Jewish, Chinese and Catholic fusion – A wedding to remember!

Now traveling back from the bay area and sitting in the back seat of the Touring Elite allows me to reflect on the weekend, the drive up to San Francisco and the drive back to San Diego. The vehicle used is the Honda Odyssey Touring Elite. Performing its function flawlessly and providing ample comfort, versatility and many movies for 18+ hours of road, and the 18+ hours of my family. I think we all thought the entire trip was a good one. It was great to see family members again especially those I haven’t seen in a while. I, and my family were treated to a really superb wedding; marrying not only two great people, but the influences of their heritage, their families and the religions and heritages they all possessed along the way. Check out the diversity and eclectic line up. The ceremony was a fusion of Catholic and Jewish religions including the breaking of the glass. Each different religious aspect was explained by the minister of the peace . . . LOL, my brother.

The reception was a well planned out ceremony of careful thought. Chinese food was presented as family service style at each table. Carefully beginning with a flavorful, yet light, appetizer of shrimp and noodles. Combined with the wine selection I thought brought forward flavors at each follow-on course. Every element of the dinner service was delicious, presenting new flavors rarely encountered by most American style Chinese menus. Each course built upon the next. The flavors got more rich and more complex until the final characteristically sweet finish. Then the cake . . . barely got a piece of that because of an hour and a half of family transportation to and  around San Fransisco’s Fort Mason,; a really neat historic landmark facility. One thing I think I noticed that night is, seniors don’t have accurate taste, or they have somewhat diminished palates. I sat between my Mother, Father and an older Brother-in-Law. They all thought the food didn’t taste good. I on the other hand, as most of the other 9 members at our table and other random guests I talked with, thought the food was very well prepared and delicious. Then, the only thing that continuously aggravated me was “The Minister” . . . also seated at my table, didn’t help serve anyone other than himself, not even his 90 year old parents. That means the food was that good!!! A-HOLE!

I met the caterer Tuyen Chung of Ginger Café,, outside following the final course. He was busy cleaning up. He, sporting a heavy Chinese accent, was very cordial and spent a focused time with me discussing his operation. He said he has been doing the catering for 25 years. He was a nice guy. I promised to introduce him to my readers as he promised to visit my site. He also said that his service this evening went mostly unappreciated by the largely American families and friends; that if these were all Chinese people, pointing now to the mess around him of his portable kitchen, “all this food, . . . all of this lobster . . . gone! . . . all of it would be gone!” Tuyen had his hands full outside that night. See the menu here. dinner_menu1 An extremely complicated portable kitchen in which every element of the service was made on site except the pre-cut vegetables. He had two deep-fat fryers and woks a blazin’ that night. I was impressed with his operation. A very talented chef and entrepreneur. He had a large staff to cater the 150 person event. Well done! The food was remarkable. Having Chinese food served at a wedding was a first for most at a wedding, including me. There were only two elements I felt he could improve upon. First there was no rice served with dinner. I heard a couple of people say they seemed to miss that. It’s an inexpensive addition and could have been accommodated. Second, the service staff didn’t really seem trained enough to take dishes away as they brought more forward; and the tray’d butler hors d’oeuvres were devoured at the bar’s entrance and never seemed to make their way to the back of the bar area. Everyone I spoke with said the food was excellent and the element provided by the variety and creativity of the selected menu items was as superb. I don’t think anyone expected what they got. I would say that providing Chinese food at the wedding and the quality definitely exceeded my expectation. #1 requirement for any hospitality business. Meet or exceed!

Then the music. I haven’t heard my (ex) Brother-in-Law play the drums in about 35 years. He and his son Aaron Meyer,, carried intermittent sets in between the heavy beats and excellent sounds of a high quality dance band Busta Groove  They really made the evening special. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen so many of a guest list really throwing down on the dance floor. I heard everything from AC/DC’s “Back in Black” to “Can’t Touch This” by M.C. Hammer, and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”. A really great band that played all of the great songs that everyone sang along to.

Well, the trip to San Francisco, CA was memorable. Every element of the wedding was very well executed, all the way down to the graphics used for the ceremony, the menu and the website, created by yet another family member.

I’m going to give this whole event the coveted


Buttonwillow and the tar parking lot – Zagat rated?

Finally get to test the mommy missile with the family on a true road trip. ROAD TRIP! Destination San Francisco, CA. 8 hours with the family and stuck in a car. We all deserve a medal!

I tried to plan a “Triple-D” spot along the way; the only problem is Guy Fieri’s dives, drop off of the radar (or GPS for others that are using the Honda Odyssey Touring Elite) somewhere in Los Angeles; and the “Triple-D”estinations don’t resume until the Bay Area, especially when traveling along Interstate 5 through God’s only forbidden zone. Yup, going through the San Joaquin valley. The only thing out here are dead sheep and buzzards . . . and the Willow Ranch Restaurant. Google Maps has this place rated at a 23 Zagat. I guess I can vouch that Zagat is a bit off kilter. Not a bad meal, but not near the 23 rating.

