about food in this young blog - that certainly is my commitment. But, as a native Californian who grew up a Giants fan, attending hundreds of games in Candlestick Park and AT&T Park before and even after I began my travels, I need to give a shout out to my favorite sports team. The San Francisco Giants have won the World Series, 4 games to 1 over the Texas Rangers.

Kitchens are often a rag-tag collection of characters. So was this team. To Giants fans all over the world, join me in celebrating misfits gone right!

Back to food tomorrow, I promise.

*** On second though... I want to add one more thing. I watched the final four innings from the bar next door to my apartment in the Bronx. Do not be mistaken, this is Yankee country. But the bartender turned the volume on the TV for the last inning and didn't charge me for my beer. I walked out with congratulations from the waitstaff and bartender. I believe that this is unique to food service. They are special people. So for everyone at Jake's Steakhouse, thanks for sharing this special moment with me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Best Wishes, Val

I said goodbye to one of my favorite co-workers (and regular Buffalo-Chicken-Moments reader) today. Val, a fantastic prep and line cook is moving on to new and exciting opportunities and I really wish her the best. She made my rare vacations or midweek days off possible and I always knew that I would return with the line in good shape. Her humor, work-ethic and calm will certainly be missed. Thanks for all you've done for me, Val and good luck with the next step!

I'm Begging You... Stop the Squawking!

Remember the 1995 Castle Rock Entertainment romantic comedy Forget Paris, starring Billy Crystal and Debra Winger? I'm a fan of both actors and many of the pro basketball players that made cameos but I'm the first to admit that this isn't exactly Casablanca. There is, however, one character that enters my mind every day I work at the CONFIDENTIALITY CLAUSE Cafe... Winger's senile father-in-law played by the outstanding character-actor William Hickey. In a complain sequence, Crystal bemoans his father-in-law's irritating habit of reading aloud every sign that he encounters. Here's a clip:

You are probably asking yourself, "What on earth does this have to do with food or the line cook experience?" Allow me to introduce you to the latest cafe character:

The Parrot - Unlike its portrayal in popular media, the cafe parrot is neither amusing nor lovable, and it's reasonable to question its overall intelligence. This creature insists on reading every item on every menu, to oneself or one's entire party. Sometimes this is a mother or father reading to a child but, more often than not, this is one half of a middle-aged couple that is just way too excited to be in a cafe, on the one hand, and questions their partner's ability to read, on the other. Whatever the reason, I can say that the endless drone of this customer's voice is enough to make me want to leap across the line and deck the person like Lawrence Taylor after a QB.

Adding insult to injury (to my patience), the parrot is far more likely read the entire menu item name and description upon ordering. This isn't really a big deal outside my growing irritation of having heard our menu transformed into a treatise about why I should hate people. Let me break it down: I know what the entree is... and the quesadilla, the soups, the special appetizer, you get the idea. And I want orders placed as quickly as possible. Rather than repeat every world encountered and then spell out the entire dish, give me a simple "Entree please" and let me get my cook on. Don't make me listen to all of the entree components like I'm learning new and secret information. I got it. I'm not a dufus. And here's the thing... neither is the person with you. Channel this enthusiasm into a nice quiet hobby, like knitting or underwater basket weaving.