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