July 25, 2005

Some version of a Cashiers Check scam?

This is a WTF e-mail I received today. It came addressed from Wood Powell through the mail-link from my website. Strange, eh? Copied and pasted here verbatim, and I'm including his name, e-mail and phone number as it was sent to me.
i am pastor wood, please i will like to engaged your services for mine family who will be coming to come and spend their two weeks vacation with me in ohio andi will need a PERSOANL CHEF to come and cook for them for two weeks Starting from 5th of september to 20th of september But right now i and mine son are not around now we are in norway for a vacation and we would be back to the country to the states before 5th of september . please if you are in ohio let me have your price for your services and add your transportation fares to it and alos if you are out of ohio pleaselet me know and let me have the state you will be coming from and also add the transportation fares to it concerning the hotel accomodation you will be staying with us so you don't have the problem of accomodation and also mine nanny will be coming all the way from west african because she went for an honeymoon with her new husband so on her way coming back to the states will be heading straight back to the house for the babysitting of mine son and also she will take care of mine member of mine family too cos i will be currently away for a business trip in norway and i will not be back until you finish your services . please let me have the price and the transportation fares to it to ohio and get back toi me with the full total you will be taking .
And mine means of payment is through a cashier check . .
please let me have your name and home addrress and cell number to send the check to you. And if you feel like you need to get some vital information from me please you can get me through mine THURAYA SATELITE CELL NUMBER which i am currently using in Norway and the number is 2348028549539. And i will be very glad to answer your call .
I know it's got to be a scam because its entirely too strange... and why the hell would I leave Los Angeles to cook for a family in Ohio? Isn't there anyone who would work as a "PERSOANL CHEF" in Ohio?

Last thing I ate or drank: those little Cri-Cri peanuts I mentioned in my chat with Wade

Technorati Tags: in

July 24, 2005

I'm not so worried about THEM as competition:

A friend of mine told me about this website he came across. h o t t i e c h e f s . c o m (I'm not hotlinking on purpose.)

Well, I could be catty and call their menus uninspired...but I don't suppose anybody's hiring them because of the food.

I'd rather be catty and wonder aloud "why don't they show any closeups?"

I'm grateful that MY job doesn't require me to wear stilettos, and risk grease burns in my cleavage. (I just saw Woman On Top and marveled at the stuff they had wearing while "cooking" Not to mention the hair. But again, they're not selling the food. If they were selling the guy who played her husband, Murilo Benicio, I might buy me some of that. /dancing in jail scene/ )

Hey -- nobody knows what frilly little things I'm wearing under that stiff white jacket!

Last thing I ate or drank: bagel, with blackberry jam, and a latte.

Technorati Tags: in

July 22, 2005

I have nothing exciting to post.

This week, it seems I'm Personal Chef'ing all night, and sending out proposals and answering questions all day, so I've got nothing exciting to tell you. So, to keep you busy, here's a link to the Biggest Ramen Fan in the world.

Last thing I ate or drank: a Coronita: it's a little 7 oz. bottle of corona that I can actually FINISH (I usually get 3/4 of the way through a regular Corona and forget I was drinking it)

Technorati Tags: in

July 21, 2005

July 20, 2005

Yes! We have no bananas!

Click here to get your banana on!

Last thing I ate or drank: sherbet. and a huge glass of water

Technorati Tags: in

July 18, 2005

Remind me why I do this?

I catered a wedding on Saturday that kicked my ass.

Regular readers of this blog know that it's very rare for me to bitch about my clients or my workers, but this is one time I'm making an exception.

There were lots and LOTS of rather significant catastrophes.

The parking shuttle guys were not professionals, (just family, I guess) and told my 3 Kitchen Assistants they had to move their cars. They took so long that my 3 girls were out of the kitchen for about 45 minutes, so in effect, I lost almost TWO HOURS of kitchen time. The woman I hired to act as the "hostess" (since they had no wedding coordinator) had a hard time keeping people out of the kitchen. There were unsupervised children all over the place. There was one woman who kept coming in the kitchen and trying to do stuff in the sink. a small, two-basin, residential sink. there wasn't room for four of us to work in the first place, so for her to come to that sink to wash her hands, rinse out the baby bottles, and all this other stuff that could have been done at the wet bar, was a big P.I.T.A.

