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CrosspostTeam Hypno-Disc from Robot Wars are doing an AMA in /r/robotwars!

Jul 31st 2016 by Jamesterjim • 13 Questions • 132 Points

My short bio: By day I’m an international environmental consultant. My experiences abroad helped motivate me to get into politics. I won the GOP nomination for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District with 78 percent of the vote focused on economic growth, national security, and good government. I am the next generation of the Republican Party: I support marriage equality, fiscal responsibility, and climate action. Now … the work in Ethiopia is done, so let’s have some fun! [THANKS FOR JOINING ME BEFORE MY FLIGHT! BACK IN VIRGINIA NOW ... and back on the campaign trail!]

My Proof: https://twitter.com/charleshernick/status/757681694963007488

Q:

I try and try to make Chinese food at home and it's never as good as the worst Chinese takeout. What's the secret?

A:

What's your go to dish?


Q:

As an environmental consultant and a GOP candidate, how do you reconcile your personal views on climate change with that of the GOP platform? Specifically that the platform rejects the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement while stating that coal is "clean" energy and that climate change is "far from a pressing issue"? Also, what do you think should become of the EPA? What "climate action" do you support?

A:

I can guarantee you the main reason is the sauce. The recipes you find online dont use the same ingredients we have in stores. The sauces in restaurants usually mix a variety of seasoning and sauces togethers to achieve the correct taste.

Also the ability to flash cook in a wok makes a big difference believe it or not.

Edit: You should try to ask your local chinese takeout that you order from and see if they will sell you some sauce. I dont see any reason for them to decline.


Q:

Toast, avocado, olive oil, sea salt for a snack.

A:

I support a cap and trade system to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It is a free market way to do it. Cap and trade was invented by Republicans -- so I wish so many were not opposed to it now. Coal can be clean if the emissions are sequestered underground. I helped the EPA write the Geologic Sequestration rule that would help make coal "clean". It's the only regulation the EPA has written that didn't get them sued. That's because we worked with oil and gas, the financial industry, and environmental groups to write the Reg.


Q:

I've got my own wok and make my own North American Chinese dishes at home - having the ability to get that wok screaming hot and KEEP it hot while cooking is KEY. You have to have all your vege, meats, and sauces prepped and ready to add at the exact right time.

What I do is set the wok on low-medium heat while I prep. That way when I'm ready I can crank the heat and in a minute or two start adding the ingredients.

No idea how similar this is to a chinese takeout place, just what works for me.

Don't try to make a dish like this in a skillet.

A:

Has there ever been an incident in your restaurant similar to one you'd expect at a Waffle House and if so how'd that go?


Q:

What would you change in the American political system, given the chance?

A:

Spot on!

I would like to add, that the best way is to have the vege and meats cooked already.

First you add some oil preferably vegetable oil, add a pinch of garlic to quickly sauteed, and then add the sauce.

Now here is the tricky part, you had the corn starch to thicken the sauce, but dont add too much. Wait till you have a smooth bubbling to the sauce and that is the point when you add in all the veges and meats. If you add it too late the sauce will burn and if you add it too slow the sauce will be runny.


Q:

Guest rolled up in his wheel chair to a table, pulled out his two pistols, set them on the table and proceeded to order an iced tea. He wasn't threatening, he wasn't doing anything but pretending putting two guns on a table on a Friday night was a totally normal thing.

It was surreal.

Also had a lady very clearly throw up into her purse next to her, close the purse and proceed with her meal like she didn't just do exactly that.

A:

I would make same day voter registration mandatory in all states. Only politicians think about the votes months and months in advance -- a lot of people are busy with work and think carefully about the candidates only to show up on election day and not be registered? I grew up with same day voter registration in Minnesota and it was great.


Q:

What do you think about Sesame Oil?

A:

What is the "contribution" required to get a table at 8:30pm on a busy Saturday?


Q:

Hi, I live in the VA's 8th congressional district and will be voting this year so thank you for doing this AMA.

Two big issues that I care about are the TPP and net neutrality. What are your stances on them?

A:

I think it is great! I wouldn't use it as the oil to cook with, but adding a couple drops of it will add a great smell to the dish!


Q:

Depends how nice the restaurant is, honestly.

99% of the time for 99% of restaurants, if there is a table available you'll get it. That 80's America Psycho-esque way of projecting importance from restaurants is gone. Dollars count, butts in seats put dollars in pockets.

That being said though, higher end places that do tickets (Alinea) or fixed menus, often can't accommodate late reservations/walk ins because their menus are composed with limited ingredients and specific prep. Basically, they have no more food to give than what they've scheduled for.

For high end places that are more traditional à la carte dining, there may be a manager hold on one or two tables on popular nights if some a regular face walks in, but most of the time that is used on late reservations as well.

A:

I support net neutrality. I support the TPP. A critical feature of many trade deals is the requirement that each country enforce it's own laws -- particularly on environment. That's good.


Q:

Is North American style Chinese cheaper and/or easier to make than something more authentic? Which do you personally prefer to eat?

A:

So glad you mentioned Alinea. I'm going there by myself next month and it is the first Michelin star restaurant I'll be going to. Any tips for a lone diner at these types of venues? I'm so scared my palate isn't good enough.

Edit: Palate, pallet. I don't know how to homonym.


Q:

Do you think there is a need for greater accountability for police violence? Do you support dash cams, body cams, independent prosecutors, or other reforms?

A:

North american Chinese is definitely easier and cheaper to prepare. Most of the prepping can be done in bulk and final product from the precook stages only takes a couple minutes.

Authentic chinese food requires more ingredients and a longer cooking process.

I prefer authenic chinese food on a daily basis but I do get cravings for the north american style.


Q:

They loveeeeeee solo diners. Seriously. It's so much fun to have one person who wants to dork out on food. Don't be hesitant, it'll be fun. Even if you don't get what you think are all the nuances of their product, doesn't mean you can't enjoy the experience.

A:

Dash cams and body cams are a great idea. Transparency is a good thing -- and I know a lot of cops that appreciate that level of transparency -- to protect themselves.


Q:

What happened to "fortune" cookies? These cookies nowadays say some bullshit like "the weather is nice" I haven't had a fortune in years. They're all statement cookies.

A:

At restaurants like that, is it better to pretend you know how to eat the food or to ask a lot of questions about how to eat the food? Does everyone else there know how to eat that food?


