Friday, June 19, 2009

Someone's in the Kitchen ...

I have written previously elsewhere about some fascinating meals I've had from Chefs Kurtis Jantz and Chad Galiano and their "Paradigm - The Test Kitchen" weekly dinners - some of the most adventurous and cutting-edge cooking that you can find in Miami. Prompted in part by some recent discussion about "interactive dinners" and the relationship between kitchen and dining room, they agreed this week to a very different approach - they're letting me into the kitchen to "help"[*] with tonight's Paradigm dinner. It should be an interesting and crowded kitchen, with Chris Windus from BlueZoo in Orlando also in as a collaborating guest chef.

Their food and beverage manager was smart enough to insist that I provide a waiver and release of liability before setting foot in the restaurant kitchen. Here is the one I suggested:


I fully understand and acknowledge that:

1. Kitchens involve sharp, pointy, hot, heavy, and/or greasy objects which may have inherent dangers, risks and hazards. If any fingers or other appendages are severed or otherwise damaged in the course of the evening, I will suck it up and deal.

2. Contemporary kitchens often use a variety of products and devices that some people consider unnatural, intimidating, foreign and even dangerous. I agree not to snort or otherwise ingest copious quantities of Activa transglutaminase, not to use the “smoking gun” for anything other than culinary purposes, and not to stick my tongue to the anti-griddle.

3. Kitchen staff often have a, let’s say, unique sense of humor which often involves practical jokes. I hereby assume the risk of: the “hot plate”; duck fat "ice cream"; "mayonnaise creme brulee"; drinks laced with mussels, worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, or Tabasco; and pockets surreptitiously stuffed with raw shrimp or liquid nitrogen (damn "molecular gastronomists"!), or even a whole salad.

4. I may be directed to "chop flour" or get "chicken lips", a "bucket of steam", a "left handed chicken stretcher", "cans of elbow grease", a "parsley curler," a "Kuemmelspaltmaschine,"
a "tomato ripener" or a "grape peeler". I will try not to be too gullible.

5. Some chefs are raging egomaniacs prone to yelling and throwing things or attempted infliction of psychic damage - apparently, especially if their name rhymes with Shmarlie Frotter. I agree that if subjected to such treatment, I will pay them back later when I retell the story to a national audience.

I hereby release Paradigm, and each of its present and former owners, principals, members, agents and employees from any and all liability for damage, losses or personal injury to myself resulting from my participation in such activities.

[*]Mrs. F reminds me that while it's nice of Chefs K and Chad to humor me, I should not begin to delude myself that my rudimentary kitchen skills will be in any way useful.


  1. So if I look north towards Sunny Isles sometime tonight and see a plume of smoke I'll know something went horribly wrong with the immersion circulator. Good luck and we'll see you with all ten fingers hopefully in tact at Crawl #3.


  2. What a great idea! Chef Sandra Stefani had two of her cooking class 'grads' cook in her kitchen at Casa Toscana last month, and it was a huge success. Will you now officially be known as a molecular gastronomer? (God I loathe that phrase.) Good luck!

  3. Hilarious, have fun. I have Johnson & Wales students assist in prep and my classes. Amazed how many want to learn Asian cooking.

  4. I just canceled my reservation ha!!

  5. That's awesome! Can't wait to read about it. Watch those knives.

  6. So, does your arm hurt from washing all of those dishes?