Not every dish is a winner

The beauty of printing a menu every day is being able to print a new menu every day. That type of fluidity allows for a constant flow of new dishes to compliment those that have solidified their place on the menu(here’s lookin’ at you, brussels sprouts)

Ideas may start in my notebook or on the white board in the kitchen, then they move to product acquisition and testing and finally on to the menu. Once a dish makes in on to the menu, it’s really up to the guest to decide if it stays there. I am constantly monitoring what dishes are selling and what dishes aren’t. Sometimes it takes time for a dish to catch on; sometimes it’s just not gonna resonate with guests no matter how good it looked in the notebook or tasted in testing.

And like that, they’re gone.

Recently, two dishes came off the Josephine menu because they just didn’t click. One was chow chow glazed chicken wings with crushed peanuts and watermelon radish and the other was a crispy potato salad with worcestershire, pickled mushrooms and celery.

ChixWings-1fingerling-1

It’s always a bummer to see a dish move aside for something new, but refreshing to work on a new dish that hopefully will be a hit and help make memories for guests.

The menu’s always a work in progress….never static…..always fun!

X|X:josephine Video Snapshot

Here’s a short video capturing a X|X:josephine service. Typically fueled by copious amounts of iced coffee in 8 qt. containers! I hope you enjoy watching this video as much as we enjoy putting the X|X experience together. Maybe you’ll even grab a seat sometime at the X|X table. Enjoy!

…from dinner service, Jan. 26, 2016

This video is a 5 minute, unedited, unfiltered look at the Josephine kitchen during tonight’s dinner service.

I’ve always thought it was interesting how much emphasis professional sports teams put on ‘watching tape’ and wondered if the same idea could be transferred to the kitchen. When I was a young cook, my chef videotaped a few of our dinner services and I learned an incredible amount about myself as a cook by watching them over and over. Hey, Cole Trickle learned how to drive by watching ESPN…’the coverage is excellent. You’d be surprised how much you can pick up.’

Like I said, this isn’t over processed, over styled food porn. It isn’t TopChef. It’s a real life snapshot of where we are as a kitchen and a restaurant. I think it’s a pretty cool tool for us to look at and learn from. I hope you enjoy it.

Dried Sweet Corn, an homage to John Cope

JOSEPHINE MISC-1103

I grew up with Cope’s Corn. I think everyone from central PA can remember a Thanksgiving casserole of Cope’s corn landing on the table.  Simply put, it’s ‘one of those things’.  We all have ‘those things’, don’t we? Foodstuffs that recall a sense of place or time for us.

Much like scrapple or shoo fly pie or slippery noodle pot pie, Cope’s corn is a symbol of PA Dutch cooking.

I can’t think of a better way to bring sweet corn into the winter months that drying it and jarring it. The amazing thing for me is the transformation the corn undergoes when it goes from height of the season sweet corn to dried sweet corn. You know that it’s still corn, but it takes on a savory, caramel flavor that is simply luscious. I had the privilege of cooking for a friend’s 50th birthday a couple of years ago and one of the courses was a duck breast sitting on a bed of slow cooked Cope’s corn.   I think the duck was pretty good, but people kept on talking about the corn. It’s odd when a plate garnish upstages the main component of the plate, but the Cope’s corn nailed it.

Simply put, Cope’s corn is sweet corn that has been lightly cooked in some salt, sugar and a little dairy and set in the oven or dehydrator to dry. That’s it. Simple, but amazing. We make a lot of dried sweet corn at Josephine as the summer is winding down and we are preparing for Fall and Winter. I can’t imagine a holiday table without a dried sweet corn casserole and lately, I can’t imagine Josephine without some dried sweet corn around!

 

 

Last Fall at Josephine, we used dried sweet corn as a component of our scrapple dish. Who knows where it will show up this year….I know it makes a great, smooth soup cooked gently with onions and aromatics then pureed.

Nashville is Hiring.

help wanted

Not a day goes by that I don’t see a great Nashville restaurant advertising for line cooks. Seriously; not a day. Nashville is hiring.

Karen and I moved to Nashville in August of 2013 after years spent working and cooking in the northeast corridor working in or around Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and even my hometown of Hanover, PA. Before arriving in Nashville, I thought it was all cowboy boots and country music, all the time. I was wrong. When we came to visit Nashville, we found an amazing, cosmopolitan city with a food scene that was gathering a huge head of steam. Sure, we went to lower Broadway to see the neon night, but we were more captivated by the beauty of the city and how quickly the land outside of Nashville felt like central PA. I remember thinking to myself ‘this could be the best of both worlds; all the advantages that a city provides AND quick access to open spaces and the advantages that they provide’.  However, what won me over was how open and supportive the chef and restaurant community was of each other. It honestly felt a little ‘Stepford Wives’. Everyone seemed to know each other and had nothing but great things to say. It was eerie and strange, but in the best possible way.