Q:

What are your ideas for climate action, specifically? Do you support a carbon tax? Cap and trade?

A:

I want to know too. The worst ones are the Kung fu panda cookies. It a sad day for fortune cookies


Q:

Ask! And no, most people are debating the same thing you are.

A:

I support a cap and trade system for reducing greenhouse gases. The Federal carbon tax proposed by the incumbent congressman ignores the good work that has already been done by states. Cap and trade systems are already working in several states and countries--in Europe and China. We can build off of those and not start from scratch. Cap and trade was a system designed by Republicans in the 70s and it worked to cleanup our air, it works for protecting wetlands, and it will work for climate change.


Q:

Is there any way to get on the Staff's good side? I feel like where I go they just want me gone.

A:

What role do you see craft beer and the position of cicerone playing in the future of fine dining?


Q:

What cap would you support specifically? Do you have a schedule for reducing the cap over time?

Would you be willing to vote for Democrats as committee for leadership positions if they support cap and trade and their Republican opponent opposes the same and perhaps even denies the existence of climate change?

A:

That's a hard one and it depends on the store. I really think the best way is to talk to them, but not about the store. They work in the store 11+ hours a day. Local news or anything interesting :)


Q:

Probably the best question so far. So cicerone is interesting. A lot of people thought sommelier certification was bunk 10 years ago, now it's very clearly not. I think cicerone is in that place too. Craft beer's explosion into the market has led to a lot of specialization...... That includes the sales side of things.

Beer pairings are a lot of fun and I think as time moves forward and people become more and more engaged with what beer can do in, and with, a meal other than just "having one", they'll start seeking out more in-depth uses for it. Cicerone knowledge will certainly help there.

A:

If I am elected I WANT TO LEAD the committee that sets up the cap and trade systems.


Q:

How do all the Chinese takeout restaurants have the same menu? Is there some secret "American Chinese food" cookbook that everyone uses?

A:

What are some of your most memorable celebrity experiences from work?


Q:
  • 1) What do you think of net neutrality?
  • 2) Can I get you stance on Muslim ban from entering the United States?
  • 3) In which issue are you opposed to Donald Trump? What's Donald Trump's most ridiculous mistake?
  • 4) What do you think of guaranteed basic income to everyone?
  • 5) Do you support electoral reform such as having Runoff voting, proportional representation and overturn Citizen United? Why?
A:

This is probably because everyone copies the success of another. And as a result, everyone expect all chinese takeout to have the same dishes. Its a cycle.


Q:

The time I almost waited on Al Pacino. I didn't. He didn't come in. It was heart breaking..... but I was kind of relieved. I mean.... it's not Tom Hanks where I'd feel comfortable. It's Al Pacino, that is oddly terrifying.

More substantially though, I once had an 8 top I took care of. They were chatting about TV shows and were clearly in the entertainment industry, though I didn't recognize any of them. I sent out complimentary desserts because they were very enjoyable people and I made the joke "I know you guys are in the industry, so if any of you have the power to make Deadwood come back, I brought you free desserts......" And one of the guys who I didn't really recgonize started profusely thanking me. Turns out he was the actor who played Dan Dorety(sp?), Al Swearingen's henchman in Deadwood. Incredibly nice guy and it was awesome meet him. He's not as big in person though.

A:

3) I disagree with Trump on trade. I think we need free and fair trade. Is there room for improvement on some trade deals? Sure. But free trade allows us to compete and export to our comparative advantage and buy other goods at a lower price -- I don’t want America competing with African countries on low wage goods. Ethiopia’s costs are something like 30 percent LOWER than China’s costs … we don’t want to compete with everyone on everything. I want America to compete and export on clean energy and high-value added goods and services. Let’s innovate!


Q:

I honestly thing that is one of the most endearing things about Chinese take-out. You can go from city to city and the hole-in-the-wall takr-out joints are going to be more or less consistent in quality. You never have to be disappointed when you feel like Chinese.

A:

I assume you get very good tips if you are fine dining. How are they distributed?


Q:

When you say that you don't want America competing with African countries on some goods, how would you prevent it?

A:

^ this is it exactly

You can go the safe route and open up a standard chinese takeout. Or you can be adventurous and open a new style of chinese that may become extremely popular.


Q:

It really depends. At the higher levels, tip pool is most common. As I worked my way up, I hated that idea. It was counter to me. I built regulars, I built clientele who came to see me, who knew my name and I knew their preferences. It was their money for me, I earned it why should I share it with coworkers I didn't feel were as good at their job? The reality is though, that breeds obviously selfish thinking. After settling in at a place that does tip pool, I love it. It makes it a much more communal work environment and since the industry kind of sticks together, it just reinforces those bonds. The only downside is the potential for abuse from money distribution.

As far as that is concerned, there are many ways to do it. The most common is divided by hours worked, but that isn't always fair. The best I've seen is distributed amount is weighted by what position you work and how much you get is determined by the length of your shift. Less than 2 hours, cut early: 0%. 2-4 hours, early night: 50%. 4+ hours, considered a full shift so full tipshare.

I believe Danny Meyer in New York is experimenting with averaging out the hours across the week so everyone makes the same regardless of shift. I don't like that or the policies he is pushing though.

Edited in a sentence for clarification.

A:

It's not a matter of protectionism ... we should just play to our economic strengths!


Q:

Two local stores have kids that are always playing around inside, and they are there so much I have literally watched them grow up to some extent. Did you have this same experience? If so, how would you describe being there so often?

A:

What is the most insightful tip you've received from a customer?


Q:

Though I am from the state of Indiana and cannot vote for you , it is nice to see a more moderate Republican. As a lifelong liberal, I'd like to see both parties lean more middle. Can I get you position on both 2nd Amendment Rights and your stance on LGBT rights?

A:

I know exaclty what you are talking about. I am one of those type of kids!

The restaurant is a love hate relationship! Its great because it keeps your family so close together, but at the same time it keeps them far apart because they are working 24/7.

however, it is a unique eperience, you learn about tons of different people and personalities. you also learn about the value of money and work ethics!


Q:

"Do you have a wife? No? Well when you do... don't cheat. I'm learning that now." As he drank a bottle of wine after his other two guests left... turned out they were his ex-wife and divorce lawyer.

Was very awkward to finish that table up.

