Yesterday, today was tomorrow...
... and tomorrow, today will be yesterday.
Take this brother, may it serve you well.....
WhiteTrash BBQ -- Real Pit Barbecue from New York City. This is the story of a fire obsessed guy, living in Brooklyn, with a dream of producing award winning, competition busting, real Barbeque. Come live the dream as I compete around the country in the KCBS Championship Barbecue circuit.
... and tomorrow, today will be yesterday.
I found this article in The Brooklyn Rail about the trials and tribulations of restaurant workers and one organization, ROC who is determined to give Power to the People.
NEWS FLASH: Restaurant hopping in Manhattan is not for those with shallow pockets. According to Zagat’s 2007 Restaurant Guide, Gotham is the costliest place to dine in America. The average bill, says the Guide, is $39.43 per person; the average tab, $128.79.
Meanwhile, as the well-heeled chow down on pan-seared fluke, slow-roasted pork or Madeira-braised oxtails, conditions for the 165,000 people employed in the five borough’s 15,000 eateries—dishwashers to waiters, 40% of them undocumented—are often heinous. Abuses, say members of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY), are rampant.
Indeed, a 2005 study conducted by ROC and more than 20 groups including the National Employment Law Project, NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, uncovered what they call “pervasive inequality.”
Among their findings: the median wage for restaurant workers is $9.11 per hour; 44% live below the poverty line; 48% work more than eight hours a day; 73% lack health insurance; 84% have no paid sick leave; and 70% have no paid vacation.
ROC, a five-year-old workers’ center with nearly 1600 members, aims to change this.
Ayman H. [a pseudonym] got involved with ROC in 2002. “I decided I had to do something meaningful in my life,” he says. A waiter for 28 years, Ayman is outraged by the racial discrimination and unsafe conditions he has witnessed. “I have seen people without civility, chefs who throw dishes, supervisors who call workers bad, insulting names, kitchens with no safety nets. I’ve seen people slice their fingers and I’ve seen others get burned. People who are sick are told, ‘If you stay home today, you can stay home permanently,’ so they work when they’re ill.”
Although Ayman is currently employed in a midtown eatery that provides him with health insurance and paid sick and vacation time, he is active in ROC because he knows that he is an exception. “I want to give back a little bit of what I’ve enjoyed during my life,” he says. “I want to help restaurant workers understand that we have rights. It’s so important to teach people that no one can walk all over them and take their sweat and turn it into dollars.”
ROC’s one-room office, rented from Brooklyn College’s Tribeca satellite program, has the cluttered feel of a campaign headquarters. Pictures of Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Che, and Gandhi line the walls and a quote from Audre Lorde reminds both staff and visitors that their silence will not protect them. Picket signs lie in heaps on the floor: Fiorello Workers Deserve Fair Promotions; Shelly Fireman Is Not Above the Law; Please Don’t Patronize This Restaurant; Por Trabajo, Justicia y Vida.
Fekkak Mamdouh and Saru Jayaraman founded ROC in 2001. “I had been working at Windows on the World in the World Trade Center,” Mamdouh says. “After 9-11, Local 100 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union called me and Saru and said they wanted us to help the 13,000 restaurant workers who’d been displaced by 9-11 get jobs.”
At the time, Jayaraman, an attorney from Ft. Greene, was working in Hempstead at the nonprofit Workplace Project. “What started as a way to help people find jobs quickly turned into something else,” she says. “We learned that David Emil, the owner of Windows on the World, was opening a new restaurant, Noche, in Times Square. When former Windows’ employees approached him and asked for jobs, he told them they weren’t qualified.”
Jayaraman and Mamdouh saw this as old-fashioned union busting, since Windows’ workers had been members of Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE), Local 100. Together, they devised a strategy to bring media attention to Emil’s refusal to rehire his former employees and picketed Noche the night before it was scheduled to open. The next day, Jayaraman crows, Emil hired 35 previous staff members.
Although Noche is now closed, this 2002 victory boosted morale and showed Mamdouh and Jayaraman that winning was possible. Since then, ROC has won more than $300,000 for workers in a variety of venues, from a small deli in Bay Ridge to four-star eateries on the East Side. While each of their six major campaigns has been different, all have utilized a combination of lawsuits and demonstrations to garner media attention.
