Helllllooooo?

Is anyone still out there?

🙂

After almost a year of seclusion and not wanting to be so transparent, I’m back.

Last July, I found out some scary news about my health, and decided to keep things close to my chest (ironic) and concentrate on my treatment and recovery. And just this August, I have been given a clean bill of health!

I’m not the same. I know that. I’ve been through some pretty hairy shit, and still have a long way to go to regain my spunk and energy again. But I’m cancer-free. And I’m a helluva lot less tolerant and patient when it comes to idiocy. Life is short — really.

So here I go again. My yoga. My outlet. My blog.

Posted in Giving Thanks | 9 Comments

I am not my hair; I am not my breasts.

This makes me smile.

www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/kellie-pickler-shaves-head-support-cancer-stricken-best-friend-summer-holt-miller-article-1.1152412

Why do health insurance companies not cover mammograms until a woman turns 40?

Why is that the “magic” number?

When I win the big bucks, when I’m wealthy beyond my means, I’m going to purchase the equipment for mammograms and practice medicine in my garage for any woman who has no health insurance, or any woman under the age of 40.

I guess I should also stock up on anti-venom for snake, spider and scorpion bites as well.

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Posted in politics, random, scary | 1 Comment

Same mistakes, only different.

Here’s a photo of our chalk board menu, which hangs on the wall at our restaurant:

And here’s a photo of the menu at our local brew pub, Barley Brown’s:

I pointed out to Whitey that I found a typo on their menu, and he casually mentioned that we have the exact same one our chalkboard menu. What?!? And you’re telling me now?

We’ve had the same chalkboard menu for almost five years now… and now I have to find the time and energy to take the massive beast down from the wall, erase and re-do the entire thing. Grrrrr.

Can you find it?

First person to find it and comment will be sent a free pair of Paizano’s “The Biggest Around” boxer shorts!

Posted in About Pizza, Advertising, All About Us, baker city, Friends, funny, Menu Photos, Our Pizzeria, Restaurants | 10 Comments

You Get What You Pay For

The proof is in the popcorn:

Generic vs. Name Brand

I’ll never buy cheap popcorn again.

Posted in Food, random | 1 Comment

Throwing gas on the fire. Brrrr. That’s cold.

Thank you for stopping in with words of encouragement and a hug and a what-the-heck comment. And thanks for the emails and words of support.

And…

please don’t stop patronizing a business because of one person’s mistake.

If you already were a customer of the place, liked the food and service and atmosphere and whatever… please please please still patronize it.

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Today, I was approached by one of our local newspapers who was asking for a comment about this “story” and I knew that publishing something in the paper would be a huge mistake. It’s not that newsworthy, for one. And for two, who suffers for it?

If I screwed up and made a stupid mistake in judgement, my employees have nothing to do with it and shouldn’t be penalized for it.

My response when questioned today reiterated such:

Mr. *** is a partner in the business. His silent partner is a well-respected and liked business person in the community (he also owns ***).

The BTC also employs over 30 people. It doesn’t seem fair that the actions of Mr. *** should trickle down and have a negative effect on those who rely on their jobs at the BTC.

The employees of the BTC use their paychecks locally at other businesses, including mine. They pay their bills and feed their families with those paychecks. If customers choose to not patronize the BTC, I would rather it be for their own personal affront instead of as retribution on behalf of the restaurants targeted by Mr. ***.

It’s not that big a deal, now that we all know. The gig is up. The cat is out of the bag.

He made a huge boo-boo and people are mad, but at least it’s all out in the open.

And here’s a way to spin it into something helpful:

We will all now be skeptical when it comes to anonymous “reviews”.

Us restaurant owners will still read the comments left for us on Yelp, TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon (and whatever other “review” site pops up in the future)… and we will immediately act on constructive criticism.

And non-restaurant owners who have read this story will now know to take the “reviews” on the internet with a virtual grain of salt.

A big, huge, gnarly grain of salt.

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Final words on this subject for me:

A fire was set, and those who were burned fought back.

But throwing gas on the fire isn’t going to help anyone nearby. It will create a town of ashes and animosity, and that would be pretty dumb considering how great a place it is that we live in.

