Posts Tagged ‘Grant Achatz’

Random Friday Thoughts — February 12, 2016

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be sharing my “Random Friday Thoughts” with you again on a regular basis and the feedback has been great.  Thank you for not only reading to see what I’m thinking about, but also commenting.

As always, you don’t have to agree with me, but be diplomatic about it if you disagree.

WARNING — THIS IS NOT DIPLOMATIC!!!

This is the response I got earlier this week to last week’s blog explaining why I support Hillary Clinton for president, which featured a photo of my beautiful family.

Rude Blog Comment.jpg

Pathetic!  But, we know there are many people out there like this!  Putting ignorance aside, let’s move on…

Here is the blog that brought out the hate:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/my-teenaged-daughter-a-damn-good-reason-i-support-hillary-clinton/

WHAT I REALLY WANT FOR VALENTINE’S DAY…

Candy is always nice and flowers are beautiful, but here’s how I plan on spending Valentine’s Day — a little snow storm, a few glasses of wine by the fireplace with Ray, and the return of the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” Sunday night!

Walking Dead VD

SNOWY VALENTINE’S DAY

If you live in the Midwest, especially across eastern Iowa and northern Illinois, snow is in the forecast late Saturday night and Sunday.

In the Quad Cities, I’m still expecting 3″ or so of snow that’ll fall mostly on Valentine’s Day.

The snow diminishes to flurries Sunday night and Monday.

CHARLIE SHEEN’S SCARY DR. SAM

There are medications now to make living with HIV more manageable and it’s no longer a death sentence.   However, unless someone is hiding information from me and the 37 million people living with HIV and AIDS across the world, there is no (realistic) cure.

In my opinion, actor Charlie Sheen is a poor spokesperson for those living with HIV, even though the high visibility is a good thing.  Sheen’s antics since going public with his HIV-positive status has made me shake my head in surprise or shock more than once.

Now, the story is even more insane and bizarre when you find out that he’s associated with an Australian doctor who claims he injected himself with Sheen’s tainted blood and cured the infection with goat milk!  Goat milk???

This is how Dr. Sam Chachoua describes himself on Twitter!

Dr Sam

I’m not buying into any “effective way to treat” cancer or AIDS.  If it was that easy, he’d be winning every award there is for humanity and wouldn’t have to make his claim to fame through the troubled Sheen!

Sad!

ABC NEWS — BLATANTLY SEXIST MOVE

ABC News made a big blunder last Saturday night when hosting a New Hampshire presidential debate by not allowing candidate Carly Fiorina to participate.

While I’m not a fan of Fiorina and I can’t say she wasn’t invited because she is a woman, she had every right to be there.

In the Iowa Caucus last week, she beat Chris Christie in both votes and delegates and got just as many votes and delegates as John Kasich and had the same number of delegates as Jeb Bush.

So, it makes no sense that she wasn’t invited.  Jim Gilmore wasn’t invited either, but rightfully so.  He picked up only 12 votes in the Iowa Caucus last week and is polling at 0%!

After the New Hampshire Primary Tuesday, both Christie and Fiorina dropped out of the presidential race.  Dr. Ben Carson, we’re waiting on you (and Gilmore) next.

TRAIN WRECK INTRODUCTION OF CANDIDATES

Maybe it’s a good thing that Fiorina wasn’t there.  The introduction to the ABC News debate looked more like a skit from NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”.

This is hilarious — just as funny as seeing Marco Rubio falling on his face and getting agitated by Christie!

GLENDA JACKSON

Two-time Best Actress Oscar winner Glenda Jackson, now 79, was last seen in a Hollywood movie 24 years ago, but she’s been very busy.  She was a member of Parliament from 1992 through March 2015.

She’s gained a new fan in me with her openness.  Here are some of the things she recently told “Entertainment Weekly”.

glenda-jackson

On “12 Years a Slave” winning the Best Picture Oscar and social change:  “But how can you say that 12 Years a Slave or Selma has caused a fundamental cultural shift? And then you have these black guys being shot by policemen. Would that the Oscars could change the world but, I’m sorry, it just ain’t true.”

On the media making Donald Trump a viable Republican presidential candidate:  “It’s going to come down to what people are prepared to back with their votes, in terms of the status quo, and whether they’ll still go with that nutcase with the worst hair in the world. All that money and you think he could buy himself a decent wig.”

