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Rick Theory - Chef's Table

Discussion in 'Life on the Edge' started by Toothpick, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

    chef logo.jpg


    F.jpg Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?


    hat.jpg I'm an East Coast native. Born in Jersey in 1978 but I've been back and forth between here and Florida quite a few times. Elementary in NJ, Middle and HS in FL. Back to NJ then back to FL where I went to UF and studied Progressive Trance, Drum and Bass and majored in the Gravediggaz. Currently pulling my longest stint in any one place. I’ve been married for 4 years now and a home owner for 3.5. I met my wife Pattie over 10 years ago when we both worked in a country club kitchen where she worked in the front of the house. I’d say that I’m blessed to have an understanding wife who knows what this trade demands. She still works in the FOH too so she gets it. A lot of guy’s wives/girlfriends are always bitching about the long hours or the nights weekends thing. I don’t have that problem.

    I'm a chef by trade but I'm also an accomplished carpenter specializing in framing, roofing, decks, windows, doors, wood and vinyl siding. I loved doing vinyl siding. Especially bending aluminum to wrap window and door frames with. Metallic origami if you will. I've always had this urge to create things and be artistic. I like to write and record words with multiple syllabic rhyming patterns interconnected by Lord of the Rings, Street Fighter II, Ovaltine and Biblical references.

    I've always used knives and I've always made things so it was kind of a progression to make things related to knives. Knife videos, knife handles, knife handle videos. I hope you guys enjoy that stuff.


    music-note copy.jpg Super String Theory music-note copy.jpg
    Click link to hear Rick's music

    F.jpg How long have you been a chef?

    hat.jpg I started working in the industry in 1992 when I was 14 years old. This summer makes me 22 years old in the restaurant world which is about 35 years’ worth of work to a regular man. So I’ll be 50 soon but I still look like I’m 29. 29 Dammit!!

    F.jpg Can you tell us about the restaurant, where is it located?

    hat.jpg Currently I’m the Chef de Cuisine at Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park, NJ. We’re a Private Golf and Country Club with a public banquet and catering facility. As Chef de Cuisine, I’m the director of member dining and a la carte functions.


    music-note copy.jpg VS The Braineaters music-note copy.jpg
    Click link to hear Rick's music


    F.jpg Tell us about your kitchen. Equipment, staff etc?

    hat.jpg Well there’s two functioning kitchens actually. The upstairs line is where the men’s grill breakfast and lunch is served from. As well as a huge prep area where the banquet work gets done. Large buffets and plate ups for 250-300 come from here as well. On the line is standard fare. Steam well, char broiler, flat top griddle, cast iron plancha, 16 burners, 2 fryers, a Cleveland steamer, 4 conventional ovens and 2 convection. In addition to that, in the prep area we have a chamber vac, large bowl Hobart mixer, small Kitchen Aid mixer, Robot Coupe and a myriad of attachments for each. There’s 2 more convection ovens in the back prep area along with a giant steam jacket kettle for making stocks and demi.

    Downstairs is where the members dining facility takes place as well as smaller parties of up to 100 or so. It’s a much smaller line with limited storage capabilities. We still have enough equipment to seat 120-150 on a given night though. Grill, 2 fryers, pasta cooker, 12 top burner, plancha, 4 conventional ovens and a half size convection oven down on cold side.

    It’s almost like an on-site catering job down here as there’s limited room for storage and almost no room for prep. The challenge is preparing mostly everything upstairs and transporting it down before service. Staying organized is the key to any successful service and even more so in this case. If you don’t have something, it’s a lot harder to run up or send down for it in the middle of a rush. Mise en place people!!

    What can I say about the staff that most wouldn’t venture to guess? It’s an eclectic group of insane people who hate themselves with a passion but just don’t know it yet. The same passion that drives them, drives them mad. It’s a vicious cycle of violence. Most of the guys under me are pretty young while the banquet guys are a bit older/crazier. It’s such a small world though as while I hadn’t met any of them previously I was connected to all of them individually by just one person each. I had worked with some of their relatives or they had previously worked at my former club before I had gotten there. They all worked with the same vendors that I knew personally who all recommended me for the position when they were asked if they knew anyone. Which is the main reason I joined the club. It just felt like I had been a team member for a long time already.

    Overall I think it’s a good group of really hard working guys who want to put out the best food possible. This year is a big change for some of them with me coming on board. My goal is to elevate the food program here just as we did at my last club. I know what’s possible and how we can achieve it. If anyone wants to join us at the top they’re more than welcome to come along for the ride.






    F.jpg Culinary training?

    hat.jpg None formally. The only training I’ve received was through the long hours, the cursing and the screaming, the questioning one’s self, the pride of success and the misery of failure. If I were an X-Man I would have three mutant abilities:

    1. I’m able to work insanely long hours with an extremely high level of focus and energy the entire time without breaking for food or becoming tired. Ever.

    2. I am a mimic or a copycat. If I see someone performing a task that is within my physical limits, I can then also perform said task equally as well as or better than the observant instantly.

    It is because of these first two abilities that I have gotten anywhere in this field. Though if it weren't for a couple of really great Chefs who saw the potential in me and took the time to mentor me and give me the tools to become successful, I wouldn't be where I am today. And again, I mimic those who've guided me by guiding others and giving them the tools they need for the future. Oh and:

    3. I have the uncanny ability to get any song no matter how obscure stuck in anyone’s head at any time. “Life is a hiighwaaayy… I wanna riiide it alll night lonng!”


    music-note copy.jpg Armed and Ready music-note copy.jpg
    Click link to hear Rick's music


    F.jpg What is your busiest day and what is that day like?

    hat.jpg Busiest days ever were during the PGA Tour Fed Ex Cup Barclays Tournament. 18 hours a day, 10 days straight, feeding 4000 people a day, three times a day, 2 different earpieces in both ears with ongoing conversations happening at all times in each while simultaneously directing and working with a staff of 50 to GO GO GO get the FOOD OUT! GO!! There was no sleep at the end of those days, merely unplugging from the Matrix for 4 hours while the days voices swirled and echoed in your mind. Drowning in a sea of calamity with no beacon in sight until the Devil makes you go back out into the nightmare. Wash, rinse, repeat. It was a very lucid experience. Something that has prepared me for anything work can throw at me.

