Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Miss a question? Go here.
Black cats, the evil eye, knocking on wood -- most superstitions have been around for centuries and many of us continue to believe in them. But what about Valley chefs and restaurateurs? Do they have any superstitions or kitchen rituals they believe will effect the outcome of their food? I asked a few, and here's what they had to say:
James Molinari Chef, Uncle Sal's Italian Restaurant
A full moon. We always check to see when the moon is full each month and then staff and order accordingly. For some reason, a full moon usually affects our business for the better and it brings in a different crowd. Our restaurant can get a little weird. If you've ever watched a show on TV, like ER, they sometimes do "full moon" episodes featuring crazy people. That's our restaurant during a full moon! Our customers aren't crazy, but they're definitely "spicier" than usual. And there's always that one wild card who shows up to shake things up even more.
Charleen Badman Chef and co-owner, FnB and Baratin
I always do things in odd numbers: three falafel, the pasta is five ounces, and so forth. I inherited this from Anne Rosenzweig -- she was in tune with Japanese tradition.
Jeff Kraus Chef and owner, Truckin' Good Food and Experience Dining
To overcome "the first crêpe goes to the dogs" jinx, I go through a pre-spinning ritual. Before the ladles and spatulas are touched, I give my crêpe makers a love tap with my rabot, and then spin it in this sequence, clockwise, counterclockwise, and clockwise again.
Josh Hebert Chef and owner, Posh
Never ever give anybody a knife as a gift. It's bad luck. Tape a penny to it for good luck. It's a bad omen to give anyone a knife.
Justin Beckett Chef and owner, Beckett's Table
I always have to have the ladle handles facing the same way -- the lower righthand corner of the container.
Justin Micatrotto, Co-Owner Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers in Arizona
Don't rely on a cook who doesn't have burn marks on their hands.
Shin Toyoda Sushi master at Sushi Roku
Whistling. In Japanese culture, when you whistle, you blow away your guests.
Joe Johnston Owner, Joe's Real BBQ, Joe's Fresh Farm Grill, Liberty Market, Agritopia
I am generally afraid of knives, which stems from me nearly fainting at the sight of my own blood. At one time, I wanted to be a surgeon but then nearly passed out while watching "Death on the Highway" in driver's education class. That was the end of my medical career.
Bill Sandweg Owner Copper Star Coffee and Circle H Barbecue
If I spill salt, I throw some over my shoulder. Even if I lose a single crystal, I'll grab some more and throw it.
Azucena Tovar Chef and owner, Los Sombreros
Keeping good, clean energy in the restaurant by burning some sage or copal, which are both used to rid a space of negativity.
Michael Monti Owner, Monti's La Casa Vieja
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No superstitions for me, but my cousin had this crazy superstition that if you broke any glass at the table, he would insist on tossing out everybody's meal. Needless to say if anything broke, we hid the glass in order to save our meal.
Tony Palombino Founder, BoomBozz Pizza & Taphouse
Never toast with a glass of water.