Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The movie Chef inspires Cubano cravings and more!


I just recently saw the movie, Chef. I guess I’m a little late to the party. Everyone else that watched it within the past couple of weeks was raving about how much they enjoyed the movie and how they left the theater craving a Cubano. So I guess that is when my craving started, - when I was listening to everyone else talk about how much they were craving Cubanos after watching Chef. Seeing people around me talk about their Cubano cravings triggered my own cravings even before watching the movie myself.


The cravings were in high gear this past Saturday, so I headed on over to Porto’s to get my Cubano fix. It was my second visit here. The first time I came here, it was on a day off. And let me tell you, I will much rather come here on a day off than come here when I am in a rush and pressed for time.
It was a little past 12 when I got to Porto's. No surprise that starting with the parking lot, it would be jam packed. Both times, I lucked out on parking. As with my first visit, there was a car leaving as soon as I entered the parking structure. SCORE! I felt bad for the cars waiting. It seems like they have been waiting around (on other sides of the structure) for a while to get a spot. But I was able to find parking without waiting at all, both times.

I did not really have time to sit down and eat. I ordered my food to go and planned to munch on it at work. I just wanted to get my Cubano and get going. And of course, I also had to get the potato balls. I like the potato balls. They are alright, good for munching on. But I think there is way too much hype built on it. people go on and on about how soooo good they are. So the first time I tried them, I was naturally  expecting to be blown away. I was expecting foodgasms. Well, no foodgasms from these potato balls (I was really expecting WOW balls), but I like them. So I picked up a few of those too. I kind of wanted to try some other items, but I couldn’t really decide. And I did not have the time to decide. We all know how I can be when trying to make a decision….sometimes I can take hours on contemplating WTF to get and still wonder if I made the right decision. But there was no time for that. I just settled on the Cubano and potato balls for the time being, items that I have tried before. They were just enough to keep me going through the work night without starving.
During my first visit to Porto’s (a Monday or Tuesday, my weekend), I went around lunchtime too. I imagine that a lot of those people would’ve been people working in nearby areas stopping by during their lunch break. For me, it was one of those relaxing, farting around days. I had all the time in the world that afternoon. My kind of afternoon! I don’t get enough of these kinds of afternoons. It’s when time seems to slow down and lets you take a breather. There is no pressure for anything. I don’t have any place I need to be. I don’t have anyone to answer to. I can do whatever I want, go wherever I want. Sweet freedom! You know what I mean. It was that kind of afternoon.

The line at Porto's was crazy during my first visit too! But oh well. I wasn’t going anywhere that day. There was plenty of time to become familiarized with their extensive menu while I was waiting. I also browsed around while waiting to see what others have said about certain items. Aside from the Cubano and potato balls (that I got on both visits), I also got to try some of their other items.
From the left: Potato balls, chorizon pies, and a ham croquette. I doubt I'd get the last two items again. I did not dig them much.
I even had time to try an iced café con leche after the meal that time. But of course, I had to stand in line again since I didn't want to be drinking a watered down coffee drink. I usually drink coffee before or after my meal, not during, so yeah....had to wait in that long line again.
 
They had an impressive dessert/pastry section. I don’t really eat desserts/pastries often. But I am curious to pick up some stuff here to give to others to try. And maybe I’ll get a bite from them just to taste.
 
 
When I watched Chef, I did not crave a Cubano at all. It’s probably because I had gotten the precravings prior to watching the movie and had gotten that taken care of days earlier. Boy if I did not get that Cubano fix that day before watching the movie a few days later, I think I would have been DYING for one during and after the movie. The Cubanos from that taco truck looked amazing. I love that melted butter they slather on the bread. I can just imagine the sales in Cubanos going up everywhere because of this movie.