——————————————-

So back to work.
All of you.

 

 

Posted in About Pizza, All About Us, baker city, Bummer, Giving Thanks, Our Pizzeria, Restaurants, Teamwork | Leave a comment

Bravo, Pavo! Not. / UPDATED

It’s taken me a long time to settle down and write this blog post so that I wouldn’t sound like a lunatic.  I’ve since come to terms with how to address the situation that got me so riled up, and you, my dear friends and blog stalkers, are going to help me deal with a shiddy situation just by reading this.

The first few drafts I pounded on my keyboard were full of anger, highlighted with some pretty choice words that may or may not be illegal in parts of the state.

Yet, after talking it over with other people, including my family, other restaurant owners who are (or were) a party to it, and my own staff at Paizano’s, I decided that there is no reason I shouldn’t just speak the truth and put it out there for everyone to draw their own conclusions on A: Why I’m so pissed, and B: Why we should never, ever, take anonymous “reviews” as fact.

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Recently, someone wrote some awful things online about local Baker City restaurants (not mine, this time around). His online persona used the name Pavo, and he had nothing nice to say. He specifically targeted restaurants that are locally-owned in Baker City, even though he claimed to be from Ontario (about an hour away). One of the restaurant owners that he smeared online (someone a lot smarter than I am who has a very successful and popular place here in town), did some investigating and figured out who the person was and sent him a strongly-worded email that contained the following:

The newly created “Pavo” account disappeared soon afterward, taking his venomous words about the restaurants with it.

Afterward, I was told who “Pavo” was (the guy who received the email), but just couldn’t believe it. I mean, it’s a small town. You can’t always believe everything you’re told, for one, and for two, I have collaborated with this Pavo person in the past, helping him to create fliers for his restaurant and co-sponsoring events that he spearheaded at our local ski hill. My brain told me to be careful, to not trust rumors and small town gossip.

So I decided to look into it myself.

Oddly enough, the name “Pavo” had been used back in 2009 on the same review site (with a different combination of numbers after the name), and with the same type of negative words. One of those reviews was of my restaurant, and I recalled reading it back then and feeling upset.

It said:

It was my first negative review from someone who wasn’t obviously a competitive restaurant owner, and I was bummed. Whitey told me to ignore it, and to let the customers decide whether or not we’d stay in business. I remember him shutting my laptop, and telling me never to look at it again.

Right.

So go figure that the latest mean reviewer shared the name “Pavo”. When I heard the name, my hackles went up.

Let’s take a look at “Pavo’s” former reviews, shall we?

For someone from Ontario, this guy sure gets around Baker City… and Mexico.

Let’s see. The Geiser Grill… what does “Pavo” have to say?

And the Sumpter Junction restaurant?

What about the Oregon Trail Restaurant, Pavo? What did you think about your meal there?

Wow. You’re hard to please. Surely you enjoyed your meal at the renowned Haines Steakhouse… right?

Wait a minute. What’s that? You “own a restaurant”?!?? This is crazy! I wonder what restaurant you own in “Ontario” that has such high standards.

Let’s take a look at your five-star ratings, shall we?

That’s odd. One of them is for a truck stop, here in Baker nonetheless.

WOW! Four times during your vacation, you ate at a truck stop? It must have been a truly magnificent experience!

But, this is so strange. You were “visiting” Baker City for 3 days and yet these are the only reviews you have ever written — none are for your “hometown” of Ontario?

Wait… there’s one other 5-star review on your resume, for a restaurant in Mazatlan, Mexico called “Pancho’s”.

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My own sarcasm is so thick, I’m suffocating.

The owner of our local truck stop restaurant has photos all over his Facebook page of him vacationing in Mazatlan, Mexico at his vacation home that he’s had for many years.

There are even photos of him and his friends and family dining at, and WITH Pancho, at “Pancho’s” restaurant.

That a local business owner would slam another business in such a shady manner has me seething. At least use your real name if you’re going to write such things. Stand by your words.

I’m not stupid. I’ve seen reviews that other places write for themselves under monikers that are similar to their own names or their spouses names, or they use the same icon that is used on their Facebook or blog profiles.

