The Absolute Worst!

If you know me, then you know that I do not, EVER, try anything before ordering it. I make a decision and deal with the consequences of that action. If I absolutely hate whatever I order, I’ll just swallow it whole.

Then, there are people who like to sample products before choosing what they’d like to invest in. I can respect that. I’d rather they go through that process to prevent any future stress or food waste.

Then, there are people like the guy pictured above, who are pathetic enough to resort to asking for a sample cup and eating more than $5’s worth of yogurt with it. He refilled that cup so many times that he might as well just put his face under the machine and inhaled.

This guy came in with his girlfriend and they arrived in a nice car, so it isn’t like I’m just failing to show him empathy. He is a leech and I hope she dumped him because this behavior is not acceptable. Unfortunately, I was being watched so I had to be nice.

The worst!


The Problem with Yelp Elite

This really doesn’t have all this much to do with Yelp itself. This is more about the “Elite” and even though it is a system created by and facilitated through Yelp, they can’t take responsibility for these monsters.

I probably know or have dealt with the person in the one image in this post. I operated a large facility in West Los Angeles, not too far from this recycling center, and we probably crossed paths. Fortunately, I don’t remember her being overly entitled, if we ever did, which would have been nothing more than sheer luck.

Why? Well, for one, she is clearly entitled to a certain degree. Just look at the line that I highlighted. If you know anything about Yelp that really explains it all. Then you can look at her stats and see that her contribution really isn’t that significant. 124 reviews and 57 photos… that’s it? Sure, she admittedly hasn’t been Yelping for very long at all (although she was making the opposite point), but those numbers are hardly worthy of Yelp Elite status.

After writing over 900 reviews on Yelp, while there might have been one that looked something like her review here or there, my goal is actually serving the community. She should have put that review on her blog that I know she has; she is clearly a blogger because she loves to hear herself think, write, talk, etc. My reviews might be boring, but they get to the point and tell someone who is debating using a service what they need to know to make an objective decision. This is just wrong.

Now, I’m sure this woman is absolutely lovely in real life. She’s just trying to build a persona online like so many others do, but this really isn’t about her. It is about the low standards and issues with the Yelp Elite system. You can have pitiful stats on Yelp and still earn Elite status. Then you can “abuse” and flaunt that status to try to bring others down. Or you could just not be a jerk. Don’t automatically listen to the Yelp Elite because they applied for it themselves. Don’t feed the monster.

Disclaimer: There are tons of great Yelp Elite users out there and I will continue to use Yelp for my own good and to help the community.

How to Start Your Day STRONG!

Come up with a routine and if you don’t think you’re getting enough done in a day… wake up earlier!

This morning, we started with a 6 am hike of Runyon Canyon with our dog. It gets a crucial chore out of the way, but we really take advantage of the walk and turn it into a workout. Over 2.5 miles and 40 minutes later, your body and mind are both ready to go.

Skipping breakfast, I take a pre-workout blend of electrolytes and amino acids, throw some gum in my mouth, and walk the quarter-mile to my gym, carrying my relatively healthy gym bag. The walk keeps me warm and allows me to mentally prepare for the training session without stressing out over LA’s notoriously bad drivers.

Usually, on a day with a packed schedule, I spend an hour in the gym. That typically involves a short warm-up and cool-down, but today, I was in there for closer to 90 minutes. Here is what was accomplished during today’s pull workout.

First, a 0.6 mile jog at an incline of 0.5, increasing my speed every minute or so.
Next, a series of exercises to warm-up my shoulders, lower back and hips. These are all areas with past and present injuries that really need to be maintained carefully.

Internal/External Rotators & Kettlebell Swings: 5sx25/25 & 35×25, 7.5sx25/25 & 35×25
Lateral Raises & Back Extensions: 7.5sx25 & 35×25, 7.5sx30 & 35×25
Hip Mobility: Various exercises and stretches, on the mat

The run and warm-up work took about 20 minutes; now we’re moving forward into heavier weights and more complex exercises.