A:

Sure! I support marriage equality -- in short, government should stay out of the bedroom. And I am a strong defender of the Second Amendment -- it's super clear and simple "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"


Q:

What is used for coating the chicken in dishes like general Tso's?

A:

I like Red wine, I like French wine, can you recommend a good French red pairing with pizza bagels?


Q:

With all the high-profile attacks in the last 18 months, how do you think the US Government should address cybersecurity?

A:

It's lightly seasoned wet batter ( water, salt, oil, egg white, flour)

Cooking is 4ish steps:

  1. marinate in he chicken in light seasoning
  2. mix in batter
  3. fry it hot oil to lock on the batter
  4. lower the temp of the oil to fully harden the outside and cook the inside
  5. Stir fry the chicken with the sauce.

Q:

Gimme a price range here. Are we talking "I just want a nice bottle of wine, the food is irrelevant" or are we talking "I want to pair my French red to my pizza bagel in every way possible, including price."

A:

I wouldn't make "jokes" about having Russia help! I would change Federal hiring practices so that we can get the best and brightest brains from Silicon Valley to defend our intellectual property and national security interests.


Q:

What's the actual way to pronounce Tso? Some people say general so or taos or chows

A:

So Boone's Farm, then?


Q:

Why even bother running against Don Beyer in one of the bluest districts in the country?

A:

It's usually "so's" or "sao's." Please dont try to sound out the "T."


A:

Voting patterns change with each election -- and the demographics have changed in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, McLean, and Fairfax. There are more Millennials in my district than almost anywhere in the country -- I am a Millennial (just barely!). There are more Latinos in the 8th than ever before -- my mother is from Ecuador and I have been campaigning in English and Spanish. There are a tremendous number of Federal workers who are frustrated with the status quo Federal bureaucracy and would love to see better incentives for innovation and pay based on their performance. And there are a lot of small business and startups that are hitting roadblocks because of high taxes and heavy regulation. The incumbent, Don Beyer, isn’t focused on any of these issues. I AM. I got into this race because my friends, neighbors, and coworkers all #ExpectMore from Congress. I intend to deliver for them.


Q:

This question is going to be a bit personal so hope you don't mind, but did you ever feel 'forced' to work in your family's restaurant? I sort of come from the same background where my family owns a diner and sometimes I just get annoyed at the fact I feel chained down as I started working there since I was 14 and almost all my free time goes into there even now at 18. On some days I can look past it because hey family is there for one another and I can relieve some stress on my parents but sometimes I can't help but feel sad that my life is passing me by and I just don't have that many fun memories of my teenage life.
I love them for sure do not get me wrong! I'm mostly annoyed at the situation rather then being mad at them. But I just wanted another person's perspective on it.

A:

Could we have both suggestions, if they may differ?


Q:

What is your position on the Fed, gold standard, and the Keynesian model?

A:

I have had those thought as well. And I view them in almost the same way. I guess the question to ask yourself is, do you want to continue this as a source of income or do you look for something else in the future. Once you figure that out, you will be able to decide how you want to proceed with you career. Best of luck to you


Q:

For a real suggestion anything Sicilian, Frappato especially. Light, dirty, bright raspberries... so good. And it's kind of meant to go with the flavors that make up pizza.... even pizza bagels. Occhipinti is one of the largest producers along with COS. Both delicious and reasonably affordable.

For the bottom end though, I've said it elsewhere here... Bota Box Red has a place in the world.

A:

The Fed is doing a fine job. Regular audits of government agencies are a good thing, so I would support auditing the Fed. Gold standard = out a long time ago. On Keynes: government spending on public infrastructure is good and necessary. There are positive economic externalities associated with it building roads, drinking water and wastewater systems. That said, government cannot afford and should not spend in every sector. Government can't pick the winners and losers --- that the job of the free market.


Q:

were your parents cooks in china? why did they decide to come here?

A:

Also this. From the Tank (fancy-ish box wine) does a killer Cote du Rhone that you can usually find at Whole Foods.


Q:

I support marriage equality and climate action.

Why are you a Republican? The GOP platform opposes both these issues in no uncertain terms.

A:

No my parents were not cooks, they learned to cook when they got out here! Short answer, the money and better life


Q:

I almost suggested From The Tank, but when they originally started distributing they were restaurant only? I suppose that changed now!

A:

Well … I didn’t write the GOP platform. I was on the road working during the GOP convention when the platform was written. I’m not a millionaire career politician like my opponent -- I’ve got to work to pay the bills and so that I can take the next few month off to campaign. I am a Republican because I believe in economic freedom and personal liberty. I believe in the Virginia Republican Creed: http://www.virginia.gop/virginia-republican-creed/ and it doesn’t say anything about marriage equality or climate change. Donald Trump vowed to defend the LGBTQ community -- that’s a good thing. I want to shape the future of the Republican Party and I am proud to represent the next generation of leaders in the Party.


Q:

I once ordered Chinese food using GrubHub and it arrived at my house 15 minutes later... How is that possible? It was typically ordered Chinese food and I live about 2 miles from the shop, but i figured it was all made to order.

A:

Obviously you can't say which celebs who've yelled at you, but can you dish on the nice ones?


Q:

The store probably wasn't busy and you were the first order there.

Those woks are damn hot and a $20ish order can be cooked under 7 minutes :O

If you are 2 miles away, then I can see them making an order and delivering under 15 minutes.

your lucky day :D

A:

The fuck I can't. Throwaway and anonymous proof for a reason.

Jared Leto is either a piece of shit or were in a really bad mood from being starved while filming Dallas Buyers Club. Either way, fuck you Jared, I know that salad's lettuce wasn't super perfect looking, I can't argue with my boss when he sends it out.

As for nice ones..... Gordon Ramsay was incredibly nice, Seth Rogen and Johnny Depp are both laid back, easy going. Almost every celebrity I have met has actually been incredibly nice. Rupert Gint is a lot stockier than you realize. I think of a tall gangly redhead, not a short stocky guy. Ron Howard is really down to earth, good sense of humor. Michael Johnson (worlds fastest man) is an incredibly good tipper.


Q:

Thank you!

A:

Thanks for that link, it's perfect.


Q:

What's the best seller ?

A:

So, how often do you eat at Waffle House?


Q:

General Tso Chicken and its variations.

A:

At this rate, once a decade. Somehow both too much and not enough.


