Archive for ‘Hospitality Industry’

January 31, 2011

Bari: Di Cosimo Pizzeria, picture expension.

I think Pizzeria di Cosimo, from Bari was one of my first posts on the blog, and since it`s been one of the most popular ones. Especially in the recent weeks, it was one of the most googled article from Wonderingchef. I decided to add some more photos, for the ones who are interested. Puglia is an up and coming travel points among bloggers and food lovers, the recent year has really done well for it`s popularity. And if you trust me, you`ll belive me it is worth to visit! Nothing is better than picking up some fresh giant green olives from one of the local markets, and pretty much eat your way trough the whole day! Also, after visiting New York, I have to say, Bari is one of the most cheapest places to eat around Europe, or pretty much anywhere!

So…. 3 pictures from Di Cosimo!

Picture 1: Since my first visit to Bari I`m addivted to Panzerotto. Small big, I don’t care as long as It`s fried! I’m not really a big fan of it`s ovenbaked version. I don`t know why , it`s just nothing special.  The fried version however, just had me at hello! It`s very similar to a hungarian langos – fried dough, but most of the time we eat it with sour creme and cheese. Well let me say the tomato sauce-mozarella cheese combo is even better. On this picture you can see a fried and an al forno panzerotto.

Picture 2: My latest discovery is pizza pana. It was fantastic! Also very simple, and I can`t believ I havent thought about it myself. This is pretty much, a simple pizza, with the tomato sauce basic, on top with fresh cooking creme. We have creme based pizzas here but that`s it, it`s never mixed with the tomato sauce, but it damn right should be! Try at home if you want, or at Cosimo, it`s even better:)

Picture 3; Pizza nd pizzella. Pizzella is a pizza, it`s just a small version. The food prices here are relatively small, price for a pizza is about 5 Euros, for a pizzella is 4 as far as I remember. I would suggest, if you are hungry order a panzerotto and a pizzella, so you can try as many things as possible. Also I pretty much described what Di Cosimo sells, These are the 2 items on the menu. Try and go early, otherwise you’ll be fighting for your food with the locals!

January 24, 2011

New York: Les Halles Review

Les Halles Downtown
15 John Street (off Broadway)
New York, NY 10038
212-285-8585 phone, 212-791-3280 fax

Yes I`m one of those who admire Anthony Bourdain. It`s not because I`m a chef and I idolize him, or because I have to like him because it’s a written law..No I like him because he is cool and honest. Anyway this post is not about Anthony Bourdain, it’s about Les Halles, who is already “Long gone” if I want to quote ZAGAT`s 2011 review!  Still, there`s no Les halles without Bourdain, he is the reason foodies all over the world get excited even by just mentioning the name. It’s a little bit like mentioning Ferra Adrian or El Bulli, but a bit more realistic and affordable way.  The brasseries cookbook is available almost all over the world, written of course by “you know who”, and has recipes in it, which you can still order from the menu. Yes i do own the book…cooked from it? To be honest not yet, but planning, cos even the most simplest things like, tomato salad and french fries has a new level of approach in it.   So yes, I couldn`t wait, to finally dine at the famous Les Halles and taste the fries!

Of course not only the fries, to be honest if I had the capability ive would have eaten the whole menu, but I couldn`t even finish my own 2 portions.  Note to self the american “bigger portion” is different from all over the world, by translation it would be like “It’s a bigger portion” meaning”it is massive”!

Its January, the snow storm CNN was talking about has arrived. It is as big as it managed to clear the streets of Manhattan from people, and everybody decided to stay in. Well, almost everyone. As we arrive to Les Halles to out pretty late dinner reservation, something unexpected happens…the restaurant is empty! The weather is just as cold as it managed to freeze the citizens appetite and leave most places empty. Well,  crowd or no crowd we are eating here tonight! As for the service, it was pretty good, fast, and polite.  Hoping it is about the same when the place is full of costumers.  The menus are the same that were on the website no changes there, also there are not much specials tonight so we already pretty much know what we are going to eat.  The appetizers are home made terrine, and toasted brie with honey and black pepper. We get them in no time, but im not really impressed. Also I don’t know what I really expected? So the most simplest foods if they are done in Les Halles are going to taste and look different? Well, they don`t, and they didn`t. The presentation was a bit boring, as the taste was alright, but, I expected a bit more, a twist or a secret ingredient. The terrine might have been a bit of work, but the toasted brie wasn`t anything more, what an unexperienced cook couldn`t make at home.

