Do You Really Speak To The Manager?

Mario Batali’s been responding to his “haters” on Twitter lately, asking people who complain about bad experiences at Babbo or Del Posto if they bothered to speak to management. The message seems to be: “If you’re unhappy, give us a chance to do something about it.” And while Batali should be commended for acknowledging his “haters” at all, I don’t know if I’ve ever asked to speak to a manager at any point in my restaurant-going career. The thing is, if something specific is wrong, I tell the server: “this steak is overcooked” or “this ceviche is raw” (just kidding about that one). I couldn’t imagine calling a manager over to complain about the things Batali’s “haters” are complaining about: snooty service, bad attitudes. “Excuse me, Mr. Manager, but my server has a bad attitude.” Have you ever done that? Was it effective? I’d rather just suffer through bad service and chalk it up to the server having a bad day than pipe up and…do what? Get the server fired? I’d feel so bad! That’s why I won’t be playing Mr. Burns in a live action “Simpsons” movie.

Clamming For The First Time


I don’t know if Instagram is making me seem like a good photographer or if I’m really a good photographer and I didn’t know that until I had Instagram. Either way, look at that picture I took of Craig standing on rocks the day we arrived on Eliza Island, where Craig’s parents have a cabin in the San Juans. If Annie Leibovitz saw that she’d be like, “I give up…I can’t top that!” See the purple sea stars in the foreground? That’s my favorite part. But this post isn’t about purple sea stars (though I wonder if you can eat them?); it’s about going clamming with Craig’s dad, Steve, the next day.

Continue Reading

BBQ vs. Cookout

My friends Nick and Jason got into an argument recently about the definition of “Barbeque/Barbecue/BBQ.” Jason, who’s from Texas, insists that Nick is “dead wrong” for using “barbecue” as a verb for grilling in general. “A social gathering around a grill is a ‘cookout,'” says Jason. Nick, who like me is from the North, counters that while this may be true in the South, in most other places around the world, it’s called BBQ when meat hits a grill. So now we turn to you, the people, to help settle this matter. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Something tells me we’re going to get a lot of conflicting answers.

The Night People Paid To Eat My Food (A Charity Dinner in Bellingham)


A few months ago–what seems like an eternity ago–Craig’s mom, Julee, asked if I’d be willing to donate a cookbook dinner for a charity auction to benefit the Whatcom Center for Early Learning in Bellingham, Washington, where she and Craig’s dad, Steve, live. I said, “Sure” and didn’t think twice about it. Of course I’d be happy to cook a dinner for charity, no biggie. Then I forgot all about it. Months passed and then Julee reached back out: the auction item was a big hit. Two couples had paid money (real money) for a meal that would be cooked by yours truly for them and four other people (they could each bring two more people) based on recipes from my cookbook SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS. This was really happening. Holy crap, what was I going to cook?

Continue Reading

On Vacay

Hey folks, I’m headed to the San Juan islands to go crabbing, drink wine, and, basically, go off the grid for a week. Let’s call this my summer vacation. See you back here next Monday!

The Most Disgusting, Inedible Dinner I’ve Ever Cooked


We all mistakes in the kitchen, even those of us who’ve been cooking ten years or longer. My mistakes are all documented here on the blog: The Pound Cake That Threw Up. The Fried Chicken That Wasn’t Crispy. The Blueberry Disaster.

In all of these cases, the food was salvageable. The pound cake went back into the oven, the chicken was edible if not exactly crunchy, and the blueberry innards tasted OK over ice cream. But last week I made a dinner so repulsive, so awful, it could only go one place: the garbage disposal. Here’s what happened.

Continue Reading

Explain Yourself, Minute Maid Lemonade


0% juice? Really? But you have a picture of beautiful, fresh lemons on your label… if you have 0% juice, why are those lemons there? Shouldn’t you have a picture of a pile of citric acid, maybe someone snorting it off a table like Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights? But seriously, why can’t you put a little real lemon juice in your lemonade. It’s really not that hard to do. Little kids do it all the time and they sell it for $0.50 at a table on the street though today’s kids probably charge more so they can buy an iPad mini. We’re getting off topic. How are people ok with this? Why don’t we boycott Minute Maid until they make their lemonade with a few–ok, just ONE–real lemon? Who’s with me? Real change starts here.