Q:

Ever see "The Search for General Tso" ? It's a documentary all about how and why that dish got to be so popular. Based on your answers to other questions in this ama I think you might like it. It's on Netflix I think.

A:

Why do so many celebrity chefs come off as abusive and constantly angry? I could name a few, but I'm sure everyone has some in mind. I would think that kind of attitude would be entirely negative for the working environment, especially a high-price kitchen.

Are the people you work with/for anything like this? Or is that mainly a television thing?


Q:

I havent seen it, but I will definitely give it a shot when I have time :)

A:

Almost all of my chefs can tell you horror stories of their previous bosses. From verbal to physical abuse (intentional burning for example), belittlement and just otherwise atrocious work conditions.

The kitchen has always been a rough and tumble place, though that is changing slowly. The higher echelons have no room for error. Every plate is the only plate you get to present that guest. That kind of intensity tends to come out in rough ways. Plus, it's a hard job. My chef easily works 14 hour days 6 days a week with little respite or acknowledgement. They chain smoke, drink coffee like crazy, get shit faced every night and come back to do it all the next day. Needless to say..... that doesn't lead to an even keel.

Ultimately though, that portrayal that is a byproduct of TV. The day-to-days of the kitchen will involve a lot of swearing and cursing, but mercurial explosions of a diva tend to be a problem that isn't tolerated (unless they own the place, which is a whole other discussion).

As far as the WHY on TV, well it sells. People like drama and "reality" TV that is anything but real.

Edited few words and format.


Q:

What's your life outside the restaurant like? Do you have a lot of free time to yourself?

A:

Is it true that every top-notch sommelier/chef has a guilty gustatory pleasure? (Example: Mountain Dew for a sommelier or Fritos for a chef.)


Q:

I am actually a college graduate looking for higher education right now. So I do that in my free time.

A:

Every one I met has. When an associate of mine got their MS certification, I bought them a bunch of Pabst.


Q:

How can I get REAL Chinese food without being offensive? I love a little traditional Chinese restaurant near me. Traditional Northern Chinese food (I've been told). I found it through a Taiwanese friend who was visiting me for a year. When I went with her, the food was AMAZING! Hands down The Best Chinese food I've ever eaten. She's now gone back home to Taiwan. The last time I went with my family, I feel like they gave us completely different food: Americanized (or Canadianized in my case) versions of what we ordered. Example: crispy sesame beef - the sauce wasn't the same. It was ketchup-y. It happened again the next time I went. The only difference is that my Chinese, Mandarin speaking friend isn't with me. So, how do I let them know that I want the real stuff? I don't want to order a pork bun or those black noodles (not actually noodles, but fern roots) and get some weird American version.

A:

Do you get comission on pricey wine sales?


Q:

Thats hard to do. Unless its on the menu, you will need to know the chinese name or the english version of the chinese name and ask if they can make it for you. They will know what you are talking about as long as you get the name correctly. You wont offend in anyway by asking for more authenic food as long as you know what you are looking for!

A:

No. Some places do, but I've never worked at one. Many states don't allow that (legal/tax issues), it can be a nightmare for the restaurant and ends up being pushy.

If I'm recommending a more expensive bottle I either really like it or think it is super cool. I want the guest happy, nothing changes that quicker than pushy service and overpriced wine.


Q:

Thank you and your parents for having the dedication to run a restaurant. I've been buying from the same family owned place for 20 years and haven't found anything like it wherever I go.

How important is the family business to you, or other generations of family?

A:

So who the biggest asshole you've dealt with?


Q:

The restaurant is important because it is usually the only source of income for a first generation family in the US. Usually the second generation looks for more of a professional career!

A:

For celebrities? Jared Leto.

Otherwise? The guy who wanted a discount on a $900 bottle of wine because "thats just what nice restaurants do you, you asshole"


Q:

Why doesn't my local Chinese restaurant sell orange chicken!!??

A:

Did you serve Jared Leto while he was in his Joker phase? I can only imagine what that would have been like.


Q:

Uhhhhhh, that a surprising one. If they have general tso chicken they should have orange chicken. The only difference between the two dishes is that the orange chicken has orange zest added to the sauces when the dish is in the wok.

A:

nah, he was annoying enough in his starving phase.


Q:

They have general tso's but no Orange chicken! :(

A:

Hey, thanks for doing this. My family chooses not to drink alcohol. Is it weird or considered odd when someone comes to a high end restaurant and just orders Coke?


Q:

You should find another place! How dare they not serve orange chicken!

A:

Sort of. I won't lie, I notice it. Not because of the choice, but because I spend all night talking to people who do want to drink and it's such a glaring difference when someone (or a group of someones) don't drink.

That said, that is more just the rhythm of the job than the actual care. I assume you're pregnant, in recovery or just not a big drinker. I don't give it much thought. Half my non-drinking guests ask if we even have coke, as if we wouldn't do such a thing. Which is funny because we drink sodas just like anyone else.


Q:

What is in the brown sauce used in egg foo young? I typically get roast pork or shrimp egg foo young on occasion

A:

I've been serving for about a decade now, working my way up from casual to fine dining restaurants. If I were to look to get into a really fine dining place, what advice would you give me that could help land at a position serving at a top end restaurant?


Q:

To be honest, that is probably the hardest sauce in the store to make. So many different ingredients go into that sauce, I actually need my super secret recipe book that was passed to make it. So sadly I cant answer that right now :(

A:

Know someone or expect to not serve immediately. That isn't uncommon. It is easier to teach people properly than correct old bad habits. I know people with NO experience that were hired into support positions at places like The French Laundry.

Otherwise, knowing people helps. Or make it clear you want to learn how they do it and will start in a support position to establish yourself.


Q:

Similar question, what is lobster sauce? It's so thick

A:

Who the fuck do you think you are claiming that Waffle House isn't a fine dining establishment?


Q:

Its mainly just thicken chicken broth with salt, sugar, msg, white pepper and flowered egg whites.

A:

My bad, I know they're rated 3 Michigan Stars.


Q:

I like pressed duck. There's a place nearby that serves it, and I can order it and have it ready in "15 or 20 minutes". I have made pressed duck at home, following a receipe from the "Classic Chinese Cookbook" (I'm old. I use cookbooks.) It took me 4 hours to make pressed duck! I'm assuming that the place I order from uses duck for it's broth bases, so they've already deboned the duck. Do you serve it, if so, is that the technique you use? Or are there shortcuts?