“Our goal is to force restaurant owners who are taking the low road to take the high road and do the right thing for their employees,” Jayaraman says. They are currently targeting the Fireman Hospitality Group—whose six restaurants took in $52 million in 2004, according to RE Business Online, a national newsletter about business trends—and famed French chef, Daniel Boulud. Thomson-Gale’s online business service, Goliath, estimates that Boulud’s restaurants earn $30 million a year.
“We believe if we can win benefits at these empires, it will have a ripple impact on the entire industry and get changes that will benefit all workers,” Jayaraman says.
ROC charges that Fireman and Boulud discriminate in how promotions are rewarded, sexually harass women workers, force workers to share tips with management, and ignore unsafe working conditions. But John Fireman, vice president of marketing and development for the Fireman Hospitality Group, calls ROC’s allegations “wild and outrageous.” All 1,200 employees, he said in an email, have health insurance, get six personal or sick days and six paid holidays each year, and are given up to three weeks paid vacation. “We pride ourselves on creating a wonderful and happy atmosphere for our employees,” he wrote.
He further believes ROC to be disingenuous, more interested in headline-grabbing than negotiations. A letter to Jayaraman stating his desire to settle the workers’ grievances, dated September 19, 2006, has, he says, gone unacknowledged.
And, he adds, the NY State Department of Labor (DOL) agrees that the Fireman Group has done nothing wrong on tip sharing. According to letters issued by DOL in May and September, “The maitre d’s assisted the wait staff in rendering service to the customers, which entitles them to receive tips. These employees do not have the power to hire and/or fire employees at the restaurant.”
Although the DOL concluded that this entitles them to a percentage of the waiter’s take, ROC organizers believe the decision is flat-out wrong. They are hoping that court-ordered mediation, set to begin soon, will resolve the conflict with Fireman; the campaign against Boulud is also ongoing. In addition, ROC is committed to expanding the Restaurant Industry Round Table, a group for owners that was designed to be a model of “high road” standards for employers.
ROC is also promoting their cooperatively-owned restaurant, Colors, which opened in January 2006. Fifty co-op members from 22 countries earn a minimum of $13.50 per hour, proving, say ROC members, that profitability is not incompatible with paying workers a living wage.
Still, in an industry in which barely 1% of workers are part of collective bargaining units, ROC has its work cut out. But herein lays the group’s strength, say Jayaraman and Mamdouh. “A lot of people have labeled us a union,” says Mamdouh, “but we’re not. It’s not that we’re anti-union. In the end, we hope every campaign we’re in, the union will come and take over, but unions have rules they must follow, regulations about things like membership check cards. You have to have a certain percentage of workers signed up in order to bargain if you’re a union. Since we’re not a union, we can go in on behalf of even one worker, negotiate, and win.”
“People are so scared,” Mamdouh adds. “It’s hard for us to organize them because they’re afraid they’ll be fired. In lots of places once you speak up or show that you understand your rights, you’re out. Or you’re harassed or given bad shifts.”
Still, he concludes, the simple fact that ROC exists gives people a sense of possibility. “Every day we’re here, and every campaign that gets people treated like human beings is a victory.”
ROC is located at 99 Hudson Street in Manhattan; www.rocny.org. The group is open to all restaurant workers; dues of $5.00 per month entitle members to free ESL classes and other training. Lawyers are also available for consultations. Funding for the group comes from membership dues and foundation grants.
There are so many great blogs out there and today I want to take some time to point out some of the great NYC based food blogs. This is not a complete list by any means, and in no particular order, here are some of my favorites. Please forgive me if I left you off the list. I'm late for work!
I found this in the Daily Times, A New Voice for Pakistan. I don't know much about Islam, but if eating barbeque is part of the religious holidays, I've got to get to know more!
The Eid mentioned in the article is Eidul Azha when the faithful slaughter a goat, sheep, cow, buffalo or camel to emulate the example of the Prophet Abraham and his son, Ismael or Ishmael. Affluent Muslims perform Hajj a day before Eidul Azha by traveling to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage.
Sharpening knives and barbeque grills, all set for Eid
By Imran Naeem Ahmad
ISLAMABAD: In a small shop, sparks fly off Tahir Mahmood Qureshi’s grinding wheel as he sharpens knives and choppers all day.
