Today was a busy day. Or at least, I thought it was. At one point, our rail was completely full of tickets. Good thing I wasn’t responsible for expediting because just looking at all those tickets was making my head spin. One might be inclined to think that salads are no big deal (I certainly did before I started spending time in a professional kitchen) but the ones here are especially intricate and intricacy takes time, gosh darn it! Aside from the dozen or so ingredients that differ with each salad preparation, the primary issue is timing — dress the salad too soon and it will wilt, causing us to start over from scratch. The lingo “dying in the window” comes to mind.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. This morning I was greeted by familiar faces when I arrived and got to work cleaning and setting up our station. I felt noticeably more at ease in the kitchen and comfortable with the routine. I got to choose most of my tasks for prep today (lots of mandoline time!) although I did end up having to do the herb salad. Sigh.
I did get a compliment later on though. My station lead asked me to grab a quart of frisee from the walk-in, and I double-checked whether he wanted the newer one or the older one. He said to get the newer one because he prefers the way I pick frisee over the others working the pantry station. Not gonna lie, I definitely patted myself on the back all the way to the walk-in. :)
Today’s family meal was definitely worth mentioning. Some of the guys even remarked that this was the BEST family meal of all time: chicken tikka masala with garlic-onion rice. SO GOOD. OMG. All of the delicious cumin, kashmiri chili, garam masala, cinnamon, ginger, and plenty of other spices I can’t even begin to imagine — the aroma wafted through the entire kitchen. I wish I could have eaten a huge bowlful but as usual, I grabbed a small scoop to expedite eating quickly (and getting back to work).
Apparently there was another event going on tonight, so Chef took a few of his best men, leaving the kitchen a bit short-staffed. I think I held my own though. Despite aching feet (an all-too-common part of kitchen life), I moved quickly to retrieve our plates from the walk-in… that’s right, folks. Chilled plates for salads. We’re fancy like that. I plated tuna tartares during happy hour (aka Happy Tuna), the fairly new kale caesar salad, and lots of arugula salad that would stain my hand with bright red huckleberry juice. The theme of the night was independence and self-sufficiency. Our usual station lead was assiged as a floater tonight, helping out all of the stations. The other pantry guy was determined to succeed without his help, so it was just the two of us plowing through the tickets.
I loved the rush. It was a bit confusing at times, but I kept my head down and focused on whatever dish was assigned to me. Luckily, it did slow down here and there, and it turned out to be a nibbling kind of night. The charcuterie guy tossed a slice of toasted brioche my way. The meat guys on the hot line had grilled up an extra rib-eye and one of them brought a small piece over to me. The hot apps guy (who also works charcuterie during the week) plated up an order of headcheese that was prepared Vietnamese-style (similar to thit nguội) and even topped with pickled julienned carrots and daikon (đô chua). He shared a sample of that, drizzled with sriracha aioli, and it was pretty bomb. The perks of working in a kitchen where I LOVE LOVE LOVE the food.
Before I knew it, 10 o’clock crept upon us and we started to break down, putting away our mise en place and scrubbing down the reach-ins and counters. I’ve gotten pretty pro at wrapping the third pans so that it forms a completely airtight seal (I think they called it a banquet-style?). With a place for everything and everything in its place, my station sent me on my way. As I wandered through the kitchen to say my goodbyes, I was greeted with smiles and guys making me pinky-swear to come back next Saturday. Another successful night.
Honey Bunny and I have a new tradition. For the past few weeks, I’d call him as I approach our home and he’d run down to my car so we could speed off to get boba. A delicious and refreshing tradition indeed. Tonight I splurged on a slice of Oreo cheesecake as well. Yum.
Oy my feet. Today I tried my new Dr. Scholl’s insoles, but ironically, though my arches and underside of my feet feel better than other days, the height of the insoles caused the tops of my feet to rub against my shoe, creating a whole new pain. Sigh. Someday I will win this battle against my Skechers non-slip shoes. Someday.
Till next time!