A:

What's the biggest large format bottle you've poured from?


Q:

I am not surprised it takes so long to make the duck. Duck is probably a dish that takes the longest to prepare; that's why it is so damn expensive!

The only reason they can prepare it so fast is because it has been precook. the way they probably make the duck is to massage the seasoning onto the duck and then roast the duck with the bone first. Then they de-bone the duck. At this point, they are stored until it is ordered.

When it is ordered they will roast the duck once more which will take around 10-15 minutes.

So in the end, there are any shortcuts, but a lot of prep time.

A:

Salmanazar, but it wasn't anything special. Just a giant format for a large catering.


Q:

My local Chinese take out place puts a guy that can barely speak English on the phone but a fluent guy delivers the food, can you explain the thinking behind this?

A:

I'm surprised you're getting so few questions about food. So two questions from a foodie.

I want your best dish, what is the easiest way to ask your server for it? I'll eat anything that is great. All I tend to get is 'What are you thinking about?', getting the specials reeled off to me again, or 'This basic dish is the most popular.'

What is the best thing that a restaurant has served you?


Q:

There can be quite a few reasons. but the main reason is probably the driver doesn't work in the restaurant and is just hired to deliver food.

A:

"So I'm open to anything, I don't want the special and I don't want your most popular dish. I want what you would get if you were sitting in my shoes and having a meal". You'll probably get an honest answer. If they stick to script, well they are a shit server anyways.

I'm honestly not sure about a particular dish that stands out.


Q:

I can confirm. Am a white delivery driver. They don't ask me to do anything else in the restaurant even though I'm very willing to help. I'll ask on the busiest days if they need me to do something and I don't think I've had a single night where they want me to clean tables or run the dishwasher.

A:

I saw in one of your answers you worked your way up to your position. Did you have to pass a test of some sort to be a sommelier?

Have you ever seduced a famousish customer?


Q:

They probably think that since they dont pay you to do that, you will be unhappy do it :/

Its the sad truth.

A:

No, I was hired into my position. I basically just worked as a server at a crappy restaurant, then at a nicer restaurant, then at a nicer restaurant and so on.

Carla Gugino knows my name, I'd like to think she has a crush on me.


Q:

Ok so this question is about the little bags of fried noodle strips that come with wonton soup. The place near me always had the absolute BEST fried noodles, like I would order wonton and get 3 extra bags because they were so good. Then one day they switched to the horrible stale noodles I find at most chinese places. Were they making their own and then started buying the cheap ones? How can I get those amazing fired noodles again?

A:

(Serious question) in your opinion what is the best cheap box wine?


Q:

percisely!

you have two options for crispy noodles as a restaurant owner. You either buy the premade ones (stale) but easier to do. or you make your own. To make your own, you have to get egg roll wrapping and cut them into strips and fry them.

A:

...Is this a question? Seriously?

It's obviously Bota Box.


Q:

Is it ok and would they know what I was talking about if I asked them to make the homemade ones for me? What should I say? I would be so happy If they would and I could regain my addiction to wonton soup :)

A:

I guess this is kind of a two part question. What in your experience has been the biggest cross-restaurant issue, and what do you think would be the easiest/most effective way to deal with?


Q:

I am sorry to say they probably will not be able to make it for you only. You will have to let them know that most people dont like the prepackaged ones and let them know that the ones they make themselves are much better. Maybe they will be able to change back to the old ways.

Otherwise you may have to find it somewhere else :(

A:

Getting guests to understand what happens at one place doesn't happen at another and each establishment is a business.

This applies to food, drinks, procedures, etc. Every place tries to find and maintain it's own identity. This makes it tough to put your foot down for requests that compromise that. Even simple ones, it is less about the request and more about the precedent it sets.

Dress code is an example that pops to mind. We don't have one where I work and it often surprises people. We try not to be stuffy or formal and we feel enforcing a dress code would come off that way. However, it is awkward when you have someone who saved for a while, is celebrating their 25 anniversary, put on their suit and dresses to come have a nice night and a nice meal... and they're seated next to a tech entrepreneur who is wearing sandals and a t-shirt. Both of them are completely in the right in their own way... and both have the possibility to affect the mood for each others night in their own way. Which side do you choose when you make these decisions?


Q:

Does your place proudly proclaim "no msg" like some I've seen? Because I want the damn msg! It took me some serious searching in my town to find a bag, and it was in the Asian aisle of the restraunt supply store. A little bit on meat does miraculous things.

EDIT: I know about the product called Accent guys thank you.

A:

David Chang's Momofuku restaurants have no dress code for their waitstaff. It's refreshing, personally.


Q:

Dont believe the places that say no MSG. Cause their food will have it regardless. Even if they dont add additional MSG, the sauces will have it.

A:

His restaurants are super unique too, in a lot of ways. There is a reason his name rings out.


Q:

Why do so many Chinese restaurants get teased about their food being "cat" or "rat." I absolutely love Chinese food but do you know why that stigma is so popular?

A:

The name rings out to me largely because it sounds like someone with a mouth full of food cussing at their parents.


Q:

it use to be extremely prevalent 10 or so years ago, but not so much anymore. However, I dont know the reason for it.

A:

Love it.


Q:

Most Chinese food places have the stereotype of being unclean. Is there any truth to this? If so, why?

A:

As a captain of the floor, are there any nautical terms that you use? Are most people super into having to know every aspect of why their food is amazing, or are people just "humm... yum... taste good?


Q:

I am not surprised from this stereotype, but it is usually dependent upon the area. I have been two a few places that i felt were not clean, but most are usually sanitary. All stores have health inspectors come by, so they have to meet some sort of standard.

If you live in a nice neighborhood, the store will be clean, if you really want to make sure, just go to the store and ask to use the bathroom.

The reason behind the negative stereotype comes from china. They probably work in a store in china and what worked over there might not work over here. I dont have any personal experience with this so I can not elaborate further.

A:

I'd say 75% is "yum it is amazing" and 25% is super into knowing every detail.

Also, I don't use nautical terms but I really should. Suggestions?


Q:

Does your chef(s) ever cook regional, authentic Chinese food? Whether it's for fellow coworkers or perhaps special requests from costumers (if that's possible)? If it's possible, how would I go about making that request?

Thanks!

A:

Always be familiar with the term "head" since it means bathroom.

Port is left, starboard is right.

