A year of Dicks – We eat . . . therefore we think!


You know who you are. If you have met me before and were given a CritDicks business card, then you should know I approve of your business when you see me walk through the door the next time around. There are a great deal of establishments we, and many others, visit without even a moment’s thought. A hot dog at Costco, a pair of tacos at Jack-in-the-Box or maybe a bag of pistachios while waiting for the lecture to begin. We eat . . . therefore we think!

I visit places . . . that I don’t even like. And yes I can probably say I eat their food too. Whatever! What I want to say is I eat at various places throughout time that I don’t always get to acknowledge. Places like Curbside Café in Vista, CA. http://curbsidecafevistaca.com/ I think I have been there a 1/2 dozen times now . . . always a treat to eat there. I feel bad because I don’t often times get to spend enough moments with an owner or chef where they remember me. Or . . . , they remember me as that “blogger” that dumped his stupid business card on them. I know I may sometimes come across wrong . . . I think that’s my wiring. I’m also very social, so I may get talking with a server and a General Manager may be giving me stink eye over his/her bifocals . . . because they’ve seen me before! “WATCH HIM” . . . he’s sneaky! Perhaps one day, I will feel welcomed as a writer when visiting an establishment. Actually, I have . . . now that I think about it! “Steve and Steve” remembered me while visiting http://www.underdogstruck.com/ with Underdogs during a food truck and music festival. Steve immediately recognized me and the stories began . . .

photo2   There are so many attributes of 2013 that I needed to include in this blog somewhere, but now I’m approaching a new vector in my life and must quickly scan whatever pictures I took and try to recall stories of those memories. There were so many stories to tell . . . but I just fell plain flat. I had serious burn out and needed to clear my mind. Glad it really only lasted a few weeks, during which time I was able to even slip in a quick retreat at Lake San Marcos, in San Marcos, CA http://www.lakehousehotelandresort.com/. photo3photo 1We were treated to a very large lofted ceiling, luxurious post-modern retro decorated room overlooking most activities in the area and the lake. Our room had a large balcony that overlooked the adult spa and “wooded” fire ring (pretty cool). Our deck was open to adjoining decks and had some really cool chairs. Look ’em up. They are very heavy and sturdy and made from post consumer plastics, made to look like wood and painted. Quality! Other quality amendments in the room included a 60″ thin-edge HDTV with HD service! Top Notch! photoThe room was simple, elegant and included a remodeled bath featuring a large wall-to-wall glass-encased shower, LED lighting and new plumbing fixtures. Water pressure was fair. Service was very good and unwavering . . . trust me . . . I tried!photo5

We also ate at a place called Thai Garden in Oceanside, CA http://www.thaigardensd.com/index.html were we were treated to some lovely plating of authentic Thai cuisine and an educational owner that brought us a chili from his back yard explaining, “the top of the flair is sweet, the rest to the stem is very hot”. Taken with caution I tasted the sweet, but could already tell the hot area was with the seeds, and needed to stay there today. This kid must’ve had a hangover. photo6Oh yeah, I attended my graduation . . . yes, I sat in the back and congratulated all graduates for this day was for them.

As part of my graduation celebration, I also will soon have a Daughter-in-Law that shared in my graduation, by graduating herself from Cal State San Marcos. My gift to her . . . and myself, was to take her out for a nice meal . . . somewhere fancy. Normally I don’t put pictures of persons I know, but the day was spectacular, one of Oceanside’s finest. photo7Due to all circumstances, we elected to have lunch at 333 Pacific http://www.cohnrestaurants.com/333pacific, and Chef Brian Hyre greeted our table and announced each arriving course from our skillfully coordinated Prix Fixe menu. Skillfully coordinated means I spent the last 3 or 4 days trying to contact the Chef by whatever means to ask him to do me the favor, having explained the circumstances and that I wanted the meal to be special. Chef somehow felt obliged to fulfill with my request. Not something often found out there anymore, unless at a real small mom and pop’s brick and mortar. Chef Brian is, as most good chefs, are always super busy, so their moments are very special. Chef Brian also hooked us up with an amuse bouche of 333’s signature Sweet Chili Calamari. Ok, now I have tasted the best. Previous calamari crown was held by Blue Water Seafood in San Diego, but now 333. It was just so tender . . . so tender, with the Sweet Chili dipping sauce. You know, when Chef Brian and I briefly discussed what I wanted on the menu, I asked Chef to “clear out the fridge” . . . he knew exactly what I meant. I think at that moment, Chef Brian knew I was someone worth meeting. Thanks Chef Brian! A true professional! Oh, BTW; there was also a finisher of fruitful frozen Mango puree on a frozen Coconut milk shell . . . something like that. Heaven!

To top everything off, I had a wonderful Christmas holiday celebration. I am very much looking forward to 2014 and all of the antics that should be displayed by all.


Food and Beverage – Social Media . . . it’s up to me!!!