For main course I decided to be a bit more adventurous so, i picked the raw meat and the raw egg. Yes I had a beef tartare, which is a bit of a risky order, but I figured it is a Tuesday, the stock must be fresh, it is made at the table and we have to live an adventurous life, so I went for it!. The portion was quite big, it was made at my table, but the ingredients for me were a bit surprising. As so far, from my dad (who is a chef for 30 years now) I only saw the mustard-butter-egg-salt-pepper-onion version for the mix. Here instead, were some capers, and tabasco, parsley, among the onion and mustard, it was nice, actually it was more then nice, it was indeed very tasty! It came with the famous thin and crispy fries, and side salad. The meat had a beautiful pink-red colour even long after the mix, and very fresh taste. I couldnt stop ordering bread for the tartar ( we eat it with toast, hungarian is a funny nation). It was a good choice, I didn`t have tartare for a long time. My dinner partner had “Choucroute Garnie” which might sound french, indeed it is a very German selection. It is a very typical german meal, which is the favourite among tourists at the Xmas markets. It’s a Frankfurter, a white sausage, a slice of smoked pork loin, and sour cabbage aka. “sauerkraut”. You can like or hate this dish, I guess there’s absolutely no fantasy in it, and you don`t need to b a good chef to prepare it.  Of course he got a pretty big portion from, it, as much i tried to warn him, he didn`t listen to me.  Later he admitted, he should have taken the tuna, as much heavy the meal was, it wasn`t too tasty.  Of course there was no room for dessert.

It was a nice dinner, but I’ve been missing something. Maybe more people in the restaurant, and a bit more twists in the food, or just maybe a unique taste. Maybe this is what happens when you raise the bar too high, and forget why You went there on the first place.

January 18, 2011

Brussels: Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Place du Jeu-de-Balle 1 Marolles

Brussels Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Brussels Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Belgian chocolate, Beer, Waffle, Smurfs, many things a country can be famous for, and yet have such an unknown cousine, why unknown? As they don`t have one. Ok I know it’s a bit harsh, but lets face it, it is true. As Belgium and it`s capital can be the dream destination for sweet-lovers and dessert enthusiasts, as much that’s all the city has to offer culinary vise. Also even in some restaurants we have to watch out , as Brussels famous restaurant street, which offers lunch and dinner menus is just a giant rip-off. If look carefully all the menus are exactly the same, and our food will come out of the freezer, into the microwave and on our plates, all this for 12 euros least. Of course you can eat well, and have a tasty dinner and in the city, but in this case some local advise from a friend or from a hotel, or guide is very necessary. Still, you’ll find almost the same things everywhere. The city is undergoing a Spaghetti Bolognese and Chilli con Carne phase, so try and not be too picky. On the other hand you will find a chip shop almost on every corner, if you are not too adventurous, it can be a nice substitute for a couple of meals.

Brussels Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Frambois Beer at Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Brussels Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Onion soup with cheese at Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Brasserie la Clef d`Or, is one those places, where you would`nt just walk-in, well, first as it looks a bit dirty, and you are not really sure they cook there. But it might be your best meal in Brussels.   somewhere between the main train station and the city center. So it is a little bit off the radar, despite the local flea market which is right next to it. As we walk in, we already see, yes most of the people here are locals. Some don`t even order, just take their seat, and a beer will be served to them immediately. The staff is friendly, and the service is quite fast. And yes, there`s food, of course not a huge variety of it, but right enough for a bistro. The Brasserie is famous of it`s home-made soups, and the stoemp. What is a stoemp? It`s a traditional Belgian and dutch mashed potato with some other root vegetables included, like broccoli, or leek. Here it’s served on a slice of bread,with some fried bacon.  Theres of course Bolognese and chili on the menu. Also a few version of croque`s. But let me say, in Brussels I was disappointed in the croque monsieur. As it is only toasted cheese and ham sandwich, and there’s no bechamel inside, and no butter-parmesan crust. The onion soup here was very nice, served with some fresh baguette, the stoemp was big and filling, the beer was nice and cold. My fixation is the Frambois beer which is raspberry beer, it is nice sweet and sour, must try!

Brussels Stoemp at Brasserie a la clef d`Or

Stoemp avec Lard

The restaurant is one of those places where you just want to hang out, with friends, or just sit down and read a book. It does have a friendly and cosy atmosphere, and I pretty much wanted to stay there all day. If you are in Brussels, it would a mistake to leave it out!

January 17, 2011

New York: Chelsea Market in words and pictures

Chelsea Market

75 9th Avenue (Between 15th and 16th streets), New York

Chelsea Market Website

Chelsea Market building New York

Chelsea Market building New York

This enclosed shopping center and food court was once home of the famous Oreos, and is now one of the No.1 meeting point of the city’s gourmet food lovers. Naturally I had to visit it. If you want a piece of advise, you won`t have breakfast before you go there. The market has plenty to offer! From cupcakes to foccacia, from risotto to sushi, even if you are picky, you`ll want to try them all.

