This 70s rock song by Boston is still stuck in my head from last Saturday when Chef and Hot Apps Guy were singing it during prep. Have you ever heard a British guy rock out at the top of his lungs while simultaneously filleting a loin of tuna with the precision of a sushi master? It’s pretty magical. It makes the daily grind at the office seem to pass that much more slowly — I mean, why don’t they sing too?
Of course, after I told Singing Hot Apps Guy about it, he had to belt out the one lyric he knows. More than a FEEELINGGGGGGG! mumble mumble the rest of it because he doesn’t know the words… hahaha. Good times.
But I digress. Today there was a new (to me) guy in the kitchen. He apparently worked here before but left to move out of state for a year or so. Now he’s back and on Hot Apps, meaning one of the Hot Apps guys (the quiet one who shows me how to make pasta) moved on up to the fish station alongside Fish Guy. Perhaps the most important change to the norm today, though, is that there were only three of us on Garde Manger — Station Lead, Dishwasher-Turned-Pantry Guy, and me. Station-mate got the day off. I remember last week when he saw the schedule, he was first excited, and then self-doubting… there’s an unspoken understanding in the kitchen that they only give you the busiest night of the week off (Saturdays) if you suck. Of course, this isn’t true in the case of Station-mate. He just got lucky,
Luckily, the prep list was relatively short today. I got to learn the recipe and make spiced walnuts. They smelled amazing – like a Christmas-y cinnamon and allspice and nutmeg trifecta meets caramel corn. It was too bad I didn’t get to eat any (walnut allergy), but every passerby who nipped a glazed and roasted nut or two off my sheet tray said it tasted good. Yay~! I think we finished around 2pm so at that point, we dispersed to help other stations complete their prep. I went over to Hot Apps Guy Who Loves to Sing and helped him with pasta, filling ravioli and rolling gnocchi. Side note: the gnocchi is SO GOOD. Super soft pillows of potato-based dough swimming in a hearty sauce of lamb ragu. Hot Apps made a few too many on one of their portions during service so we got to sample it.
We reconvened to set up our station and prepare for service. I helped Station Lead make family meal — garam masala chicken curry over rice (you can see how pretty the spice blend is in the photo above). Chef saw me dicing up the chicken and he seemed excited, thinking it was my recipe. But I know better. Everyone complains about family meal. To them, it’s yet another day of chicken and rice (or chicken and pasta). So if I were to feed these guys, and especially Chef, it would definitely not be family meal. haha. But the curry was pretty darn tasty. And again, I overheard one of the guys being impressed at my dining speed (Honey Bunny was quick to point out that I often eat too fast even when it’s just the two of us).
Service this evening was nothing short of hectic, crazy, and intense. I didn’t hear how many we had on the books, but that POS machine that prints our duplicate tickets (“dupes”) was relentless. Our board filled quickly with ticket after ticket. Just when I thought I could catch a breather, I could hear the sound of printing. It’s a haunting sound… the stuff of nightmares (refer to this list, #27).
Add onto that two large parties and we were in for the long haul. At one point, we had to bust out an extra large mixing bowl in order to toss eight salads simultaneously. Working hard to keep up, I felt more and more appreciation for other restaurants where the expediters/chefs also insist on serving the entire table at exactly the same time. But we made it, and about 20 minutes later, we could hear the chaos as the hot line was struggling to push through the entrees. Absolutely insane but what a rush! (Pun intended.)
We didn’t break down and clean up until well after 10pm. Large parties always seem to cause a back-up in all of the stations (I think it especially sucks for Pastry, who was still plating desserts for the two parties when we were putting our mise away.) After our station was scrubbed and spotless, I helped Charcuterie Guy pack away his terrines and jams.
He asked me how much longer I plan to stage here. I replied with the same thing I always do, “Until you guys get sick of me!” He did say that he admires my passion for cooking, that it is evident in my enthusiasm and work ethic (he knows I work a day job and he, apparently, has observed that I never complain in the kitchen). He also told me that he noticed I have adapted to this kitchen well, pointing out a few incidences when he heard me take command of the station and put my station-mates to work when they were goofing off. I told him that I appreciated his sentiments, and I really do; hearing other people tell me about their observations, especially when it’s positive feedback like this, reaffirms that I do belong in the kitchen. I also know that if I take the next step and start doing this full time, I’m inevitably going to need to remember encouraging words like these, which is why I document them here every week. On that note, Station Lead patted me on the back and said “Excellent job tonight.” He is often sarcastic and quick with insults, so a nice and simple statement like that meant a lot.
Thanksgiving is coming up. This year, I am very thankful for the support of my friends (you!) and family (hi mom – I know you’re reading this and will tell dad all about it). I’m thankful for this amazing opportunity and for all of the people I have met on this journey so far. And I’m especially thankful for Honey Bunny for always encouraging me to pursue my dreams, even if that means losing one day of “togetherness time,” as we like to call it, each week. So dear readers, eat lots of turkey, spend quality time with loved ones, and I’ll see ya again next week. ;)