Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Applying For A Job

As there is an open thread on Peoria Chronicle, one thing led to another and the topic of applying for a job came up. This was brought about concerning some of the fashions that people wear today.

I got this feeling that a lot of people are going to expect me to say that you need to go home and put on your "Sunday best" for a job interview. Uh...maybe.

I interview a fair share of people for the company for which I work. You can show up in your Brooks Brothers or Prada. You can show up looking like you just rolled out of bed or make Britney Spears look like she is overdressed. However, if you are really trying to get the job (and sometimes I have to wonder when I talk to people), dressing "up" just shows a bit of respect to a potential employer. Does it help? Most likely so. Do you NEED to? No.

Let me explain. I would rather have someone look me in the eyes, answer my questions directly with some thought and in complete sentences, sit up straight and not mumble. Show some enthusiasm. Turn your cellphone off. Give me reasons why you want THIS job opposed to any other position for which you have applied. Why should I hire you instead of the next person? And THOSE THINGS are more important than how you dress. However, I'm finding these aforementioned traits rarer than an honest politician.

Maybe I'm a rarity in my thought process, but I would rather have someone dressed in jeans and a "T", like Ms. Spears, goth, pants hanging off the butts, etc. who shows some determination and enthusiasm in trying to get a job than the person dressed to the "nines" who sits in the chair slouched over giving me half mumbled two word answers while looking at the floor acting like mom and dad are making them get a job (even if they are 30). However, I would think that one would make every effort to do whatever it took to make a positive impression. Because if all things are equal, the person who did their best to impress me wins: And if that means a collared shirt and a pair of Dockers vs. a pair of sweats and a tank top that reads "Phuk Q", well, I have to say I appreciate the extra effort of the "Dockers".

Now, where I work we do have a dress code policy to which you must adhere when hired, and if you have a problem with that, then we have an issue. I've actually been told that they wouldn't take the position offered if they had to "dress like that". It isn't like it was a pink tutu or a purple dinosaur suit.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hot n' Spicy

No, I'm not talking about my love life or what I had for dinner last night.

Over my years of teaching cooking classes, I get occasional requests to teach a class on hot and spicy foods.

For all of you heat freaks out there, I am going to do so. On Thursday, March 5 from 6-9 PM at From The Field Cooking School, I will be teaching a hands on (that means YOU cook!) class of cooking hot & spicy foods. Items you will be preparing are: Inferno Wings, Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup, The Devil’s Eggs and the ultimate hot & spicy food: Chris Schlesinger’s infamous Pasta From Hell. Also included in this class of capsicum madness will be a recipe for Inner Beauty Hot Sauce (we will be using it in "Pasta From Hell"), which was one of the first of the very hot sauces made, but is no longer in production.

Sign up at the link above.

Causing steam to come out your ears......

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chef Kevin Events

I've updated my website, chefkevincooks.com to include all of my "open to the public" events until mid May. There may be a brunch or two at Panache added to the fray, but this is pretty much it for the moment.

After fighting with my hosting site trying to get all the formatting to appear correctly, I looked at all the events I'm doing and now I understand why I never get any home improvement projects done!!

See You Around The Table.....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Will IT Be There When I Need IT?

As the presidential debates, primaries, etc. are happening, I'm sinking away from the hot issues of the day. My growing concern is Social Security.

I begin to wonder more and more if what I (and all my employers) have paid in will be there when I retire. Since I've been working like a dog since 16 and paying into the system, if I would retire right now, I'd receive a monthly check for about 70% of what I'm currently making. Not shabby, but not enough.

Yet as I am on the latter years of the baby boomers era, will that $$ still be there or will the government pay it to those older than I? I have this fear the latter will occur. What pisses me off is that 1/2 of it is really mine (my employers over the last 25+ years have "generously donated" the other half) and the government has no right to give it away to someone else and not give it back to me....with interest.

The dilemna is the privatizing S.S. I have mixed feelings.

1. There are people, who if given their money, would do the right thing and invest it. I would fall in this category.

2. There are people, who if given their money, would buy Wiis, Prada, lobster tails, 100" LCD TVs and have huge parties that would make Paris Hilton jealous.

The first category of people would probably be far better off. The second category, not so. However, if they did spend all their SS money, the goverment would end up taking care of them anyway. At least they had a good time in the process.