Cable Lat Pulldowns: (Facing out without your legs being held in place, using an extremely wide grip) 80×20, 100×16, 120×10, (last set facing in) 120×8
Zottman Curls: (Using dumbbells, maintaining strict wrist position and form) 10sx20, 15sx18, 20sx14, 30sx10
Barbell Reverse Curls: 45×12, 55×12, 65×12, 75×12
Cable Horserope Hammer Curls/Chin-ups: 60×15/5, 75×14/5, 85×12/5, 95×10/5
Cable Horserope Straight Arm Pulldown: 100×10, 65×12, 75×13, 85×12

Cable Horserope Face Pulls: 100×15, 120×15

Close Grip Pulldowns: 100×12, 120×10, 150×8
Barbell Shrugs: 45×20, 95×20, 185×14, 185×14
Barbell Rows: (Alternating grips of over/under) 95×10/12, 95×10/12
Inverted Rows: 7

At this point, some acute pain in my left elbow and right shoulders tell me that it is time to cool down, so I move to the Treadwall for a nice long climb to exhaust my forearms and grip strength. Then I stretch my hips and groin.

About 20 minutes after the workout is over, I’ve already made it home and started putting a meal together. I haven’t had any calories yet today, for no particular reason other than chance, so I’ll aim to fill myself up with a considerable amount of protein.

Why Delivery Shouldn’t Exist

With the only possible exception of pizza. If you think about, there’s something seriously wrong with the idea of ordering delivery. Chefs take pride in the food they make. In a restaurant, the kitchen staff plans exactly when food should be delivered to the table so that it’s not too hot or cold. It impacts the texture and flavor; it creates a complete eating experience.

Delivery destroys their ability to create that experience. Nowadays, the restaurant staff isn’t even delivering the food thanks to all of these new apps. Do you think the drivers for these services care about the reputation of the the eateries? Most of them probably don’t and they certainly don’t take timing into consideration because, even if they did, there isn’t much they can do about it.

Obviously some foods do better than others. Pizza is that one food that can really stand up to delivery well, but even that isn’t always the case. We received the worst pizza we’ve ever eaten from a place that has 4 stars on Yelp. Why? It was the equivalent of a sponge when it arrived. All of the heat created condensation that then dripped back on to the pizza. Disgusting.

Now, there are some restaurants that don’t do delivery. They aren’t willing to provide a bad meal. They aren’t willing to sacrifice quality for business. Money isn’t always everything, especially to a passionate chef. With all that being said, make us one promise. If you’re eating somewhere for the first time, eat there. Sit down and eat the food fresh, like it’s meant to be eaten… unless its pizza.

Oh, and yes, the pictures are from a delivery meal that was awful. It was mostly awful because the food didn’t travel well. Soggy fries, etc.


Froyo Thieves

The absolute worst of the worst. This kind of behavior is representative of an awful person. I’m talking about the people that are capable of affording to buy the yogurt, who put on an act like they’re going to make a purchase and then end up eating as much as I paid for without spending a dime.

Like the guy in this picture for example, who is making the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship look great right now. I guess they taught him that if you want to be successful, you have to take what you want. Well, he did. Technically, it’s not stealing since Yogurtland allowed it, but he’s also a complete waste of space.

This is the kind of person who would discover the cure for cancer and not release it to the public so that the can continue to buy stupid pants and shoes that nobody cares about, except for him.

What’s even worse? He used 5 sample cups (that I saw) and got massive heaps of Plain Tart yogurt every single time. It was painfully obvious from the beginning that this guy is a total freeloader. Now, I don’t know this guy personally but this kind of behavior isn’t acceptable for anyone, so I hope you get the message, because you lose all credibility (period) when you do something like this.

(I paid my $5 for the yogurt below…)


Last Minute Holidays

Memorial Day Style.

I worked all day and when my wife picked me up from work in South Central, we drove through the hood and started salivating… as we smelled, and even felt, smoke in the air. It was magical.

We decided to forego our plan to eat leftovers at home, stop at the grocery, buy some burgers/dogs/buns and fire up the grill. It didn’t take much longer than a normal dinner and it was totally worth it.

What’s the point of this story? It’s a pretty straightforward one. You don’t need to stress and spend tons of time/money on holidays. You don’t need to call all of your friends and family to make into a huge event.

Just take it easy… it is a holiday after all.

(I’m not making any points or comments about this holiday in particular.)

Monster Assault Review

One time… and possibly only one time. I was never huge on energy drinks… until I started making brutal trips from NYC to State College, PA. After long days, I’d try to find some extra energy, but would often end up grabbing a Red Bull. Eventually, when I started going to Barbell Brigade, if I forgot a pre-workout, I’d grab a Green Monster. Then, as I started getting fat… I went for the Light Blue.