They write about how amazing they are, how great their own food and service are, and I laugh it off. As long as they steer clear of slander and smearing their competitors, it’s no big deal. Maybe if they spent more time making their product better and training their staff to have great customer service, they wouldn’t need to boost their own online egos.

But I digress.

—————————————————–

I tried to respond to “Pavo’s” review on TripAdvisor, but they didn’t like what I had to say and I was instructed to re-write it in a more positive tone.

So I figured, it’s my blog, I can say whatever I want right.here.without.censure.

Can you imagine if there were a KidAdvisor.com ? We could write about what a horrible child you have, how misbehaved and loud and obnoxious and dirty he is, all under the safety of anonymity because we can hide behind our keyboard. You’d have no recourse. You’d be mortified and angry, wanting to find out who wrote it so that you could retaliate and talk smack about their own child!

Here’s the thing: owning a restaurant is a whole hell of a lot like having a kid. We don’t go to work everyday hoping that it grows up by itself. We have to put effort into it, tons of love and tears, nurturing and growing with it, with the goal that one day we can work a little less, sit back a little more, and be proud of what we’ve raised.

A job well done.

This guy bad mouthed my kid. My baby. He also bad mouthed a lot of other kids in town and these parents are angry. It certainly didn’t make his own kid look any better. In fact, I’ll go on record to say that my kid is a heck of a lot smarter than his kid. Better looking, too.

I’ll tell you what — when we were opening our restaurant over five years ago, I felt the hate. I couldn’t understand why, of course, because I had only ever helped other business owners. When I went to local banks with my business plan, I was shown the door. When I finally got funding, and asked for bids from contractors, I had people ignore my phone calls and finally, grossly over-estimate their contracts.It took awhile to find someone to take me seriously.

Not everyone was so self-consumed, of course. The owner of our local brewpub helped us install our keg cooler, and showed us how to keep it maintained. He shared the contact info of trustworthy vendors, helped us with our floor plan, and also offered lots of encouragement when I would admit to crying myself to sleep. He knew. He’d been there.

When a new business opens here in Baker, I want them to succeed. Really and truly. It only helps my restaurant in the long run by encouraging people to relocate, or get in a more consistent habit of eating out. If a restaurant nearby fails, it lessens my traffic flow. It hurts my business.

Think about it: If you have a restaurant on a busy Main street in a downtown area next to dozens of other restaurants, will you be more successful if they all disappeared? No.

Success breeds success.

And bad-mouthing your neighbors only makes you look worse, and ultimately, turn off your own customers.

———————————————————————-

By writing this, I feel a little better. I also have taught myself a lot about online investigating, and I’ve learned a little Spanish as well.

Did you know that “Pavo” means “Turkey” in Spanish? Neither did I! I would have thought it would mean “Chicken” or “Jackass”.

And Pavo was correct about one thing: our salads are great. In fact, if you love our signature “Kina’s Favorite” salad on our menu (the one with the candied walnuts, dried cranberries, tomatoes and gorgonzola), you can also get it at our local truck stop! It’s featured on their latest menu as the “Corral’s Favorite”. Weird, right?

Oh my. There’s the sarcasm again. I’d better quit while I’m ahead.

————————————————————————-

updated June 07, 2012

Wow. What a response. Instead of sweeping the dirt under the rug, I swept it outside and everyone saw how dirty this really is.

I did have one person email me and say that I should “get over it”. That what Pavo wrote was over 3 years ago, and to “let it go”.

Except that it wasn’t just the things that were written in 2009. He also wrote reviews as recently as a few weeks ago, only, he deleted them after being confronted by someone about it.

Prove it, Kina.

OK.

It took a few emails and calling in a huge favor, but here are a few more lovely reviews by the ever-so-eloquent Pavo:

His profile, as of this evening:

 

And here is his profile as of April 27, 2012:

And here are his reviews from April and May of this year:

Bullridge Brewpub:

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The Inland Cafe:

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The new Corner Brick Bar & Grill:

 

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Porchibees, now known as Crave-A-Bowl (and they have AWESOME food and some of the friendliest people working there):

 

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Barley Brown’s Brew Pub:

I just love the “to be fair” comment. TO BE FAIR!?!?? Really?