While watching the movie, one can’t help but to have going viral aspirations. Maybe creating a scene like a madman is the way to go. Lol. There are times when I want to go outside into the dining hall and leash out at some of the diners like that. I am not talking about no critics, but just regular, fastidious, annoying diners. How great would it be to go out there and throw salt at the diners that want no salt in any of their foods (why even bother coming to a restaurant?) Or to bring out a piece of raw steak to throw at the Vegan that comes into a steak house and expects BOH to go out of our ways to prepare something Vegan just because they think they are so special? Or my personal favorite, - the diners that want to lounge around after closing time and has no intentions of leaving. OMG sometimes I daydream about getting out there and telling them, “Get the fuck out, ass holes! We want to go home!!” If I went out there and started going crazy long enough for someone to take out their phones to record me, would that make me go viral? Lol maybe, maybe not….but it’d be for the wrong reasons and bad publicity for the restaurant. And I probably wouldn’t be able to find a job in the industry again after that lol. But I wonder how much of the general social media population would be on my side on matters like this. Would they side with the paying (yet ridiculously annoying) diners or the crazy Asian lady losing it?  
Oh and that kid in the movie! I can imagine him growing up to become a great chef too, as he is learning the ropes at such a young age from his chef father. And what a social media guru he is! The little guy did such a great job with twitter. Total “head of marketing” material (I can imagine him growing up to wear multiple hats if he ends up taking over his father’s business later). But on another note, speaking of kids….honestly, I kind of feel uneasy and uncomfortable having kids in the kitchen. Currently, at my work, we have two kids (aspiring chefs) that come in a few times a week to learn and gain hands on experience working in a professional style setting. They are 14 and 16, too young to be exposed to the foul language, brutal (sometimes savage-like) behavior, the dirty talk, and all the other ugly stuff that no child should be exposed to. But that is just my own personal opinion. They seem to really enjoy their time there…and I guess my boss likes the free labor and molding little ones to be future chefs. It’s a symbiotic deal.

Fellow chefs/cooks/culinary students may be inspired to become influential figures in the industry after watching Chef….but me, it sparked my inspiration to work harder in writing my own stories about the industry. Outside of sharing my own experiences as an industry slave (on my blog), I also have this little goal of writing an inspired-by-a-true-story FICTION, influenced by my own experiences and ideas, taking an inside look into kitchen life. And yeah (as some of you might know very well), it would definitely be filled with scandal, secrets, rivalry, affairs….you know, all the juicy stuff that makes a good story! That’s the kind of story I get lost in whenever I read a book or watch a movie or drama. It hooks me right in. You guys are my witnesses. This little goal of mine is on my bucket list.

12 comments:

  1. well, I'm even later to the party because I haven't seen it yet! I heard it was wonderful so definitely will watch it now! so awesome that it inspired you with your writing and blogging! and as for the book, just write a little every night or a few times a week .. you have so many stories to tell! and oh how I miss Porto's!!!

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    1. You should definitely watch it. You will leave hungry...maybe inspired for a new recipe. Thanks. I am trying to be more consistent with my writing!

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  2. Yum cuban sandwiches are delicious. And I'm also not a huge fan of the potato balls, they are just ok. I like croquettes better.

    I can't believe people really ask for food with no salt or want the kitchen to invent them a vegan dish. Just harness all these crazy experiences and occasionally frustrating feelings into a great story. Like every time some clueless diner does something rude you should be like ok you are going to be character X in my book *evil laugh*.

    So how do you feel about the industry that you work in now compared to when you started? Did you expect it to be this way or were you surprised/disappointed/ok with it/etc.? Most days do you feel like you enjoy your work and the good parts make up for the bad parts or do you not see yourself still working in a restaurant in the long run? Your restaurant stories are so interesting, I have had friends who were servers but I don't know anyone who has worked back of the house (And apparently has the burn marks to prove it!)

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    1. Lol I like your advice. I do have so many WTF crazy moments that would make a great story.

      And OMG how I feel about the industry now vs. when I first started...well, I think it has totally changed me into an almost different person. Pre-food-industry, I was richer, happier, calmer, more relaxed, less pissed off, less edgy, actually preferred eating out back then (vs. home cooked meals) before seeing some of the things that go back there. Umm...I used to enjoy cooking.

      Well I did not plan on getting into this industry. It was just a hobby of mine. But when I did get myself in it somehow, I knew from the start that it would only be temporary. And I have been in the industry way too long...way too longer than expected. I know that it is time to leave before I go crazy. I am definitely leaving soon.

      What I did not really realize was how poor the average chef is. The better off chefs seem to be the owners, famous, and/or have been in the industry for a long long time, plus multi-talented too. But I see the average joe paycheck earning chef driving a beat up 20 year old car, living in an apartment with five other guys, always struggling financially, etc. (maybe this is slightly exaggerated, but you know what I mean). Chefin' is far from a lucrative career.















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    2. Thats tough I think now that the Food Network is so popular and with all the celebrity chefs around everyone must be getting into the restaurant business thinking they are going to make bank. And ahhh it sounds like life was easier before you started working in restaurants? But at least you got some unique life experience and material for a book! Also it definitely sounds from your stories like it made you a tougher/stronger person to deal with all the craziness. Plus I bet you can make a mean souffle ;)

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  3. What did you think of the movie? I really wanted to see it but opted for Million Dollar Arm instead (don't laugh). I heard mixed reviews about the movie so would love to hear your .02c on it. Was it kinda slow?

