The slow death of Foodyi is killing me too. Suddenly I’ve lost that perspective that allows me to write whatever I feel (grammatical errors and all), whatever I want to say out loud without seeming consequences. But now that it has some bearing on my “professional” (and it has.. Brad if you’re reading this…hi) life, I’ve become a more nervous and doubting writer. Instead of imposing the seriousness of food as a subject at work onto my creative writing process, I should have  used my writing as more of an escape. Which I did for awhile.. and then it got to me. And then I got them confused. And then I got to where I am now.. writing once a month. Maybe it’s time for a new blog for a new perspective. Have you read The Food Whore? I think she does a great job recounting the day’s events as a chef in a restaurant kitchen. But I don’t know if I can handle doing it anonymously…I like associating myself with my writing. It’s not just a forum for funny stories for me…I don’t know I have to think about it for a bit.

In the meantime, I’ve moved on professionally. I’m at a new restaurant cooking new food with new people. New stories and new techniques to learn. SO much to learn.. and I’m stoked. So stoked…

Office Supplies


I’ve reached a point where the ho-hum days become a part of my work week. Up til this point, I’ve had a relatively exciting week after week. Or at least there were enough new things to learn and jokes to go around to keep me entertained for most of the time. Now, I’ve reached what seems to be The Grind. Go to work. Read prep list. Make polenta. Again. Cut scallions. Again. Talk about drinking after work. Again. Drink after work. Again. Wake up hung over. Again.

Thinking of all the kitchen tools we cooks get excited about, I got to thinking what  tools other trades go gah gah over. Do plumbers get excited about new monkey wrenches? I know my mom LOVES her pink scrubs. I brought in a ceramic vegetable peeler I had purchased on sale a few days before, and we definitely talked about it for a decent 5 minutes. Now donned the space peeler, I can’t deny that I was pretty excited to test it out on a big, fat tuber when I got to work. (update: the space peeler with a lifetime guarantee definitely broke and more or less “pets” the skin with its dull blade, rather than peeling it off the vegetable).

I guess it’s the equivalent to new office supplies. That new box of pens really kicks off the week, no? Everyone gets excited about new office supplies. Mostly because you don’t have to pay for it, and you could scan through the company’s supplier’s website and pretty much buy anything you “need” in any ridiculous color you want, just because you can. But they’re a cheap, simple solution to break up the routine and offer a bit of change. Even if the conversation drifts into pointless discussions on ceramic swivel heads and if they are, in fact, the answer to consistently perfectly peeled vegetables. Sometimes, that’s all you need to get through the day…

So that whole waking up and your muscles are completely sore and feeling like blood has circulated in a full rotation throughout your body for the first time feeling? Ya, that still happens every morning. Except, now my hands looks like I’ve been dipping them in a bag of knives every day and my knees sound like jiffy pop.

That, and breakfast is at 12 pm, lunch is at 5 pm, and dinner is at 12 am. Always. Fucked, right?

Duck Liver Pate, Lemon Zest Ricotta, Parsley Salad, Bruleed Figs  & Crostinis

Sundays are the best, because you’ve just come down from a high off of working 2 crazy back to back nights (200+ covers). Sunday is literally, the day of rest. My weekend is usually Monday and Tuesday, so having only about 50 covers, plus an opportunity to play around with food and make something of my own, is kind of the perfect way to cap off my week.

I don’t know if I actually explained what Sunday Supper is, but it’s essentially a 5 course tasting menu offered alongside the regular menu on Sundays only. Whoever wants to participate (granted it’s approved), gets to create 1 of the 5 courses (5 being dessert). On Sundays, most of the staff comes in at 3:00 pm to prep for service that begins at 6:00 pm. Your dish needs to be ready by 5:30 pm, but planned out by 3:00 pm (so the menu can be typed up). You can imagine what kind of harried predicament that leaves those a little less seasoned in the art of improvisation. If you’ve decided that you’ll be contributing a course in the upcoming Sunday, you’ll want to start thinking of your ingredients probably around Thursday or Friday. But considering you have regular service to be concerned about (and the 200+ people per night), you really don’t have that much time/concern for what’s going to happen 3 days from then. And, when you come home at 1 in the morning, brainstorming about MORE food, is kind of the last thing you want to do. Sooooooo… basically I’m all kinds of flustered, but somehow every Sunday, 5 great dishes come together and people seemed to be happy with what they’re getting. We’ve toyed with the idea of trying to coordinate all five dishes into one theme. And hopefully we can find a balance of time and energy to do so at some point. But when everyone’s schedules change weekly, and ingredients seem to be missing or overly abundant at the end of the week, you just kind of have to bang it out.