I think it’s probably about time we started taking a closer look at just how important “social media” really is to the FB&H industry. First of all, let me guide you into this. I will be looking at this from the consumer’s eye. Remember I have no industry experience, so to speak, so I will explain this from my eye.

bloggingAs a consumer, when I decide to target a restaurant or other establishment for the night I usually start out by looking them up on the internet. Whether I get the restaurant’s name from an add or a business card, or I begin with a general search word on Google. Say I want to eat Thai in Vancouver, BC. I type a couple of key words  into the search block and I’m off and running. Since starting this blog, I have attempted to track the traffic that comes into my website, and from where. I know there are more advanced tracking tools that can be purchased through the internet, but I only have basic services. Please remember, I’m just an average consumer with above average knowledge . . . so I have been told.

I then began to think about the possibilities of following successful bloggers as they navigate new and old social media trends; and the effectiveness’s of those trends on the FB&H industries and small businesses. Without really having an in-depth look or education in “social media” specific studies, I have taken to this idea while perusing my culinary degree. I have noticed that there is definitely a significant social media experience for the Food, Beverage and Hospitality (FB&H) industries . . . at least when viewing it from a retail consumer standpoint (e.g. , searching for “restaurants and bars” vice “restaurant service equipment repair”).

Let’s see, I have this blog attached to Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. The latter is under my personal page, and I currently choose to have this blog as one of my current professions. I own the domain name (I don’t know . . . that’s just what they call it) www.CritDicks.com. I own that! When I type that on any computer, my website . . . this blog, should come up . . . and it does! Now, what I write and how I communicate with my public is up to me. But what is important? What are all of the tricks? Which social media interaction methods are most effective for the food and beverage industry? Yes we could add “hospitality”, but just ride along for now.

So as I’m writing this I’m thinking this should just be an idea spark for another TV show. That’s what I think this could be. I think about how many other folks have turned to blogging in the last 5 years . . . 10 years. How many have claims to writing about Food, Beverage, and Hospitality? I was just surprised to see that “Food” was still relatively small compared to “News”, “Music” and “Photography” for the amount of posts contained on this host’s server, WordPress.com. How many successful bloggers are out there? . . . I mean, how many successful writers are out there that also have a blog? How many started off as a blogger? How many started off as an airplane, environmental, teaching and now . . . culinary professional. Not to say I’m really a professional; work with me, . . . I was caught up in the moment . . .

I guess I just wanted to stake claim to this TV show idea and let my audience know that I can continue to write, even after taking a moment for the end of 2013 to come to a close. I find that I am having a wonderful holiday this year and very much look forward to 2014. I hope I don’t lose any along the way.


The Big Table Dance.


This was definitely a night to remember. Tonight was to be my last event in which I would probably ever don the coat or toque of a chef or cook. Well, as I’m finding out now . . . that doesn’t seem to be the case. I ask, does this keep going? Is it my stupid passion?. Am I looking for something else? I have a feeling you’ll be reading much more since my schooling ends just before Christmas.

At the beginning of this quarter I regretted having to don the uniform ever again, but was basically forced for the purposes of this last class. This class was focused on event planning and execution. I had vowed to handle the business portion of the events; further allowing the real culinary gang (students) that actually have a long standing desire to work in a kitchen, the opportunity to learn and grow their craft . . . and hone their skills.

Since this class is focused on setting up and executing events, this final event was to be the crown jewel in which we can showcase many, if not all of the things we have learned since beginning this culinary school adventure. Today was being hailed as an event for the culinary competition team for our San Diego campus of the International Culinary School at The Art Institute. We were led to believe this event was for our “hot team”, as they were to be cooking for their families in order to show them what their competition would involve. We (our event class) were merely providing the party (event) for the hot team to cook. Turns out this was all a carefully fabricated horns waggle. Yeah, we were railroaded . . . flimflammed . . .

Turns out, we are putting on this event for ourselves . . .  Shit!

We were informed by our persuasive Chef Instructor just 15 minutes before the pseudo-guests were to arrive. I think everyone of the culinary students participating got a big ear-to-ear grin on their face . . . except for me. I just happened to be the only student in this class that’s actually graduating this term,  so my Senioritis was playing a big part of my unrest.dinner2

Well, now that we know the reason for setting up this table. I spent three hours polishing silver and glassware and setting this table to exacting specifications as outlined by our Chef Instructor. He explained every facet of how the service would go and be executed. He explained that we would be serving plates from the right and clearing from the left . . . (screeching halt sound). Did he just say serving from the right and clearing from the left . . . Isn’t proper French service the opposite way? I thought only glassware was to be serviced from the right. I attempted to clarify this on the internet and realized that this was a subject of much discussion that truly danced around the subject of what is right and what is wrong. Is the service from a guéridon or from plates already prepared. Is this Russian service or French? There are several factors involved when establishing how the service is to be executed and I really don’t care to research every method. One thing is for sure; our school has been putting out service from the left and clearing from the right. Tonight was completely opposite. “What gives Chef?”, I ask. Then the chef kindly reminded me that every situation may be different in the real world anyway, and flexibility in situations may be necessary. Other than him saying this, there really was no other reason for our reverse service except that he demanded that we comply with his requirements. “Roger that”, I said and proceeded to serve from the right that night . . . and it felt wrong every moment. But you know what? That same Chef Instructor pulled off that bull-shit for the event too. Finally figured him out. He’s a B. S.’er. . . I like that!dinner3

