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Culinary School
Social Media
I miss my Son:(
Difficult time grounding myself!
The Restaurant Life


A day in the Life of A Mother, Chef, Entrepreneur, Friend, Woman.
Culinary School
Past, Present & Future
This Restaurant Life
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A day in the Life !

Culinary School

Culinary School  started in July of 2015, some folks ask why...This is for me.  I want to grow beyound where I have taken my team... I feel like I have taken us as far as I can without some sort of mentorship.  

After 20 years I have become the most efficient Short Order cook... I doubt there are many that can handle the grind like myself.  I am proud of where my work has culminated, but I don't wanna stop here.  I feel like I am in this bubble that I created and there is a whole culinary world for me to explore. That bubble is only what I taught myself, I never cooked professionally for anyone else...I learned by survival, I made it happen from fear of failure.

I can't leave site daily for hours as the commitment is huge for school but this program works and I am being mentored by some great chefs... learning so much and the best part is that they are working along side of me to see me thru the program and improve my career.

Classes are not easy but by the end I will graduate in April 2016, already the improvements to my ability to execute a dish, create a dish or just bake a cookie...the program gives me that understanding.  I am in hopes of applying to take the American Culinary Federations CEC test in 2016 once I have completed the required certification.  The hardest part will be the externship whitewall require me to be employed by another chef in another environment than my own.

Looking forward to what is to come.

Social Media

Social Media took me some time to understand.  I for the longest time never understood why I needed a website, or a fanpage or even twitter....Now after teaching myself about the internet based business, I have learned the relationship between myself and my guest.  I taught myself how to build a website, which I am proud of.  I realize with almost 30,000 hits in a year it is a mistake for a business not to take this whole internet, social Media serious. Certainly with such sites as the FORBIDDEN YELP...(I do not  go here because some things are just ridiculous.) I needed to establish my social media footprint so I could drive potential guest and return guest to the information I wanted them to see, such as  specials, news releases, Tv spots and much more. 
I know now my guest want to relate to me, they are supportive and most of those who have been with me since I started feel a better connection and share with me what they like or dislike...I can enter into  one on one communication with each person, something I may not have been allowed without this Social Media outlet.  Depending on which site I use I can directly see who, where, what and when they are looking....I learn what they like to see and try to manage that level of communication between us. 
Social Media is a positive and I have to keep up on it to drive the sites I want seen when you search me to the top of the search list.  So follow me on Facebook Fanpage, Twitter or my web page :)  I love the exchange because really it all seems to be positive or constructive :) Reality is that is how life should be.

I miss my Son:(

How would I have ever known how much work this would be.  I miss my son, oh he is here but he slips in and out in the cracks of my day...I stop my line so I can hug and kiss him...Andrew has never let me give up.  There are times I couldn't get up, I wanted to give up...he was always there saying no mom, keep going.  He knows how much I wanted to make it, he also felt the sacrifices made so I could.    I often think of our little stories...like when the restaurant first made the paper for business of the year...they used a picture take the evening of the awards dinner of Mark and I.  I will never forget when he saw the article.  Andrew " Mom ?"  Mom"yes, Sweetie?" Andrew " I thought we were a family?" Of course I have no idea what he is leading into.  Mom " Of course we are Sweetie."  Andrew "Than why an I missing?"  I realized at that moment that he meant the picture in the paper and I never felt so crushed in my life.  I now make every effort to insure he is there for the pictures... I realized than the many sacrifices Andrew has made for me to achieve my dreams! As a mother the choices are difficult, but our children want us to succeed.  Sometimes though we have to realize that we may sacrifice a lot more than just time...because one day you will wake up and the planed trip was 10 years ago..and you never made it.  They love you, and that will never change but don't let the time get away...Now he is 18 and has a little life of his own..I am a proud Mama, but I do wish I balanced my time.
A Mom

Difficult time grounding myself!

