TRICK OR TREAT OR MURDER

I have killed many people over the years; too many to put a number on, I’ve lost count. The first, I remember like it was yesterday, I was eight-years-old, he was in high school, I don’t know why he picked on me, but on the fifth day of him stopping me on my way home from school, when I was sure nobody was watching, I plunged a linoleum knife into the soft spot between his rib cage, I pulled the hooked blade down to his groin and my hand was warmed with what once was inside of him—it was no longer his, it was mine. As he fell to his knees, I stepped around his back, reached around his neck and cut his throat. Since that day, I’ve killed to protect myself, I’ve killed for financial gain and I’ve killed for pleasure. And under these categories I have killed every type of person, while I prefer the bully, the big shot, the alpha male most of all, I have equally destroyed the young, the old, the female, because I am a killer, I kill. Every moment, of every day, I desire nothing more than to unchain my true self and pulverize into lifelessness, that which stands before me and breathes. Continue reading

CHEF’S TABLE By Chef Stan

Chef’s Table, Main Street, Winfield, Kansas, the year in review and what a year it has been—certainly worth a look back. The Chef’s Table, like most restaurants, was a dream, long before the food was being made. The dream / concept was to bring French Country and Norman Rockwell America, together into a dining experience, in which, the entire environment made patrons feel as though they were with the Chefs as their food was being prepared, or more simply put, in the kitchen, without actually having to be in the kitchen. Of course, for this experience to be as authentic as possible, I (Chef Stan) decided that the first Chef’s Table needed to rise out of the Heartland of America, so after a 4,000 mile drive about, I decided that Small Town, Main Street, U.S.A aka Winfield, Kansas, was as good a spot as any for the first Chef’s Table by Chef Stan!

Now Chef Stan, that would be me, is neither an architect, nor contractor, thus the title Chef Stan, but I did know that the Chef’s Table in Winfield needed to be a large open space with, with lots of brick on the outside and wood on the inside. I also knew that there needed to be multiple cooking and dining environments. To this end, we were able to create the first, which we call the café and pantry. The concept of the café and pantry being, casual / affordable fine dining—patrons order at the counter and we bring them their food. I should mention that the pantry, really is our pantry, stocked with more than a 100 types of olive oil and balsamic vinegars, and at least a 150 different spices, all of which we use and offer for sale. With respect to fine dining, it’s no simple task to elevate soups and sandwiches to this category, but I think that we have—in a big way. And our Onion Quiche Lemon Tart combo, is simply one of the best meals in the world!

The menu started off simply enough. I replicated the Mexican Grilled Cheese I had become known for as far back as my days at the Daily Brew, but I added a new Grilled Cheese, the Caprese Sandwich, which we now call the Italian Grilled Cheese, fresh, in the water, mozzarella, vine ripened tomato, fresh basil, olive oil, smoked sea salt—game changer on the Panini grill! The Egg Salad Sandwich, just like my mom used to make it! A new take on my old Tuna Salad Sandwich, still Panini grilled, but I substituted extra virgin olive oil for the mayo and apples and capers in place of relish. Add some red onion, seasonings and a baby artichoke on top—well, I’ve never had a better tuna salad sandwich. When it came to our popular Smoked Salmon Sandwich, it took some courage to end its being made on a bagel, but the move to our own handmade ciabatta roll paid off—a great sandwich, became a perfect sandwich! And then the hits just kept coming, Salami topped with fire-roasted red peppers and peperoncini’s, Corned Beef / nothing else needed, it’s that awesome, and the TLT / Turkey, Lettuce, Tomato. And on and on.. Continue reading

BLUEGRASS

Some years ago, I traveled around and I happened upon a little town.

Winfield, Kansas was its name, and Bluegrass Music had brought it fame.

You see when Country Music from Appalacia is fused with Jazz, then you see what the music has.

It has soul, it has a life that transcends and no one can see where the Bluegrass ends.

To Winfield folks come from all around, just to hear that Bluegrass sound.

Thousands, maybe ten’s of thousands, camped out in nature among the stages, often forgoing a week of wages, because some things have no price.

The formal name of this event, is the Walnut Valley Festival, but everyone from somewhere else just calls it Winfield, and the people of Winfield just call it Bluegrass, and after all what’s in a name, it doesn’t matter having achieved true fame.

My first experience at Bluegrass I sat at a campfire and then I walked around, following along with some people from town—they seemed more interested in drinking than listening to music.

They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, true of most people I have come to think.

