Food Rules of Engagement

The Southwest Florida Patch Executive Chef and Food Critic Judi Gallagher sets the rules.

Thank you, Patch and AOL, for this unique opportunity.

There sure are plenty of self-proclaimed foodies out there, including scorned, former employees and competitors hitting the social media sites with their own agenda.

Yes, restaurant reviews are subjective indeed. And business owners don’t have the right to “shout you down,” when their place doesn’t get a favorable "pick."  Advertorials are that, but not what Chef Judi Gallagher is about.  

Think of me as a flavor promoter.

Yes, I have a successful hospitality firm. Yes, I am extremely selective with whom I work. (They are the best in their craft, so you will certainly be reading about them in the coming year.)

You will be reading about the ins and the outs of the restaurant world. This includes culinary travels both in America and beyond and those luscious fruit pies that you thought a Grandma in Iowa made. And occasionally those eateries that are less than appealing and have fallen off the cliff will also grace your culinary eyes.

I have spent almost my entire life exploring food. From my first Easy Bake Oven to ownership of restaurants to hosting/producing cooking shows, I do have the ultimate tasteful life. 

As a child, I critiqued the Fried Rice at Song Hayes in Hartford, noting to my parents the consistency of the pieces of pork. I preferred Paige Calhoun’s lemonade stand because the drink was slightly tart, and, I confess that all through high school in Manchester, Conn., and way too many pounds later I spoke of my adoration for McDonald’s fries — a very new concept in my hometown back then. No dish compared to a Shady Glenn Cheeseburger with its crispy gooey cheese though. And no bite will ever top the fried clams at the Clam Box in Ipswich, Mass.

I eat, drink and am merry for the career garnished upon me: professional chef and unforgiving foodie. Yes, confess I must to being a snob about fresh brewed coffee with cream, and I loathe olives and braised lamb shank. 

Sorry, the customer is NOT always right, but neither is the restaurant owner. I believe you should be able to eat your food the way you want, and restaurants should be as accommodating as possible: end of discussion here.  I won’t eat grits so please let me have another starch!

Beware: Never order a blackened fish special if it isn’t a Cajun restaurant and the server is pushing it and you were already there three times in the past week with the same special listed, and, avoid curry entrees on buffets, especially if you are not at a Thai or Indian restaurant.

My mother served us Cool Whip — I have NEVER forgiven her.

Selling ice cream that is less than 4% butterfat should be a federal offense and, yes, everything with bacon does taste better.  

Buffets are awful; I despise them. (Sorry "All You can Eat Chinese” won’t be allowed in this column.)

I don’t like black beans…..or, for that matter, any beans really. (Though, as heard, legumes are good for me, the child in me screams no).

Always will be critical of seafood with cheese on it; eating beef more than medium should be outlawed.

If you don’t know of Callie’s Cinnamon Biscuits from Charleston, S.C., and where to get them locally you better stay close to this blog, my friend.

Why would anyone NOT dip their french fries in tartar sauce?

I love Carrabba’s Lasagna and adore Mozzarella Fella’s sandwiches.

I take issue with people who say they “won’t eat in chains” (yet frequent an Olive Garden or Chili’s). Unless you stop shopping at Home Depot or Lowe's, stop shaving with Gillette razors, don’t buy any wine or beer that is owned by a corporation or picket Thomas’ English muffins and Starbucks, you are kind of hypocritical. Each business started as one and deserves praise for reaching the American Dream, paying taxes and contributing to our local communities.

By the way, if you are a chef’s grandmother promoting granddaughter’s restaurant, please tell me. I might add two more paragraphs about the family
influence. You don’t have to pretend to be a customer.

By the way — if you are that ex-employee posting and tweeting untrue things, there is a $750,000 lawsuit against someone like you, so it is more cost effective to play video games with your time.

If you like American cheese peeled off a sheet of plastic, do not follow this blog.

If you love cream, butter and everything pasta, you are my new best friend.

If you, too, think we need a true Jewish Deli in this area, come join my plight.

So come all you eaters and food lovers, home cooks and professional chefs, share my world. Eat with me, share your own experiences. Restaurant owners can contact me anytime. I am happy to try but cannot guarantee I will write about you. If you are good enough and true enough, hold on! I tend to fall in love with great NY pizza, real Chinese, fresh grilled fish and enormous salads.

As we end 2012 and enter the New Year with new food adventures, please let me know your past year’s favorite dishes and where to find them...They may make my upcoming "Best of’ list, and you may be invited to join me for one of those special tastings.  

Chef Judi Gallagher
Culinary Director ABC7

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Keith Becker December 31, 2012 at 03:14 AM
"Beware: Never order a blackened fish special if it isn’t a Cajun restaurant and the server is pushing it and you were already there three times in the past week with the same special listed" I run a Cajun fish & Eggs Breakfast 7 days a week for breakfast and a fish sandwich with cheese from time to time. Our customers request, it we provide it, only if it is of Premium freshness. I have worked in a few places when I was younger in which this statement would be well informed, however I do feel that it is unfair to the chef's and restaurateurs who take great pride in providing honest high quality foods and dishes to their guests. Please feel free to contact me at Broadway Deli & Cafe 730 Broadway Dunedin 727-286-6270 sincerely, Keith Becker Chef/Owner http://www.facebook.com/pages/Broadway-Deli-Cafe/122829461092649?fref=ts
Joel Parisi December 31, 2012 at 04:24 AM
Keith you have done an amazing job with your facebook page. Im not sure how anyone could click that link and not want to go see what it is all about. Who does your photography? We shall cross paths before too long!!
Judi Gallagher December 31, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Kieth---you have a good comment here- but look what you wrote- you run a Cajun fish and egg breakfast 7 days a week- that means you AREW the real deal!! It sounds delicous and yes I was being a little bit wise cracking- more my intent is that we know some places that certainly don't specialize in wonderful fish sandwiches and fresh fish somehow pop in a blackened fish special- I once even saw it at a Thai restaurant-- So, my apoligies- NEVEr meant to insult the good guys like you that put our beautiful fresh dishes, including fish sandwiches-
Keith Becker December 31, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Thank you Joel, looking forward to meet your acquaintance. I do the food shots myself, a few are posted by customers as well.
Keith Becker December 31, 2012 at 07:21 PM
No insult taken Judi, we are very fortunate to have a great fish monger who delivers 6 days a week and is literally within walking distance. Have a Happy and Safe New Year !


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