Yes, I knew this would be difficult, I worked day and night developing these creations and it is difficult to ground myself, I feel like I am in survival mode...I struggle everyday, but see how it is all coming together the staff is steadily improving....the kitchen is where I am seeing the most improvement..though I never want to be out of the trenches, I can see that familiar calmness as it settles over the line as the have settled into the position and the demands.  I feel bad when I am demanding from the staff I know they are working even harder than I am to ground themselves....but it is the only way.  The front of the house still struggles more than I thought they would, but than I wonder if it is more the demands of the clientele than it is their lack of experience.  With this relocation has come certain growth.  Most good, but I never would have thought I'd see more than a handful of disrespectful individuals who really have no clue to what this industry is like.  El Sobrante brought certain differences, maybe because I had more of a connection with my guest.  Pinole I am all but chained to those grills, and frankly I do love it.  I know it is certain I will have to re-enter the front of the house to entertain my guest..but now is the time I am building my culinary team.  Being a Chef is I think very misunderstood profession.  I feel like at times I am held to the demands of the norm...when I look to break thru with my own interpretation of my creations.  I mean this is my art , so why am I so misunderstood as an artist.  I am not perfect but I have my own standard, my own creations...my own philosophy of simple American meals.  Some folks speak of competition, yet for me I see none... I am not sure I find the importance of what the neighbor is doing or how they are running their business, I am just running mine...If I worry about the others than I am not effectively commanding my ship....I am yes obsessed with beating myself, creating my own and building the BEST team I can. Team Tina's My theory on building that team is to create relationships between us that they feel like my family, they are..they mean the world to me..and though the new team mates are still figuring this out my core team that have been with me many since I began in 1995..understand I KNOW this is just as much because of them as it is because of me.  They say I am impossible but I have led this team to this dream... and I love them all.  We have a long road ahead..as we continue to hold down the breakfast lunch concept we have done for 16 years day in and day out...but the addition of Dinner and cocktails will be where you see the most growth given time.  I just need time to teach myself more about my craft. I like to say " right now I am nothing to worry about but once my feet hit the ground here in Pinole you all will be very proud of me and my staff."  

The Restaurant Life

As my last 20 days of business in El Sobrante Count down, I feel a little sense of well anxiety.  I Look back on the last 3 years and I am so happy to have been able to stay open, The Lion's Den allowed for me to continue to operate keeping 10 employees out of the unemployment line, in an economy where jobs were few and far between.  I couldn't imagine adding to what had already been one of the toughest economical times we have and probably ever will see. 
 Being in business is not just about me, but about my staff and guest they are as much a part of me and my existence as anyone can be. I look forward to continuing to be just what I am "Simply a good cook", hoping my Casual Traditional American Concept will continue to be what my guest enjoy. Nothing fancy, just like you do at home only we do it for you:)
 Though I am experiencing some strange happenings around the Pinole location I can only say we are moving along and still have a target date of Mid-March.  The  negativity and well let us say harassment does not measure up to the huge support and positive motivation from my community.  I look forward to bringing a positive business to my new location,  I hope someday the few who oppose my presence in Pinole will accept me as a neighbor.
In Closing....
"To accomplish great things, we must not only act,
but also dream; not only plan, but also believe"
Anatole France

