Today felt like the busiest day in a very long time. Not necessarily due to the amount of tickets on order or the size of the parties (22 and 14) but mainly because it was ONLY myself and Station Lead working garde manger. My head was spinning but I pushed to stay focused on my assigned tasks. Throughout prep (and later on, service), as soon as I had finished something, I was immediately given something else to do. The oven was my friend today, baking off a whole sheet tray of bacon, a batch of prosciutto chips, dozens of crispy croutons, and roasting a ton (well, maybe 10 pounds) of beets. Bacon grease, not so much. Fat + 375 degree oven + bare fingers = not good.
The day was off to a great start though because I walked in to find Charcuterie Guy making himself a breakfast sandwich on toasted brioche. He (and I think some of the other guys) know I have this weird obsession with brioche, and he so kindly shared some of his sandwich with me. I noticed that about these guys: they’re all very willing to share what little they may have (Station-mate, for example, would always split things with me or grab an extra of whatever goodies were being fought over so I could have one). In my excitement, I forgot to take a picture of it, but trust me – it was delicious. An egg scramble of tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach, a bit of melted cheese, and a drizzle of harissa aioli smooshed between thick slices of toasted brioche. Mmm…
We also had an extra pair of hands for part of the day and some of service. This guy is in culinary school and an acquaintance of New Hot-Apps Guy, who invited him to check out this kitchen for his externship. It definitely helped during prep, although during service he did drag his feet a bit when the rush hit. I’ll be honest, it was frustrating to be running around doing a million things simultaneously while he stood there barely making his first move. Sense of urgency, people! I had to step back and wonder though — was I that slow when I first started staging? Were the seasoned people shaking their heads when I spilled a bit of garnish or made a mess transferring soup into quarts?
Regardless, I think Station Lead and I made a great team tonight, and I think I proved to him that I can hold my own. After all, my hands flew making salad after salad, tartare after tartare… Never a dull moment and plenty to keep track of! Because of the craziness (and probably because Chef was manning the pass), there was a lot of communication and time-calling all around. As seen on TV. I love days like that.
I cleaned up and put everything away on my own while he took inventory and wrote up tomorrow’s prep list (we’re expecting a ton of work because of all the mise we used up today). He gave me a proverbial pat on the back at the end of the night which is always a comfort. Progress is always exciting.
I didn’t get to chat with Honey Bunny at all today. Yesterday I had a spare moment while chowing down on family meal, but today we didn’t eat until about 4:45pm, right before service. But coming home is always a joy, and the first thing he always greets me with is a happy “How was your day?” with the hopes of hearing new and interesting stories. I am so immensely grateful for his support. (And of course, my dear parents and loyal friends who believe in me through my wild ideas like giving up an office job for Kitchen Life… but I live with Honey Bunny and he has put up with things like how I smell like an assortment of food when I come home each night. “Go shower already!” he interjected as I was telling him about how much my feet ached.)
I saw Chef in the office when I went to get my belongings and to switch shoes. He asked me how my second day in a row went and I told him, “So far so good!” He continued that the adrenaline, the rush, the work, that’s all the easy part. It’s my feet that will really start to kill me. Of course, I had to mention Penetrex (thanks again, L! It’s AMAZING!), which Chef said he will have to order from Amazon and try for himself. I got the impression that he is happy to have me on his brigade, so though I’m exhausted and have one more day in the kitchen ahead, I’m still excited and confident in the path I’ve chosen.
Speaking of which, the FOH manager at the restaurant posted this on Facebook. It reminded me of what one of the guys at the office told me when I broke the news. “The easy thing for you to do right now is to stay here and NOT take that offer. Get outta here!” :)