Willow Ranch is Buttonwillow, about 3.5 hours into our 9 hour trip. Upon arrival into this vast wasteland we see the sign next to a big rig gas station. The place was actually pretty full. I think this must be the only good place along this stretch of nothingness, because it appeared that any and all government officials ate here on this Friday lunch. You know you’re in a small town when your driveway gets re-paved by the kitchen staff . . . or the owner, his wife and son. I mean, you know your in a small town when your restaurants BBQ catering rig is pulling double-duty by being used to melt the tar sealer going down on the parking lot. YIKES . . . just what is their BBQ sauce made of.

Well the meal was safe and anticipated. Standard . . . safe grill food, plated efficiently with decent portions. A safer bet would be the Carl’s Jr. across the street if you want a really good burger. But I couldn’t just settle for something known . . . I gotta go for the adventure; even if that means watching stray dogs, interstate truckers wearing wife beaters and eating Kentucky Fried mock-up coleslaw. I would Zagat below 17 . . . and I don’t even know what that means. I guess that means just slightly above average.

The Touring Elite performed its function perfectly. Comfortable, quiet, smooth; and sitting for the remaining hours of the drive in the middle seats, while watching movies with the 650 watt surround sound, proves this car worthy of its acclaimed “best” in its class. Don’t misunderstand my thoughts . . . it’s still a nine hour road trip. We were beat upon arrival.

Well, I may not ever again have the opportunity to tour the vast wasteland of the desolate San Joaquin, but maybe we should have stopped at Harris Ranch an hour further into the drive. Maybe the “double” average per person meal would have averaged out the misery of spending 8+ hours stuck in the same car with my kids.

Alright, I’m going to give Willow Ranch one dead cow and an ugly vulture.


What the hell is “Telecommunefficiency”

To answer the subject question I offer my recent on-line class submission about technology in the FB & H industry.

Having begun this assignment by reading the referenced articles, something caught my attention about the breadth of the telecommunication carrot that could dangle in front the restaurateurs’ (horse’s) mouth. I read several follow-up articles, but could not necessarily isolate one particular article because my mind drifts in so many different directions. What I’m talking about is digital technology, Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), energy management, data management, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), POS, customer feedback, kitchen and customer displays. . . the list continues, literally forever.

With so much emphasis on being “green” in today’s society; everything from Hybrid motor vehicles to household and business recycling practices, it’s often times difficult for every human to do everything possible about protecting the environment and protecting the bottom line . . . the wallet.

Energy conservation and fuel conservation have become something almost every person on this earth gets concerned about, especially with gasoline prices steadily increasing and electricity becoming more expensive despite all of the advances in technology and transmutability. Yes I did mean that word “transmutability”. “The ability to change from one source, substance or nature to another”. (, 2012). One thing we know for sure . . . technology costs money; yet technology can be extremely beneficial in the long-run toward energy management. Efficient energy management can save money and save headaches. Restaurant managers employing the right equipment and the right mindset are pointing themselves and their restaurants in the correct direction for the future. Trust me, it’s not going to get any cheaper to operate restaurants.

I finally decided on one article. In April of 2012, Arby’s Restaurant Group announced its first LEED certified building. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an ecology-oriented building certification program run under the auspices of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED concentrates its efforts on improving performance across five key areas of environmental and human health: energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, sustainable site development and water savings. (TechTarget, 2012). Myself, being an Environmental Management System (EMS) specialist and being International Organization of Standards (ISO) 14001 trained, can recognize and appreciate the efforts such businesses put toward energy management. Linking this article to other readings I can rapidly see that importance of integration of all networked systems in to an efficient telecommunication driven system. It’s not going to be cheap, but it will make some manager or executive extremely happy. Being able to control the temperature in the building, the temperatures of the ovens, the landscape irrigation, the street signage, the customer feedback data, sales, staff work schedules, drive-thru orders, food and seat management, water consumption, energy consumption, gas usage, delivery vehicle location . . . again, the list continues.

I think there’s definitely a line that needs to be drawn between technology and needs of the business. Today, I’m going to call it “telecommunefficiency”. Defined, telecommunefficiency is the identification, rationalization and effective use of technological availability and costs, with the needs of the organization. In other words; you can buy too much good equipment and waste a ton of money on stuff you think is cool, but never use. Yet, you could be wasting manpower on inefficient telecommunication equipment that doesn’t wholefully meet the needs of the business.

Works Cited

“Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. Takes Action to Boost its Energy and Sustainability Performance.” Ecova | Energy Management & Sustainability Management. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <,-inc-takes-action-to-boost-its-energy-and-sustainability-performance.aspx&gt;.

Boyd, Derek. “JOEY Orchestrates Success with In-Store,.” Hospitality Technology. Version 6. Hospitality Magazine, 19 May 2011. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <>.

Rotondo,  Gene,  Owner, and Legends Sports Bar. “Legends Sports Bar Increases Sales by 15% with Handheld POS | Case Studies | | Hospitality Magazine (HT).”                 Hospitality Technology: Technology Resource for Restaurant/Lodging Executives. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <–with-Handheld-POS72296&gt;.

