Part 13: Living the Dream

This is the latest installment in a continuing series that documents my personal quest to become the host of my own cooking show. Since this is a relatively new “career,” there are no vocational programs or community college courses to prepare me for it. From what I have seen, the two most important elements in securing such a position are passion for food and plain old dumb luck. Born with a passion for food, I set out to make my own luck.

Living the Dream

So day one at Mars Hill Café is not at all what I am ready for.  I’m training with the guy who has been working the kitchen.  This is his first restaurant job.  He started it about five weeks before I was hired.  He is afraid of over seasoning the food so he just doesn’t do it.  That first day we had five tables the entire shift.  It becomes evident that I have my work cut out for me.

The menu seems a bit adventurous for a lunch-only place where customers need to be in and out in 20 minutes or less.  Chicken Alfredo with a sauce that’s built after the customer orders is a little out of place.  It’s delicious but it takes 25 minutes to prepare.  The menu is going need to be a complete overhaul.

Then there’s the mission of the café.  The sign on the wall reads:

Mars Hill Café Mission

Love Wins.  That’s cute.  But the mission is something I can really get behind, giving the profits to the needy, after having been downsized twice in as many years.  I am needless to say sympathetic to the plight of the recently unemployed.

In just a day or so the word is out, there’s a new chef in town and some of the old regulars come back to check out the food.  The immediate reaction is good.  The main thing I hear week one is the food is so much more flavorful.  That’s a little thing I like to call salt and pepper.  By week’s end we hire a sous chef and I am done with my evaluation.  Week two we’ll start making real changes.

Though the money is a bit sub-standard the people are nice and the atmosphere is great.  Plus I love the mission.  I think I’m going to like it here.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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