—————————————————————————————

Another rip on the Sumpter Junction:

Remember, this is a restaurant directly across the street from his place.

————————————————————————

And then of course, a stellar review of the truck stop:

and of course, a photo to go along with it:

Seriously? Seriously.

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The other reviews, all very positive, were for another restaurant in Mazatlan near his vacation home, and the Baker Heritage Museum and the  Interpretive Center.

If you take away one thing after reading all of this, I hope it’s that you’ll never, ever believe something that you read online. Fair, honest, true reviews are written by people who do it for a living — they’re PAID to be critics, to travel and eat and blog and publish their opinions. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising, but only if you know whose mouth it’s coming out of. Anonymous reviews are rubbish.

People hiding behind a pseudonym do so because they have something to hide.

Jealousy? Anger? Resentment? Maybe an ex-employee or a former lover are behind that nasty review you just read. Think about that before believing the hate, and also before believing the love spewed in an online review.

Pavo is entitled to his opinion, but at the expense of his neighbors success? I don’t think so.

I also don’t think he’ll be welcome back at many of the restaurants he’s written about, so I hope that he truly does love his self-proclaimed 5-star restaurant. He’ll be his own best customer.

 

 

 

Posted in All About Us, baker city, Giving Thanks, I might regret this later, Our Pizzeria, politics, Teamwork, why I love my husband | 27 Comments

Vegas: Competition Day

…. continued

——–
WEDNESDAY
——-

We were up until 1 a.m. cooking our sauce, prepping our veggies, and making to-do lists over and over, trying our best to not forget anything. Making a pizza outside of your own kitchen is a daunting task. If you forget something, it’s not so easy to find it (which we realized during the competition, unfortunately).

We were informed that our presentation time was 11:55 a.m., and that if we were even one second late, we would be disqualified. We created our schedule accordingly, waking up very early on Wednesday morning.

Jake went downstairs to the courtyard and turned on the grill. I wanted it as hot as it would get to sear our rib eye steaks, and knew that the longer it pre-heated, the better.

He came back upstairs, I made breakfast (my favorite banana pancakes, bacon, and over-medium eggs), and then left him in the kitchen to pack our cooler while I went downstairs to grill the steaks.

As I entered the courtyard, I immediately noticed someone near our grill. He had a spray bottle of  liquid and a cone sitting nearby, warning that he was “CLEANING”.

NO!

I approached him with my platter of 3-inch thick steaks and asked if he turned off the grill. He responded angrily.

“You no leave the grill on an’ no be here! Kid get hurt, it my fault. You no leave grill on and no be here!”

Of course, we were the only souls up at that hour in Las Vegas. Kids don’t even exist that early in the morning in Vegas.

I set my steaks down and bent over to turn the grill back on, knowing it would take another 15 minutes (that I didn’t have) to get hot enough to cook. He continued to shake his finger and yell at me, saying he was cleaning and I’d have to wait.

Hell no.

“Do you know who I am?” I responded.

“I am Kina, and I’m here for an international cooking competition, and if I am late, there is going to be hell to pay. We’re talking Food Network, dude. Like, on TV and sh*t.”

I felt like the Hulk: Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

His eyes widened, and he looked at the steaks, realizing that only a psycho or a celebrity would be grilling massive steaks that early in the morning.

He shut up and watched me cook. I watched the clock, and wanted to cry.

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We loaded up the car and got to the Expo much later than we had anticipated because of the grill-cleaning-debacle. Parking is awful at the Convention Center, and by the time you walk to the Expo Center and get to the competition area, you’ve clocked a good mile with your enormous cooler while wearing a chef’s coat in 75-degree weather. It’s not easy.

The other competitors were already busy tossing their dough, saucing and topping their pies. It was oddly quiet, except for the loudspeaker announcements of demonstrations about to occur.

Empty Demo Area

Competition in Progress

Chefs doing prep behind the scenes

Competitors

Competitors

Nice Competitor

Nice Competitors

(there were some not-so-nice competitors, too)

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We got to work.

First and foremost, one of the biggest flaws that I realized from the year prior needed to be addressed. The ovens that are available for everyone to use are brand spanking new, and therefore, have unseasoned decks to cook upon.

