The Chef’s Best Friend

Whether you are a chef at a famous three star restaurant or a weekend warrior prepping for a supper club dinner party having good knives is key. I have hundreds of dollars invested in knives but don’t dare take my “White Knife” away from me. When you find a “better mousetrap” you have to love it.

My favorite knife is a Victorinox 4” paring knife with a serrated blade with a white handle. It is a multi-purpose knife that can be used for just about anything. I still use my other knives for specific purposes, but my “White Knife” is always close by.

I use them to make my bacon wrapped shrimp. The white knife is great when butterflying the shrimp. Check out the recipe.

Slicing and dicing is probably the single largest task of any cook. My good friend and great chef Lucien Vendome was the head of Culinary Innovation fro Nestle. He had a very large staff working for him. When he was contemplating retirement he told me “I am tired of spending my life slicing and dicing”. It is an occupational hazard.

The genesis of my use of the “White Knife” goes back to Lucien. Most chefs travel with their own set of knives. After September 11 getting through airports with a knife set got to be a challenge. Lucien found the “White Knife” that cost around $5 a knife when you buy in bulk. He would have “White Knives” shipped to a customer in advance of a presentation and when his culinary presentation was over he would leave the knives behind with the customer. It enabled a quick get away, a happy customer and a swift trip through TSA at the airport.

I have become the pied piper of the “White Knife”. We give them away as wedding and shower gifts. Invite me to your house for dinner and you get a white knife. The really cool thing is that we had multiple friends and family come back to us asking how do we get more white knives. My nephew’s wife (a very bright lady) now buys them for all her friends that are getting married.

When prepping for a supper club dinner party I am a firm believer in using all kinds of prep tools: food processors, mandolins, mixers, tongs and on and on. But, just don’t take away my “White Knife”

If you enjoy this blog and similar other stories/supper club lessons subscribe to get future blogs at and be on the look out for my book Impromptu Friday Nights a Guide to Supper Clubs. Morgan James Publishing published the Kindle-Version on September 5, 2017 and the hard copy coming out January 30, 2018.

If You Are Scared, Say You Are Scared

In writing Supper Club menus you have to take into account that some things you think are easy can be really challenging for others. I once wrote a menu that including steamed lobsters. I grew up on the east coast where boiling a lobster was considered simple. For others it was a real challenge.

I knew I was in trouble when I saw my friend Kathy having a panic attack in my kitchen. Our neighborhood Supper Club is large and involves 5 dinner parties of 4 couples each. To make it a little easier I ordered the 40 lobsters and arranged for the hosts to pick them up at my house.

Kathy stopped by to pick up the lobster and her anxiety started to show. Let me say that Kathy is a very clever lady. She grew up in Kansas City and had never cooked a lobster. Seeing the squirming lobsters in the bag set off a look of panic that reminded me of a lady I had seen having a panic attack in the Shannon airport in Ireland. Fear of flying is a real phobia. Fear of cooking lobster was apparently just as real.

I felt really bad. Kathy is one of my favorite people and I was the cause of her anxiety. My initial answer was to offer to cook the lobster for her. She would never have to see an uncooked lobster again.

Somehow we talked Kathy down off the panic level. I took her through the simplicity of boiling water. Dropping the lobsters in head-first. Cooking for 7 minutes. Checking for the lobsters to turn red. Explaining how lobsters have built in doneness devices. Sort of like the pop-up device in Roasting chickens that pops up when the chicken is done. Lobsters turn bright red when done.

She got through the evening and her Supper Club was a huge success. Has she cooked a lobster since? I wouldn’t bet on it.

When faced with a Supper Club challenge, do a little research. You can get a video on YouTube or several “How-to’s” via a Google Search. Another tried and true method is to invite the person that suggested the menu and tell them: “It was your idea so you can cook the Lobster”.

If you enjoy this blog and similar other stories/supper club lessons subscribe to get future blogs at and be on the look out for my book Impromptu Friday Nights a Guide to Supper Clubs due out from Morgan James Publishing on January 30, 2018.

When in Doubt, Invite A Chef

Invite Paul and he will do the cooking. The word in our Supper Club is that having Paul at a dinner party can be intimidating. People must think one of two things:

1. I know what I am doing
2. I am an asshole

It must be number two because I certainly don’t know what I am doing. Trust me, I am winging it.

It reminds me when I worked out at a Maxwell House Coffee plant in California. We had a tour of General Foods upper management. One Marketing Manager asked the crusty old plant manager how many coffee beans were in the huge cooling device after the roaster. Without missing a beat he says 3,300,030 to 3,300,040. She wrote his comment down as gospel. I must have given old Bert a quizzical look because he turns to me and whispers: “Say it with confidence kid and they will believe anything”.

My buddy Joe Chaudoin figured out the “Invite Paul and he will cook” strategy years ago. He heard the Supper Club wives being intimidated having to host a party for the author of the menu. Like I really know what I am doing. Truth is that I am trying to figure out things like all the rest.

I will usually do a little research. The wealth of information on YouTube and Google is amazing. A little practice goes a long way. If there is something I haven’t made before I have been known to make a trial run. Actually, Joe has been a guinea pig for me more than a few times. What some won’t do for a free meal?

A favorite story of mine that says a lot about Joe involved a chicken dinner. Joe was once asked to pass a piece of white meat. Joe responded: “What do you mean white meat?” Joe was clueless. In his book, chicken is chicken. With all this said, he is one of the most appreciative guests I have ever had. And yes, the bar is not that high.

The moral of this Supper Club story is never be afraid to ask for help. Past that, research and practice goes a long way in realizing success.

If you enjoy this blog and similar other stories/supper club lessons subscribe to get future blogs at and be on the look out for my book Impromptu Friday Nights a Guide to Supper Clubs due out from Morgan James Publishing on January 30, 2018.