On her Oscar-nominated role in the bisexual love story, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, in which she played a businesswoman in love with an artist (Murray Head), who loves a doctor (Peter Finch). “Best film script I’d ever read.”

“It was about relationships between people who wanted more than they could furnish. And, of course, United Artists was scared to death of it and didn’t know how to sell it. Apologies to Uncle Sam, but in America, they think homosexual affairs are about sex. But they are about love.”

“AMERICAN CRIME”

The first season of ABC’s Emmy-winning series “American Crime” was great and featured a college actor friend of mine, W. Earl Brown, in a major recurring role.

The second season of the drama, airing now, is phenomenal.

Felicity Huffman and Lili Taylor are both superb in their roles as the principal of an elite private school that’s facing a student sex scandal and as the mother of the young man that’s the victim in that scandal, respectively.

However, the standout this season is 21-year-old Canadian actor Connor Jessup.  Every moment he’s on camera trying to hold it together and make it through the day, your heart breaks for Taylor.

We’re a little past midway through the ten episode season, so it’s not too late to get caught up.  And, since season two is not a continuation of season one, you don’t have to know anything about the first season.

“BURNT”

Bradley Cooper stars in this movie as an acclaimed chef that lost everything because of a drug addiction.

He tries to make a comeback in London, but the road to redemption is not a smooth one.

The foodie in me loved the food porn.

But, while watching the movie, I was also hoping that my chef friend, Monika Sudakov, and the chef I most admire, Grant Achatz, are not like Cooper’s character, Adam Jones, when they’re in a high pressure kitchen making their culinary creations!

GRADE:  B

BRETT KISSEL

When you think of Canadian county music stars, I’m sure Shania Twain, Terri Clark, and Anne Murray come to mind.  However, the only Canadian male country singer I can think of off the top of my head is Paul Brandt.  I love his voice and have some of his earlier American releases.

Recently, I saw the nominations for the Juno Awards and Brett Kissel caught my eye –he’s up against Brandt this year.

So, I went to YouTube and started watching his videos and before I knew it, I bought his fall 2015 release, “Pick Me Up”.

Brett Kissel.jpg

It’s crazy how he’s already had seven Top Ten country hits on the Canadian chart, but is still an unknown here in America.  He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, so I hope his American radio debut is coming soon.

“Pick Me Up” is a great country album with a slightly different feel than today’s American hit makers.  It’s a real feel that I think is missing from the current bro-country sounds you hear overplayed on U.S. country stations.

The album features the two Canadian hits, “Airwaves” (#1) and the title track (#6), which are both great country songs.  My other upbeat favorites are “I Hope It’s Me”, “Cool With That”, and “I Can Play Guitar” (with Hunter Hayes).

If you love ballads, “Why Won’t You” is amazing and “Feet Back on the Ground” is a beautiful tribute to those of us that love our mamas, even if they’re no longer with us!

After buying and loving “Pick Me Up”, I’ll now have to get Kissel’s 2013 album, “Started With a Song”.

Here’s hoping American audiences will get to hear Brett on the radio in 2016!

GRADE:  A-

“THE RIVER LIVE TOUR”

In his long career, Bruce Springsteen has done it all and he’s still doing it.  There’s a reason he’s called “The Boss”!

His current 42-show concert tour will play America through April and then Europe and Israel this May, June, and July.

It’s called “The River Live Tour” and it’s exactly that — his entire 1980 20-song double album, “The River”, played in sequential order!  In addition to that, he also does other songs — about 30 in all in a concert that runs about 3 1/2 hours!  The man must be a machine!

Here I’m featuring the first release from “The River” and my favorite Springsteen song, “Hungry Heart”.  It was his third Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and his first Top Ten.  It peaked at #5.

So, think about it.  If any of your favorite artists would perform a full-length album in addition to other hits, who would it be and what album?

Mine would be “Rumor Has It” (1990), “For My Broken Heart” (1991), and “Starting Over” (1995) by Reba McEntire, Madonna and her 1983 self-titled debut, and Toni Braxton’s 1993 self-titled debut.

MORE GLENDA JACKSON IN “ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY”

Margaret Thatcher

On her disdain of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when South African President Nelson Mandela visited Parliament in 1996:  “I stood to watch Mandela and there was bloody Margaret Thatcher, the woman who had called him a terrorist, sitting in the front row in this big f*cking hat, obstructing the view. Acting like she was doing everybody a f*cking favor by coming there.”

hillary2016

On Hillary Clinton and her presidential run:  “I would like to see her become the first female president…  the Republicans don’t have anybody who can take her on politically. So it’ll be very ugly.”