Fast forward to almost August 2015. Two years seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. If it’s even possible, Nashville’s food scene is moving even faster than time. Great new restaurants are opening at break neck pace(although let’s be honest….we could use a couple of fantastic Chinese takeout places) and the national press is taking notice. Nashville is the ‘IT’ city and Nashville is hiring.

With this massive expansion of restaurants comes a need for the infrastructure that keeps restaurants reaching for new heights. Nashville is hiring.

Why bother mentioning that I made the leap to come to Nashville in 2013? Simply because Nashville is looking for more people to make a similar leap. We need line cooks; people who want to come in, knock out great food, learn from some of the best chefs I’ve known and build a foundation for their future success with each plate that they compose. Nashville is hiring.

Why make the move? Here are a couple of things to consider:

1) Quality of life. Wanna live in a house with a yard and some grass? Nashville is hiring.

2) Cranes. If you take a look at the Nashville skyline you’ll see more construction cranes than I’ve ever seen in one place. Those cranes mean Nashville is building. Nashville is building which means opportunity. Nashville is hiring.

3) Chefs. Nashville chefs are in their restaurants, cooking, cleaning, organizing and planning what’s next. The best way to learn is to go straight ot the source. You can only do that when chefs are in the restaurant teaching and demanding that once you learn the standards you work everyday to uphold them. Nashville is hiring.

4) Critical mass. Not only are Nashville chefs in their restaurants, but there is a huge variety of cuisine and techniques to learn in Nashville’s city limits. You could take a couple of years in Nashville and learn a world’s worth of technique and flavor profiles and never leave the city limits. Nashville is hiring.

We are always looking for great line cooks at Josephine, but more importantly, we are looking for a great base of line cooks in Nashville. Maybe you’ll want to work at Josephine and if you’ve got great skills and an even better attitude, I’d love to talk to you. Maybe you want to give Nashville a shot and you want to work all over town learning everything you can while working in a fantastic city; that’s a pretty good idea, too.

Nashville is hiring.

Seasonal Regret


I was cruising the grocery store a couple of days ago and I spotted strawberries; still a little white and green on the tips and slammed into a clamshell. There was no way that if you opened that clamshell that you’d get any type of aroma and they were most certainly tasteless. It made me sad. I was instantly brought back to a couple of months ago when flats of fragrant, juicy strawberries were stacked on the pass at Josephine during the day waiting to be made into jam or a dessert or maybe a spot on the X|X menu. I paused, looked at the inferior clamshell strawberries and thought to myself ‘I wonder if I did a good enough job celebrating strawberries this year.’ This isn’t a new thought process for me. It happens with asparagus season and in a few short weeks the same will happen with heirloom tomatoes.

Today, I got an e-mail from a purveyor who said the following: ‘small farm sweet corn is a thing of the past down this way. Everything left is going towards ethanol, feed, and corn syrup.’  That hit me like a punch to the gut. I’m not ready for corn to be finished. I haven’t given corn my best shot of the season yet. That stings. Couple that e-mail with my incident at the grocery store and I was experiencing one of the worst feelings; seasonal regret.

Chefs are notorious for wanting to rush things. I’ll guarantee you there are chefs already working on Fall menu items; right now…in July.  There is a pressure to have the ‘first of the season’ whatever vegetable….There is also a pressure to prepare menus and systems so that when the seasons do change it isn’t a huge shock to the restaurant infrastructure. In the rush to constantly be looking one or two steps forward, sometimes we as chefs and cooks don’t take a minute, stop and look around. We need to focus on now; how can you best respect what you’ve got now.?

There is also a somewhat unwritten rule I’ve heard about not duplicating ingredients on menus(primarily tasting menus). I don’t agree with this rule. I think when ingredients are at their peak we should celebrate them in all of their glory. Does that mean a tasting menu littered with tomatoes, corn and peaches in July and August? Yeah, I guess it does.

I’m sad that strawberry season is over. I look back and wonder if I gave everything I had to the strawberry while we were able to get such amazing product. I have seasonal regret. I also know that I’ll look back on tomato and corn season and think the very same thing. That’s just the way I’m built. However, I am going to ground myself in the reality of now and work very hard to do my best by the tomatoes and corn we get in. I think Ferris Bueller said it best….

 

tumblr_m669sqXz8X1qgrqogo1_500

X|X:josephine

As you may know, we recently started a tasting table at Josephine called X|X:josephine.(pronounced ten by ten) This is a table where a 10 course menu is prepared for 10 reservations(you don’t need a party of 10; it’s just 10 seats total.Frequently we have 5 parties of 2) We offer this table at 7pm on fridays and saturdays.  I hope this short video gives you a little taste of X|X:josephine. We are having a blast cooking it every weekend and meeting some amazing folks along the way. Enjoy! For reservations, call 615.292.7766