Tribute

Radish, pork fat, bee pollen. May 4th at Egg in Brooklyn, NY

Radish, pork fat, bee pollen. May 4th at Egg in Brooklyn, NY

We’re having an impromptu dinner on Monday May, 13th. We all know I didn’t make it to the opening of Tribute, so I thought I’d show y’all what was supposed to go down. I’ll be resurrecting dishes from the menu as I had envisioned them before it all went to shit. Be here at 7pm, bring your own booze. 7 courses, maybe 10, who knows, we’ll see if we have time. $100. Books will be available at a discounted price for you lazy asses who didn’t already buy it. As usual, email cruxrestaurant@gmail.com with party size, allergies and the like.

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NY Journal of Books review of Nine Lives

ninelivesbookcover

Here’s an advance copy of the review originating from the NY Journal of Books. The reviewer is Laura Schultz. The review is scheduled to be published on May 2nd, 2013

Memoir   Personal Memoir Addiction

Reviewer: Laura Schultz

When it comes to addiction, people often ask, “How could someone use a substance to the point of destroying everything and everyone around them?” The misconception still exists that addiction is somehow a moral weakness, but the evidence proves otherwise. Even the American Medical Association has recognized for years that addiction is a disease. The insidious nature of this illness causes irreparable harm to those who are afflicted with it, but for many that first drink or drug is the beginning of a slow descent into hell.

Even the American Medical Association has recognized for years that addiction is a disease. The insidious nature of this illness causes irreparable harm to those who are afflicted with it, but for many that first drink or drug is the beginning of a slow descent into hell.

If a reader of Nine Lives can comprehend this concept one would surely understand the life and death struggle depicted by author Brandon Baltzley. This powerfully gripping memoir gently convinces the reader that no one would consciously choose this struggle for all the riches in the world. Though the battle is his alone, there are millions who are fighting this battle while horrified loved ones witness firsthand the insatiable desire of the one afflicted.

Nine Lives is unique among other memoirs of this ilk in its characterization of the inevitable downward spiral of drug addiction. Contrary to others in this category, it is not the typical “drunkalogue” (an endless repetition of horror stories, morbid binges, and hangovers) that have flooded the marketplace in recent years.

Did Mr. Baltzley lie, cheat, and con others in his quest to fulfill his desperate need for drugs? Of course this is part of his story. But equally important is his passion for creating beauty and love toward others through his first love: that of preparing the most original gastronomic delights known to many across the country.

As a child of a single mother who opened a small café, young Brandon was put to work beside her in the kitchen. According to Mr. Baltzley, “Cooking held my attention like nothing had before, and from the first moment, I was hooked.” Mom not only diverted his short attention span toward something useful to her, but she introduced him to the “joy of experimentation.”

He became a master at mixing unusual ingredients and taste testing them until he discovered that magical combination that could melt the heart of the most skeptical customers. He quickly became enthralled with sharing his passion for food to those he loved as well as strangers searching for new and tantalizing dishes that would inevitably delight the most discriminating palate.

From small establishments to elite restaurants with an ensemble of professional cooking staff, he made his way to the bright city lights of Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C. Even with accolades from critics as well as restaurant owners, his addiction continued to haunt him wherever he went.

He repeated the cycle of going to 12-step meetings, staying clean for a few months, and then a relapse, getting fired and starting the process all over again. He would have manic binges where he would spend thousands in a week on cocaine.

At the end of his rope he felt that death was the only solution to his problem. After a short stint at Bellevue in New York, he was more willing to dedicate himself to the recovery process. And once again he was back in the kitchen creating dishes such as turnip confit, creamed Swiss chard, and polenta with mushrooms. In a pinch, a simple brownie with ginger ice cream would do.

Ultimately, he founded his own restaurant called Crux and put to use the many lessons learned from his many endings and new beginnings. He became acutely aware that like a cat he had survived at least nine lives.

Any reader of Nine Lives could be mesmerized by the enmeshment of beautifully adorned food coupled with the complexities and dark sides of the human condition. True foodies will glean much from witnessing the magic and art of creating a culinary masterpiece. And addicts, recovering or otherwise, will recognize a familiar spirit in a memoir both touching and mortifying.

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It’s my way of saying goodbye.

Laurel Ridge State Park. Pennsylvania

Laurel Ridge State Park. Pennsylvania

I’ve recognized a pattern. Every time I leave a place I have a desire to spend time outdoors. I’m not sure what this means, subconsciously, but I can tell you how I feel after a twenty mile hike over the course of twenty-four hours.

