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a lifetime ago.

Before I left Atlanta I spent some time volunteering for a restaurant industry non-profit. I'm still a member of their Facebook page, so I often see notifications from people looking for a new server gig or others wanting to hire line cooks or dish or prep.  One of the recent posts was from a new restaurant conducting "open interviews" for two weeks. When I read this, my brain went soft with nostalgia.  In January 1994 I moved back to San Francisco for 9 months as I was taking some art classes, and during this time tried to find a restaurant job.  I'm not sure what SF is like these days but back then if there was one job opening it had about 300 people applying for it.  Before moving downtown I was staying with some friends in Inner Richmond (at the time I think we just called it Richmond), and was excited to see a job opening posted at a local café around the corner from the house, so I arranged to get an interview.

The café is still there - the Blue Danube on Cleme…
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I'd like to preface this by stating that not all my acquaintances are pills or horrible people. However I do like to write about the ones that are because not only is it therapeutic for me to get it out but these are the people who stir the emotions and grind my gears.

I ran into an acquaintance last night. She's one of those people who occasionally says things that are rather awkward. I was in a conversation last year with someone else about the BusMap app on my iPhone and how I ride the city bus all the time, and this woman interrupted my conversation with a blustery, "Wait... did you just say you ride the bus? Why on earth would you do that?".

"I take the bus all the time if I need to go someplace that's not walking distance. Plus it's air conditioned".

"Walk?", she said, looking puzzled. "You also walk here?". She laughed. "Why would you walk when you can drive?".

"Because I don't drive. And yes, I walk eve…

Let's all be Julia when we grow up.

I may have previously mentioned that I work for Australians. And today I'm doing a bit of baking as tomorrow (26 January) is Australia Day, which is the official National Holiday, kind of like our 4th of July in the US or the 14th of July in France. There seems to be controversy going on with this particular holiday, much like in the US with Columbus Day, which I won't get into here but is worth the read. Tomorrow I shall deliver a few cake type things, and Sunday i'll be attending an Australia Day event where I plan to partake in a bit of alcohol to not only celebrate my association with the country I've yet to step foot in but also to mark the end of my latest Whole30 chapter. See, national holidays are the same the world over; they involve days off and alcohol.

Having never been to Australia, and not having Australian friends prior to moving to Vietnam, my Australian food knowledge was limited to pavlovas (and that's a bone of contention Australia has with New …

The art of the business card.

When I first arrived in Saigon I attempted to meet as many people as I could in the hospitality and F&B business. I volunteered for a food festival, though my request was initially met with skepticism as working for free isn't considered normal in Vietnam (but they did take me on anyway, which was fortunate because that food festival is where I met the core group of people who are now my friends).  I read articles and blog posts and emailed the authors for advice or introductions. In the end it was all worth it because I did find several ways into the job market. But there's a phenomenon here which I find rather entertaining, which I briefly touched on before, and that is the pomp and circumstance of passing out business cards.

Business cards may be mostly obsolete in the Western world (except for networking events, and even then you're busy adding people to your LinkedIn app via your smartphone), but here if you go to an event, whether its for networking or dinner or…

My Second Annual Whole30.

This year we decided to do it all over again.

Much like the previous year, this past November and December were insane. Work events, social events, wine flowing, bread and dessert and empty calorie consumption at an all time high. Right before Christmas I told Larry how excited I was for January 1 as I had just about had it with the bacchanalian lifestyle that comes with the festive season when you're a chef.  I don't normally eat and drink everything in sight, but that time of year is ripe for the overdoing. It was just Too Much, and it culminated on New Year's Eve as I dove right smack into 2018 consuming some type of caramel-flavored shooter concoction that a restaurateur buddy kept handing me. Note that I don't usually drink shots, and keep my alcohol consumption to wine and the occasional beer or gin. Let's just say that 2018 began with a hangover of epic proportions that I never want to match again.

The reason that January is such a good fit for beginning a …

Follow the moon!

An acquaintance of mine came through town a few months back, and over drinks one night he regaled us with tales from a recent trip to Morocco.  One afternoon he was strolling around the old medina in Marrakech, a vibrant area of narrow ancient alleyways lined with stalls and vendors selling everything from spices to fruit to clothing to household items.  As the sun was setting, Simon noticed everyone packing up and retreating into their homes, and he realized the old alleyways did not have street lighting so he decided to find his way out.  But the sun set so quickly and he was soon left in near total darkness, very much alone. There was no cell service, so he couldn’t use Google maps to find his way out. He had a moment of panic. Using his cell phone for light, he tried to remember his way back through the maze when suddenly out of nowhere an old man appeared. Simon frantically trotted up to him. “Do you speak English? Français? Español?”, he said. “Can you show me the way out of th…

the rooster.

Last week I noticed that I hadn't heard my neighbor's rooster in a while. He wasn't one of those obnoxious types who crows at all hours of the night, so it took me a while, over the din of the ongoing and relentless construction noises next door, to notice that he'd stopped crowing. When I first moved here I loved the fact that chickens and roosters (and even the occasional duck) run around in urban areas. I have this romantic idea of them all running around in packs at night, like dogs or wolves, but that's actually not the case. Most of the time when you see a rooster he's by himself or with a female companion or two, and they're either in a chain pen or anchored by a rope lead of some sort. Last year during Tet while walking down a dusty side street in District 2 we came upon a gorgeous specimen of a fowl, standing proud at least 2 feet tall, feathers as clean as a whistle and lording it over the entire street while untethered. People tend to take care …