Stern is to the rear of the ship, bow to the front.

Three sheets to the wind means a person who's so drunk they're wavering like sails with no wind in them. Drunk as fuck in other words. CO is your boss, the restaurant manager, you're the XO as executive officer of the servers/floor.


Q:

We do cook authentic chinese food for ourselves and we do make it by special request to the customers!

You just have to know the name and how the dish is like and then ask if they know what you are talking about and if they have the ability to make it! Some authentic dishes require a lot of prep so they wont be able to.

A:

Three sheets to wind will be used more frequently now, thank you.


Q:

Can you recommend some authentic dishes?

A:

Employee turnover has to decrease as the dining experience gets finer and finer... How long does the average employee last where you're at now, how long has the most tenured employee been there? The newest?


Q:

One of my favorite authentic dishes is Cantonese lobster!

A:

I'm the most tenured employee. Now I'd say the average departure from my position is every year or two. Newest is about 8 months. We had some management transitions, but now they have stabilized in a very positive way and turnover is dramatically dropping.


Q:

(Half) Chinese here! My mother owned a Korean restaurant during my youth-teen years that I helped out at. Not sure why but I couldn't ever eat at other Korean restaurants (used to eating at my mom's place, free food vs paying,etc.) until well into my college years.

How often, if at all, do you eat at other Chinese restaurants? Can you just enjoy the food or do you compare/critique it?

A:

Thanks for doing this ama! I've worked my way from hostess to foh manager, and I love everything about my job.

What's one of your most memorable guests/ services?


Q:

I actually eat at other chinese takeouts pretty often when I am out an about.

Its fun trying out different places and comparing them to your own. So I do critique it but it doesnt mean I dont enjoy it when I do.

A:

I had a couple once celebrate their 30th anniversary in my section, apparently she had been denied a liver transplant and that was likely to be their last anniversary together.

Really drove home how much you can affect important memories for people.


Q:

What is your favourite Chinese takeout item to eat?

A:

Oh no... I'm waiting to be put on the liver transplant list and this broke my heart.


Q:

MONGOLIAN STYLE DISHES!

It's a sweet, spicy, peppery dish!

Absolutely delicious!

A:

You'll be fine if I'm never your server.

Good luck though.


Q:

Did you ever go to/live in China? Where are your family from?

A:

I have absolutely no idea about ordering wine. When I go to a restaurant with an extensive wine list, I feel embarrassed to ask the server about recommendations since anything he says would fly over my head. In the end I would usually get the house red or white. Any tips on how to order wine? Or at least how to ask for recommendations?


Q:

yes I have, I live in china from right after I was born to 4 year old and then went back for vacation a couple times. I havent been back in 10+ years though.

A:

Ask! Give a price range, be honest and blunt.

"I don't know a ton about wine, but I want to explore a little in the $75-100 range. Do you have any recommendations or something different you'd steer me towards?"

Boom. Done.


Q:

What is the number one thing you would never order from a Chinese take-out restaurant?

A:

What's the hardest, yet most rewarding, part of your job?


Q:

Probably french fries if they offer it. We dont but i know some places that do.

A:

Remembering that people are choosing to spend their money... and most importantly, time, in a place that I basically control.

As I said, it's not a glamorous job but Americans celebrate at restaurants. It is what they do. Birthdays, weddings, promotions, house buying, moving to, moving away, etc.

It's hard to keep that perspective, but it really does mean a lot when someone goes out of their way to thank me for helping them have a memorable night.


Q:

What's the worst client you had to deal with?

A:

What sort of restaurant do you want to open? Upper-echelon like the one you work for currently, or something different?


Q:

One of the most common sayings you hear in the food service industry is that "The customer is always right." I wish you didnt have to follow this rule, but no matter how much you hate it, there is a reason for it.

Because of this mindset, you get these customer sometimes that believe they can do whatever they want.

One time, this individual comes in with an already eaten dish. I mean like, the dish was already almost done; only a couple pieces of veges left on the plate. he claims that the dish is not what he order and ask for a refund and starts throwing a fit while there were tons of other people around. he throws the food on the ground and then leaves. We end up with a mess and dead silent waiting room. What an asshole

A:

Around $45 per person average, not anything like I'm doing right now. This would be fun to revisit down the road, but to quote Bourdain... if you want to open up a restaurant, burn a pile of money in a driveway.


Q:

My local place doesn't give much of a shit and gives customers hell if they're royal pricks like that. It's hilarious to watch.

A:

I once ate at an insanely expensive steak place in Las Vegas where we basically had a private waiter wearing white gloves, carefully watching from a respectful distance, then almost telepathically swooping in when we needed something, yet, never making anyone feel watched or crowded. It was an amazing performance. Is this what you do?


Q:

How are they stll in business! Must have some amazing food lol

A:

Yes. Without the gloves and the depression that comes with living in Las Vegas.


Q:

Okay a few questions:

  1. Every Chinese place near me has the exact same egg rolls. I mean like they look and taste EXACTLY the same. Same thing with a few other dishes like lo mein noodles, sesame chicken, etc. I assume there's some food supplier in the area that they all get their stuff from. Any thoughts on this / how widespread is this? How much of typical Chinese food is made from scratch vs made from prepackaged ingredients?

  2. You mentioned food coloring. How much food coloring is typically added to a dish you make? Do colored dishes sell better than the same uncolored dishes (which presumably taste exactly the same)?

Also thanks for the clean bathroom tip, I'll have to check that out :)

A:

Are you a sabrage too/ do you know any? If so have you ever seen any brutal accidents?


Q:

There are usually 2-3 competing suppliers for every location, but all those suppliers stock the same products and its just the price that is different. Now to answer your question, there are premade egg rolls and I am sure places order those egg rolls because they don't want to make their own. However, I am not sure how widespread it is. Even places that dont order the premade egg roll still have to order the veges to put in the egg rolls and that is the same regardless of where you go. And becauses egg rolls are so lightly seasoned and the veges are usually the same, rolls premade or not usually look and taste the same. There are small differences if you pay close attention, but usually people put such an abundance of extra sauce on it that they cant even taste the difference anyways.

Most chinese food dishes are made from scratch and rarely are they ever prepackaged. the most common thing that is prepackaged are probably dumplings.