I don’t know which night it was, but it had stormed and it was cold, yet Matt, Skyler and I, sat in the wet bleachers under a dark night sky.

Tommy Emanuel played, I had never heard anything like it, and I’ve heard a lot, and I’ve seen a lot, and I’m always thankful for what I’ve got, and that evening I can say, I got Bluegrass.

A couple of years gone by, I found myself making my way to Bluegrass with a wedding cake in hand—I had baked it for a friend with a Bluegrass band.

Good old Barry Patton had decided to get married to Rene on Stage Five, on these experiences I truly thrive.

You see I’m of the belief that life is for living and to get the most out of living, you have to be giving.

So I gave my friends a cake.

Another year gone by and I was blessed to have my sister and Kasey encamp at my home, which happens to be a place of food and hospitality, really the nicest reality for those of the artistic mentality, such as I.

And to those who think as I think, there’s nothing as cool as those on the brink, the brink of greatness.

Helen Avakian, sat at my place and stood at this brink, which of course made me think, “Helen, why don’t you play here tomorrow for the Music Crawl?” Well she played and two days later she won it all—the International Fingerstyle Championship, the first woman to do so, and I don’t like to tell people I told you so, but I told you so…

The night at Bluegrass with my sister was a magical night, there’s nothing like your own people to make you feel right.

We stopped by the Picking Parlor to here some picking, and the guy on the banjo was world class kicking.

On Stage One, we caught John McCutcheon and Steel Wheels, you just have to do this to know how it feels.

On Stage Two we listened to The Greencards and Socks in the Frying Pan—not so hard to be a fan.

We ended the night with Detour, the air had a chill, but this did not distract from their skill and skill they did have.

We walked away from all of these goings on, late in the night, knowing that in the Universe something was right.

And right is friends, family, good food, good music, all mixed into a better humanity…

You see when Country Music from Appalachia is fused with Jazz, then you see what the music has.

It has soul, it has a life that transcends, and no one can see where the Bluegrass ends.

 

REALLY BAKED by Chef Stan

So how did Stan Lerner become Chef Stan and what the heck is www.reallybaked.com??? It goes something like this. As a child I dreamed of being a great novelist, I liked the idea of becoming a business tycoon of some kind, and I was also content with just going into my father’s automotive business—hey when you’re a kid all options are on the table. And because my family was seriously into food, I started to think about this as a business by my early teens.

Did I work in the food business during the early years? A little, I was a busboy at UCLA. Did I become a business tycoon? Strangely, yes, and while it hampered my work in the kitchen, it did give me the resources to eat at some of the best restaurants in the world. Somewhere during this time of my life I owned a couple of restaurants and a very serious restaurant / nightclub. Novelist? Yep, did that too and I was pretty good at it, but that’s another blog…

A few years have gone by now, since I returned to the kitchen. The comeback began at a little coffee spot called the Daily Brew, I had a cheap chef knife and a borrowed soup cooker; it turned out folks liked my soups. At the urging of an old high school friend, who had been working as a Chef for many years, I took over Chella’s, made some really great Mexican food, and then transformed this whacky spot into the Eastside Chippery. In the beginning it was just Melissa, the cashier / waitress, and myself…I added a burger to the menu as our daily special and Melissa wrote it on the chalkboard sign as “Special Chef Stan Burger”. Why she wrote it like this, I don’t know, it should have just said Chef’s Special, but as of that day, because of that one little sign, people started calling me Chef Stan. And that’s how I became Chef Stan.

As Chef Stan, I brought my cooking and baking to the Iron Gate Inn, The Pollard, Hygge Bakery, 7 Restaurant, and of course, the place that I now call home, Chef’s Table. But as part of my vision for where I am now, which happens to be way out in the countryside of Kansas, I wanted to do a whole bunch of Amish style, scratch baking, or more simply put, I only use a wooden spoon or my hands—no mixers. And I called this subset of real food, Really Baked. Continue reading

THE COWLEY COUNTY FAIR

THE COWLEY COUNTY FAIR

By Stan Lerner

There was something in the air, something that I feel compelled to share, I’m speaking now of the County Fair.

You see I am a man of middle age, seemingly past the County Fair stage, but I did not grow up doing such things, my perspective is that of one raised in the city, dirty, grey and all too gritty.

A memorable line, a hook, I should put one here, so people do hear, what I’m about to say, funny how things work this way:

The wind blows the wheat fields, causing a gentle motion, as beautiful a sight as any ocean.