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I hope you enjoyed the read.  Please share your thoughts with me and have a great weekend.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Anthony

 

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Random Friday Thoughts — July 25, 2014

Happy Friday!   The weekend is here and I hope you have a great one.

While this is a condensed “Random Friday Thoughts”, it’s still something unexpected and fun to post since I’ve missed my blog.

MIDDLE EAST FIGHTING

As the fighting in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine escalates, the death toll continues to rise.  So far, roughly 760 people have died in Gaza and the Israeli death toll is around 35.

Earlier this week, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both halted flights from the U.S. to Israel, while airlines in Germany, Italy, and France joined in prompting the European Aviation Safety Agency to issue an advisory.

“PRAY FOR PEACE”

Meanwhile, country music and entertainment superstar Reba McEntire released her first new song since 2012 asking the world to “Pray For Peace”.

Reba

Reba stated on her Facebook page, “The idea to write the song “Pray For Peace” came to me last year as I was walking on our place in Gallatin, Tn. For days I’d sing, “Pray for Peace”, over and over. It wasn’t until several months later did the other parts start to fall in place. Some, not until we got into the studio to record it.”

She adds, “It’s an act of perseverance, prayer, hope, fellowship and mostly love.”

You can see the finished video (with music) here:  http://reba.com/

MADONNA CATCHES HEAT

Also, international music icon Madonna is earning praise and a lot of flak for posting this picture on social media.

Madonna Flowers

The caption was “These flowers are like the innocent children of GAZA! Who has a right to destroy them? No One!!!! CEASE FIRE! #peaceinthemiddleeast” -Madonna.”

Responses on her Facebook page have been rather passionate.

Positive:   “She Can Support whoever she wants to… so whats the Problem? Im a Madonna’s Fan, Im Not Supporting Israel, Im not supporting Gaza, Im Just Supporting The Peace, The Children’s Life are Important, Doesn’t matter the side of they come from.

And, ” Thank you Madonna for shedding light on human rights abuses in the Middle East. Every life is precious and no child should die.

Negative: “you Madonna have no rights to say this kind of things about the children in Gaza !  These children are taught from childhood to hate us and want to kill us and destroy the people of Israel ! …  “SHAME ON YOU MADONNA !  I’m not a fan anymore!”

And, “Madonna talking about politics is a bit like George w Bush trying to point Iraq on a map before attacking it.”

Madonna Defend Human Rights

This prompted Madonna to post this follow-up an hour or so later.

Madonna Hamas

EMMY NOMINATIONS — A HIT AND TWO MISSES

Kudos to the Emmy Awards for nominating transgender actress Laverne Cox is the proper category “Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series” for her work in “Orange Is The New Black”!

Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012

Sadly, no nominations were given to the NBC series, “Hannibal” or for any of the actors.  This is by far, the best and most intelligent show on television!  Maybe next year?

And, Emmy also snubbed “The Walking Dead” for acting awards AGAIN!  There was a lot of buzz and hope that Melissa McBride would get a nomination for her heartbreaking performance this season.

the-walking-dead-season-4-emmy-ad

McBride did win the “Saturn Award” this year and is nominated for the “Gold Derby TV Award” for Best Supporting Actress.

ERASURE IS BACK!

My favorite English band, Erasure, is gearing up for the release of their latest album, “The Violet Flame” in September.

The first single, “Elevation”, just came out and it’s incredible.  Andy Bell sounds amazing and it’s a fresh new sound for the every changing electronic duo.

I can’t wait to see them in concert in Chicago on October 4th.

If you’re not all that familiar with Erasure or you want to know just how much I love their music, check out this blog from June.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/my-fall-just-got-more-exciting-with-erasure/

GOP HAS A NEW FRONT RUNNER?

The “crazy train” may have derailed in 2012, but it may be back on the tracks for the 2016 presidential race.

Bachmann

Michele Bachmann tells RealClearPolitics, “there’s a chance I could run.”

REMEMBERING TAMMY FAYE

It was seven years ago last weekend that televangelist Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner died after an 11-year battle with cancer.

tammy-faye book

I just finished her book and it made me look at her in a new light.

