The Skirt Steak Files

for ladies who cook, professionally
Documenting the outtakes, outbursts and opinions behind the book SKIRT STEAK: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat & Staying in the Kitchen (Chronicle Books; October 24, 2012. PRE-ORDER it on amazon.com).
  • April 30, 2012 9:59 am

    What a relief!

    Oh, hey guys, CD here. A brief note to say I’ve just finished eyeballing the first pass of galleys for Le Book (SKIRT STEAK, duh) and am sending ‘em back to the folks at Chronicle so all necessary edits can be made. (One can only hope the official proofreader does a better job than I … and now, let us pray.) An early batch of ARCs (that’s code for Advance Reader Copy) lands next month.

    You know how we do over here at times like this, right? We celebrate, musically.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCLek4aSpbo (CRANK IT)


    While I’ve got you, did you read Emily Luchetti’s “Advice for the aspiring pastry chef”? If no, you should: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2012/04/25/advice-for-the-aspiring-pastry-chef/

  • April 18, 2012 9:29 am

    The Skirt Steak Questionnaire, as answered by Susan Feniger, Part II (http://www.susanfenigersite.com/)

    Find Part I here: http://theskirtsteakfiles.tumblr.com/post/3477564372/the-skirt-steak-questionnaire-as-answered-by

  • April 3, 2012 9:38 am

    An Ode to Lassi: Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez’s Keema Mattar

    One day, I’m confident that Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez, who is currently tearing it up, pastry side, at PRINT (http://printrestaurant.com/) and, previously, made my life a hell of a lot more delicious (and conveniently so) with her sliver of take-out shop Lassi (http://www.lassinyc.com/ do note, at present, the site’s inactive … like a dormant volcano), will publish the cookbook we’ve all been waiting for. When she does, I expect my sorely missed eggplant curry and ideal rice pudding will be included (or else I’ll demand a refund, ahem). Until then, she has generously shared her recipe for Keema Mattar (ground lamb with peas). 

    Keema Mattar

    2 ½ lbs. ground lamb

    2 large onions, chopped

    2 large tomatoes, chopped

    3 cloves garlic, minced

     1 ½ tsp ginger

    2-3 chilis, chopped

    ½ cup water

    2 T salt

    2 ½ T paprika

    ½ T turmeric

    2 ½ T coriander

    2 ½ T garam masala

    2 ½ T chaat masala

    2 ½ T tandoori masala

    ¾ cup heavy cream

    ½ lb. peas

     4 T chopped cilantro

    1.     Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and caramelize onions. Add garlic, ginger and chilis, cook to soft. Add tomatoes and cook to soft.

    2.     Puree.

    3.     Combine spices and salt, add to tomato mixture.

    4.     Add ground lamb and incorporate, using the water to mix. Cover and cook, stirring to break down any lumps.  Cook until liquid is released and lamb is cooked through.

    5.     Add peas and heavy cream and cook uncovered for another 15-20 minutes.

    6.     Add cilantro.

  • March 6, 2012 3:14 pm

    Do You Have What It Takes To Compete? Ask Bertinetti.

    Pastry Chef Heather Bertinetti (you’ll find her raising souffles at Crown on Manhattan’s Upper East Side) has watched and analyzed that sugary blight of a television bake-off program, “Cupcake Wars” (a Food Network production), like a sports commentator would a big game. After she identified each of the archetypal high-on-frosting participants, I realized she was both correct, and a closet comedienne. Based on her descriptions, I’ve arranged the following perpetual (swap out the players, but the roles never change) cast of cupcake-y characters and given them what, in the moment, felt like fitting names. That way, if any of you has thought about auditioning for a slot, you’ll know how to present yourself.

    Krissy, “a cute young girl that’s very pretty that wears the pink apron and she’s very bubbly and kind of new to the game.”

    Dot, “the older lady that’s like a mom and probably has a grandchild on the way and has been making cakes for years and she’s just so talented in her flower making.”

    Mike, “the guy with the tattoos and the gelled haircut who’s the rocker, and has the motto ‘I’m a bad-ass … and my cake’s going to be black and tattooed up.’”

    Brice, “the token gay guy that’s flamboyant and crying with the drama.”

  • March 4, 2012 12:32 am

    Shuna Lydon's Letter to the James Beard Foundation ... More Pastry, Please

    If like me, you care, not only about kouign amanns, gelato, lemon tarts, chocolate souffles and the kinds of beautifully, composed desserts that blow your mind with their complex layering of flavor, but also about the talented people responsible for them, you will read Lydon’s post, and you’ll think about it. And, if you want more bittersweet food for thought, you can read her comrade-in-pastry-up-in-arms Jenny McCoy’s musings on the subject too

    www.jennymccoy.com/2012/03/open-letter-to-james-beard-foundation.html

  • February 27, 2012 10:00 am
    The Skirt Steak Questionnaire, as answered by Liza Shaw, Part I (she’s slated to open her own project in San Francisco later this year. For now, you’ll find her consulting at Yountville’s Redd Wood (http://www.redd-wood.com/) and making sure each pie (the pizza kind) is perfect.  View high resolution

    The Skirt Steak Questionnaire, as answered by Liza Shaw, Part I (she’s slated to open her own project in San Francisco later this year. For now, you’ll find her consulting at Yountville’s Redd Wood (http://www.redd-wood.com/) and making sure each pie (the pizza kind) is perfect. 

