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I am not Chef.  If I considered myself one –  it would be a disservice to those that spent their life savings to attend culinary school, trained in Europe, or exhausted their lives on the line.  I think my true love for food started growing up in Cleveland.  I had a summer job during high school & college at Salmon Dave’s in Rocky River, OH.  My father’s graphic design firm was above the restaurant where he and my mother were regulars.  While my parents afforded me a privileged life with a private school education, they insisted that I learn what it is to work.  So there I was at Salmon Dave’s, a Pacific Northwest style fish house on Lake Erie, washing dishes and scraping salmon skin off broiler pans at the tank

I learned a lot about the food industry during this time, and a lot about food.  There was always this down time (somewhere between the end of the lunch rush and crush of saute pans, utensils, and mise-en-place bins from the line cooks at the end of the night) where I would hang out at the expo station and help garnish food, wipe plate rims, and line up food tickets.  In the restaurant business it doesn’t take much to assume other hats, it is in fact the nature of the business.  Stick around at a place long enough and there is surely a pantry chef, a prep cook, a food runner, or a waiter, that doesn’t show up.  When you are an eager 16-year-old kid, with a shred of responsibility, a manager will thrust you into these roles.  So, when a prep cook doesn’t show up, you end up wrapping house salads and scooping chocolate mousse desserts into champagne flutes .  When the pantry chef is in the weeds, you shuck oysters, or slice and plate tuna sashimi.  You get called in on your night off to bus tables, expedite and run food, even wait tables.  Learning the trades of both front and back of the house gave me a far greater appreciation of food service employees, and the hard work they put in, to create the finished product on our plates. 

I no longer work in the food service industry – I hold a good job with a great engineering company.  Today, my career affords me the ability to go out and try new foods, new restaurants, new experiences.  I love having a great meal at a restaurant and trying to recreate their work of art in my own kitchen.  While challenging, it serves as therapy after a long day of spreadsheets, number crunching, and Gantt Charts.  I often think back upon my experiences and sometimes think my work would be more rewarding in a restaurant, creating dishes people crave and become eager to return for more. 

I owe a lot of thanks to my wife, Jennifer, for driving me to do this blog. Her being a techno-file and all suggested that I start writing down my creations in a book so I could cook them more than once… I said a book? Why not one of those blog things like the one you set up for our family photos? So here we are. This blog is more for me then anyone else, but hopefully it might inspire you to get in the kitchen.

Kyle Strickland

email me at : kylewstrickland AT

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