The best time to ask the bartender to recommend a beer for you is NOT when the bartender has her arms very full of bottles of liquor and is also holding a box with her two free fingers and has a very precarious grip on the whole thing.
This is a public service announcement from your friendly neighborhood bartender who maybe carries too much at one time. :)
My job gave me a goddamned magnum of St. Feuillien Belgian Triple for no reason at all, and I carried it home on the CTA, like one does.
It was like toting around a toddler. Only better behaved and quieter.
"When you’re young and you’re a chef, you’re like, ‘I can’t learn anything from these big companies,’" says Merges. "As a matter of fact you can, and you can learn a lot." For one thing, Merges, through his work with Cuisine Solutions, was introduced to the sous vide method, the technique of cooking vacuum-sealed food in low-temperature circulating water baths to ensure evenly cooked food that maintains its juiciness. At the time the method was not uncommon in European fine-dining restaurants, but virtually unknown in American ones.
Yet Cuisine Solutions had pioneered sous vide on an industrial scale, using it to manufacture precooked food that it sold to large institutions like hotels, airlines, and the military. The company had a vested interest in introducing the technique to top U.S. chefs—all the better to tout its own products if Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Charlie Trotter were using the same technique. And in Merges the company found an eager adherent.
"I remember one day when I’m cooking on the line—it’s so brutal," he recalls. "It’s like, ‘I wish I can manipulate the temperature and control it to a point that is so much more refined than I can do with my hands.’ I’m like, ‘There has to be a way to get this [technology] from this million-square-foot factory into a 900-square-foot kitchen.’"
The problem was, there were no easily available or affordable immersion circulators on the market. The earliest domestic chefs using them were scaring up used lab equipment on eBay—not exactly the safest of practices if, say, your immersion circulator was once used to manufacture batteries. So Merges placed a call to Polyscience, a Niles-based manufacturer of high-precision temperature-control equipment used mostly in industrial or medical applications—the kind of gear you’d use in a lab to separate DNA or measure the viscosity of a fluid. “I said, ‘Hey, did you ever think about temperature control for cooking?’” Merges recalls.
"He got through to customer service," says Polyscience’s Philip Preston. "And the customer service rep said, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about, but our president loves to cook.’" Preston had never heard of the sous vide method, but he was fascinated. He took one of his immersion circulators to Trotter’s and Merges told him all about the technique. Within eight months Preston had formed a culinary unit in his company. "We ended up with probably about 13 of our units in just the Trotter’s kitchen," he says. Today sous vide cooking is ubiquitous in fine-dining restaurants in the U.S., and Polyscience is the leading supplier of immersion circulators to restaurant kitchens."