“I’m hungry.”

“Yeah, me too.”


This seemingly innocuous phrase is repeated in some form or another in most every household one could think of, including mine. The difference in this case is that we are both food industry professionals who have spent long hours in the kitchen preparing and cooking food for an eight hour shift. So what does that mean? Well, it’s kind of crazy. Let me back up and start with an old saying about chefs and restaurants.


Never trust a skinny chef.


Perhaps you have heard this one before, perhaps not. For the uninitiated, this means that the chef does not eat his/her own cooking.  Now this is important, especially if you like to go out to dine. You want a chef, or cook, to taste their own for before serving it to you. This seems simple and silly to read, and even more so for me to write. But what oftentimes happens is that the recipe gets tasted once or twice when it is first invented then gets passed from one cook to the next like that telephone game you played as a kid. By the time it gets 3 or 4 people down the line, who knows what the original recipe or taste was to be.


I had an experience, some time ago now, where my beloved tuna was served to me spoiled. Yes, it had turned and the kitchen serving it did not know. I mean it was completely inedible. How that tuna made it on to the cooking line, let alone my plate, I will never know. Probably a skinny chef. But back to my point: I’m hungry.


In every kitchen I have ever worked in, we all tasted our own food and even tried each other’s. It can be a bit soul crushing if someone does not like your preparation but better to find out in the kitchen than at the table. The result is that a not skinny cook like me ends up nibbling and tasting little bites all day long. By the end of the shift my palate is blown out, and all my other senses are so inundated with the day’s preparations, that the idea of eating just does not exist. That is until I get home, shower and think about it. That seemingly innocuous exchange is not so innocuous now, at least for me.


Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more. (Points to whomever can correctly reference this quote.)  So up from my chair, shoes and shirt on and out the door we go only to be smacked flat in the face with that age old question: where? Not too hard to figure out this time. This time we were off to Los Molcajetes on Redwood between Sonoma and Broadway. I so like that we nearly have a taco truck on every corner, here in Vallejo. The choices are rich and varied and oh, so good to try. This week I went for a traditional dish of two tamales, 1 chicken and 1 pork. Both were covered with a delightful Mole sauce and surrounded by rice and beans. My charming companion ordered a Chile Relleno which I have to say, with apologies to my sister-in-law Julie who makes a fantastic Relleno, was an amazing dish. Now I did not look back into the kitchen to verify the chef’s size, this time, but I feel comfortable telling you that this chef tastes their food. The chile was fresh and mildly spicy, the egg coating fluffy and the sauce on top was delightful. My tamales were well prepared and so hit the spot. Now I am a big rice and beans fan. Refried beans all the way. Yes, even if they are made with lard. Los Molcajetes serves white refried beans instead of pinto beans. It seemed a little out of place at first but I assure you that they were everything that they should have been. Finish that off with a Negro Modelo and call it dinner. Definitely worth a try.


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Until next time,


Eat Well and Smile Often


Tommy Judt


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