Brand New Deck Oven

We normally cook a pizza at 650-degrees. These were community ovens, and the constant opening and closing of the doors during the competition bodes well for a cold oven. We brought a laser temp gun with us, and immediately went over to the ovens area. We waited until someone else opened the oven and then would quickly zap the deck in a few places to figure out the hot spots. We settled on the oven shown above; it had the most consistent 600-ish temperature, and many of the other competitors were using the other deck or wood fired ovens (and this one pictured above is not a common oven in restaurants, so we wouldn’t have to arm-wrestle for position).

Jake unpacked our cooler and began tossing out his dough. I set up our assembly line and allowed him to make the pizza, with me only there to back him up. I didn’t take any photos during this (because I was severely concentrating on his work), but here’s a few of him on the ovens.

Jake on Ovens

Typical Jake “majestic” pose

Competitor on ovens

Note the peel that Jake is holding above. It’s the one that we had to purchase because the day before, we were told that all of the peels and paddles had been stolen. We kept having other competitors try to take it from us, thinking that it was community property. I finally took a Sharpie to it and wrote our name on it, certain it was going to disappear. We were glad to share, but if it came down to “I need to spin this pie and check the bake and you have my peel” I was going to throw down.

Jake was so cool. So calm. I stayed on the sidelines watching as he loaned out our peel and chatted with the people sharing our oven. He even went so far as to use our laser gun to check the temps on the decks for other competitors, helping them to make a better pie. The big city folk weren’t having any of that (suspicious about his intentions), but the competitors from smaller towns were very thankful.

Competitor pie about to go in the oven

Jake and I had decided to par-bake our pizzas, then finish them off five minutes before we were to present them to the judges. We pulled them out of the oven and went back to our station two half-finished and not completely topped pies in front of us. One of the officials came by and eyeballed our offering:

Half Baked

~ Marinated rib eye steak, asparagus, yellow grape tomatoes, whole milk mozzarella with our homemade bloody mary-nara and a celery salt and pepper crust ~

“Flashing it before presentation?” he asked.

We nodded.

“Smart,” he replied. This was a guy that has won many, many awards at this competition, so it felt good to have him give us props.

We watched the clock, then we watched other chefs scrambling for time, racing to the ovens, frantically wiping down their station before running to the judges’ tent (if your station was dirty, you were disqualified). We were as cool as ice. For being late to the party, it was entertaining to watch the drunks while we were just mildly buzzed on adrenaline.

Jake announced “It’s Time” and we both walked over to empty ovens. The bake was good, the pie was bubbling, and we quickly pulled them, topped them with our fresh toppings and then walked to the judges’ tent.

Our Bloody Mary Pizza

One of our two pizzas

~ Cold diced celery, grape tomatoes, green olives and freshly shaved horseradish root with celery leaves as garnish were put on top. That horseradish root is AWESOME! ~

The judges are out of view behind a curtain, where officials would take in your “presentation pie” before the officials would bring a fully cut pie for them to sample.

We were right on time.

And then we were done.

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Afterward, the presentation pie is then cut and taken to a table where spectators and fellow chefs can sample your creation. A few other competitor’s pies were still sitting on the table.

Spectators

Competitor Pie

Spectators

Competitor Pie

Ours was set down by an official, and devoured in less than 30-seconds. Gone. Kaput. We didn’t even get to sample it when we got to the table. Now all we could do was wait.

Relieved it’s all over

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We walked the show floor and decided to go to a class on “The Art of Making Mozzarella”. It was incredibly interesting, but honestly, all we could think about was the competition.

Making Mozza

Making Mozza

Making Mozzarella

Jake and I both were very impressed, and he’s since been bugging me to get some curd to play with.

After the class, we simultaneously realized that we were starving. STARVING! With acres of pizza scent wafting through the air, we did what any starving person would do.

We left and got these for lunch:

Double Double

Jake had never had an original In n’ Out burger. He was not disappointed. It was probably a good thing that In n’ Out doesn’t serve martinis, because I was in need of a vodka IV drip. The suspense and build-up of the day was killing me.

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To be continued…..

 

Posted in About Pizza, All About Us | Leave a comment