  • February 2, 2012 2:06 pm

    "I went to culinary school when I was eighteen. It was a trade school … I learned the reason why we put bones in stock, how to break down a chicken, how to cook fish, how to cook different cultural cuisines … I was a blank canvas … I loved it. I was told to get some experience first … Now, the unfortunate thing about culinary school, they accept anybody and everybody … and they give loans to these children … reality is that when you graduate, you’re going to make $10 per hours for 5 years, 15-hour days … I wonder, what are you learning in culinary school? … They’re definitely not learning to work in this industry … On the upside, there’s a lot of great kids out there … there shouldn’t be 100 great kids pumping out every year; there should be very few. If we were all excellent and we were all perfect at what we did, it wouldn’t be fun."

    Mindy Segal of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate in Chicago, IL. (http://www.hotchocolatechicago.com/)

    twitter: @mindysegal

  • January 26, 2012 10:00 am
    In the middle of editing The Manuscript, I was reminded of my magical (and first) dinner at Naomi Pomeroy’s BEAST (http://beastpdx.com/) in Portland, Ore. I was there (that city) last March to interview Pomeroy and a few of her culinary cohorts. Want to know what I had for dinner? Here it is. (Apologies for the wine stain—that Poulsard Sans Soufre is entirely to blame.) View high resolution

    In the middle of editing The Manuscript, I was reminded of my magical (and first) dinner at Naomi Pomeroy’s BEAST (http://beastpdx.com/) in Portland, Ore. I was there (that city) last March to interview Pomeroy and a few of her culinary cohorts. Want to know what I had for dinner? Here it is. (Apologies for the wine stain—that Poulsard Sans Soufre is entirely to blame.)

  • January 17, 2012 4:15 pm

    A Doozy of A Question, As Answered by Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez

    Last night, I emailed the formidable Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez (http://printrestaurant.com/About-Us/heather-carlucci-rodriguez.html) the following:
    QUESTION while i’ve got you. i’m mid edits (horrible experience) and want to know if you can cite some examples of times in your career when you’ve been ignored (at which restaurants) and times when you’ve been given attention (at which restaurants). if you have a sec, please advise.
    thanks.
    And now, for her glorious (speedy) RESPONSE:
    Ignored as the pastry chef or just as a woman in the kitchen?
    It’s a doozy of a question.  A tender question.
    I think the last time I was ignored as the pastry chef in the kitchen was at JUdson Grill. 
    Ruth Reichl reviewed us and it was my first three star review. 
    My name wasn’t in the review, which wasn’t that strange for pastry chefs back then. It was William Grimes that really started going out of his way to find out the name of each pastry chef and highlight them in favorable reviews.
    Before that, it was up to the chef to give the pastry chef press or not.  My name wasn’t given when Ruth or the Times called to fact check.
    Union Square Cafe was the same way.  It was my first with the title of pastry chef but now that wouldn’t be an issue.
     
    It was after that that I really made sure my name would  be used with my work.  And at some points I really had to push. Okay, at most points.
    Mr. Grimes took over soon there after.  Luckily for me, as I was getting pushy I was also favored by him.  He was a game changer for me.  He used me as a reference for articles all the time and as I changed jobs, he always talked about me in the reviews.  Often more than he did the chef.
    Gave me a lot of clout with future employers.
     
    Before JUdson Grill was a different time all together.  You could feel the shift of the trends.  It was about the restaurant and what the chef brought to it. Not so much the pastry chef.  The usual names got highlighted back then and that was it (Torres, Payard, Yosses and thank goodness, Fleming).
    It’s much more about the chef and the talent and the personality and who is where now. 
    Restaurants didn’t open and close so quickly back then.  A restaurant was more of a living breathing thing, not a throw away business as many newer restaurateurs view it as now … perhaps because of the economy and the fickleness of the customer and the influx of more restaurants onto the scene.
     
    Getting ignored wouldn’t have stopped if I didn’t push for it.
     
    As for getting ignored just as a cook in a kitchen early on.   Yes, somewhat.  Ignored, a little pushed around.
     
    Getting ignored in either way as a chef or lower on the totem pole, in this city especially, definitely forms your experience.
     
    I did notice that even with all my great press that I didn’t have to push for with Lassi [http://www.lassinyc.com/ RIP],  I did get ignored here and there. When the stories started coming out about pastry chefs that went to savory, I was excluded from a group of pastry chefs that came soon after me.  All of whom, coincidentally were men. Of course, for some, the choice of Indian took me off the map as well. Go figure.
     
    How’s that?
     
     
    Heather Carlucci-Rodriugez
     twitter: @HonestFood

  • January 16, 2012 8:14 pm

    Gina DePalma on her mother Evelyn's cooking

    Divine pastry chef (taste the magic in the West Village at Babbo http://babbonyc.com/), cookbook author, and cancer-fighting superhero Gina DePalma started up a blog in October, but I’m only just discovering it now because she smartly tweeted about this, her latest post. It’s all worth poring over.