With Eidul Azha approaching, Qureshi is overworked in the busy Aabpara Market. Hundreds of knives of all shapes and sizes lie next to him on the floor, and after grinding each, he holds up the respective knife to see the end product. The knives he sharpens will soon be used to slaughter animals and chop meat.
The workload in the run up to Eidul Azha is such that Qureshi expects to sharpen between 3,000 to 4,000 different knives in the last two days before the event. “It is a lot of work but this is the time of year when we make good money,” he says as a meat shop attendant arrives with four big choppers. “I worked on 700 knives today and this number may increase to about 4,000 later on,” said Qureshi.
As he continues with his work, elsewhere in the market brand new knives, skewers, barbeque grills, coal and wood chopping blocks are up for sale. Qamar Zaman manages one such shop and says, “The business is good and knives and grills are selling well.”
With sacrificial meat being distributed and exchanged in abundance for Eid, there is barely a household without a surplus of mutton or beef. Hence people like Amir Raza and Iftikhar Khan, both government employees, opt for barbequed meals.
“We look forward to this every year. The children particularly enjoy it and it is good fun for them,” says Amir, while Iftikhar narrates how his family went to Simly Dam last year to grill the meat: “It was a day out my children still remember.”
However, for those wishing to avoid this hassle, some restaurants also offer to roast meat. This is a good bargain for those with a few hundred rupees to spare. “We have many people bringing in their meat,” says a restaurant manager.
Indeed Eidul Azha provides a good chance for many to earn quick money, be they cattle owners selling their animals at the H-11 Market, shopkeepers at centres like Aabpara, coal sellers or butchers.
I got this from Lisa over at Champaign Taste who got it from Cynthia at The Sandwich Life. This is another example of a recipe for indoor cooking that can really benefit from time spent in the smoke. Hell, even the oven temperture recommended is just over where I usually keep my pits when I barbeque.
In the spirit of our WhiteTrash Christmas and Bob River's 'Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire,' check out this recipe for 3 Bean Chipmunk Chili that I found over at Twisted Christmas. If you get going with this now, come spring you can have some fine eats. But wait a minute -- don't chipmunks hibernate?
Funny thing Christmas Eve Dinner. I've never had a traditional food for the holidays. Many of my friend know exactly what they're going to eat on every holiday because they've always eaten the same things. Me, I never know. I think I'm cursed because I like to cook and I like to experiment. The only tradition we have is that there has to be a lot of food. So I just decided what I'm going to make tomorrow night. Now I just hope the butcher has some Prime Rib left.
Merry Christmas folks. It's just two days away and I still have way too much to do. On Dasher, On Comet, On Crystal and Cupid; to the mall!
Really busy today folks. Work is crazy, and I still haven't started Christmas shopping. But I haven't forgotten about all of you.
I've been scooped by two different sources yesterday! Both my friends Matt Fisher aka The Hampton Smoker and Josh Ozersky of New York Magazine's Grub Street reported that our mutual friend Rob Richter and Mark Glosserman have just signed a lease for the space that will become Hill Country Barbecue. Congratulations guys.
Hill Country BBQ, we've learned from owner Mark Glosserman, has officially signed its lease and begun construction at 30 West 26th Street, just a few blocks from Blue Smoke and RUB . Isn’t it bad medicine to open so close to a pair of established, busy barbecues? Says Glosserman: “It's a great spot, and the price was right, and we're in a big office building, so there will be a lot of traffic even though it's a side street. We have a lot of faith in our product.” No doubt. But we actually like Hill Country's chances. New Yorkers have shown a willingness to go the extra mile to eat great barbecue: Daisy May's BBQ sat on a desolate stretch of Eleventh Avenue and didn't even have tables; RUB ran out of meat every night; Blue Smoke barely had any smoke flavor during its first year, as a result of chimney malfunction. Glosserman hired the best barbecue cooker in the city, Robert Richter. If Hill Country delivers the goods, New Yorkers will support it … right?
Here's a couple of music recommendations to keep you dancing while you stoke your barbecue fires during this holiday season. I know that most of these aren't new, and you may or may not have heard them before, but take a listen. If you're like me, you'll enjoy them.
