You know it would be nice if maybe you tasted it. Because it’s terrible! Yeah, sadly, that was my thought the last time a restaurant employee prepared an item for me tableside. Sure, I may be a little uptight when it comes to food but, please, if it’s your job to prepare food, you could as least show a modicum of passion. Just for one second show you CARE!

“Smile, you’re on stage.” This was one of the basics pounded into my head when I worked for The Ritz-Carlton and, believe me, it resonates with me to this day. We hospitality professionals can never just “mail it in.” We’re more like actors than store clerks, and even if we don’t “feel it” some days, we still have to dig deep and perform. This, of course, applies not only to front of the house staff but to back of the house as well. Even if cooks don’t deal directly with guests, they can still tell if you’re just going through the motions or if your heart is really in it.

A discerning guest can always spot a lack of passion. It could be the absence of a smile on a server’s face, or the usually delicious food is merely mediocre because the kitchen just wasn’t on its game. Or, in this case, the tableside server was just going through the motions because the restaurant hadn’t trained its servers properly.

Why is this important to all you non-hospitality people? Because it applies to your home-cooked food, too! Aren’t the people you’re cooking for just as important as a paying guest? Damn right they are! Just because it’s leftover night is no reason not to show the love. You don’t have to just slap the crap before them, like you usually do. Even reheated items benefit from a nice plating or a fresh salad.

There’s no better way to show your passion than to make something fresh that you’d usually buy already prepared. A great example is barbecue sauce. There are seemingly hundreds of varieties on grocery store shelves and they all have one thing in common: They taste bottled and uninspired like that lifeless tableside item your read about earlier. Just take a moment, display a little passion for barbecue sauce and Chef It up!





  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 pound whole butter
  • 1/3 gallon yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsps. Coleman’s Mustard Powder
  • 2/3 pound brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 4 jalapenos, finely diced
  • 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 oz. light corn syrup



  1. Caramelize onions, add jalapenos and garlic.
  2. Stir in brown sugar until melted.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except butter, simmer until thickened.
  4. Swirl in whole butter.
  5. Season with salt.


Until we cook again,


Contact Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Amelia Island Culinary Academy in Historic Fernandina Beach, with your recipes or questions at [email protected], for inspiration to get you Cheffed Up!