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A Bit About Me – Re Post

November 13, 2014

So, you might ask…  “Why is this guy writing a blog about taking the fear out of tackling the kitchen?”  I’ll do my best to answer this question…

I mentioned that I moved out of my parents house at the age of 19, and that I started to miss my mom’s cooking.  It was then that I realized I had very little experience or knowledge about how to use an oven, stove, and other tools one finds in a kitchen, even though I had grown up loving to watch Julia Child, Graham Kerr, Martin Yan, and Jacques Pepin.

I have always loved food, but I realized that I hadn’t really practiced any of the methods or techniques I was learning from these master chefs on TV.  I’d watched those shows for the entertainment value.  I was amazed at what they could do in the kitchen and laughed at some of their antics, but I hadn’t really paid attention to the tips and teachings they offered.

In any case, I had been fortunate to experience fine dining as a child growing up.  My mother had a flair for cooking and actually did use the techniques she learned from Julia and Jacques. So I knew about well-prepared food, and I liked it a lot.

But there I was, 19, and living with room mates in a house with a kitchen that was rarely used.  It was the fear of the unknown that kept me out of the kitchen.  This is why I started the APPLY HEAT AND EAT blog.  I have since learned that cooking is truly as simple as applying heat.  The challenge is in understanding the different types of heat one can apply, and learning about and practicing techniques that can help boost one’s confidence in the kitchen.

Here’s how I gained my cooking experience…

About 2 years after moving out on my own  I decided to get a “real” job, rather than just playing in my rock & roll band and restoring antiques for a few antique dealers, so I attended the Bartender’s School of America and earned  a “master-mixologist” certificate.  This helped me land my first restaurant job as bar manager at the Stagecoach Restaurant in Woodside, California (which has since turned in to Buck’s of Woodside – a very popular place for Silicon Valley execs breakfast meetings, a local’s place for lunch, and a big family place for dinner). While on the job, I became intriqued with the workings of the kitchen.  This is where I first learned knife skills, what sauté-ing is about, par-cooking and how to really grill a steak or chop…  And I learned  many other tricks of the restaurant trade that I’ll share in future blog posts.

Once I had these tools in my pocket, I was able to use my kitchen at home…  (now this is the fun part).  What’s really fun to me is trying to match the flavor of something great that I ate at a restaurant and recreate it home – with my own touches.  The best way to do this is to purchase lots of dried herbs and spices, taste them all individually, then start to blend them… use them in soups and sauces, in dry rubs, heck, you can use them in your egg salad to give it a kick…  just become familiar with all sorts of flavors.  This will be your “Painters Palate.”  After a while, you’ll be able to tell what you’re tasting while you’re still at the restaurant and begin to plan your attack for your own kitchen…   you may even try to tweak the recipe to your own favor and create something better.    By the time I was about 30, I had a pretty good handle on flavors and some techniques, but I really hadn’t taken things in the kitchen to the next step…

As it happens, I became involved with an organization called The Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County.  We have a clubhouse where we hold dinner meetings twice a month.  We usually feed around 60 people at each meeting.  The cooking is done by members who volunteer.  I volunteered and have since cooked over 200 dinners there; feeding close to 20,000 folks over the years.  The challenge is in knowing what to shop for, how much to buy, how to prepare large quantities of food, etc…   I’ve really earned a great reputation as a master cook in my wide circle of friends.  Follow my lead and you can too…

About 8 years ago, I partnered up with a friend who lives In Hawaii on Maui, and we opened up a restaurant called WokStar International Noodle Cafe. She and I collaborated on our recipes, created our menu and opened up to a very welcoming and supportive community in Kihei, Hawaii…  We were fortunate to be recognized as the area’s best new restaurant by two separate organizations, were voted “Favorite Noodles”, “Best Late Night,” and we won many other accolades while we operated the place, however, creating profits in Hawaii is very challenging.  We were open for 4 and a half years, but closed when our lease came to term.  I may try to start up again here in the Bay Area.  We’ll see.

So, I hope this story of how I learned to remove the fear from cooking can be helpful to others…  to YOU…

In future blog posts, I will simply explain how to apply heat by using a sauté pan, grill, braising pot, dutch oven, broiler, flame torch, solar heat, cooking over a camp fire and other interesting methods and techniques…

You’ll learn about making delicious soups, sauces, reducing, sweating, caramelizing…  I’ll focus on techniques for applying heat while sharing favorite recipes and would also like to hear from you….

Talk to ya soon !


From → Cooking, Stories

  1. Looking forward to reading more!

    Dutch oven recipes are one of my favorite food memories from childhood, but sadly, I don’t have any to play with. So really looking forward to some tips, tricks and ideas here!


  2. Hi… I’ve got a Dutch oven blog post coming on Wednesday… Family Story…


  3. Hey Mark, Do you know of any good noodle houses in this area? Thanks for posting the link to your blog on FB – I’m enjoying reading it! Elaine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Elaine… Thanks for your interest!!
      I haven’t come accross any similar to the Maui Store that we did a few years back, but I do know of two places that are in RWC that I regularly go to for Pho… (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) One is very close to home on Woodside Road called Pho Truong Long in a little strip mall by Safeway… The main thing is the broth in my book and these guys deliver… The other is over by 5th ave on middlefield… It’s called Hometown Noodle… Similar menu… Slightly better broth, but smaller, so sometimes the wait is tough, and the parking nearby is a pain… but thats it… nothing like the old Wokstar Noodle Cafe in Kihei…


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Fun With Flavors… | APPLY HEAT & EAT...
  2. Home Made Corn Chowder in a Bread Bowl | APPLY HEAT & EAT...

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