Are you done Christmas shopping yet? Or are you like me and haven't even begun? Yup. It's getting late but I have a few recommendations for the person who loves to cook outside.
You might remember that back in October, which seems like yesterday, I attended Charbroil's 2007 product roll-out in Bryant Park, New York. It was a beautiful day, and I got to meet some new friends including Adam from Men In Aprons and the fine team from The BBQ General, Wiley and his lovely wife Janet, while we all poked, proded and kicked the tires of Charbroil's latest and greatest equipment.
With Christmas fast approaching, I haven't had much time to cook recently. Today's in the high 50's here in Brooklyn, and my grills are crying out for attention. But I've got to buy and decorate a tree, start my shopping, attend a party.....
This appeared in the Brownsville Herald. I found it interesting, I hope you do too.
BY EMMA PEREZ-TREVIÑO
The Brownsville Herald
December 14, 2006 — There was no pardon for a $250 prison pig recently slaughtered and skinned for an inmate and prison guard barbecue of chicharrones and carnitas.
“We slaughtered him and ate him,” Cameron County Federal Detention Division Chief Mike Leinart said.
A guard at the Carrizalez-Rucker Detention Center killed the pig with a compound bow and arrow about three weeks ago, and inmates skinned it.
It seems I've offended many with my last post. That wasn't my intention. But, too bad. Get over it. This blog is home to my opinions and thoughts. If you don't like reading them, move on.
I'm honored. I've never had one of my blog entries picked up by New York Magazine before. My recent post about the demise of Long Island's Grill Kings barbeque contest was run on Grub Street last night. If you don't know Grub Street is New York Magazine's food and restaurant blog. You should be reading it. Thanks, Josh!
..and I don't have a lot to say.
Today's a sad day.
I admit it. I'm Big Brother; I keep track of what you folks are reading on my blog. I also look at what word searches in Google, Yahoo or any of the big search engines will bring a reader to my site. Don't worry though, I don't keep track of who any of you are.
One of the things I love about New York City is it's ever changing scene. But one of the things I hate about New York City is the mallification of Manhattan. When I was a teen, one of the great things about going into "the city" was that it was filled with stores and places that didn't exisist anywhere else. Not anymore. Does Manhattan need another chain shoe store?
Sauce Magazine just ran an article about the best food blogs out there.
I can smell the smoke. The New England Barbeque Society just posted a tentative schedule for the 2007 season. Damn, it's a lot of contests.
I was reading my friend Scott's blog Sugar and Lard the other day. He was talking about how he's a recipe-aholic. Cutting articles out of magazines, newspapers, off product labels, he does it all. He even fantasizes about how someday, he'll actually be able to use all his snippets of paper.
Well all you smoke-a-holics, some good news to report. Dinosaur Bar Be Que in Syracuse is open and back in business. I just got off the phone with them and they tell me the place is packed. Good luck to them. I hope this temporary setback is just that.
Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse is cleaning up its act. It seems like they still don't know what caused the problems, but they're doing their best to fix the problem. I hope the restaurant can recover its business, but to be honest, I'd be a little leary about going back.
I wasn't going to post this, I hate to hear about any barbecue restaurant having trouble, but I feel you need to know. This is big story. Over 600 people are ill from eating at Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, New York. Please realize that this is effecting only their Syracuse locations and not thier joints in NYC or Rochester.
“One advantage to viral infections with this particular type that we may be looking at is that they tend to be very self-limited, they tend to be shorter acting, they tend to be 12 to 48 hours. But, unfortunately they tend to be much more contagious,” Onondaga Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow said.
Despite the steady increase in illnesses, the restaurant is still scheduled to open back up Monday morning after being disinfected and throwing prepared food out.
Anyone who feels their sickness may be related to the Dinosaur is asked to call the Onondaga County Health Department.
I got some great feedback on the post for Dwight's Cherry Smoked Turkey, so here's another one from Ramin Ganeshram that sounds pretty good. Whomever Dwight is, I want to meet him. It sounds like he's a great cook.
A service of
This site is a member of
The Smoke Ring
This RingSurf Food~n~More Ring Net Ring
owned by WhiteTrash BBQ.
[ Skip Next | Next 5 Sites | Random Site | List Sites ]