Well, I couldn’t help myself when I saw this in-your-face red labeled version called Assault. I mixed it with my homemade pre-workout powders and… I felt like I was going to die. Perfect!

Now, in terms of what to expect… imagine the regular Green Monster with some cheap fruit punch in it. That’s it… seriously. If you’re into that kind of thing… give this a shot.



Iron Chef Gauntlet Review

This isn’t really a critical, in-depth review of Iron Chef Gauntlet. Why not? Well, first of all, I won’t be finishing the show, so it’s a bit unfair to really go at it. I know what you want to ask so I’ll give you the answer… because it’s not about the cooking, and that’s the problem… it never is… anymore.

Food Network is more of a drama-based entity than it was in the past. As a child growing up, I watched Emeril Live, Iron Chef, East Meets West, and many other shows when they were airing. Food Network was, even as a 5 year old, my cartoons and I couldn’t miss a single episode.

Back then, there weren’t all these competitive shows, and while Iron Chef existed, it was the pure Japanese version (with English subs and even some dubs) that still seemed to focus on the cooking.

Fast forward to Iron Chef Gauntlet and everything wrong with Food Network shows its ugly face. The show is all about drama and ego, which is painfully evident in this past episode where *SPOILER* Chef Nakijima is eliminated by Chef Izard. Here are my three main issues.

  1. It isn’t really a gauntlet, or well constructed, at all.
  2. Early advertising was misleading… surely, on purpose.
  3. Food Network’s more interested in drama than cooking.

Watch the show and you can figure out the first one, if you know what a gauntlet is. It’s just not well put together as it creates a system that allows Chef’s to go, more or less, untested into the finale. There was a way to do it right, and they just didn’t.

They made it seem like it would focus on Iron Chefs that are established in the very beginning of marketing efforts in order to get you to watch the first episode, and you’ll be disappointed when you watch the premiere.

And as for the most significant issue, since it has taken over Food Network completely, they try to trick viewers into not being able to guess who won rounds by editing in the worst way possible.

You can see that in this past episode, when it seems painfully obvious that Chef Nakijima would win by a landslide. Cat had one bad thing to say, about his meatballs being dense, but other than that they praised him on creativity, plating, and taste.

As for Chef Izard… she was blasted on every dish. Boring plating on the chicken feet, typical cooking of the chicken thigh, and missed opportunities to feature the secret ingredient in the desert. Yet, she destroyed Chef Nakijima.

I remember being able to enjoy all of the programming on Food Network, but now I’m stuck with having to tolerate many of the shows on Food Drama Network, and I can’t wait for the day that it’s about the food again… not drama, ratings, or egos.

And as for the egos… don’t even get me started on the personalities they feature who can’t even cook. And remember, this is all coming from someone who doesn’t hate Food Network, but rather, is disappointed in the changes over the years. We saw Alton at his show recently; we took a tour of Thai Town with Jet Tila; we visited Eric Greenspan’s eatery on Melrose. We just want to see¬†Food TV be what it should be… honest, and about food!

Comparing McConnell’s Ice Cream

A few words after recently sampling the newest McConnell’s location near Los Feliz, on Hollywood Blvd. What are we comparing it to… itself, of course. McConnell’s is McConnell’s biggest competition.

Why? What are they trying to accomplish in opening this one?

The one downtown is a tiny spot that allows you to have some of their flavors. It was their non-retail store opportunity to become public and it worked. GCM is a hub for these places.

The main location on State Street has everything. It’s a huge space… well, it’s a decent size but they highlight all of their products.

Why would you open a brand new location with such limited selection? It’s beautiful. It’s charming. It’s an enjoyable place to enjoy your ice cream, which is possibly the best pre-packaged product in the world. The problem is, I’d rather enjoy the ice cream sitting on a garbage can. Give up seating to allow the interior to host all the products you create.

I just don’t get it. Make it your flagship LA store. It only competes with the one in GCM, but it should obliterate it. It doesn’t even come close to State Street. If you’re going to drop that much capital, go the extra mile. In this case, go the extra dozen flavors and cookies.

And I won’t forget the original location, which is a landmark. It will, but it should never, change.

Very hangry.

The top picture shows the far from perfect sandwich at the new LA location, while the second showcases what you can get at State Street. The third is the beautiful, but unnecessary outdoor seating area at the new location.