I think the government should give you three options:

1. Leave your $$ and future S.S. $$ with the government. If the Baby Boomers bankrupt SS, the government guarantees you that they will pull out of Iraq so they can afford to pay you a retirement benefit that will allow you to continue to live as you are accustom. In other words, if you're driving a Honda, you won't be driving a Benz with what the government will paying you, but you can afford better than a 1967 Corvair.

2. Take what you put in, or will put in, but leave current and future employer matches with the government and invest at will. You sign an agreement with the government that the only future funds and\or financial support that you will receive from them at retirement age is the amount from your former employers. No bailing your ass out if you go spend crazy on your portion of the SS benefits.

3. You can take all of your current funds and matches and future funds and matches and invest at will. You sign an agreement with the government that you will receive no funds and no financial support from them at retirement age. If you spend it all on ill advised investments like Ethiopean wineries, collectable porn and potatoes in the shape of Elvis's head or just go spend crazy, too bad.

I've got to start looking for what candidates' plans are for S.S.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Local Pioneer to Close

There has been rumor for awhile that Furrow Winery in El Paso was going to close. Confirmation of this was in a recent edition of the Bloomington Pantagraph.

I'm sorry to see them shut down. They were one of the first wineries in Central Illinois. I had been out there several times, although not recently. I used to stop with some frequency on my trips back and forth to Rockford.

I was actually fairly shocked to hear this, though, as there are many more wineries are opening up in Illinois. And if they follow the trends in Missouri, some of these wineries have massive tasting rooms, decks with stunning views, restaurants, banquet centers, regional name entertainment and other festivals and activities that can entertain you for a whole day. And that is apparent by some of the activities that currently happen at other local wineries such as Willett's in Manito, Kickapoo Creek in Edwards and Mackinaw Valley in Mackinaw. Some of these events draw hundreds of people. As the article states, Furrow was a part of a Central Illinois Wine Trail. How it will effect the other wineries in relation to drawing people to central Illinois is unknown, but I'm sure it will not be positive.

I realize that Illinois will never be California, New York or Washington when it comes to number of wineries and the staggering volume of wine these states put out. Another struggle is that Illinois' climate isn't conducive to familiar grape varieties like Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. These grape varieties are a bunch of weenies that cannot tolerate our nasty midwest winters. But there are some really good Vidals, Seyvals, Chardonels, Vignoles, Chambourcins, St. Croixs and Missouri's darling, Norton out there that are really good.

Of course it is going to take time. The older the vines, normally the better the grape, the better the wine (not always, but). As there isn't as much history with some of these grapes, area winemakers have to learn their nuances and temperments and manipulate those traits into world class wines. Missouri has come a long way in 20 years and some of their wines are winning major awards. Give Illinois wineries time and we'll have those types of wines here. In other words, like I always say, support the little independent guy.

I wish the Furrows the best of luck in their future endeavors and thank them for being in the forefront and taking a chance to bring wineries to central Illinois.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I'm in Anti-Customer Service Mode

Not really. Just for a few.

There have been various arguments on various blogs and Peoria.com about customer service. I'm sure for every bad customer service story told, we CS people can tell a story about rude and obnoxious customers. I'm just going to call it a draw as it isn't the point behind this post.

Why am I anti-customer service for a few? Cell phones. I'm tired of people flagging me down for my assistance only to be on their cell and giving me that extended forefinger "one minute" gesture. I'm tired of the cellphone user having a conversation with another person about items, services, etc. my business provides and relaying those messages to me. I've been handed the cell countless times to talk to the person after the "translator" and I aren't getting done what the third party wants. Half the time I don't know if you are talking to me or the person on the cell. I've been on the phone with someone who was also on their cell (I was told this) with another person and was going back and forth. I want to assist you, I just don't want to take 3 times as long to get the task accomplished because of your extracurricular verbal activities.

Want my undivided attention to help you? Then give me your undivided attention and put that damned cellphone away.

And yes, (to quote one of my favorite T-shirt sayings) "I had a bowl of Bitchies for breakfast".

Thank you.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

If this isn't cool....

Ya gotta check out my culinary brother Keith Shank's blog about his recent trip to Mexico. Just too cool.

Willett's Wine & Dine Experience

If you were thinking about attending the February 9 Willett's Winery Wine & Dine Experience, I have bad news. It is sold out. Actually, it has been for awhile.

