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The Dining Experience
I was reading this morning about someone being asked about what was their best restaurant meal in a particular city. It got me thinking as I am not a regular restaurant fiend to start with, as most of the time the food is better at home than in most restaurants, and there is more to the dining experience than the actual food. I have the same problem answering the question ‘What Is My Favorite Food’, as it always depends on my mood at the moment I am asked, how hungry I am, the phase of the moon, and velocity of the wind, and other more esoteric factors.
I have eaten in revered restaurants where the cooking was so good that there is no hope in this lifetime that I will ever be able to attain this perfection in my kitchen, in overrated restaurants living only on their reputation and / or ‘Inness’ factor, in restaurants that serve solid-but-uninspired food, in fast-food joints, in food stalls on the street or in markets where I ended up with food poisoning, and in places that fit anywhere in or out of this spectrum. What makes the dining experience is not the food itself, though it is a major part of it, but it is a combination of food, service, atmosphere, and who you are sharing the meal with.
By nature I tend to stay away from the new ‘Trendy’ places as from past experiences they seem to rely on glitziness, gimmicks, and at times shock food to generate their often undeserved reputations. I know that it is difficult to differentiate yourself from the crowds, but spending millions in decor and nada in the kitchen does not make for a nice restaurant. Also the noise level in a lot of trendy places makes enjoying even the best food in the world very difficult. I also dislike the fact that most of the times you have to reserve a long time ahead to get in. Since most of the time I have no idea what I will be doing in the next hour, let alone in 3 months time, and if I will even be in the mood to go out for that type of food that night. I normally go the reservation route only when I am traveling out of town and I know I will be in need of a restaurant on such and such dates, thus reserving is a no-brainer at those times.
Back to the subject of the dining experience, I have noticed that to have an exceptional experience you need to first have well prepared and presented good food that is pleasant to eat. If for shock value the chef is into weird combinations of food, just for sake of being different, I tend to stay away from their place. The same is for experimental cooking, I am all for experimentation, but if you cannot find focus in a dish you should not serve it to paying clients until you finish playing with the ingredients. I have seen chefs bringing you small serving of dishes they are working on to get feedback, and I am all for that, but I would not build a menu with untried recipes, just as I would not serve untried recipes to guests at home. I have ranted already about dishes that are presented for the ‘Picture’ look, but that are difficult to eat and enjoy, so I will not go there today.
I also tend to stay away from the cult of the ‘Star Chef’. Some of their restaurants are stunning and serve sublime food, but a lot tend to lack in the personal touches. If they are at the head of a culinary empire, chances are that they are not the ones supervising the daily running of their restaurants, and whoever is doing a stellar job at it does not get the recognition they deserve, and normally stays in the background as not to take the stardom from the ‘Star Chef’. It is nice to think about your favorite TV Chef preparing your meal for you in the kitchen, but they are probably at some cocktail party, on the set of their TV show, or on another continent when your visit their restaurants. That does not mean that I have not had exceptional dining experiences in their restaurants…
Now that we have a nicely prepared meal on our plates, we now need good service. The staff should be attentive, and not overbearing. They also should know about the food and the chef’s philosophy. There is nothing more annoying than asking how a dish is prepared, or what an advertised ingredient in a recipe is is, and seeing the staff running to the kitchen to ask. If the menu specifies an ingredient it would be good idea to let the staff know what it is before letting them loose on the public. That is, as long as it does not go to the other extreme and they start pontificating about the type of salt they use, or refuse to bring you salt because the chef does not want you to ruin his dishes with it.
Where was I? A plate of nice food, attentive-but-not-overbearing staff… Next on the list is atmosphere. I tend to prefer a quiet relaxed atmosphere, to a frantic noisy one. That is in my nature, as I abhor noise and hyperactivity. If you have to shout to your dinner companions to get heard, it is does not make for a nice dining experience. I’m not really crazy about church-like atmospheres either, as they make you uncomfortable about having any conversation during the meal. I used to be more tolerant of this in the past, as before I met Normita, I used to travel the world on business alone, and dine in the best places by myself. I could concentrate more on the food, at the detriment of not sharing the experience in those days, but I would not go back to them. Your preference of atmosphere may vary, but you have to be comfortable to enjoy the meal.