Chelsea Market, New York, Amys Bakery

Chelsea market Amy`s Bakery

Gourmet food tours, should be the best way to visit the area. The tours are available on the markets website. Unfortunately I didn’t know about these, and only discovered them when we arrived to the market, they seemed fun and interesting, and surely You can try, and taste more products this way, also you can learn some insight stories about the establishments. Next time I visit I`ll surely join one of them, but not only the market`s but whole a whole Chelsea tour.

Chelsea Market- Amy`s Bakery, Lobster`s place

Amy`s Bakery, Lobsters place, Chelsea Market New York

2 of my favourite businesses were “Amy`s Bakery” and “Lobster`s Place”- even thou I dont` eat seafood. If you are a sushi lover I would strongly recommend to pick up 1 or 2 plates of freshly made rolls there, or just look at the making process from the window. And of course fresh lobsters and plenty other seafood is available. What I liked the most, is the presentation of different products, from all around the market, everything is so organized, colourful and creative! And most of the time, open, so you can look at the production process of several bakery, or restaurants, or pretty much anything.

Chelsea Market, New York, Buon Italia

Chelsea market, New York, Buon Italia

Chelsea and it`s market should be a foodies dream destination when visiting New York Ci, it`s a nice walk from Times Square for the more adventurous tourists!


Chelsea market, New york- Buon Italia

Buon Italia, Chelsea market, New York


November 7, 2010

I now introduce You to th cruise ship advantures!

If you work in travel and hospitality meaning anything between hotel manager and  dishwasher, the “cruise ship” talk must have come up from time to time. It always sound so wonderful, just like invitation to the military “lifetime opportunity, great pay, management position, travel the world etc” slogans, which already sounds too good to be true. Well they are.

In hospitality, we all know this is hard work, long work, and a different lifestyle. But on the other hand hospitality work is hard and long and it is a different lifestyle! Also a lifestyle where is relatively easy to find a job, but its hard to find a good paying one, one with good reputation, or one where you not going to be surrounded with complete assholes, or to be used and abused at. Or just being layd off from 1 minute to the other.  If you tried almost everything, or had a bad experience, or just completely ran out of money, and have no idea how to get out of the debts, or just simply want to try something different you do start thinking about the cruise ships.

What do you need for the ship?  Education is important, for some positions, lets say kitchen and front desk etc, where you studied and how many experience you have is pretty important. Languages. English and German is minimum, but the more the merrier! Again work experience is good, but lets say in housekeeping is not so important, you don’t have to spend years in the industry, but if you don’t have experience at all, it will be hard to get in! Be open-minded and friendly, you will be working with many different people, maybe from all over the World, you’ll learn tolerance is good! As I told you it is hard work, so be ready for working hard, without complaining!

Yes it is true, it is good money! And we are talking about very good money, also no expenses, as there’s no rent or bills on the ship. You get crew meals, some drinks, aaaaaaaaaand I guess that’s it. Be ready for working 7 days a week, 15 hours/day, no days off, maybe a holiday for 10 days or so in every 3 months.  Be ready for sharing a cabin with someone who has completely different habits then you do, and be ready to live and work with people you don’t necessarily like. Be ready for not being in daily contact with your loved ones, as there barely internet connection, or phone reception.

It does sound a bit depressing isn`t it?  But when you are there it is not so bad after all. You find that the people on board most likely are well-trained professionals, who chose this lifestyle almost after college. They are nice and friendly, even if you are not a fan of everybody you’ll get along and will be able to find friends. The ship stops almost everyday, so most likely you going to be able to go out for a walk, or shopping, or massage or whatever you like, you can travel around on the company’s expenses, visiting places, that maybe you would never do, on your own free will. You can save up money, as you don’t have expenses, only the stuff, food, drink, sweets, clothes whatever you buy for yourself. But let me tell you, shopping sometimes is very tempting, pretty much as one for of entertainment after the time spent on board.

So what can you do on board? It also depends on the ship you are on. The difference between the river and the ocean cruises, is that the ocean cruise sucks your soul, and you’ll turn into a zombie pretty soon, so they have a bit more entertainment..lets say gym, or free internet. River cruises, are even lighter on the choices, after work you can either chill in your cabin, read, or watch a film. Or you can go to the crew room, hang out with the people you see everyday, and join or look at the alcoholics, doing they daily routine, emptying the vending machine, and sculling beer all night.  So there`s no other way to put it there IS drinking, there is heavy drinking, and you need to watch out cos you can easily be a part of it!

Well this is my general “know how” handbook about cruise ship work. I’ll b back with more posts, explaining the work and the lifestyle a bit deeper. If you are planning, to get on board, it will be interesting to read, as the same rules apply, wherever you are!


Thank you for stopping by!