If you missed my blog about her, the book, her life, and her thoughts, here’s the link:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/remembering-tammy-faye/

CANCER SURVIVOR INSPIRES ME

Cancer is scary and we all know or love someone that has been touched by it.

I have and I’ve already had three cancer scares.  I just read the most incredible and the best book ever about a Chicago chef that faced his biggest fear, tongue cancer — something that could have either killed him or ended his career.

Life+On+the+Line

Check out Grant Achatz’s amazing story in this blog.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/chicago-chefs-courageous-fight-makes-me-fear-cancer-less/

STILL LOVE THIS CRAZY SONG

The Chainsmokers are an American DJ duo that have remixed songs for The Killers, Icona Pop, and Ellie Goulding.

Their first radio hit in America, #SELFIE, reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top Ten on the Billboard Dance chart.

It also reached #1 in Finland, #2 in Sweden, and #3 in Australia and Norway.

VIDEO MAY BE APPROPRIATE FOR EVERYONE!

The video has been viewed more than 181 million times on YouTube.  Now, go take a selfie!

THAT’S IT

So there’s your surprise “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Have a great weekend!

Anthony

 

Chicago Chef’s Courageous Fight Makes Me Fear Cancer Less

My grandfather, John Henry Peoples, died of colon cancer at the age of 72.  His son, my father, died of brain cancer at the age of 55, in 1987.

I’ve already been to a dermatologist twice.  In 1999, I had a biopsy for something that ended up being nothing more than an “age spot” that disappeared with a cream treatment.  Last year, I found out that the spot on my scalp was “actinic keratosis”, a common pre-cancerous growth caused by the sun’s UV rays.  It was froze off.

However, in 2002, I had a scarier experience when my doctor discovered a mass in my scrotum.  An ultrasound concluded that it was testicular calcification, which affects about 2.4% of American men, mostly white.  While there is no treatment for it, there’s not enough evidence to conclude that it might lead to testicular cancer.

As I approach my 50th birthday this October, I’d be lying if I said that I don’t think about getting cancer.

With my family history and my own scares, I wouldn’t be shocked to develop cancer one day.  If that diagnosis ever comes, I now have Grant Achatz to look to for inspiration and courage.

Grant_Achatz

Many of you probably haven’t heard the name.

I didn’t know who Grant Achatz was until I saw an article in the April 2011 “Men’s Health” magazine about how to make the ultimate burger.  Since I don’t eat beef, I likely read the article because he was attractive and that stopped me long enough from flipping through the magazine to read the feature.

However, I didn’t even read this magazine article until a couple of years later.  (Yes, a stack of magazines sat in my closet that long before I got around to them.)

And, this spring, I finally read his 2011 book, “life, on the line:  A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat”.   While I loved Shania Twain’s “From This Moment On” that I read earlier this year, Grant’s book is hands down the best autobiographical book I’ve ever read!

Life+On+the+Line

From the title of the book, you probably gather that he almost died.

The book doesn’t waste anytime going there with Grant describing how he was peeling out his inner throat in the book’s first written page in the preface.  You were drawn in and were rooting so hard for this young man to beat the odds.

I promise I’ll get to the point of my blog and how Grant’s book touched and inspired me, but I want you to see what this young, amazing man accomplished in a short period of time.

I loved reading about his early life of being raised in his family’s restaurant business in Michigan and jello being the first food he learned to make.  He then became a line cook as a teenager, went on to the Culinary Institute of America in New York in 1993, and did his six-month externship at a hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Grant would be welcomed back there after his externship and then he thought he was ready to experience Chicago where he worked for renowned chef Charlie Trotter for a couple of months.

With the high pressure environment and degradation from Trotter to his chefs, it didn’t end the way Grant thought it would.  When he left Trotter’s restaurant, Trotter told Grant that since he didn’t last a year, that Grant couldn’t use the famed chef as a reference and that he “simply would not exist” to Trotter.

Younger Grant

He went back home dismayed and planned a trip to Europe with his girlfriend at the time, Cindy.  They saw London and Paris, where they ate at “3 Michelin stars” restaurants and Grant was disappointed.  They traveled on to Rome, Venice, and Florence.

It was at a winery that featured a little bistro-like eatery where Grant said he had the “best meal of my life” and it was there that he realized the one thing that every restaurant needed:  passion.

