Project Food Blog 2010, Round 7: “Pork Chops & Gravy”

About 10 years ago, I was living in Los Angeles, working at a dying start-up company called the Hollywood Stock Exchange. In 1999, there may have been about 80 employees at HSX, but by 2002, there were only about 20 of us left, occupying a massive, newly-remodeled building that housed about 50 surplus cubicles, all once inhabited by former co-workers. It was all rather surreal, and I have a bazillion bizarre stories about the dumb leading the rich during the dot-com era. But, long story short, when the payroll was finally pared down from 20 employees to 10, well, it was finally my time to go. Luckily, I’d been tipped off about the hatchet dropping, so I had cleaned out my desk over the weekend, at least giving myself the luxury of a clean exit. On Monday morning, I parked out on the street, right by the side door, and I sat down at my desk, waiting for that fateful phone call. Once the boss summoned me to his office, I signed for my semi-generous severance check, and I didn’t ever look back. Hey, it wasn’t so bad. At that very moment, I wasn’t broke yet, and the day was all mine. A few months later, I would begin my first kitchen job at Houston’s Santa Monica.

I had learned to do a little video editing back in those dot-com days, since HSX’s most-skilled video editor had been fired during the very first round of lay-offs. The thing is, that person was actually hired on as a video editor, whereas I was originally hired as an entertainment writer. I had never edited video before, and frankly, I had just enough knowledge of the editing software to save my own neck, albeit briefly. During this time, I slapped together some red carpet interviews and produced as much content as I could, but with zero budget. Once I was finally cut loose from HSX, I didn’t think I’d ever have another reason to edit a video again, so this video challenge certainly conjured up some interesting memories of the old days, and my last days as a Los Angeles professional (and soon-to-be line cook). Who knew that those video editing skills, as marginal as they were, would ever be used again? Not me. And who knew that would still be online in 2010? Amazing.

• • •

My video for Round 7 communicates in broad strokes, and a few of the minor players were relegated to the cutting room floor. The cornbread, for one, makes its cameo only at the very end of the clip. As I sat down to edit this video last week, I did have cornbread footage in the can (the wet and dry ingredients being combined; the shot of the skillet as it emerged from of the oven), but in the end, these scenes weren’t as visually compelling as searing a pork chop or building a proper roux. The apples and chestnuts also receive limited screentime, appearing briefly in the opening sequence, only to be stuffed inside a double-cut pork chop for the remainder of the clip. It’s worth mentioning, however, that the apples used for the stuffing were Northern Spies, and that the chestnuts were never frozen nor canned. Apples and chestnuts are both at their peak of season at the moment. Highly recommended.

• • •

Northern Spy Apples with Chestnuts.

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Notched and Roasted Chestnuts.

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Peeled Chestnuts.

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