My favorite part is the collaboration and group critique, and the personalities that shine through each of the dishes. When you know and understand the people you cook with, it’s a great thing to see what they can create and the creative energy they send through the preparation and execution of their food. It’s finally the time during the week when your cooking is art, not your job, not a craft, not technical, not mindless. There are the risk-takers and the play-it-safers, there are those that take upon past experiences and those that look towards current trends. It’s all solidified into a product that is edible. And I might be biased, but I think that’s the best kind of fuckin art.



Hey, it’s Diane. Sorry I’ve been so MIA recently. As you may or may not have known, I was in Tuscany a few weeks ago renovating my house. It’s been quite the project and Amadeo, the handyman, and I are hoping it will be ready by next summer. Sandra came to help this time. The divorce has been difficult on me, but I’m one lucky bitch and I get to weep and moan under the Tuscan Sun. Below..a few pictures of how I ate my feelings (and the recipe for the AMAZING Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, the salad that almost saved my marriage.)


Diane Lane Stewart

Continue reading ‘Tuscany’


Duo of Carrot Brown Butter Dumplings in Tom Yum Soup



Tom Yum Broth

Bring to a boil 4 cups of chicken stock, preferably home-made + 2 stalks of lemon grass pound and cut into 1-2 inch stems + 2 tbsp of coarsely chopped galangal root + 8 lime leaves + 3 cilantro stem roots + 1/4 cup of fish sauce

Bring back to a simmer and add  4 Thai bird chilies coarsely chopped + juice of 1 lime  + 1 tbsp of palm sugar+ nam prik pao (thai chili paste) to taste ( about 1 tbsp)

Let it simmer for at least 45 minutes/until you can taste the flavors developing. If too salty, add more palm sugar. If not acidic enough, try adding equal parts lemon juice to your lime juice to add a more subtle acidic kick in addition to a little sweetness. If not enough, add more lime juice. Strain through a fine chinoise.

Flavors should be equal parts sweet, salty, sour, and delicious.

Status Update


I’ve cooked for over a decade, yet the manner in which I’ve been cooking for the past few months has put a whole new perspective on what it means to cook. I couldn’t have said it any better than Harold McGee when he said,

“the great virtue of the cook’s time-tested, thought-less recipes is that they free us from the distraction of having to guess or experiment or analyze as we prepare a meal. On the other hand, the great virtue of thought and analysis is that they free us from the necessity of following recipes, and help us deal with the unexpected, including the inspiration to try something new.”

This is the goal: to satisfy the mind, not only the body. To allow my interest in food to lead me to new ideas and wonderful explorations. To pursue unlimited knowledge in limited time.

That’s all.

Did you know?


…egg comes from an Indo-European root meaning “bird”

…the white cords around the yolk you see when you crack an egg are called the chalazas. They help anchor the yolk to the rest of shell and help it stay suspended in the middle of the egg.

…there are 3 different grades of eggs according to the USDA. the highest being AA to B.

…an old egg will float when suspended in  water because its air cell will have expanded and have gotten less dense.

……you’ll get creamier scrambled eggs if you add vinegar as you scramble them? The acid helps tenderize the eggs by  lowering the egg’s pH (thus reducing the negative charge) and helping the egg proteins coagulate much earlier on in the cooking process. At this point, the proteins are still balled up and haven’t fully unfolded and thus do not intertwine as tightly to each other as they would if no acid were present.

This is what I’ve been doing for the past month. Reading about eggs.

Sunday Supper


This is a post of five cooks with five POVs, picked to be on the menu for one day only. To work together and be scrutinized by all…find out what happens when imaginations run wild and flavor combinations run unrestrained… Sunday Supper.



