Jan 182013

Craig Giesecke

It has been reinforced on me several times, over the past week or so, just how much the restaurant business is just like any other business – you make money or you close. It has nothing to do with the quality of your product.

Of course, a quality product is supposed to help draw customers and therefore help you make money. But unless the cost of inventory, labor and other overhead remains at a certain level, the place won’t make it for very long. We tend to forget this as Carnival, Super Bowl and our Festival seasons appear before us. Everyone’s having a good time and the food and drink are selling so well that many owners think it will just continue that way after Memorial Day.

Nope. Continue reading »

Jan 112013

Craig Giesecke

All the rain over the past week has caused a severe shift in our eating habits, not only for our customers at the shop but also here at the house. We’ve also gone from raw chill to the lower 70s. Add to this the normal seasonal shifts with the beginning of Carnival Season and the acceleration of Crawfish Season, and the culinary options around here have gone from wonderful to unbelievable in a very short amount of time. Continue reading »

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Jan 042013

Craig Giesecke

I’ve been spending a little time lately at job interviews – not that I’m unhappy in my current position (decent hours and health insurance count for a lot. I also really like the folks I’m working with). But I figure it’s always a good idea to keep up with what’s going on in the city’s food and restaurant industry. One of the best ways is to talk to would-be owners and managers to find out who’s planning to do what. While I’m always interested in opportunity and in getting back to running my own shop one day, it’s also good mental exercise. Continue reading »

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Dec 282012

The Christmas duck (photo by Craig Giesecke)

Craig Giesecke

As mentioned in the last column, I opted to go with smoked duck for our Christmas dinner this time around. Honestly, a month’s worth of dealing with turkey and ham every day at work made the idea of doing either of those rather unappealing. I also deal with a fair amount of things like eye of round, so I wanted to do something that would absorb a little more flavor from the outside. There are only three of us in the house, so doing something large like a goose was never really on the radar. Continue reading »

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Dec 222012

Craig Giesecke

We’ve been cocooning in the house these last few evenings, feeling the wind buffet the siding after the midweek cold front came through.  Those many of us who live in old, drafty houses here in New Orleans know the place never gets completely warm. About the best you can hope to do is dress for the cold occasions, enjoy a stiff toddy and try to not move off the couch or chair too much. Very Southern Winter and, of course, Very Holiday. Continue reading »

Dec 082012

Craig Giesecke

Gah! I have just gotten through wrestling with one of those rolls of plastic wrap (I won’t name names) we all have in our kitchens for wrapping food portions or bread or whatever is needed for use later. The stuff never unrolls without effort, then each brand has a different location for the cut-off strip. Is it on the box? On the boxtop flap? No matter where it is, it never does a clean job of tearing a straight edge. Then you’ve got a ragged, odd-shaped piece of wrap that either sticks to itself too much or not at all. All I wanted to do is wrap up some bread to put in the freezer. Frustrating. Continue reading »

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Dec 012012

Craig Giesecke

I was sitting at the table last evening having supper by myself (a reasonably frequent situation, given that Kim and I don’t always get hungry at the same time and we’re hungry for different things). Anyway, I was having a typically thrown-together fave of flour tortillas, rolled around some chili, shredded cheese, chopped onion, jalapeno and hot sauce. Pretty simple stuff and very filling. Essentially, some homemade soft tacos and a beer.

This meal has been a mainstay for most of my life, and I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when all of these items weren’t available in the house. Continue reading »

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Nov 242012

Craig Giesecke

As low-key as I try to keep any holiday anymore, at least at home, the opposite was certainly true at work over the past week. I’m still in recovery mode.

Each year, more and more folks are buying what a friend calls “pre-fab” holiday meals. These are the ones that are pre-cooked and packaged all in one box. All you have to do is pick up, heat up (about an hour for the turkey or ham), transfer to serving plate or bowl (or not) and there ya go – all the smells and (most of) the flavors (everyone’s family is different) and a lot less of the cleanup. Continue reading »

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Nov 202012

Craig Giesecke

All of us who go out to eat, be it high-brow or to a dive, are highly concerned about the atmosphere of where we go. All of us have been into place where the décor, the music and the other things Just Aren’t Right to match the food, and it seriously takes away from what might otherwise be a very enjoyable meal. Continue reading »

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Nov 102012

Craig Giesecke

Last week I put out a few ideas about commercial kitchen items that can seriously upgrade a kitchen at home, without spending a billion dollars or being stuck with something you’ll use only once or twice. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this through the week and taking note of things at the shop, but I’m sure there are some things I’ve missed. When I find them, I’ll be sure to pass those along as well. Continue reading »

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Nov 032012

Craig Giesecke

I went into work one day last week and was again reminded about just how much food we produce each day and how it has to be constantly renewed over and over as sales volume increases. Usually, it seems I’ve just made a big load of something when I have to make another one. Not that this is a bad thing – at all.

This is tough to translate when I get back home and try to replicate something for just two or three. Speaking honestly, I rarely cook at home much anymore and, when I do, it’s usually pretty simply stuff like pasta with some kind of sauce from a jar. I know that will soon change, with the holidays approaching.  But it’s a sure bet I’m going to be overbuying some ingredients just because I’m now so accustomed to producing in bulk. Continue reading »

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Oct 272012

Craig Giesecke

I walked out of the house late Thursday morning and the air in our Irish Channel neighborhood was fully pregnant with various food aromas.

It’s one of the awful prices we pay for living here. And, yes, I’m being facetious.

We live less than 100 yards from Parasol’s and 150 yards from Tracey’s.  There’s a Quizno’s and Coquette around the corner on Magazine. I got in the car and went to the French Quarter and parked across from the French Market before most places open at 11 a.m. All the smells from the places in the Market, from El Gato Negro, Coop’s, Margaritaville and the other spots hit me as I opened the car door. Continue reading »

Oct 202012

Craig Giesecke

I was at work the other day and a friend came in to get a few items. We were talking in front of the chef case, where all the gorgeous stuffed pork loin, herb-crusted salmon and other stuff is displayed. He commented on how great it all looked, but then asked me, “Don’t you get bored making the same stuff every day?”

Well, yes and no. Continue reading »

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