There are two food coloring that most stores use. one is egg yellow and the other is red. The yellow one is usually to lightly color the wonton soup base. And the red one is for everything else. I am sure you noticed that pork is normally grey put in chinese food it is red. A hint of red usually makes it more appealing to the eye.

I cant say much about the selling stance as I havent done a controlled comparison, but it wouldnt surprised me if it did.

A:

I've done it and I've never seen any brutal accidents though it is scary as shit to do, even after practicing.


Q:

Why do some places not run air conditioning and leave the front and back doors open?

A:

As a captain and a Somalian, has your vessel ever been attacked by pirates? Alternatively, how has piracy near Somalia affected your life?


Q:

The truthful answer: We are cheap people trying to save some money here and there

The usual answer: Its because we expect the customer to be in and out as it is a take out store and the A/C doesnt work in the kitchen because the ventilation keeps if from staying cool.

A:

Well piracy really negatively impacted the Somalian wine export market.


Q:

Chinese takeout varies around the world. Is it chef's knowledge or business that restricts? In Australia every takeout will offer a 'Honey Chicken' - have you ever heard of it?

A:

I'm not much of a wine guy, but I have a few "regular bottles" that I'll have on hand for when people come over and they want a glass of something. My personal favorite is Wild Horse Pinot Noir. Out of curiosity, have you had this wine and what do you think of it for a ~$15 bottle? I have 3 bottles of 2014 in the cupboard. Also, have you ever had Fighter Pilot Red? It's another personal favorite.

What other bottles should I try in this price range? Wine sections intimidate me so I just kinda buy the same stuff.


Q:

Yes I have seen and have had it in the US. But not every place has it. The variety comes not from the chef, but what the customer want. If it isnt popular and it isnt being served, there is no point in having it on the menu.

I personally like honey chicken, but people dont like trying new things :O

A:

My personal favorite is Wild Horse Pinot Noir. Out of curiosity, have you had this wine and what do you think of it for a ~$15 bottle?

I've worked in places that sold it and I think it's the perfect wine for what it is. It's good, simple Central Coast pinot noir. It's not meant to be aged, it's meant to be opened and drank. No ceremony, no complication. It's hard to keep context on wine. One wines strong point isn't always a person's need. Sometimes you just want to open a wine and like it without giving it much thought.

I haven't thought about Wild Horse in years though.

I don't have any recommendations but I'm a list person. You put me in a section, I'll have plenty. You give me a blank board to write stuff down and I draw blanks. Responsive memory I suppose?

Regardless, don't be intimidated, what is the worst that happens? You grab a bottle you know nothing about, buy it with a cashier who has no clue you know nothing about, you go home and open it without anyone ever having a clue and you drink and hate it without anyone being around? It's a win-only game. You buy wine, you find something new you like. If you don't like it, well at least you get to get drunk.


Q:

One more question, are you offended if someone doesn't tip for take out? I tip most times but sometimes I think it's unnecessary.

A:

It's a win-only game. You buy wine, you find something new you like. If you don't like it, well at least you get to get drunk.

Seriously, stop being so damn quotable, it's making me jealous.


Q:

Never! No one should be forced to tip. If you like us or the food then tip if you want, but dont tip because you think you have to! I would never go to a place that forces people to tip, especially take out!

A:

It's easy to sound quotable when you have time to answer.


Q:

Hey, I'm a chef / food scientist and I had a couple questions.

First off what types of vendors do you use for your primary suppliers? Do you use a vendor for a lot of the "chinese food place" stuff and then a separate vendor for your wholesale produce and meat or do you buy from one company?

I read some of your other responses in regards to prep, particularly what you mentioned about bulk prep. Do you rely on tools as often as possible (mandoline, food processor w/ attachments) to speed things up or is everything done with a big ass chinese cleaver?

I've worked with commercial wok stations before, they use a ton of gas. What's your gas bill like usually?

Have you had any questionable issues with health and safety inspections? (On your part or theirs).

Do you experiment with cooking a lot outside of what you cook at your restaurant? Do you have any kind of desire to work in different types of kitchens or make different types of food?

Thanks for doing the AMA. I love cooking on a real wok burner btw, it's like cooking on a jet engine.

A:

What is your thought on the split between FoH and BoH? I'm a cook/chef and experiencing some of the ire between the two was never something I really took part in, I'm curious as to how you feel about the disparity.


Q:

Here we go, one by one!

We personally use there different suppliers. One supplier for the utensil and containers, one for produces and typical chinese food stuff, and one for meats.

Almost everything is done with a big ass cleaver! However, we have small knives for deboning and a big mixer for the marination and mixing process when we season the meats. We also have a deli slicers as well. And a meat grinder to make grounded pork and mix dough (works well).

I can really comment on gas bill, as I dont have any one hand and I dont usually do the gas bills, sorry.

Our places is usually clean but we alway have the mark were things are not covered. We cover everything daily, but it get so busy during the day that its hard to keep it covered when the health inspector arrives. We are talking about food in the fridge.

i dont really have time for cooking outside of the restaurant so I have not. I don't have any desires besides maybe learning some sushi :O a fine art!

A:

I hate it. I don't use the terms Front and Back. It's Dining Room and Kitchen. We all have the same goal, the same team to work with and the same hope: to survive each shift with our sanity and enough happiness to make us come back to our next shift.

I've never understood it. Almost any BOH admits they are there because they don't want to deal with people.... but then plenty of them spend their time shitting on servers because they perceived the job easy. Each job sucks and rocks in a unique way, no reason to add in-house animosity.


Q:

Whats the key to a solid Crab Rangoon?? I just can NOT replicate the stuffing!

A:

What are your thoughts on the divide that exists in regards to pay? I've seen servers walk away with what I make in a 55 hour week in one night. It bothered me but I'm in the kitchen because I enjoy it, it's a little disheartening to say the least.


Q:

It would be, thoroughly mixing the season into the cream cheese.

A:

It's unfair. There is no way around it.

There are flip sides to though, in the context of servers.

A lot of kitchen guys are building a craft, a trade skill they can hopefully turn into their own place or food truck or whatever. They work 10 years in 10 different jobs, they expand their skill set. A server works 10 years in 10 different jobs, they learned how to operated in 10 different places.

No one opens a restaurant because they were a very talented server.

Either way though, the wage divide is a tough reality and certainly not fair. However, kitchen staff chose to be there. Nothing ever stops them from coming up front.


Q:

How often do you burn/ruin/make the wrong dish?