1. Pickled beet and Persian feta salad with duck confit and crostini

IMG_08172. Korean-spiced foie gras dumplings with a pork consomme and snow pea sesame salad


3. Seared scallop with a warm salad of bacon, grapes, and frisee

IMG_08204. Duck and foie gras ballotine with braised lentils and cabbage, and marinated potatoes


5. Vanilla and black olive semifreddo with a passionfruit curd, chardonnay sorbet on an almond tuile “spoon”

created by me!

I originally thought of combining black olives with vanilla when I had a black olive ice cream back at Sona in Los Angeles. Then drawing inspiration from the countless hours I’ve spent peeling soft-boiled quail eggs for work, I thought it’d be a clever idea to mold the speckled ice cream into eggs. I had to purchase the egg molds at a cake shop on my own, and the entire process ended up taking a few days, but it was worth it. I had to make the top and bottom of the semifreddo separately so I could fill each half with the custard, then fuse them together once they hardened a bit. Then I cut them in half with a hot knife as they came to order.

IMG_0822“Quail Eggs”

Some people were turned off with the idea of tart black olives being in their vanilla semifreddo, but I was also surprised to hear that a few thought they were chocolate chips when I asked them what they thought the black specks were. I loved the idea of biting into tart bits of saltiness in a sweet and creamy dessert, but never thought to think of cocoa nibs as having the same effect.

I was initially going to make another batch of eggs with the white wine sorbet and pair it alongside a whole semifreddo egg, but due to the lack of time and extra egg molds, I thought against it. Although my initial reason for using the white wine was for its color, it ended up giving a nice refreshing contrast to the creamy vanilla semifreddo.

The almond tuile came last minute when it was noted that I needed to add another textural element to the dish. After trying several options (crumbled pralines, toasted slivered almonds, blueberry compote…), I opted to make some tuiles a few hours before service started. I loved the idea of creating spoons out of the tuiles and having being able to lift the sorbet in one lift (or at least conceptually). I designed the shape I wanted out of a plastic lid and spread the tuile batter on the baking mat (sorry, no picture.. unfortunately. snapping pictures of your work is considered mildly unprofessional).


So there you have it. My first official dish. Now, to tackle something savory. Just give me a week to unload my brain.

I’m staring at a mirror leaning against  the wall behind my desk, with a post-it from my roommate that says, “You’re a nerd (really).” I’ve kept the note in plain sight so I can see it every morning when I get up to use my computer. I like it keep it there because it’s a reminder of how I’m completely obsessed with my new profession.

One probably shouldn’t need to be reminded of their “passions,” but sometimes when you’re scrubbing grills or your knees start to give a little, a neon-yellow reminder can definitely brighten your day. In a weird roundabout way, the statement reinforces how proud I am to be a food nerd. I’m completely obsessed with the idea of becoming a food professional and knowing everything there is to it. To that end, I’m single-mindledly focused on food for the majority of my time. It’s an obsession that guides my desire to not only be the best cook, but also to absorb as much knowledge about food as possible. My desk is laden with food magazine tear-outs of recipes, cookbooks I’ve barely opened, and one study guide that I’ve been meaning to rip the plastic off of and start working on. How I manage to have the time or the curiosity to do all this is still beyond me.

One of the pangs of having an obsession, is that you’re never satisfied.  There is a constant air of frustration because you can never meet your expectations. But how can you, when they’re always changing? The violinist, Isaac Stern, once stated that the more you practice something, the more impossible your standards become because of the endless possibilities you set yourself up for. And of course, there in lies the motivational danger in one’s pursuit: the obsession will cripple the work itself.

This also speaks to the idea that it’s not so much one’s technical skills or “talent” that helps you succeed, but something a little more inherent. That’s why success stories are so inspiring-because people can succeed by channeling a motivational drive that is more deeply-rooted and self-induced than knowledge you gain from a book or learn through years of training. It’s what gives us hope and let’s us believe the “anything is possible” spiel. 

The key to maintaining a healthy motivational drive whilst not driving yourself insane with endless standards and criticism is to organize your obsession and “keep it in check.” Don’t let minor flaws deform your work. Think “big picture.” Understand that imperfections are not failures. Believe that emotional rewards will always outshine tangible compensations. Then, you’ll be perfect.