Back and forth, to and fro, stand at the break and watch it grow.

And it is in this land that you will find Cowley County, a place much blessed with beautiful bounty.

Did I just learn that there was something called a County Fair? Why would it take a half of a lifetime to get to one? But who doesn’t have things undone?

Maybe this is why my father said he believed in keeping life small, because from this place there’s nowhere to fall.

A year gone by now, I moved from a big place, to a small place, at least that’s how it appears on the matter’s face.

But I’ve learned in the last year that big is small, this is not discovered in a crystal ball—but by living life.

And the small life, the real life, the good life, well it turned out to be larger than I could have ever conceived, it is this life that the Lord is more easily perceived. The quiet, the calm allows one to contemplate Gd.

The Ranch Rodeo, night one, who would have thought that wild cow milking was fun? Three cowboys, one cow on the run, and a bottle to fill, fifteen seconds and team Buford was king of the hill.

Night two, the Demolition Derby, the definition of fun going topsy-turvy! Continue reading

WHEN DEATH IS BEHIND YOU

WHEN DEATH IS BEHIND YOU

“Go check out Pratt, it’s a good place to do business,” the owner of the Inn, had said.

The visit was a short one, weather had interceded and now I did not see the land I had come to love the varied colors of. My eyes could only stare into the rearview mirror at the monstrous cloud, veiled in the drops of rain, dark and gray spinning behind. The road that I traveled upon was straight, straight in front of me. The same could not be said, of the road of life that had brought this moment to be, it had been filled with twists and turns, steep declines, followed by ascents to heights that most should not go—for the air is thin at the great altitudes of life and can cause one to lose the sense for what is and is not real.

The noise from the radio blared. This tone is one that penetrates the ears and stabs at the brain, with an icepick like sharpness. Again and again, the horrible tone screeched and the prerecorded voice warned to take shelter. But on the highway from Pratt to Wichita, there was no shelter. I thought about the flimsiness of our human composition as this warning was repeated. “We are able to build a shelter that can withstand this giant funnel pelting my car with hail, but it takes time, a lot of time, something that you do not have…”

A live voice emanated through the speakers of the truck. “A category 5 tornado has touched down outside of Pratt and is traveling east down Highway 54, at 50 miles per hour.” I looked down at the speedometer, I was doing 70, but the funnel was gaining. “I think it’s going faster than fifty,” I said aloud to the radio, “but of course not the first time you’ve been wrong about the weather…Like this morning when you said this storm wouldn’t get here until 4:00, which would have given me plenty of time…” The voice. “You must find shelter underground, there is no chance of survival above ground if you are in the path of this storm. Again, there is zero possibility of surviving this storm if you are not in a storm shelter, do not delay seeking shelter for any reason, your life is what’s most important, get underground now.” Then more of the shrill squelch… Continue reading

THE PLAINS

A Poem By Stan Lerner

I do not know if I had ever really meant to drift the plains, a life a drift I suppose, for most in our time that’s how it goes.

And the clouds turn round and round, all is lost and all is found.

A person, a people adrift, does not sound well, but like most matters, there’s more to tell.

Roots? Sure, roots are good, for those that fear, has turned to wood.

Woe to the inanimate man, who does not set off to make his own way in the world and an easy world it is not. And a kind world it is not. And a just world, it is, only with respect to God.

And the clouds turn round and round, all is lost and all is found.

So I stood on the side of the road and looked out over the vast plain and then up to the even larger expanse of the sky, this is the kind of beauty that can make me cry, for I am a sentimental man.

A fool sometimes, this has made of me, but to an offer to change, I would not agree.

The clouds flattened and blotted out the sky, perhaps it is time to die…I thought…I thought about the great power that was forming before my very eyes and the greater power, the breath that can blow ever so slightly and cause such a force, such a magnificence to exist, I would not move, I shall not resist.

And the clouds turn round and round, all is lost and all is found.

And the clouds began to rotate, they began to dance, then came the sounds of this deafening romance.

Electric, so electric, so big, two miles wide, and for the earth I felt much pride. This is a small planet; it seemed that way to me sometimes, but not now, but not now…

“Chef, we better get going,” said my assistant, to I, but my eyes could not leave the sky.

“No, you go, I’m going to stay…I’m going to stay right here.” And there I stood in peaceful cheer.

I thought, “You became a chef? Well at least you do something real, unlike the idolaters, who for money kneel.” They kneel for fame, they kneel for power and for this they will pay in the eternal hour. I’m sorry to say this, but someone should.