The Restaurant Life

 I have not kept up with my blog, I just had no idea what I was going to be put through.  I never thought this small town little restaurant was going to be so tough.
The build-out of the new location in Pinole is well under way, we will close the El Sobrante location February 28, 2011.  I can't wait to finally be out of there, sharing a location has proven to be one of my worst choices.  Though I have been able to achieve a lot here, I still was not able create enough of my own ambiance to over come the Lion's Den.  I had gone as far as I could go there without being able to gut the place and redo it all, I made it the best I could for the arrangement I was in.  I mean we are bigger than I ever expected, doing more than I did in my original location..it took hard work from my staff, my family and myself...the loyalty of the guest has proven to us that we have what it takes. 
I think my guest are more excited than I am about the relocation (j/k, I know I am about to bust) ...I never thought I would be so involved in this build out in Pinole, I really thought they would build it and I would move-in.....but NO I am in up to my eyeballs in the day to day construction, I am on the job sight 5 days a week...I have moved into project management with Dale and Mark at my side to help me understand it all. I love to shop, but the shopping list is over-whelming.  grills, broilers, dishes, silverware, lighting, wood, granite, tables, table bases, flooring, seating, dishwashers, paint, tile, cement. sewer, electrical, cable, phones, sand, gravel, grease traps, 3 inch pipe or 1.5 inch pipe, speakers, gas lines, computers, glasses, ABC license, doors, signs, security......it goes on and on and on! Oh let us not even get into, where do you want this light, that light, this speaker, that Tv, this printer, this fryer, wait, wait what about the light switches, or the toilets, one or two, this or that, here or there....I am submerged into complete craziness everyday.
Inspectors and investigators, yep it wouldn't be any fun with out them:)  Health Department, City Building, Fire , Waste water & the ABC...though there may be more these are the ones we have encountered so far....each and everyone of them so helpful, providing guidance and understanding as they proceed with patience and diligence.  They all take their jobs very seriously. Believe me these Sheetrock screws better be perfectly spaced, those hand sinks better be located right where they say, and that greastrap better have all the right stuff going through it....oh and don't mess with the fire marshal.
 Keep in mind now that we are recipe testing, menu planing, resume reviewing, running the El Sobrante location, up until February 5th we are still catering, keeping up with our facebook page, blogging, fielding sales people & I am still keeping up with my charitable time. 
 I can't wait to settle into just cooking, I traveled, had new cars, name-brand anything all in my younger years when I thought all of that meant something, the value was simply material....it means so much more to me to be able to share something I love so much with so many people, sharing my food with so many,  seeing each and every person simply enjoy what I live, love and breath is a wonder in itself.
I anticipate getting killed in the kitchen when we open, patience is what I ask for, I don't aspire to be more than what I am "simply a good cook"  I have chosen to venture off into serving cocktails and dinner..I do anticipate I will continue to do well in my choice of Casual Classic American Meals.

Past, Present & Future

I am Proud to be El Sobrante's FIRST ever nominated Restaurant for Best of the Bay TV on Kron 4 For "Best American Restaurant" I am pleased to represent our El Sobrante Area in such a positive light.  With this introduction to our area, other restaurants are now following in my footsteps.
I am also the first restaurant in El Sobrante to receive San Francisco Chronicles/SFGATE.com 2010 Best of Baylist Award For "Best Breakfast/Cheap Eats". I am sure others are to follow.
I have received Positive reviews from East Bay Express "Country meets Berkeley, doing it simply and attractively"
Numerous recognition in the Contra Costa Times.
Been awarded the "Business of the year 2002" by the El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce.
Received special Recognition from California State Senator Tom Torlakson for my work in the community.
I will continue to strive to improve not only my skills as my cafe's working chef but the skills of my staff also.
While I have a few Irons in the fire, I can not announce them until the deals are Iron-Clad, so continue to follow me as I grow and improve.
I am honored to work with many charities year round to assist them in achieving their goals of success and fund raising.
I will continue my work in the community and strive to do so with just as much of an open- heart , compassion, diplomacy, empathy, love and spirit as I have in the past.
In Spring of 2011 I will open a brand new location in Pinole, Ca.  I am very excited.
 I'd like to say how much I appreciate the loyalty of my staff, guest, family and friends, this abundance has kept me humble and lead to my success.
I would like to close with a quote from the Dalai Lama:
"An authentic attitude of compassion doesn't change, even faced with another person's negative behavior."
"If you can't beat me, join me" lol

To or not to write a blog?

The decision to keep a blog was not a lite one, I really could not think what I had to express others would be interested in.  With recent developments in my life, the realization of how wonderful my life is shed light on many reasons to create this blog.  I think the blog title says it all.
"A day in the Life of A Mother, Chef, Entrepreneur, Friend, Woman."
Sometimes finding the balance between all of these different responsibilities has been a challenge.  It certainly has not always been easy, certainly in these economic times.
An in-depth look at the different aspects of my everyday life most of which will be geared around my restaurant.  The highs, lows, and how and how not to's of being in this business.
I look forward to the exchange and the opportunity of growth both personally and professionally.
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