However, the good news is that the next one is scheduled for April 12 at 6:30 PM at the winery in Manito. Four courses, four wines and entertainment. Cost is $45 per person. More good news: I'm informed by the winemaker that he will most likely have some new wines available for me to match food with by then. Oh, and I got to sample some of these wines sitting in the vats "gettin' their wine thing on". Even in their raw, still fermenting state, there is some serious vino happening down in Manito. I'm holding off on the menu to see if the new wines will be ready so we can showcase them in a "coming out" celebration.

So, don't procrastinate if you are interested. These usually sell out in under a month after they are announced. Call the winery at 968-7070 or e-mail at cris@willettswinery.com

See You Around The Table....

Murder Mystery Theater

Like a good murder mystery?

Willett's Winery and Cellars has a murder mystery theater this upcoming weekend and has a few tickets left. It was (and usually is) a sold out event, however, some cancellations have opened up some tickets. I'm not cooking for this one, so if you are trying to "Navin R. Johnson me", I won't be there :)

Click here for more information. Call Cris or Dan for reservations at 968-7070.

In the next day or two I will be announcing the next Willett's Wine and Dine Experience for which I do cook.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gritting My Teeth.

So, I get this e-mail today and this wine sounds SO WONDERFUL. See if you agree:

2006 Dr. Heyden Oppenheimer Sacktrager Riesling Sp├Ątlese
(this wine comes from the Rheinhessen region of Germany)

"The peach, mango and stone fruit flavors play off the rich texture and snappy acidity in this elegant white. Orange and mineral accents emerge on the finish. Nice juicy aftertaste. You will love it now and surely you should stash a case away to start drinking in 2016." $15.00

But, you & I can't have it. We are deemed not worthy enough to buy & drink it as we live in Peoria, IL. We must be scum or something. Who deems us not worthy? Well, Aaron Schock and a bunch of other "cookoo for cocoa puffs" Illinois lawmakers.

Readers of my blog know I was a HUGE Opponent to the State of Illinois House Bill 429. This bill, now a law, which Aaron was a co-sponsor, makes it illegal (though legal for at least the last decade, plus) to have alcoholic beverages shipped to Illinois from out of state retailers. Yes, yes, you can still get shipments from wineries, but what happens when the winery is not in the US?

However, you or I won't find it in Peoria...or anywhere else in Illinois. Why? "400 cases made". Do a Yahoo! or Google search and you will find one RETAIL wine shop in California that is selling it. Thusly, if you want this wine in Peoria, you CAN NOT have it as it is located in the forbidden zone known as a RETAIL store in CALIFORNIA!

Ok, I can get this one because the stupid law goes into effect June 1. However, in the future I leave the task of procuring wines, like this one, to Aaron Schock. As he was a co-sponsor of this stupid law, I hold him responsible.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

So, It Isn't Trespassing?

I saw something today that got my braincells wondering: A "No Trespassing" sign in both English and Spanish. I started to LMAO, but then it got on my nerves.

So, if you can not read English or Spanish it is OK to trespass? If you say "no", then why have Spanish on the sign at all? Why not German, Polish, Outer Mongolian, Chinese, Italian and about another 200 languages? Now is it the property owner's responsibility to posts sign in all languages to ensure that his property is not encroached upon? Most of my readers are aware that my father came from Germany and did not speak English upon his arrival. Thusly, if he wanted to understand what the hell was going on he learned English or too bad. There were not signs, directions, etc. in both German and English to help him along. I guess that is why I'm not too "understanding" about so much Spanish infused onto everything.

However, running 220 through barbed wire says "No Trespassing" in any language.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Wouldn't You Have Loved To Been In The Room?

According to Yahoo! News, these two guys had the great idea for a tattoo: a .357 Magnum revolver. Ok, there are far worse ideas and designs one could permanently impale on one's body. But they decided to take a LOADED .357 Magnum and TRACE THE IMAGE on to one of their bodies. We all know what happened next.

Can you say Darwin Award nominations?

And if it was a rock?

A man in Florida pops a clam in his mouth and finds a rare violet colored pearl worth a very hearty chunk o' change.

I wonder if it was a rock if he would be so elated or be suing for dental issues?

I Challenge the Peoria AntiPundit to a "Duel"

I hereby challenge the The Peoria AntiPundit to a "duel". Lets see who can complain the most about their most unfavorite tax. Peoria AntiPundit about the $6 "Garbage" Tax or me concerning the Civic Center I.V. known as the HRA Tax.

Gentlemen, at your marks.

(Ok, this is all in fun and humor as Randall and I tend to go off on these two issues.)