All but one of my servers was late, even though I warned them about beach traffic, and that the home was 3 miles up a very twisty canyon road. I phoned each of them the night before to remind them of the traffic and the parking situation. Futile.

One of my kitchen workers screwed up a dish so bad I had to take it off the menu. She should have known better. She's the only one of the three who'd gone to culinary school, and I gave her explicit written instructions (soak the noodles for 10 minutes) that she didn't follow (she soaked them for over 30 and they turned into glue). what was I supposed to do? Then she undercooked the carrots and overcooked the broccoli. Not that it mattered, as you'll read below... but it's MY name on the truck and MY reputation. **SIGH**

The guests ate the appetizers as if they weren't getting dinner, then they ate dinner like they never saw appetizers. When the cake was served, I put TWO slices (one of each kind) on each plate, and 1/2 cup of fresh berries, plus i set out a gallon-sized bowl of EXTRA berries, and they ate it ALL.

Anyway... I estimated 6oz of protein per person, plus enough rice and veggies for decent portions. My buffet was DECIMATED by the time the last two tables got up because the guests at tables 2-10 were greedy. I watched them through the window, and THE PLATES WERE PILED HIGH. I saw four slices of pork per plate, plus three chicken breast strips, plus a big chunk of salmon. (the good stuff: wild-caught king salmon at $17/lb, at the client's request) After table 12 got up, I got nervous. I began to serve the guests the proteins myself, to keep the portion sizes down. It was like a prison chow line, but better dressed.

I didn't run out of food, but it got close! And I've NEVER run out of food before. It's a caterer's worst nightmare. I told the Mother of the Bride (M.O.B.) that the guests ate like linebackers! They ate more food than the time when I catered a buffet dinner for a sports agent (think Jerry McGuire) and he had all these gigantic professional basketball players at his house for a party. Wow, those guys ate, but these wedding guests gave them a run for their money!

At least the good thing was that my servers said they weren't throwing much food out, they were bringing back empty plates! They loved my food!! (I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wished they didn't love it quite so much! I was getting really nervous!)

OH.... and the schedule! if you hire me as a professional, and you ask me to cater the party, please understand that I am going to stick to my schedule and if you spontaneously change it without telling me, you screw everything up. For example, the ceremony was to start at 5pm. More than half the guests hadn't even arrived yet. The MOB asked me to push the schedule back. I said no problem. (everything was ready and waiting in the cambros & chafers except for the stir-fry, which turns to slime when it sits) The ceremony finally started at 5:45, but nobody had told me they were going to begin! I heard the music and looked out the window. The bride was already on the podium thing. The wedding ceremony was to have lasted 30 minutes, so I scheduled my servers for their 30-minute break at that point. It would have been perfect, the staff-meal food was hot & ready for them, and they began eating. I had just been telling them to please only take 30 minutes, because as soon as the ceremony was over, the apps had to get passed.

SUDDENLY I HEAR APPLAUSE.... and realize that the ceremony took less than 15 minutes. shit shit shit! The MOB explained later that they were running so late they omitted stuff and rushed the ceremony. I told her that the food wasn't plattered yet, i was counting on at least another 15 minutes. She shrugged her shoulders. I was rather upset...Not to mention that my servers were unable to take their break during that time.

I can't even talk about it anymore. The whole thing was a nightmare. My heart is racing just remembering it. I was alternating between being tears and frantically trying to get food out to the buffet. I raised my voice only once, to the father of the bride, because he was the one coordinating the shuttles and I told him that the servers were going to show up and he said that as soon as they did, he'd go out to the parking lot to pick them up. I knew from the loss of my Kitchen Assistants that it would take 30 minutes, which I couldn't afford. I needed them there at 3pm to pour drinks and open wine and set tables. I couldn't get through to him that there were FIVE people coming from that lot, and that his car would only fit THREE of them, and he'd have to make two trips, so couldn't he just send someone to go there and wait for them, preferably someone with an SUV that would fit 5 people plus the driver. Worse was that the hostess I hired was supposed to be dealing with him. Not me. I was supposed to be cooking, not scheduling transportation... but I knew that I'd be the one to blame if things went poorly.

