Friday, June 11, 2010

Fabulously Fierce Friends, Ray

Ray writes: Grew up on a farm in Eufaula, Al where my mother taught me the way around the kitchen. Held the position of head cook of the Creek Steak and Seafood restaurant form age 15-19. Put myself through college (University of Montevallo-BMP Trombone) by cooking and waiting tables. Moved to Boston to attend grad school at the Boston Conservatory (Master of Music Education second master’s in Trombone performance). Was a waiter at Abe & Louie's steak house, Biba, L’espalier and several other hot spots in Boston (twenty years total in the industry). Completed a third masters in orchestral conducting from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Toured Rome, Italy as a trombonist as well as freelanced in Boston. Conducting positions include assistant conductor, Metrowest Symphony; Symphonia conductor at Philips Exeter Academy; Conductor the Nashoba Youth Orchestra; and current position of assistant conductor of Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra as well as founder and artistic director of “3rd Sundays @ 3” concert lecture series. My website is I’ve been married for almost seven years, and I have a 15 year old cocker spaniel.

Here are the questions:

1. Who are your role models - food related or otherwise?

My Mother and father: My mother is a great cook and with my dad, they rearded 12 kids together…simply amazing…and growing up, I thought it was normal.

2. What is your drink of choice?

Beer and a shot: (Makers Mark on the rox and a half of splash of sweet vermouth with a Newcastle or Amstel light to wash it down with.)

3. What is your favorite cookbook or other food related book?

The Joy of Cooking

4. What was your most memorable meal and why?

As I stated before, I was brought up on a farm in Alabama. Growing up we had to pick peas and shuck corn and all sorts of things that broke modern day child labor laws. Well, the longest time I spent away from home was nearly three years. All that time, I was eating frozen or canned foods from local big chain supermarkets. Upon my return, I walked into the house and was greeted by my family like the prodigal son. I was immediately sat at the table for a meal, which is customary at my house regardless of the time of day. The sweet corn and fresh peas with country fried venison simply brought tears to my eyes. I have no words that would justly depict the moment.

5. What is your favorite kitchen gadget or tool?

My kitchen Aid

6. If you had to make dinner with ingredients at your home right now, what would you make?

Simple roasted chicken with fresh rosemary and a side of Sriracha

7. What kind of music do you like to listen to while you cook?

Anything really, but my favorites is old school jazz like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Coltrane. I also really like Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians (It is the quintessential cooking/entertaining music.)

8. What is your philosophy on cooking and eating?

It’s the same as rehearsal and performance. What more can you ask for?

9. Are there any foods you can not stand to eat?

Believe it or not, it’s my mother’s squash casserole. It’s amazing that she’s the best cook in the world, and she can create something that is so detestable.

10. If you could use any super power in the kitchen, what would it be and why? 

Well, if I had the power to brine, salt cure or smoke something by waving my hand over it that would be simply fantastic (maybe that’s three super powers). I love to do all of these things, but the brine and salt cure process does nothing for me except builds my anticipation which I think is absolutely necessary, but it takes up to much space in my fridge (no I do not have a walkin at home). The smoking process is also absolutely necessary in many meaningful ways, but I live in a condo (no backyard and my neighbors already hate me because of the fire alarm situation, also liquid smoke should be banned).