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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

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Do we really need Twitter's help to find the ketchup?
Do we really need Twitter's help to find the ketchup?

You may ask yourself, "Well how did we get here?"

In 1748 the very first form of refrigeration was demonstrated at the University of Glasgow by William Cullen. Although he was unable to put this process into a practical form, he is credited with leading the way to commercial refrigeration as we know it today.

So just last night I happened to be out perusing a local appliance store, and I stumbled upon the latest modern refrigerator. Technology has come so far as to provide us the capability to tweet while pulling a frozen, one-pound heap of processed Hungry Man out of the freezer.

Is this really what we need? Sure, I use this communication medium as a way to connect with many people, mostly for sharing information – whether personal, family related or even a dish we cooked that night. But, I have never had this thought: "Hey, where is the ketchup? And shouldn't I tweet this for support or help?" It just seems things have gotten silly and somehow we have forgotten what is important.

How about we slow things down? Maybe tweet less or not all. Maybe we shouldn't post every random thought that pops into our heads. How many times have you read the most banal, "How is the weather?" posts?

My preferred choice of connecting with the human race is through the experience of a great meal. In some of my most memorable dining experiences the food wasn't even that good. Many years ago, I was lucky to have cooked for my late grandfather before he passed away.

He was an Italian mason who built many buildings in Chicago, an incredibly successful businessman and an all-around class act; the kind of guy that men wanted to be like and all the women wanted. The point is, the risotto I cooked had crunchy peas, the food had been transported between homes and wasn't hot enough.

Regardless, we had Louis Prima playing in the background and my grandfather with his oxygen mask on, was still dancing with my mother and it was a wonderful time. He didn't care about the food. And now enough time has passed and most have forgotten the riso…

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Chef Jason Gorman and his first sous chef, Neal Morganstein, one of the many talented assistants Gorman has worked with over the years.
Chef Jason Gorman and his first sous chef, Neal Morganstein, one of the many talented assistants Gorman has worked with over the years.

Success in the kitchen takes a team

When I speak to guests that are dining, they often mention how wonderful everything was, how they are huge fans and what an incredible meal they just had experienced. That feedback is what it is all about.

The fact that somehow as chefs we had the opportunity to make some kind of impact on their lives with something we have cooked for them is huge. This is what drives chefs – creating that emotional connection with the guest.

It is not always the case; every restaurant has its bad days and nights. So many things can go wrong, from a missed food delivery, an injury, a sickness, a crazy guest request that slows down another table, mis-ordered dinners, the owner is having a bad day, the general manager thinks he's the chef, over-cooked food, cold food, salty food, bad training on the chef's part, a missed call to the cooks (chefs make mistakes, too).

Every restaurant is dysfunctional; the good ones just hide it better.

However, when it goes well, 90 percent of the time the chef gets all the credit and somehow the customers think we chefs are in the kitchen alone. Well, today, reality cooking television shows have shed some light on what really goes on.

But, the point I'm making is this; behind every great chef is an even better support team of individuals that are selfless, hard working, that restrain their frustration, bite their tongues – most of the time (you know who you are), put up with our egos, our tirades, our bad days and still come to work committed to making great food. It is these ladies and gentleman that bring our visions to life.

I always feel lucky when people tell me how amazing things are; lucky that I was fortunate to be taught by patient chefs and supported by compassionate people. I'm not a screaming plate-throwing Englishman by any means, but that doesn't mean I'm not grateful. Thank you.

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Chef Jason Gorman is here at OnMilwaukee.com, just for the fond of it.
Chef Jason Gorman is here at OnMilwaukee.com, just for the fond of it.

Just for the fond of it ...

Fond: The dark brown bits of meat left behind from the high-heat cooking are called "fond" and are as intensely flavored as pan drippings from roasted meats.

OK, a somewhat clever title for random musings and rants about everything food. I think it's important to preface that by no means am I professional writer, nor do I profess to be. However, what I hope to accomplish with this blog is an exchange of ideas, experiences, opinions on the culinary world, how it relates to all of us, and ultimately entertain not just myself, but you, as well.

I've been eating for almost 41 years, cooking for 26 years, and have had the privilege of working with some of the country's top chefs and restaurants. I did not attend culinary school, but if you've met me, you might notice I affectionately "wear" my degree.

I've been fortunate enough to have worked in many different aspects of the hospitality world, from fast casual service, ma and pa restaurants, catering, 1,000-room plus hotels, independent stand-alone restaurants, some corporate chains, a casino, 4- and 5-diamond restaurants, even a steakhouse and now the state's No. 1 boutique hotel.

That's 26 years reduced down to a paragraph, but it didn't really start there. It started, I'm sure as for many chefs, maybe unbeknownst to them, in their own homes. I had no inkling of my future as a chef; I was to be destined for art, theater or music – certainly not cooking.

I owe quite a bit to my parents. My mother helped me develop the emotional connection between food and loved ones, and my father grew up growing sweet corn, soybeans and raising sheep in Illinois. This was the foundation that connected the concept of farm to table cooking for me. Which once again has become the new trend that really isn't new at all. But I'm glad that it's in-the-now.

It makes my job that much easier to have access to incredibly farm-fresh ingredients, which can only enhance your experience.

In the coming weeks, I welcome feedback, questions, c…

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