Gratefully, the MOB said that she loved the food, that she thought my servers were polite and friendly, and told me that she was really happy with everything. I guess that's all I can ask for.

I hadn't sat down all day, and my feet were numb. Also, I hadn't eaten. So instead of going home at 1am, I went to Denny's and had a grilled cheese sandwich, buffalo strips and some hot herbal tea. I chatted with the manager and my server and marveled at the efficient little thing they had going behind the counter. It was such an incredible luxury to have someone serve me food instead of the other way around. I managed to keep it together & drive myself home at 2am. Sunday was a blur of snacks and naps. Today I feel like a human again. But just barely!

Last thing I ate or drank: Quaker 100% natural granola, straight from the box.

Technorati Tags: in

July 12, 2005

Things you do for friends

I've uploaded photos of a cake I made for a friend's baby's birthday.

I broke three of my major personal rules for this cake. 1) I don't do cakes 2) I don't work for friends 3) I don't bake at my home for my clients. But since this is a special favor for a dear friend of many years, for his son's first birthday, I figured it would be okay to break a few rules.

See the 'making of' pictures in my FLICKR set I made everything by hand except for the gummy sharks. The shells are white & pink and white & gold chocolate, in a sand made of tinted granulated sugar. I also used cake spray-color to add dimension to the water-surface. The main cake (a dense cinnamon/chocolate cake) & cupcakes (lemon and vanilla) are frosted with buttercream, and decorated with royal icing.

The smash cake (it's a garibaldi not a goldfish, dammit!) is frosted with a pale orange meringue. Good and smooshy, and gets out of clothing much more easily than greasy buttercream, which I actually make with BUTTER and CREAM and NO G-D CRISCO!

I had to take off & couldn't stay for the party (well, I did have somewhere I had to be, but even if I didn't, I HAD to take off and I COULDN'T stay. As if I'd last 10 minutes at a children's party) but I'm hoping Daniel's got some pix of the kids eating cake!

So, what do you think?

Last thing I ate or drank: microwave kettle corn... but that was hours ago.

Technorati Tags: in

July 04, 2005

Happy 4th!

Ahhh. Bliss. I've been here three days and I've had three fantastic treatments. The "veggie wrap", the facial, and a really great massage. (It was part massage and, inadvertently, part therapy session... more later, maybe) Today, being the fourth, and still hotter than hell, we're not making any special plans. Kumari reads a lot and I've been reading the Internet and (gasp!) watching TV, something I don't do at home EVER. The other day we watched The 4400 on USA, and today's the Monk marathon. She went out and cooked herself for about an hour...but I've been lounging in the room, doing no cooking to speak of. It's gooooooood.

Last night we ate at Outback Steakhouse. It was merely food, not a dining experience. The 18-month old in the next booth was annoyingly loud, but at least none of the servers sang bad showtunes badly.

Not sure what we're going to have for dinner tonight.... but they're playing a LOT of KFC commercials, and as we all know, KFC is more addictive than crack.

Last thing I ate or drank: a sweet cookie/cracker thing made with olive oil and sprinkled with sugar, flavored with anise seed. I threw away the outer packaging so I don't remember what it's called. I think they're a Spanish thing.

Technorati Tags: in

July 03, 2005

Wheee! I'm on vacation...

I'm out on an extra long spa-weekend vacation with my friend Kumari. We picked the Miramonte Resort and Spa in Indian Wells, CA (just outside of Palm Springs) The spa itself is lovely, it's just that the places we've chosen to eat were disappointing.