    I thought Porto's was a bit overrated. Obviously they're doing something right but I see them being the Cuban 85 degrees (the infamous 85 degrees seems to be losing steam these days IMO).

    I could see so see you writing a juicy book about the industry. You just gotta make it kinda smutty (or add some kinda smut) :)

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    1. I enjoyed the movie. Not all, but many things were realistic and relatable...like the chef and his deteriorating relationship with his family. I have seen too many chefs going through what the character went through in the movie, -failed marriages, being an absent parent. I hear chef is the #2 occupation in divorce (doctor being #1). And that part where he had conflicting ideas with the owner. We don't really hear much about what the owner's culinary background is, but I have witnessed where chefs and owners' ideas clash like that. Sometimes chefs will go crazy with owners that have never worked a day in their life in a professional kitchen because they seem clueless about cooking.

      I actually did start writing a novel back when I was starting in the industry. But it kind of seemed to be going in a lame direction, so I pigeonholed it.

      I will tell you a little of where I was going with it.....let me know what you think and if I should revive this story. The main character was this conceited bitchy princess, -rich and well educated. But due to an economic crisis, her family loses everything. She loses the only job she's ever known, VP at her dad's former company. Because she is so spoiled and a bitch, she made a horrible superior. But she was just GIVEN the position anyways because of her daddy, despite having absolutely no leadership skills or the experience. She was one of those rich kids with just the title to her name who played all day at her office all day (shopping online, talking on the phone, screwing the hot subordinates on the clock in her office) and daddy would pay her (I guess you could call it more of an allowance than a paycheck). And when her family goes through the economic hardship, she is unable to find a job and finds it tough to make it out in the real world, a lot has to do with her superior self righteous attitude. Plus she's sick of the industry she's been in and mostly got into it because it was the family business. She decides to pursue her own interests and learn a new marketable skill. Since food has always been a passion of hers, she decides to delve in to the culinary industry and enrolls in culinary school. Yeah, not a good time to be spending money, but she takes out loans (as most culinary students do). Her journey becomes a life changing, humbling, humiliating experience. Sometimes she cannot bear the times when someone telling her what to do is (who to her) is the kind of person she used to have doing her laundry, cleaning her house (someone "beneath" her). She still has that princess attitude that gets her into many many conflicts and fights.

      I got to a few chapters then stopped. It ends with a happy ending though, with a life lesson....something about learning about humbleness and how food brings people together, no matter what differences they may have.

      And NO, the character is NOT based on ME!!!! lol I can't tell you how many people have asked me that. We may have similarities here and there, but she is a total princess and a bitch. I'm not!











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  4. Miss Kim,

    I love Cubanos. They even do a decent one in the cafeteria @ work. And they serve it with picadillo (sp?) - dirty rice, olives and pimentos.

    I would totally side w/the crazy Asian woman yelling at the customers! I think it would go viral and you would have about 15 min of fame. I wonder...it could be a toss up as to if it would help or hurt your career. In this day and age it seems like any publicity is good publicity. I'll bet the there's an owner out there who would like that!

    I would love to see you write fiction about life in the professional kitchen! You've certainly captured our interest with your musings and if you wove those into an overall story...I would love to read it!

    Cheers!
    Dave

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    1. I wonder if I should journal my novel little by little as I share it on the blog and get some kind of reaction/feedback. With novels, it's hard to keep going with absolutely no feedback at all.

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    2. Miss Kim,

      Why don't you give it a try? if it doesn't work out you can always stop. I think the folks that read your blog would be interested in providing feedback to you.

      Here's an idea...instead of starting out with your novel, why don't you revamp one of the short stories you wrote during college. that way you can find out if the feedback works without having to trial run it on your novel.

      Cheers!
      Dave

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  5. I loved the Chef movie so so so so much. And it made me so very hungry afterwards! Since I had just come back from Florida I didn't feel the Cubanos craving but just kind of food in general craving. Everything looked so awesome in the movie and I loved the story and heart behind it all. I'd love hearing more of your insider stories! I don't know anything about being in a "real kitchen" (except for my brief time working as a dishwasher at the Moose Lodge) so it's always fun hearing the stories and your side of it!

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    1. I remember that one bleh Cubano that you had from one of your previous posts. And thanks. I am glad you like my stories. Yep, I am sure anyone that has worked in the professional kitchen has a ton of juicy stories to tell.

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