I come from a family of great cooks... on my mom's side anyway. Her sister, Betty, and brother, Jamie, both have exceptional culinary skills and in their own right, could've been successful restaurateurs. It makes me proud to announce, on Mother's Day, the launching of my culinary venture, Tex-Mex Tatties by Chef Big Dog.
The evolution of this is in of itself an interesting and quite unexpected journey.
I was early into the walk, in Texarkana to be precise, staying with a very warm and gracious family, the Lawrences. They were hosting a meet and greet for some friends and neighbors and I offered to help out by making tapas. As I walked by the living area, I overheard two guests talking one of which made the observation, "You know for a homeless guy, that guy can cook".
And thus the idea for the homeless chef was born. I loved cooking for the families I stayed with on the walk. Entering a kitchen for the first time, looking in the pantry and fridge and then coming up with a meal concept on the fly. It was my way of thanking them for putting us up and putting up with us plus it served a dual purpose of eating great Tex-Mex because once you leave my native state, the chances of finding authentic cuisine diminishes every mile.
The problem was no one liked the homeless chef moniker even though it was kinda true and, I thought, ironical. In the finale of Chapter 6 of the Rock I wrote about cooking for Malcolm and that's when I learned a love for it. And discovered I had some native skills, too, albeit thoroughly unrefined.
It was throughout the walk that I honed my recipes and techniques although I had no idea for what purpose at the time other than cooking up some fine food for the great people I met on the road. After the final mile in Boston, we kicked around the idea of publishing a cookbook on recipes from the road but Murphy's care was my priority and I was already working on the book about the walk.
But the question of 'What comes next?' is never an easy answer for a person like me. I was blessed with a hyper-creative mind and on most days I'm inundated with an almost intolerable amount of ideas and I'm notorious for calling and texting my close confidantes at all hours when I'm climbing walls.
It was outta nowhere that the concept for Tex-Mex Tatties came to me. From many months now, I've been focused on walking across Japan as part of a longer-term plan and I'd been thinking about a way to finance it. Get a table at a farmer's market, I thought, and make tapas to keep it simple since I have a ton of other projects on my plate.
I'm a dunderhead and a tad self-deluded to think I can keep anything I do small and easy because if I'm going to devote my time to something I always start out with the intent to do something special. I'm just bent that way.
Valerie Kodman, my partner in this venture, and I have been working tirelessly on launching this concept since all of this happened so suddenly and we're almost ready to take it live to a farmer's market here in the Newport RI area. I've been refining the menu and this Saturday, we're having a final Beta taste testing at her place in Madison CT.
If you're in the area, you're welcome to join us for this historic occasion. Just email Valerie at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info, we have a page on Tumblr. But I'll also be posting here until we're fully up and running.
If you read the finale of Chapter 6, Chef Biatch became The Homeless Chef who became Chef Big Dog. Life is a funny thing isn't it?