Grant came back from Europe with passion and he landed a four-year stint at chef Thomas Keller’s “The French Laundry” in California’s Napa Valley.

Grant and Thomas Keller

While there, Grant worked his way up from an entry-level position to sous-chef, the second-in-command and direct assistant to Chef Keller.

He took a position as the Executive Chef at Trio, located outside of Chicago in Evanston, Illinois.  In his three years there, Grant took the restaurant from a four-star Mobil Travel Guide to a five-star rating.

But, he wanted more and in May 2005, he opened his own restaurant, Alinea, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  The 64-seat restaurant quickly earned rave reviews for featuring a small tasting menu with about 18 or so courses.

Alinea Chicago

The food that Grant and his team created were nothing short of gastronomical art.

Grant Achatz Creating 2Grant Achatz Creating

GA Culinary Treat2GA Culinary TreatGA Culinary Treat3

I could just sit and stare at Grant’s incredible creations for hours.  Actually, I did with Grant’s hardcover coffee table book, Alinea, which features more than a hundred of his recipes and photographs.

One of Alinea’s first major achievements was being named “Best Restaurant in America” by Gourmet Magazine. 

This would be followed by the AAA Five Diamond Award (2007-2014), the Jean Banchet Award for Best Celebrity Chef and Best Fine Dining (2007), the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef (2008), the “3 Michelin stars” in 2011 and 2013, and countless other awards.

Grant Nick

Grant’s dreams of opening his own restaurant were made possible by Nick Kokonas, a regular customer with his wife, Dagmara, at Trio, the restaurant that brought Grant to the Chicago area.  Nick was so impressed with Grant that he defied his friends’ advice of investing in a restaurant since so many fail.

Grant and Nick’s business partnership with Alinea also developed into a strong friendship and that friendship would end up saving Grant’s life.

Before moving to Chicago in 2001, Grant had a health scare while he was living in California.  Doctors thought it might have meningitis, but it wasn’t.

In early 2004, Grant noticed a small white bump on his tongue that wouldn’t go away and the accompanying pain became more intense over the next few months.  He finally had a biopsy done and it came back negative.

One day, after not seeing his business partner for days, Nick came into the restaurant and Grant looked very sick and he told Nick of the pain that his tongue was causing him.  When Grant showed Nick his tongue, Nick instantly knew there was a problem and demanded that he go see an oral surgeon.

achatz.grant

On July 13, 2007, Grant was diagnosed with Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue.  The man who was making a career of creating the most exquisite dishes was faced with two dire realities:  an invasive, destructive, and painful surgery that would take away 75% of his tongue or death.

I shed many tears reading Grant and Nick’s accounts of the fear and the sadness they both felt after the diagnosis and Grant facing the fact that he was dying.  My heart was breaking for this young man (only 33-years-old) and his two small sons, Kaden and Keller.

After meeting with specialists in New York City and Chicago, including the surgeon that operated on famed movie critic, Roger Ebert, for thyroid and salivary cancer, the news wasn’t good for Grant.

Ebert-Before-and-After

Ebert knew the hell that Grant faced with battling cancer and having part of his jaw removed.  Ebert’s surgeon, Dr. Harold Pelzer, recommended that Grant have surgery.  However, Dr. Pelzer did mention another surgeon, Dr. Everett Vokes, at the University of Chicago, that had a less conventional approach to surgery.

Everett Vokes

Dr. Vokes was working on clinical trials that avoided surgery as the first option.  Instead, chemotherapy would be administered first, along with a medication that would interfere with the cancer growing and spreading throughout the body.  That would be followed by radiation, which was intense, devastating and painful.

The non-conventional approach worked and in December 2007, Grant’s cancer was in remission.

cancer

Cancer has touched all of our lives.

Whether you’re living with it or you’re a survivor, whether you know someone who is living with it or is a survivor, or if you’ve lost a loved one to cancer, “life, on the line:  A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat” is the most honest, encouraging, thoughtful, and touching book I’ve ever read.

If I ever develop cancer, I hope I have the courage of Grant Achatz, a friend like Nick Kokonas, and a visionary like Dr. Everett Vokes.

I hope that Grant lives a long and healthy life and that he keeps making gastronomical art in his kitchens.  And, since I only live three hours from Chicago, I hope one day to visit Alinea to view the work of this culinary genius in person.

Anthony