Derek here once again; blogging, staying out the rain, and sending love to our brothers and sisters on the Jersey Shore. This was a great week for curling up on the couch with your favorite bottle of wine and an episode of Restaurant Takeover. I hope you all had as much fun watching the Brownstone episode as we had making it.
I hadn’t heard the name Brownstone in quite sometime before we shot. I was shocked, nervous and also excited to revisit a restaurant I had worked at over a decade ago! Adel was great back then, but he was as hard-headed as he is on the episode. Such a character! Despite this we got on like a house on fire. My fondest memories are of our times at the market together. We would go out in search of fresh produce, meat and fish. I was saddened that over time he had let this practice slide. This is why I choose to take his son Mark to the food terminal. I wanted to bring back those good old habits. I also noticed that some of the dishes I had removed while I was a Chef at Brownstones had somehow crept back onto the menu. Hopefully this time around Adel would hear me when I told him less is more.
The only word for the salmon Adel cooked me is bland. Not to mention how dated and overused salmon is. There are so many other fish options available these days and ignoring them means your menu has no chance of standing out among the hundreds of other restaurants out there. I choose to cook red snapper because it was fresh and reasonably priced, which is good from a business stand point, but it’s also a delicious fish with a delicate, sweet flavor and flaky texture. It’s not incredibly exotic, which jived with the neighborhood feel we were aiming for, but it is leaps and bounds ahead of a tired old grilled salmon fillete.
Honestly, cooking with Adel brought back so many great memories and I found him extremely receptive to my ideas, which made me feel honoured. He was proud to have seen me come so far in my career and there was a genuine sense of mutual respect between us. We were catching up on old times throughout and the wine was flowing. There was such a fantastic familiar vibe. The whole crew was cracking up about our stories from years back. Back then Adel had cameras up all over the restaurant to keep an eye on his staff. He could watch us from home, like we were his personal reality TV show. At the end of my shift each night I would sit at the bar, have a glass of wine and flip him the bird. I always wondered if he saw, but he never mentioned it.
Reveal day was special for all of us, but particularly for Mark and I. We finally felt as though we had convinced Adel to relax his iron fist grip on Brownstone’s and allow it to evolve. That was really my goal throughout. I love and respect this man; not to mention Brownstone’s is a part of my own personal history. I needed Adel to come to the realization himself that things needed to change. This way he could watch the transformation and feel proud of the new restaurant. I felt so honoured to be part of making that happen. The best part was that we also helped mend the relationship between him and his son. Helping people is the best part of my job!
by Derek Minkensky