September 17, 2010

Pictures: The CLINIC Bar Singapore

The Clinic- Pictures by Tibor Magyar

When i started writing The Wondering Chef, I wanted to feature some interesting bars/restaurants from all over the World, well from places which i visited. Lately I concentrated more on cooking, as I had some personal time aside restaurant work, had more time to develop my own recipes, and take pictures. But as this supposed to be a cooking and traveling blog, I want to make a “travel come-back” with Singapore’s bizzzzar Bar – The CLINIC.

The CLINIC- Pictures by Tibor Magyar

Whats The CLINIC? It`s a bar where they serve alcohol. They serve alcohol in a wheel chair, waiters run around in scrubs, and the surgery table is where they mix your cocktails. Well if you have the stomach for the black humor and want to have a complete different drinking experience, check this place out when you visiting Singapore.  Also the city is foodies and party paradise, so it`s very sure they gonna come up with an even more and interesting bar/restaurant idea. The Clinic is still unique, not just in Singapore, but all around the World. What more can I say? The pictures should speak for themselves. Of course don’t book a plane ticket just because of this, but if you are there, well dare to go for a check-up:)

More Information and address heres The CLINIC

For More Pictures Please Check out The Gallery

August 17, 2010

Cooking schools- Great fun or Great rip-offs?

In the last 5 or so years cooking and chefs are everywhere! On the cover of magazines, movies, television shows, and Disney cartoons. In the World of ready made supermarket foods, organic markets and gastro shows are rapidly growing like mushrooms. Now everybody wants to cook and have a bite of the industry. New cooking schools are opening up for the ones who are interested, or want to go for a date, or just for the ones who want to impress their guests or want to learn a healthy living. To be honest there’s nothing wrong with that. The wrong part comes when one`s think that they can put together a decent lasagna at home, or like to host dinner parties instantly think they can make it in this business.

On TV and in the magazines it all looks so easy. A well organised chef in a well organised kitchen, cooks a fantastic looking meal within 30 minutes. The restaurant around the corner is packed every night “They sure do an amazing turnover, sure they don’t have money problems”. They don`t realise that the restaurant 2 blocks away closing down and opening again in every 6 months just because people who run it, don’t actually know what they are doing. If you are just about to go to culinary college, and you doing this because of the money, you better turn around and do something else. Yes you can earn, with hard work, and hard work,and hard work, you can also make it big with more hard work and a bit of luck.

Why am I writing this?

I been looking at some local cooking schools. The ones you can attend once a week or a month if you want to. You don’t need to be a chef, can learn some basic cooking ideas, and can spice up your life with some gastro knowledge and some healthy and interesting food. To be honest there are some really great ones Worldwide, not to mention some big city residents are just spoiled with choices. Pastry, japanese, cocktail, italian, butchery you name it. These are made for fun. You not going to be a kick ass chef, but hopefully you not going to burn your water. I`m actually a big fan of these schools, people can actually learn some stuff from basic cuts to complicated dishes. More about fresh produce, and how not to poison themselves with Chez Microwave best offs. Soon I will be working at one of these places in Budapest for a few months and Im very excited, especially about the working with people part. How non chefs see the kitchen and the cooking. It will be interesting.

But I came across some ads saying: “Open your dream restaurant” “Become a celebrity chef in no time” “Cook with the best”  “Learn everything you wanted to know about wines and food”- all these in 2 hours/week for 2 moths.  Before you sign up for any of these and pay at least of the amount of 500 pounds or more ask yourself the question: “Really?”  So really all you have to do is, attend this class and you going to know all about restaurants? cooking?wine? pastry?photography? design? accounting? menu planning? ingredients? So all the people who made it big just attended these classes for about 100 hours? There are really so many idiots in colleges and universities who don’t know about these offers?  No! Well, if you really have so much money to waste and a bit of free time  go for it! You might have fun with the other rich restaurant wannabe virgins. I’m sure it`s going to be fun to visit the cities nice restaurants and bakeries, which, to be honest you may have already done, or can de without parental guidance. It will be nice to cook for 2 nights with the second class celebrity chef who gives his/her name to anything just to get the 15 minutes again. To be honest for this amount of money they would even go to your house and get naked for you if you would ask them. But if you really want a chance in hospitality, You will have to know..its hard work, people are going to screw you as much as they can, you most likely end up living in a kitchen or behind the bar.

I saw people screwing up their lifetime savings, just because they had no idea what they get into. Cafes, restaurants closing down, because the owner thought sweet talking to the costumers is the way to go, and not buying ingredients and equipment for their chefs and kitchen. I saw guys running out crying from a busy kitchen. I’m sure all of these because..they didn`t attend those classes.

You should read Anthony Bourdains “Kitchen Confidential”, buy the “Larousse Gastronomique”  eat out, learn, read cookbooks…COOK AT HOME!  After all this you might get a general idea. Attend a good culinary college for at least 2 years. And if You still think this is for you, well man, Welcome Aboard!