And the clouds turn round and round, all is lost and all is found.

The LORD is my shepherd I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me besides the still waters.

He restoreth my soul; He guideth me in straight paths for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me,

Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

And the great round cloud came, nothing before it would remain the same.

My mind drifted to the people I had met in recent years, gamblers, drinkers, smokers, almost all with tattoos and the lies they tell…

How we treat strangers says much about who we are…The wind is coming, it’s not too far.

And the clouds turn round and round, all is lost and all is found.

Stones of ice fell from the sky, my mind drifted back to the colossus before me, my assistant had not moved.

I had run from the Lord in a field many years before, a great shame I have solemnly bore.

Aloud I said, “This time I’ll stay.” And in the blink of an eye, it turned away.

Not far away, just enough to cross the road, and head for what looked like a nice little town.

And the clouds turn round and round, all is lost and all is found.

There was quiet, there was nothing, what was, was no more, none of which we were responsible for. I shrugged. And we walked over to the erased place in silence, thinking we might be able to dig some folks out of the rubble. Because on this day, it was their day to be found, it had only been our time to stand our ground.

And the clouds turn round and round, all is lost and all is found. Never forget this, as one day we will all be humbled by the infinite power of the LORD.

 

THE NIGHT

The night is cold, dark and bleak, and there are hours to go before I sleep.

Gone, gone away is freedom’s light, empowering the perverse to their own delight.

But the time has come for them to die a terrible death, the time has come for their last breath.

Who first? I think about this as I pace, who first is to lose their face.

I ponder the landlord, the lawyer, the banker, the politician, who first to my knife’s fruition…

The night is cold, dark and bleak, and there are hours to go before I sleep.

The Landlord, mostly an inherited man, a man who gains wealth by another’s hand.

But the worst of this type, actually believes he is Lord and it is this man we can no longer afford.

So over his gate I climbed and into his house I did walk, and smiled at the splendor meant to make others gawk.

Soon it would be covered with red, soon this temple of doom would be a place of dread. The wife, the son, the daughter, the Man, I cut and peeled off their face according to plan.

The night is cold, dark and bleak, and there are hours to go before I sleep.

The Lawyer, is there one that won’t burn in Hell? Maybe one, the scriptures tell.

With so many of these to cogitate on, I decide who would not see the dawn.

A despicable little man, who lies as he breathes, and at the point of my blade he knelt on his knees.

“This is mad, I was just doing my job,” these were the words that he sobbed.

And he did sob, as the sharp steel cut his throat, no more would this creature gloat.

The night is cold, dark, and bleak and there are hours to go before I sleep.

The Banker, the man who takes from the poor and gives to the rich, then laughs in our face and says, “Ain’t that a bitch.”

Yes, Master Of The Universe, Man of Wall Street, it is my blade the you will soon meet.

And there he was taking a walk in the night, and on 5th Avenue he discovered his plight.

First I ran the bodyguard through in the middle, why him you ask, because the hired gun of the evil is part of the task.

The banker shrunk into the gutter, part of the trash, part of the clutter.

“I have money, a lot of money, I’ll pay for my life.” I stared at this pathetic being down in the street. “You exist for a number in an account and for this you must account. You are an abortion, you were born dead.” And then I put the blade, into his head.

The night is cold, dark, and bleak, and there are hours to go before I sleep.

Oh Politician, you are the ultimate betrayer, it is time for you to meet your anarchist slayer.

So many reasons for you to die, perhaps even more than the stars in the sky.

But really it is the promises that you break, it is for this most of all, your life we must take.

Who first? The man that calls himself the lawmaker, who is known by all to be the lawbreaker.

This loathsome whore gorges his belly full of ill gotten gain, while delighting at heart, of the hard workingman’s pain.

I found this devil asleep in a luxury hotel, so I raised my knife to send him to Hell.

Wait! No! This is too good for such feces, he must be an example for the rest of his species.

I returned that very night with knife, rope and gas can, everything necessary to put an end to this man.

I stabbed him, and he awoke screaming, “You can’t do this to me!” “I can, and soon you will burn, and swing from a tree”

Swinging, he kicked and hoped to detach, but there was no escaping my match.

The night is cold, dark, and bleak and there are hours to go before I sleep.

I pace back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, contemplating how many more of these evil oppressors must I purge, how many to put an end to this scourge?

All of them! Their blood must run like a river through the land…And until then, the knife is in hand.

 

Cutting edge focus on lifestyle at the city center, Los Angeles