Dining companions are important too. I find business meals, especially with new business acquaintances, to be normally strained, as you do not know the people, their tastes, and their ideas. It is a great way to get to know people, and it is one of my prime factors in doing business with anybody. I need to share a nice meal with them so that we can appreciate it together. I tend to stay away from doing business with people who do not share my love of food and wine, and the few times that I have not done so in the past, I paid for it dearly in the long run. Dining with loved ones and close friends is a rewarding experience, and it is one of the nicest things in life.
So, when faced with a question like ‘The Best Restaurant Meal You’ve Ever Had In…’ my answer might disappoint the Trendy Foodies, as the place would most likely not be the latest trendy place or the place to be seen by the proper Foodie crowd. It would likely be a place where I had great food and service, in a relaxed atmosphere, with the people I love. I tend to collect restaurant experiences in my mind as the whole experience, not just the badge of being at the right address. I have been in great restaurants on bad nights, some of my favorite places have also disappointed me at times, and I might have just made the wrong choice on the menu, so the right address is not always the best. The reverse is true and I have had exceptional meals in places where you would expect it the least. With all the ingredients that make a great dining experience put in the equation, the answer might be a big surprise even to you. It is just where you did enjoy yourself the most. What else is there?
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I started as a Gourmet, and over the years my love for the pleasures of good food and good drinks became bigger than my love of the rituals, rules and the complications normally associated with the Gourmet world. For the last 20 years I converted myself from a Gourmet to a Gourmand and I have been crusading worldwide to demystify and simplify the pleasures associated with good food and good drinks. My goal is to teach and help everyone who has an interest in good food and good drinks to appreciate this sensual subject. We have to remember that the pleasures of the table are the only ones that are essential for our survival as an individual. That is probably why that some consider them a sin!
Services Offered to the General Public
- Introductory to advanced cooking classes and conferences
- Introductory to advanced wine/spirits/beer classes and conferences
- Introductory to advanced food and wine/spirits/beer matching classes
- Wine/spirits/beer tastings
- Food and wine/spirits/beer events for singles
- Romantic food and wine/spirits/beer events for couples
- Seminars on food/wine/spirits/beer/cigars/luxury items/etc… topics
- Event planning and catering
- Home kitchen design services
- Wine cellar design services
- Wine collection evaluation services
- Wine investment consulting services
- Motivational classes
Services Offered to the Food and Drink Industry
- Fine wines from a variety of countries
- Fine spirits from a variety of countries
- Fine beers from a variety of countries
- Non-perishable luxury/exotic food items
- Cooking utensils and appliances
- Fine tableware and crystal
- Perishable luxury/exotic food items
- Fine cigars
- Other luxury items
- Wine/Beer/Food/Cigar/Etc… education kiosks
- Client reward programs
- Branded cooking and other software
- Food/Wine matching engine
- Cutting edge web-portal
- Cutting edge POS and management software
- Multilingual food and wine blog
- Food and beverage business planning
- Business plan analysis
- Restaurant analysis and consulting
- Menu analysis and preparation
- Wine list analysis and preparation
- Professional classes (cooking, food prep, sanitation, wine, spirits, beer, sommelier, etc…)
- Staff motivation seminars
- Event planning and catering
- Restaurant design
- Software and IT consulting
- Software POS and management solutions
- Vineyard Weather Monitoring
- Vineyard automation and machine learning grapevines
- Wine and viticulture consulting
- Commercial kitchen design services
- Wine cellar design services
- Wine collection and cellar evaluation services
- Wine investment consulting services
- Staff and restaurant certification programs
Curriculum Vitae 2021
J. Luc Paquin 2021 – English & Español
Languages Spoken and Written: French, English and Spanish.