The Smoking Ban

Well, everyone can breathe easier now that the no smoking ban is in effect. I couldn't believe my eyes of all the non smokers fighting to get into the Red Barn after midnight. I'm glad the Peoria Police Department was there directing traffic and providing crowd control.

Even though I'm a non smoker (except for a cigar a few times a year), I was strongly against this law. As a former business owner, all it does is allow more government intervention into MY business telling me what to do with MY business, money and livelihood. My theory was, don't like it, don't come here. Can't please everyone.

I would like to read ONE instance where someone had a gun put to their head and was FORCED to go into a business that allowed smoking then FORCED to order food and beverage and forced to consume it. Or one employee who was forced to work in a place that allowed smoking. People had a choice and they chose peer or family pressure to go in to a smoking establishment over their own morals and values and then had the audacity to bitch about it. NO one MADE you; NO ONE compromised YOUR principles but YOURSELF. No one forced you to come in and get "poisoned". Grown adults can make those decisions but a 4 year old strapped into a car seat while mom and dad light up a pack of Camels on the way to the store doesn't. If the government is going to nannize the smoking issue, they should make it a law that you can't smoke in a car if anyone under 18 is in the car. If you have to be 18 to buy smokes, you shouldn't have to be confined to a space and be subjected to smoke against your will until you reach that age. THAT makes FAR more sense IF, unfortunately, the state is going to continue being a nanny.

I hear health care cost will drop because of this. I can't quit laughing. What a line of crap. Just because one can't smoke in a restaurant or bar anymore they are going to quit, become more heathy and it will positively effect their health care? And if enough people in IL do this, health insurance costs will drop? Good to hear my health insurance deductible won't go up next year. (Actually, I wonder if there has been a study done to the effects of fryer grease fumes on lungs of fast food restaurant kitchen employees. I know how your clothes, hair, skin feel and smell after working around that crap for 8 hours. Imagine that in your lungs.. EWWW. If we banned fried food, maybe the obesity problem would decline in this country and insurance rates would drop some more. Oh, wait, that is going against my principle of no one is forcing you to work in a fast food restaurant...call me a hypocrite, but you get my point.)

I hear that IL tax revenues will go up because of this as more people will go out more frequently and spend more money. (Really? And that additional income is coming from where? Money you currently spend at the grocery store?) I say this is a toss up. Follow me on this one. Smokers spend more money on alcohol. You can find all the evidence you want to support this claim on the internet if you choose not to believe me. Because of this ban, I'm sure we will see some places go out of business. How much revenue from taxes, fees and permits will be lost? I just don't see in the near future that enough of the non smoking crowd will pick up the slack to replace the lost revenues that the smokers used to provide plus taxes, fees, permit revenues, etc. from closed businesses. I'm sure in time new businesses will start, it will even out and even suprass current income. But until then, this is what I see: The state starts to whine about loss of revenue due to a law that THEY enacted and to make up for the loss (no matter how short or long lived that may be) decides in their infinite wisdom to increase taxes, costs, fees etc. to make up for it. Of course, when revenues return, they won't rescind the taxes, fees, etc. Kind of like Peoria's HRA tax. And who gets stuck? Businesses paying higher fees for permits, etc. which pass along the cost via food and drink to which the state increases the sales tax rate. Thusly, your $7 burger + 10% Peoria tax ($7.70) goes to a $7.50 burger (state raises the sales tax so now Peoria tax is 10.5%) so your burger is $8.29. Oh, OOPS, my bad. What AM I THINKING?? The state is supposed to be making up towards 3/4 million dollars with the passage of HB429 so they won't need to raise anything.

Ok, this one isn't mine. It was kind of a joke between friends. You know how it goes: silliness brainstorming. As of Jan. 1, smokers have to be 15 feet from the entrance to a building. Are they to guess where 15 feet is? Of course, a smokers 15 feet are going to be less that a non smokers 15 feet. Are the owners of establishments going to have to paint a 15 foot marker on the pavement outside all doorways? Don't laugh. The first time a smoker gets busted for smoking at 14 foot 10 inches he'll pipe up and say "How am I supposed to know where 15 feet is?" and watch the lawsuits fly saying that the establishment didn't provide him with a marked radius of where 15 feet was. I know you're still laughing, but we've all seen silly lawsuits.

I know this is all water under the bridge at this point. I still don't believe that "all the good" that is supposedly to become of this law. Time will tell and I hope I'm wrong.