Yes, He’s Still Here

Wow. It’s been just under two months since I promised a new beginning. So much has changed.

I warned you that my personal life would still play a role in this blog, and it certainly has played a major role in my procrastination in updating. In the last two months, my mother passed away after a long illness, my father sported with death for a couple of weeks, my wife and I relocated and my daughter also moved across town in upstate New York, a couple of hundred miles from where we live. I’ve also been working at the restaurant every weekend for about 36 hours in three days and trying to maintain my other job at SheepsheadBites.com.

It’s been exhausting. But,in some ways, it’s been a good exhausting. The work with Sheepshead Bites is both frustrating and rewarding; helping build my community has always been important to me. Convincing members of the community that they need to support us financially, well that’s another story.

Dealing with a dying mother, sick father and the various inter-dynamics of 3 other brothers; well I don’t think I need to go into details here. Those are the bad exhausting days.

I can’t believe how much I love working at the restaurant. I find the work both strangely fulfilling and surprisingly grueling. I’ve never had blisters on my hands from chopping meat before! All my misconceptions about the glamour of cooking have been taken from me, replaced with the reality of the daily grind, but frankly, its still great. I know we make the same core dishes day-in and day-out, but everyday there’s a creative challenge in preparing the food to Chef Matt’s demanding standards. Most times, I think I succeed. Sometimes, I fail miserably, but I’m learning. Hopefully, I succeed more often than I fail and I continue to learn from my mistakes. I can’t say I’ve made a bad dish yet, but cooking for a restaurant and cooking for competition or home consumption, really are three totally different games.

The restaurant continues to grow as I strive to be earn the respect and continued faith of the owners and management team. They’ve taken a huge gamble with this old fart and I pray that I won’t let them down.

Talk to you soon

 

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A New Beginning

I recently came across an old notebook that was filled with plans for this blog. It’s amazing how much effort was put into those ideas and for all of them to never see fruition. I hate that and today I make a vow to begin again. It’s time for WhiteTrash BBQ to return to the internets.

There will be some major changes in what I write about here.

First off, there will be no more barbecue restaurant reviews. I’ve taken a part-time job at Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue, conveniently located at 433 Third Avenue in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, as a cook. I’m working with some great people and my brother Matt Fisher is the pitmaster there. We’re creating some of the best barbecue New York has ever seen and I’d love for you to come in and try it.

But with the new job, it wouldn’t be fair for me to critique the competition.  So, there will be no more reviews. Or reaction to reviews. I’m not going to play that game.

Secondly, you’ll get the chance to read about what happens when a person follows his dream and makes his passion his work. So far, with only some exceptions, I’ve been loving it. I haven’t felt this good going to work in years. Supposedly Confucius said “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. So far, so good.

Third, you’ll be seeing some of my old ideas re-worked for the new reality I’m facing. When I started this new blog, over two years ago already, I thought I’d leave out my personal life and just write about barbecue. Well, that ain’t going to happen. My life is my life and barbecue has become a major part of it. I will still focus on barbecue, but aspects of my life will creep in from time to time.

And lastly, I titled this post “A New Beginning.” I promise that I’ll be writing again.  It’s time and I feel I have something to say again. I’ll talk to you all again soon.

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A Barbecue Pit Grows In Brooklyn – As Does A Friendship

Sometimes a gesture turns out to be the most meaningful. I was floored when I read this article in Food Republic. My friend Matt Fisher is much too generous in the praise, but I certainly feel the same way about him.

Here’s the first part of the article. For the rest, please go to Food Republic’s site.

Matt Fisher and Bill Fletcher are serving St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken wings and brisket.
Matt Fisher and Bill Fletcher are serving St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken wings and brisket.

After building a successful New York City advertising agency, Bill Fletcher sold his share to a partner to focus on establishing a “better work-life balance.” Apparently, work-life balance also includes mastering the art of slow-cooking various cuts of meat in the smoke of blistering maple and red oak logs.

With Fletcher’s, his newly opened barbecue restaurant in the white-hot Brooklyn food neighborhood known as Gowanus, the former ad man has partnered with one of the best in the business. Matt Fisher formerly ran the smokers at award-winning Wildwood and R.U.B (Righteous Urban Barbecue) before hooking up in 2012. We caught up with the pair to find out what went into the opening, and their stance on sauce. As in, is sauce even needed!?

Where did you travel to research, in advance of opening Fletchers?
Pitmaster Matt Fisher: I have eaten barbecue all over the country, with particular focus on Texas and Missouri. Of course, I have eaten all over the east coast and in all the great barbecue joints in New York City.