Another thing that has been brought up is the proper placement of forks, knives and spoons on the big table. I have taken many shots across the bow from folks complaining that the dessert fork and coffee spoon were to be placed atop the plate when setting the table properly. Turns out this evening’s event was to use plates available at the school that later proved to be too large for the table decorations and the plates to fit correctly, so we decided to place all of the silver to the side. Again, it’s situational and as a restaurant service, one must attempt to make everything as perfect as possible. AS POSSIBLE!!! Tonight, due to the situation, we had to deviate alot. Another factor was how much of the serviceware is available to us for this event. Remember, these classes and equipment are utilized by numerous classes, and for numerous occasions. Over the course of the last three weeks I have counted 120 forks, 40 dinner forks, 20 desert forks and 40 knives . . . once each, last three classes. Often times having to track them down from other locations in the school to make up an acceptable service place setting. Tonight was no exception. The main thing we focused on was the absolute perfection of each item placed on the table, measuring and calculating, Exact placement of each fork in front of each guest with the exact space between every component. That’s why this took me three hours. Even down to the cell-phone distance each chair arm was from the table. It was goofy crazy, but the result was spectacular. That was a badd ass table!

dinner5So now you’re probably wondering why all the hype. This turned out to be a night of service for the two classes that comprised this service. The “hot team” prepared the menu and guided the kitchen staff on execution and service. The remaining few (including me) were to set up the facility, move tables, chairs and fetch everything needed to make the event special. Once it was time for service all of the students helped on the assembly line and working the plates for service. Finally concluding on a very messy kitchen and tons of dishes. Yes we cleaned for a good hour-and-a-half afterwards.

I look back at this night and begin to grin. I think back about the last three years of this culinary education and some of the students, Chef Instructors and staff I have met through out this education. I think about what I had learned (totally another story) and how I am able to handle my own in the kitchen, in the front of the house and in the business. I can now talk the talk, AND walk the walk. There are plenty of other skilled chefs and cooks out there that can walk all over me in any kitchen; but, how many of them can do it with as much class as me, with as much skill and as much education as me. I can now literally walk into any restaurant, any food service operation or any kitchen and hold my own . . . not necessarily some one else’s own . . . but my own.

I became grateful this night . . . , because this dinner was for me.

I may not be walking with the graduating class, but I’m with them on every step they take. Congratulations!

Just remember . . . they call ’em Chefs, . . . because they work in the industry.

Hug a “Chef”.!


Happy Holidays 2013/14 . . . and thanks! . . . Dicks

Ok, this may be brief, or this may be long, . . .  but I have to do it!

The last several weeks have led us to the conclusion of 2013. I already have major plans for the 31st . . . and my wife is going to smile and … go with this one … trust me, I just think she will see it my way. That kind of 2013.

I have built a relationship with a dude named Jimmie. This dude is working his ass off to make things happen. Every time I turn around I find that Jimmie has booked the biggest and the baddest! Is that a word? Well if there is a “Baddest”, Jimmie’s Da Man.

I just found out that Jimmie, the Trail Boss for Cattle Call, L.L.C. https://www.facebook.com/CattleCallLLC?ref=stream has bagged one of the richest mixes of country-Texan- Southern Rock, Elvis and Johnny influenced / / /, not quite sure just what genre specifically they are. But I heard some of their rifs and already know this is gonna be a bash!!! LOOK  THE . . . f’, , out . . . W O W !!!    at a local joint here just below where I live.  I could walk home. Think of the possibilities.

To conclude . . . uh, for this year . . . I would humbly like to say to all of my followers and readers of my brain. Thanks! In just less than two years I have achieved over 10,000 views and have over 300 followers! . . .

I had a few goals with this post. Folks, stick with me here . . . I hope to keep it flowin’. I started this thing as a Band-Aid … to my wife’s suggestion, that I just don’t say anything when I go out with her . . . that I just write about it. “What did you say”, said You. I said, “say nothing”. What you guys already said, is already killing me.

Feb 2012 – I started writing  just after a the 29th wedding anniversary with my badd-ass life supporter . . . wife!  I Love you! . . . and no bull shit, you know that!

July 4th 2013 –  Shit, that was just 6 months ago. I think this is when it was . . .  was to have 5000 page views. I got really close, around 4600 or so. I don’t really feel like looking it up . . . nor do I rightfully feel like figuring out where I was, or what I was doing. I just know I didn’t quite make it.

Dec 2013 – (graduation day) Was to have 10,000 page views, 300 followers and be sponsored. Well, I fell just a tad short. I just don’t have the sponsor. If I could sit here and grovel.

So now I ask you, to ask yourself; do I like this bull shit? Do I like this Dick?

Whatever, follow more of my antics at www.CritDicks.com; and this New Years Eve, go to Jimmie’s show at  https://www.facebook.com/CattleCallLLC?ref=stream


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