A:

Are there any good wines under $15?


Q:

quite often actually, maybe once a day? not because we take the wrong order, but because the chef sometimes gets orders mixed up because there are so many.

A:

Tons. Too many to name.

One thing I've learned is I never sneer at people's preferences as long as they aren't based in ignorance.

Price can determine perceived quality. Price can also be the result of actual quality. Price, however, does not determine taste.

One of the best wines I ever had was when I was younger and didn't really know much about wine. My colleagues would chuckle at it when I mention it, as it's a wine based on style and marketing (Prisoner, previously of Orin Swift. Note: I'm not referring to this as a wine under $15, just as a wine that doesn't have a strong repute with somms)... but fact is my dad really liked the wine and I remember having a very awesome meal with him and my girlfriend at the time and drinking that. It's not so much about the wine, but the memories I associate with it.

When and if you develop a palate, it's easy to move on from the basics. The simple stuff that people like, it's easy forget why they like it. Sometimes the cheap price is the attraction, sometimes it's the memories.

I have a box of wine in my fridge right now because... guess what? After 3 glasses my palate is shot, I'm feeling good and I don't want to remember to cork up a bottle and have to drink it in the next 3 or 4 days.


Q:

As a jew, I just want to say thank you for always being there for delivery on Christmas day (well, for the people in your line of work always being there). My favorite thing on that day is giving the driver a wrapped "Christmas" present. it's kind of a tradition now.

How busy are your Christmas days? Any good stories, or is it just extremely busy and stressful? I guess this depends entirely on the area you live.

A:

What's the most outrageous request you've been able to accommodate, by either a celebrity or an everyman?


Q:

We are actually fairly busy around Christmas time. I am trying to remember a good story that involves a customer but none is coming to mind right now. If I think of something I will let you know.

A:

I've had this sitting on my queue for a while... I'm sorry to say I can't think of a great example for you. Celebrities never have weird requests, they just want private tables.


Q:

Ive had two styles of crab rangoon, some on the sweeter side, and some more on the savory side. Why is that so? Is it regional or just a matter of preference?

A:

Any recommendations for a wedding cocktail or two? We're getting married in the fall, and I'm Chinese, so we're looking for drinks related to one or both of those with minimal ingredients so we don't have to stock too much.

The caterer suggested a vodka-cranberry + lychee, which sounds fine if maybe a bit boring and sweet. I do realize my minimal ingredients stipulation makes it hard to be too exciting. Do you have any better ideas? I thought it would be nice to have a brown liquor cocktail as well.


Q:

You are talking about the cream cheese crab rangoon right?

It is a regional preferences, they try what people like.

A:

Yes! I'll PM you tomorrow after all this is done so I can answer more thoroughly.


Q:

Is there any way to make that delicious neon-red sweet and sour sauce at home? I've tried many recipes but they never come out like the restaurant.

A:

Can you name Top 5 wines we don't know about but should?


Q:

I am not familiar with home cook chinese takeout. So I dont know the secret to it. sorry.

I think the best idea is just to go to a chinese food takeout place and ask to buy some unheat sweet and and sour sauce. They definitely will sell it and it will be cheap!

A:

Probably not. It has little to do with the actual question and more what defines "know about" and what people like.

I'll name my Top 5, regardless of popularity, how about that?

Piedrasassi Syrah from Santa Barbera

"Vecchia Modena" Lambrusco di Modena (Sparkling Lambrusco)

Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Barboursville Cabernet Franc (Virginia Winery)

Massican "Gemina" Vineyard White Blend.

Also, if you want a winery you should keep an eye out for: Ryme from California. They do really cool stuff with fun grape varietals. They've started to get some good presence, so they aren't some huge secret but definitely not widely known yet.


Q:

And then?

A:

How much does wine get marked up at your restaurant? How does that compare to the food?


Q:

What do you mean "and then" sir? :O

A:

Restaurants make their money off alcohol. Spirits are usually your highest mark up. Wine follows a pretty simple idea, around 250-350% depending on price, availability, demand and overall structure. That markup tapers off after $200 a bottle though, because you still need to move a product.


A:

I'm poor. Like, poverty-level poor. If I'm careful with my money, I can manage the occasional minor indulgence, comparatively speaking. Is there any way I could experience dining at a restaurant of your caliber and keep the price reasonable?


Q:

I guess I am not cultured enough, You have enlightened me!

A:

Honestly, if you're that poor, probably not. Even if you could, I'd tell you not to. Why not go somewhere a little less fancy and ball out a little more? That is way more fun for me. I'd have less fun worrying about the total bill at my place than I would somewhere less expensive but not being as concerned.

That said, for being reasonable, if you don't drink wine and share with your date you could keep the cost approachable.


Q:

The idea of going to an expensive restaurant is intimidating, yet still an experience my husband and I would like to have some time. We both grew up middle class and now, even though we are academics, we are upper middle class. We live modestly, and dress modestly, and spend our extra money on new experiences. Is there any advice you could give us on how to conduct ourselves (dress, mannerisms, basically just how to navigate this minefield)?

A:

Remember it's not a minefield. That hostess? Banging the valet. That bartender? Builds motorcycles in his spare time and has a roommate for his duplex. That server? Is a personal trainer as his other job.

We make good money, but we're not wealthy. We're literally middle class. We're the exact person you are... the only difference is, we go to work at 5 pm.

Despite dealing with the obscenely rich, our most regular guests are people celebrating birthdays, anniversary dinners, etc, that won't be back for another year. Nothing is expected of them except trying to have a good time and understand we're trying to do the same.


Q:

Did you take or do you know anyone who took the Master Sommelier exam? Is it as hard as it is portrayed to be in the Somm documentary?

A:

No I didn't take it, but I know several who have and yes it is that difficult. Harder in some ways.


Q:

What led you to this career path? And how'd you know you wanted to be a sommelier?

A:

Accident and I still don't want to be one.

I was 18, fucking off around lower end restaurants when I realized you made more money with less work at nicer places.... so I started trying to constantly advance. Somewhere along the way, I realized I really liked what I did and decided to stick with it for a career.

As for the sommelier part, it's more the end result of my job progression than anything I sought out.


Q:

What is the best way to get a good girlfriend?

A:

Have interests, have hobbies, learn to respect yourself for what you are.


Q:

What was your 7th grade homeroom teachers name?

A:

Mrs. O'Connor.