States, its partners. If you reside outside of the United, and processed in the United States. Privacy. “What is LEED  (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)? – Definition from” Data Center information, news and tips – N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <;.

“Telecommunications have changed. Have you? – Membership Means Business.” Home Page | National Restaurant Association | National Restaurant Association . N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <;.

“Tim Hortons to put digital signage in most Canadian units | Nation’s Restaurant News.” Nation’s Restaurant News |. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <;.

“Transmutability – definition of Transmutability by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia..” Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus – The Free Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <;.

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THIS is not “The Happiest Place On Earth”. Disneyland revisited.

WOW, what a statment from this CritDick. However, I did have a decent time; if to say my enjoyment revolved around crowd avoidance and the overly occasional whaling (high-pitched screeches) 3-year-old I had to step over to get to my destination.

I kept repeating to myself, “The Happiest Place on Earth, . . . The Happiest Place On Earth,  . . . The Happiest Place On Earth”. Just why do they call Disneyland “The Happiest Place On Earth”? Today, I’m not quite feelin’ it. The staff had indicated the day of our visit was the busiest since Labor Day. We had “special” group tickets that I was told reserved for a special day, only for the special members. I think what I got was the ol’ “special”. I think in all, we rode 5 rides. Average wait time per-ride was about 40 minutes. That’s almost 4 hours of our 8 hour day. Sucked! The rest of the time we wandered aimlessly deciding which line was the shortest.

We immediately hit The Haunted Mansion at about 5pm once arriving at our “special” time (4pm). The place (entire theme park) was packed. The Haunted Mansion was all decked out in holiday cheer as it set tone for the “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme. I have never seen that setup as it is a complete ride “reset”. All of the displays for the theme had been redone for the holiday season. I know this has been going on for many, many years . . . even since the existence of the ride possibly; I just have never seen it.

Another fascinating aspect of my adventure was seeing all of the changes to the rides of the past. We moved to “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Now, the creation of the movie was based on the original ride. Now . . .  the ride has elements of Davey Jones (I don’t remember those), and Captain Jack Sparrow made several appearances (definitely new). The ride has now catered to the demographic of the movie watcher.

The “Submarine Voyage” (short line – 30 minutes) was changed to reflect “Nemo”, the fish-based story. Kinda neat as I stared closely out of the small portal window. How do they do that effect?

Another thing that has changed recently was the firework display (9:30pm daily). This may have changed long ago, but I don’t know if I’ve been there in the evening recently (past 15 years). The display was entirely simulcast to music and literally was executed (launched) from every corner of the park. I would here a small explosion from behind me, while walking around, and flares would cross in the middle of the sky. I thought it looked like it was something from the “Shock and Awe” while bombing Iraq. Very cool! Bad-ass firework display!!! The best I’ve ever seen!

I did eat at one restaurant and had some pretty good food. The Hungry Bear Restaurant was way in the back past Splash Mountain. I saw they had a “fried green tomato sandwich”. I’ve never had a fried green tomato and the sandwich had other interesting flavors to complete the nosh. Things like Havarti cheese and some kind of remoulade. I thought it to be quite delicious. The sandwich came served with the best sweet potato fries I’ve had. I don’t normally order sweet potato fries because I find them to frequently be about the same. These were crispy and flavorful. Other stuff ordered on the table we claimed to be just “ok” by the other party members. Things like a hamburger and a turkey sandwich. I guess when your level of expectation is unknown (heck, I wasn’t going to order anything), things can go pretty well. Then again, I’ve learned that my expectation is often times where I set my standard in which to CritDick.

There were a couple great shows that I watched. Fantasmic was a nighttime show featuring many different aspects of theatrical production. I was watching the staff set things up before hand. The fantastic sailing ship was being rigged for swinging pirates and the pyrotechnic were being placed along the water by flack-vest wielding specialists. Having a strong industrial safety background I carefully watched each worker to see if they were in compliance. They really ensured each worker operated safely . . . fall protection, head protection and even waders for the pyro guys that got into the water for securing the rigs. By the way, the show was very good. Sound was amazing!

It’s not everyday I go to Disneyland, and I don’t know that I’ll every return. Having lived in Southern California almost my entire life, I used to regularly frequent the theme park. Now as an adult and having older children, I have come to realise . . . I hate theme parks!

As the day progressed I began to have an understanding of what it meant to be in the hospitality business. I began to realize, but I know I could never really fathom the breadth of the operation that entails running this operation. Everything from security, stage setup, food operations, menu design and execution, safety, technology . . . the list could go on for a while. Just think about the employees’ training to “be nice” at all cost. Maybe that’s why they call it “The Happiest Place On Earth”. Smiles everyone . . . Smiles!

All in all a long day. I wasn’t that friggin happy, and I spent a butt-load of money. Heck, $15 bucks just to park off site. Why don’t they just charge me the entire $20. Not like $5 bucks is going to buy me anything other than a $3.50 bottle of water.

Smiles everyone . . . Smiles!


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