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Curriculum Vitae 2021
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A general store is a rural or small-town store that carries a general line of merchandise. It carries a broad selection of merchandise, sometimes in a small space, where people from the town and surrounding rural areas come to purchase all their general goods. The store carries routine stock and obtains special orders from warehouses. General stores often sell staple food items such as milk and bread, and various household goods such as hardware and electrical supplies.
Luc’s grandfather had a general store in Canada. That general store sold beans, cigarette, tobacco, chips, candy, household, home appliance, clothing, shoes, tools, hardware, electrical, paints, fishings, sports equipment, firearms, etc…
This document is to outline a business concept that has been in the back of my mind for many years. The main reason that it is still in the back of my mind is that the project requires substantial commitments and financing and that I was always waiting to find a place where I wanted to settle down and for other projects to move forward to be able to start this one.
After postponing it for a couple of decades, I think that it is a good idea to bring it to the forefront and actually work on making it come through as the time seems right. This document is not a business plan, but a way to put all the ideas that have been turning in my head for so many years. I plan to present it to various people to see if the project makes sense and is worth investing substantial efforts in preparing a formal business plan and finding proper financing.
Lucito & Normita General Store
- -Graphic Design
- -Digital Prints
- -Fruit Preserves
- -Home Appliance
- -Cooking Courses
- -Beer Courses
- -Wine Courses
- -Jewelry Courses
- -Painting Courses
- -English and Spanish Courses
- -Electronic, Microcontrollers, Robotics Courses
- -Computer-Based Tutoring
- -Mexico or Canada
- -Requirement Analysis
- -Opening Costs
- -Kitchen Equipment
- -Kitchen Table and Chairs
- -Web Hosting
Curriculum Vitae 2021
With support from Austrian brewery Eggenberg, ‘Beer Pope’ Conrad Seidel presented ‘Vienna’s most serious beer-tasting’ at the Glacis Beisl. The journey went from Eggenberg to St-Louis in 20 delicious stations of beer.
‘Beer Pope’ Conrad Seidl, a well known Austrian journalist and leading German language specialist on beer, is also known as great speaker and lector, always drawing vast crowds. The crowd at the beer tasting event in Glacis Beisl however surpassed everything so far, with the event selling out days after it was announced. An interesting side note: while beer is often considered a man’s beverage in Europe, more than a third of the audience was female.
Right to the point the event started with a non-alcoholic beer, although Mr. Seidl explained right away that there is nothing like a completely alcohol free beer, only beer with a very low alcoholic content. His reason for starting with a non-alcoholic variety? It’s educational – everybody should remember how little he or she poured from that one and never pour more from any of the later, more potent beverages.
After a quick start we embarked on a fascinating tour through beers of very different styles from all over the world, 20 samples altogether. A lot was to be discovered and realized in the process, for example how different a Czech Budweiser was from an American Bud, or about the differences between Pilsener Urquell, the ‘inventors of Pilsen style’ and a modern Pils. We also learned why Bavarian wheat beer is not brewed according to the German Reinheitsgebot (German Purity Law) that strictly specifies rye as base for the malt and was passed in order to give the Duke of Bavaria the monopoly on wheat beer brewing. We tasted and realized that dark beer is not necessarily sweet in taste and where the name ‘Stout’ comes from (referring originally to a stouter type of porter)
Of special interest was the vertical of assorted beer types brewed by Eggenberg that ended with two legends, Eggenberger Urbock, a double bock of desert wine character and the Samichlaus, an even stronger and more aromatic double bock originally invented by Swiss brewer Hürlimann. Unfortunately Hürlimann stopped the production after being taken over. However Eggenberg acquired the recipe and license and is now brewing this unique delicacy. On the aromatic side, the tasting also included very interesting aromatic beers from Belgium. Of course Guinness stout wasn’t missing either as representative of British Isles beers.
To sum things up, a very high level tasting that gave those new to fine beers a great introduction to styles and types while still containing enough new and interesting information for beer connaisseurs, and even those beer specialists who already knew most of the information found enough incentive for a satisfying event – like a good glass of exclusive Samichlaus and the amusing and amazing presentation by Conrad Seidl … and free fresh pretzels.
More pictures of the event are available here