I woke up this morning to the sound of Wu Tang’s “C.R.E.A.M.” as it is set to play on my phone’s notifications. I sat up, looked at my overweight pit bull, Wylie, and immediately started squeezing the swollen muscles in my back and neck. I had just slept for twelve hours straight, not realizing even where exactly I was, although all was familiar, from the coma-like rest I had just been held by.  You see, on Sunday I woke up after only, maybe, two hours of continuous slumber. The feeling I felt that morning was something similar. It was the feeling I had when I left Chicago for Maine. It was the feeling I had when I left the farm for the Appalachian Trail. It was the feeling that struck again, Sunday morning, when I realized I was about to leave another place that I loved.

I think there is something to be said for the role the subconscious plays when going through change. Material change. Geographical change. Emotional change. I think when departing somewhere that has made you feel at home, you should say goodbye to more than just the people you come into contact with. You should say goodbye to the Earth that kept you safe during your time there.

Let’s cut all the hippie shit out. If you live like me, you eat with a responsibility. You create with a vision inspired by your surroundings.

You take.

And you have to make peace with that.

I went to the woods to tell Western Pennsylvania that I love her. I respect her. And I wish her the best.

“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.” -Standing Bear, Ponca tribe.

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CRUX is embarking on a two month long tour

urlMiami-Charleston-Atlanta-Athens-New Orleans-Austin-Boulder-Denver-Vegas-Los Angeles-San Francisco-Portland Oregon-Seattle-Vancouver-Calgary-St Paul/Minneapolis-Milwaukee-Chicago-St Louis-Columbus-Cleveland-Pittsburgh-DC-Philadelphia-NYC-Providence-Boston-Portland Maine-Montreal-Toronto.

If you’re scratching your heads, wondering why all these cities are appearing in a single post, you’re probably not alone. I’m still trying to process it! But with a little help form the universe and the talented cooks all across North America, we’re going to attempt to do something we’ve certainly never done before… I’m pretty sure a two month long, 29 city culinary tour is a first for most!

The goal is to organize collaborations in the cities listed above. Each with different chefs and different menus. I’ll be packing myself, my knives and one intrepid cook into a car and taking off on this cross country adventure. 

If you’re located in one of these cities and think you know the ideal candidate -or better yet, you are our ideal partner in culinary crime– PLEASE do not hesitate to contact me at cruxrestaurant@gmail.com Though we’ve already rustled up some hosts for a few of our dinners we’re still open to any suggestions and would love to collaborate with anyone interested in hosting. -See you on the road!

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Calling Calgary

Plating the Amuse

On a whim, I decided I couldn’t get enough of Calgary! So y’all get me for one more day.

This time, we’re doing things a little differently. The wine bar at Brasserie Kensington has been graciously loaned to me on Monday afternoon for this one of a kind, intimate dining experience.  I’ll be cooking and serving from the bar’s open kitchen. If you’d like a chance to experience (up close and personal) some of the things I’ve got in mind for my own restaurant TMIP, I welcome you to join me for a No Menu, multiple course tasting menu.

So come hang out with me at the Wine Bar at Brasserie Kensington on Monday at 1pm.

For reservations, please call 403.680.4854 and give them the details of your party size and any dietary restrictions. You know the drill. See you Monday. $65/person BYOB.

Please allot 3 hours for this beast of a feast. 

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Last Supper

I’d like to thank everyone who made Crux’s Last Supper in Pittsburgh possible. We had a great time cooking with everyone and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our time in Pittsburgh. Thanks to the chefs who donated their time (and even their product!) and to the diners who came out to support our efforts to benefit Food Revolution Pittsburgh. Thanks to all of you we were able to raise close to $9000.

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Last Supper Charity Dinner

I’m happy to be able to provide details pertaining to our charity event. As I’ve mentioned, the dinner will bring together local Pittsburgh chefs I’ve had the pleasure of working with and some that I’ll cook with for the first time. Either way, it’s going to be a worthy event both for the food and for the cause! Mark your calendars for February 17th, and join us at Bar Marco to support a local charity.

Our cause is a great one: All proceeds of this charity event will benefit Food Revolution Pittsburgh’s high school cooking club at the Barack Obama Academy in East Liberty.

Pittsburgh is the first city to commit to a 12 month campaign for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Together Phipps, Propel Schools, Whole Foods, UPMC, The Mayor’s Office, Eat n Park Fit United, and Environmental Charter School/Bar Marco have pledged to pursue seven goals to promote health and well-being across Pittsburgh.

I hope you’ll join me along with 10 of Pittsburgh’s greatest chefs to support this charity and eat some great food!

We can accommodate 36 guests, so please reserve on Show Clix

In the meantime, take a look at the menu we put together:Picture 10

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