I’m Jason Goertz, The Techy Chef. This is my story.
I have many interests, and this blog will be a multifaceted outlet for discussing a few of them. But to understand them, a bit of (my) history is in order.
I have been cooking since I was 7 years old. I was home sick from the first grade (measles or mumps, not sure which), and I was hungry. A good thing when you’re sick, right? But my mother was busy talking on the phone with someone or other, and, well, I WAS HUNGRY. So I just took matters into my own hands and made myself lunch: A melted cheese sandwich and Campbell’s tomato soup. To this day, this is comfort food, although all the ingredients have been upgraded from Campbells, Kraft, and Wonder to Pacific Creamy Tomato and Red Pepper, Tillamook White Aged Cheddar, and Dave’s Killer Bread.
Throughout my life I have cooked, and gradually as I got older and had more time, I got further and further into food and cooking. Ironically, I’ve never worked in the food industry, but I love to cook and entertain friends and family.
The second thread of my history that relates to this blog is my technical background. At an early age (maybe before I cooked that first lunch) I was taking apart my toys and putting them back together. This led to an interest in ham radio, which eventually morphed into a “career” of sorts in radio. I worked on air in high school as my part time job at the local AM station, and in college I actually took a correspondence course and got my First Class Radiotelephone License, which qualified me to be the engineer of my college radio station, a station that is still on the air, btw.
My senior year in high school I took an extension class in Fortran offered by a nearby community college. I did it at the time because it was interesting, but my plans for college were to study and be a doctor. I entered and declared as a Chemistry major. The hopes of med school were pretty much dashed my sophomore year. I simply wasn’t getting the grades I needed to get in med school, but I stayed on and got my degree, figuring a science degree from a quality school would not hurt me.
All the while, I would play with whatever computer I had access to. My senior year, the college I went to (Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington (http://www.whitman.edu/), got a new, shiny HP3000 Mini-computer. Like the other three years I’d been there, I went in at the beginning of the year to learn how to use this new machine. It was unlike the other punchcard/typewriter machines I’d used to that time. Glass CRT terminals, line printers, etc. I took to this technology like none I’d worked with before. I had thought I’d leverage my experience in radio after I graduated, but this computer thing captivated me much more deeply, to the point where it was hurting my schoolwork. Learning COBOL was much more interesting than Differential Equations!
One thing lead to another, and I started working for the school the day after I graduated, and I haven’t looked back since. This job lead to one at HP, and I established myself as a technical expert in the Seattle area on this machine. I left HP and tried my hand at management, then hung out a shingle, consulted for HP in California, and went to work for a software company writing code. Everything I did was closely tied to HP. Eventually, after Y2K, I went BACK to work for HP, working for a guy I had gone through training with the first time around. That lasted 11 years. HP killed the HP3000 a year or so after I started, but I had transitioned to working with Windows and SQL server on large HP servers. I loved it.
But HP, throughout the 2000’s, ceased to be the HP that I knew. Bill and Dave were gone, and the helm of this once great ship was turned over to Harvard MBA types, that didn’t know what to do with it. The culture dwindled, most of the good people left, and it was a shell of it’s former self.
After that, I had 2 more jobs in the tech industry, NOT tied to HP. To put it bluntly, I never fit in. Thinking back, my experience with “The HP Way” spoiled me to just about any other company born of the current Wall Street and Harvard Business School. Greed, Speed, and Bleed seems to be the motto of these companies. They weren’t for me, and I wasn’t for them.
After parting ways with the last one of these, I realized that I had grown more passionate about food and especially food production techniques like smoking, bbq’ing, etc. While in the last year or so of my second gig at HP, I hatched the idea of going to cooking school. I looked around at the ones in the Seattle area, and they seemed awfully expensive for what you got. I didn’t want to be a chef, necessarily, I just wanted to know what a chef knew. I wanted the knowledge.
A fortuitous conversation with a chef at a cooking class made me realize that going to culinary school at a technical/community college was a much better deal. Becky, thank you for that candid conversation (http://www.beckyselengut.com/bs/default.asp).
As I was hatching all these plans, I thought that blogging about the experience of a guy with many years in the computer biz becoming a chef might be interesting to someone else. Egotistical, I know, but what the heck. I’ve been told for years I should be keeping a journal, so why not have it out there for everyone to read?
So here is that Journal. This blog will combine my experiences in cooking school at Lake Washington Institute of Technology (http://www.lwtech.edu/), discussing how to make certain types of food, mostly involving specialized equipment (smoking, BBQ, making fresh and cured sausages, sous vide, and who knows what else). In addition, I plan on having posts on MAKING THE EQUIPMENT. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars for a sous vide cooker, you can build your own with things you can order through Amazon.
So The Techy Chef is a double entendre. I am a Techy who will some day be a chef (officially) and I will offer recipes for food and equipment with a Techy twist.
(A musing on the name of this blog can be found here).