    This last week we’ve been prepping 4 banquets for 200+ each while developing and prepping 2 new a la carte menus while being short 2 prep cooks and 3 line cooks. What’s that Grandpa? Step into the light? It’s not my time yet, I still have work to do.


    music-note copy.jpg Video Games music-note copy.jpg
    Click link to hear Rick's music


    F.jpg What would you say to a youngster who is wanting to become a chef?

    hat.jpg I would offer the same advice that the voice of the house in the Amityville Horror gave to the Priest while he was being swarmed with flies.

    If he persists, which has happened, I would offer him this advice. Before you spend any money on tuition, find a job and work for a year or two. See if you can be successful and work your way up a little. Find out if you’re really cut out for this life or if you even like it. Not everybody is built for this and it’s not as fun as you may think it is. It’s an extremely demanding profession that can provide some extremely satisfying rewards. It’s a love hate relationship and you have to be prepared for that.

    For the young kids that I have worked with, mentored, beaten down and burned down to the ground, I did that for a reason. To see if you could rise again from the ashes or if you would smolder away into oblivion. While you may hate me for it now, one day you will understand and you will thank me for it. I fully expect that thank you letter in the future as well as an apology for being such an ungrateful little panty waste.


    music-note copy.jpg The Sixth Horn music-note copy.jpg
    Click link to hear Rick's music


    F.jpg Do you have a dish or two you really like to prepare and if so tell us about it?

    hat.jpg I don’t have any one particular dish I could call a favorite or a signature. I’m a quality product and proper execution guy. I like to keep it seasonally relevant. I do have some favorite proteins like U10 Diver Sea Scallops or Cabernet Braised Short Ribs. I like Pork Belly, Strips, Ribeyes, Soft Shell Crabs. You guys know I absolutely love fabricating meats and fish of all types. If you’ve watched the youtube vids, you know I’m huge on fish. But what about Nueske’s Bacon? Everyone likes Bacon!! How about this? I’ll give you a really simple app that’s ridiculously good!


    music-note copy.jpg ......Now Downloading...... music-note copy.jpg
    Click link to hear Rick's music


    F.jpg Grilled Nueske’s Bacon

    Beefsteak Tomato, Red onion, Maytag Blue

    Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

    Cut the slab bacon into roughly 4.5” x 2” lardons.

    Trim the brined skin layer from the lardon on all sides. It’s really bitter and leaves a bad aftertaste.

    Make a basil oil by blanching then shocking 1 bunch of fresh basil, then blend on high the basil with a blended olive oil, 75/25 until pulverized and vibrant green. Do not over blend as the blades create friction. Friction = heat, heat = brown basil oil. Strain through cheese cloth folded 4 times in a chinois placed over a bain-Marie ice bath. Do not press through. Reserve basil pulp for pesto or whatever.

    In a mixing bowl, start with lemon juice and use a 3 to 1 ratio of the oil to the acid. So start whisking the lemon juice with a touch of honey and a tsp of Dijon, then start streaming in the basil oil while whisking continuing the emulsion until fully incorporated. Season with Kosher Salt and Fresh White Pepper.

    Peel and medium dice equal parts ripe Beefsteak Tomatoes and Red Onion then crumble some Maytag Blue Cheese over it all in a mixing bowl. Season it with some Kosher Salt and fresh Black Pepper. Finish it with some fresh chopped fine herbs, Italian Parsley, Chervil, Chives.

    Grill the bacon until charred on the four long sides

    Dress your composed salad of tomatoes, onions herbs and maytag with the vinaigrette.

    On a rectangular plate, line the composed salad in a row about 6” long.

    Slice the grilled bacon ¼” thick against the grain all the way down the length.

    Shingle the bacon on top of the salad.

    Dress the vinaigrette across the food and plating surface, not the rim. Garnish it with micros. Eat bacon.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
  2. Jim

    Jim Old Curmudgeon Founding Member

  3. Toothpick

    Toothpick #2 since day #1 Founding Member

  4. larrybard

    larrybard Founding Member

    How well done! And so right about the music. After watching some of your sharpening videos months ago I felt compelled to download Yuna/Lullabies, Tut Tut Child, etc.
     
  5. WildBoar

    WildBoar Founding Member Contributor

    Great interview.
     
  6. Lefty

    Lefty Founding Member

    Fun read. I like Rick. Rick, I like you.
     
  7. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    Jason and Rick, well done. I love to feel like an insider and you guys have let me in. Bravo
     
  8. Rick is fantastic. I don't know that we've interacted much here, but I find myself always appreciating his point of view on the other forum. And check out his YouTube videos. When he first did the windowpane sushi video I think I made that three weeks in a row. His vids of breaking down fish are great. I fully adopted his method for Snapper.
     
  9. WarrenB

    WarrenB Contributor

  10. Great interview. Rick is even funnier in person.
     
  11. ThEoRy

    ThEoRy Founding Member

    This was fun. I'm honored to have been asked to participate. Thanks for having me.
     
  12. cheflarge

    cheflarge Founding Member

    Great interview! Rick, you rule!! :cool:
     
  13. apathetic

    apathetic Founding Member

    Very enjoyable read, thanks! :)
     

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