We had eaten a big breakfast at the ihop near my house before we left, so we weren't hungry until we arrived. We wanted to find something to eat during our last 45 minutes of the drive, but we didn't see anything but McDonalds. We were starving when we got here, but we didn't want to wait until AFTER our first spa treatments to eat, so we had our first meal at the restaurant here: a rushed late lunch at the onsite restaurant, Brissago. I got a chicken salad burrito wrap that was pretty good, and she got a caprese salad that was rather lacking in flavor. Then I went to go have a treatment called a "veggie wrap", which made me a human burrito. She got a "wine bath", which was a big bubble bath jaccuzi with wine extracts. Mine took lots longer than hers, so when I dragged myself back to the room, she was on the phone with another mutual friend. I flopped face down on the bed for 45 minutes before I was even coherent.

By then it was getting to be time for dinner, so instead of trying to drive around in the dark to find somewhere to eat, we opted for the onsite restaurant again. I was in the mood for Italian anyway!

It was just an average place. None of the entrées looked especially interesting, so we had an assortment of "appetizers" instead. We each had the roasted tomato soup, which was good... but we shared an overly sweet salad of figs over mixed greens. Finally she had the shrimp and I had the calamari. Neither of us finished them. Oh well. Then we went to Ralphs to buy some groceries for snacks and for breakfast. This strategic move has allowed us to remain in our cozy, air-conditioned room until just a bit before the next day's sessions. Aaaah!

In fact, we woke up late and ate in our rooms, then went to our sessions, then noshed on the dried fruits and nuts washed down with mint, melon and cucumber spa water. Nice. Then we went into the special spa-guest-only pools, and hung out there until we got bored.

I felt cheated out of my good Italian dinner, so we went out to Cafe Italia in Indian Wells. This was a place in the stripmall by the Ralphs, we thought it looked like a place you could get pizza and calzones and big drippy meatball subs. I was distracted by the prospect of peeking in the windows of a kitchen-accessories store, so we approached the restaurant along the wall of the front door instead of through the entry gate off the parking lot. We walked in and ...OOPS! The place was outfitted like a bistro, and the hostess asked us if we had reservations. OOPS again. They seated us anyway, and we were optimistic about the menu. We were also starving! Kumari ordered a prosciutto and melon plate, and I ordered the bruschetta. It was great. The paste e fagiole was a small cup, but very tasty. The salad that followed was very average, with carelessly chopped, mealy tomatoes. For an entrée, Kumari ordered Lobster Ravioli in a Raspberry Cream Sauce (I don't recall the exact name, but that's what it was.) She said it was the single worst meal of Italian food she'd ever had. I had the osso buco, which was stringy and flavorless. The served it over a lumpy polenta that was in desperate need of cheese. And pepper.

So the food was terrible, but then, there was "circuses". When we walked in we didn't see the signs, but apparently the servers all sing. It's one of Cafe Italia's "gimmicks". It was a little uncomfortable to be trying to eat and be respectful of the singer. The odd thing was, it was a song per course! The girl who was our server sang an aria. She was amazing, and sounded REALLY GREAT and I'm not even remotely a fan of opera. The busboy who repeatedly filled our water glasses (and kinda had a Billy Joe from Green Day thing going on) sang some odd showtune that I didn't recognize. He did pretty well, but you could tell he was really trying. The hostess, who couldn't have been a wink over 16, sang "I could have danced all night" ...really badly! She was on-key, but she rushed the song. They merely accompanied recorded music, but she could have benefitted from a version recorded at a slower tempo. She was out of breath and couldn't keep up. I struggled to keep from gigling, but I limited myself to kicking Kumari under the table to get her attention, and rolling my eyes.

We ate what we could, left the rest, paid & got out. The we went to the Barnes & Noble and discovered a mall through the back entrace. We wandered around a bit, and Kumari got an ice cream, and we headed back towards home and air conditioning (the forecast for our entire time here says it will be 108° all day.) More later!

Last thing I ate or drank: vanilla yogurt with quaker 100% natural granola. I didn't pack my espresso machine but I brought my hotpot and a bodum coffee press. It's not espresso, but it's stronger than the hotel coffee; I'll survive!

Technorati Tags: in