Owner Bill Fletcher: I eat barbecue everywhere I go. I did very little traveling specifically to open Fletcher’s. It was more of realizing a lifelong dream and teaming up with Matt to define what our flavor profiles were going to be right here in Brooklyn.

Do you have a favorite style of American barbecue?
Matt: I am partial to the balance of sweet, tangy, tart and spicy that’s associated with Kansas City barbecue. In general, I prefer barbecue that has just enough spice to keep me reaching for a beer!

Bill: Not unilaterally. I lean towards vinegar and pork, lightly glazed ribs, and smoky fatty brisket.

Who did you talk to in researching? Did you have a mentor?
Matt: I’ve learned something from everyone I ever cooked with and worked with. All of the fantastic pitmasters that carry on the tradition of low and slow barbecue daily. But these days, Robbie Richter and Robert Fernandez (ed: I corrected my last name) are the barbecue friends I turn to most for guidance and experience.

Bill: I talked to anyone who had experience in barbecue, restaurant management and construction. My good friend owns Baked in Red Hook and helped me tremendously when it came to core operational stuff. I spent a weekend with Mike and Amy Mills from 17th Street BBQ out in Murphysboro, Illinois to see how they run their empire. That experience helped to confirm that I could pull the whole thing off.

Read the rest HERE.

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2013

Hi folks. I’m still here.

2013 is a year of hope for me. Things are looking up and I hope that things continue to improve. I’m not sure it can get much worse than 2012, but I won’t tempt the fates.

We’re moving to a new home soon, and there are some new career options on the table. My health has stabilized for the moment, and my daughter’s made the dean’s list.

Look for more barbecue related posts soon. WhiteTrash Barbecue will live again soon.

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More

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I’m Tired.

I’m tired of being sick.

I’m tired of being depressed.

I’m tired of not being able to lift more than five pounds.

I’m tired of not being able to walk a block without having to stop and catch my breath.

I’m tired of being sad.

I’m tired of being alone.

I’m tired of not being me.

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One Day Less

And I’m feeling like shit. I’m not focusing on all of this. I’m working hard to make it better. I’m following all the doctors’ advice, taking all my pills, staying on a low sodium, low fat diet and still trying to loose weight event though I’m thinner now than anytime in my adult life. I’m under 200lbs. I don’t remember being under 200lbs since high school. I’ve lost so much weight that I my wedding ring falls from my fingers.

I don’t know why today is hard. I’ve been breaking into tears for no reason at all. The sadness slowly pulls together like a tornado, until it forms a cone and unleashes its vengeance suddenly and without warning destroying all in its path while scattering the rest of your emotions, strengths and weaknesses in all directions. It leaves me hurting, scarred and scared, grasping, trying to put a life together again that I was never really happy with in the first place.

Today sucks. I’m sinking.  I need to get my head in a better place and think about what I can do, not what I can’t.

I was never a quitter. I’m still not.

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1,800 Days

I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure on August 14, 2012. My doctors haven’t mentioned this to me, but according to various sources, the 5 year survival rate is less than fifty percent. The ten year survival rate is less than twenty percent. Not exactly great odds.

So, I have eighteen hundred days left, or less, left to live, at least statistically. It’s hard to believe and frankly  more than a little frightening.

Tonight I wonder about my mark on the world and realize what a failure I have been.

1,800 days.  Can I change my life in what remains of my life?

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Memorial Day Cook – The Truth

Yes, we had a cookout on Memorial Day, but it wasn’t exactly what I had planned. Matt Fisher from Fletcher’s BBQ and his family joined mine and we cooked in my backyard.

Well, I didn’t cook. Matt did.

Matt lit the fire and manned the grill.

We had chicken legs seasoned with rub from the magic rub jar.

We had some sort of chuck roast that Matt butterflied and rubbed with my beef rib rub.

We had grilled portabello mushrooms, which Matt grilled.

We had a green salad that my daughter made.

We had a pear cobler that my wife baked. We had an ice cream cake that Amy brought.

Oh, I did do one thing. I bought a loaf on lard bread from Vito’s Bakery in Sheepshead Bay.

We didn’t take any pictures.

All and all it was a good day.

 

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Memorial Day Cook

Holy shit – he wrote cook. Yes, unbelievers, I am actually lighting a fire this Memorial Day.

Ya see, my brother Matt and his wonderful wife Amy are stopping by Brooklyn tomorrow. Matt, in case you don’t know, is the pitmaster at Fletcher’s BBQ opening soon in the realty-agent christened Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, USA. Matt honed his skills at RUB BBQ in Manhattan – so I’m telling you, the boy can cook.

Continue reading

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