Restaurant Week is a bit of a misnomer when they extend the event ever so slightly with each passing year. This year, kitchen brigades all over the city are subjected to TWELVE days of utter chaos. Chef personally mans the pass every evening and each station preps for a huge amount of guests. Tonight we were scheduled to have 215 on the books, which did not include any potential walk-ins (like the party of 7 at 9:59pm… grr…). The pressure is high on so many levels – additional prep work, how quickly those boards fill with tickets during service, and perhaps most importantly, the influx of new diners lured here because of the Restaurant Week prix fixe. First impressions are key — each of them is a potential return customer… or a negative blast on Yelp from a one-time visit.
I had been worried it would just be Station Lead and me since Dishwasher Turned Pantry quit, but Musician Stage showed up and was a great help today, even though he was sick as a dog and probably would have preferred staying at home to recuperate. There was an insane amount of prep but we managed to get it done. I even had enough time to help make ravioli with Charcuterie Guy who was assisting Hot Apps with their pastas. Station Lead whipped up a quick family meal.
Come service, we were absolutely slammed. At one point, even Station Lead called over one of the Sous Chefs to double check the tickets on our board compared to the dishes that Musician Stage and I were already starting. On top of it all, we even had a party of 20 with two salad options on their prix fixe menu. Sheer and utter chaos. Much yelling throughout the kitchen, especially from Chef.
But at the end of the night, Chef congratulated us all for another successful service. Before he left, he gave me a high five and said, “Great job this week” with the little wink he gives when he really means what he said.
I had Late Night tonight but luckily the flow of tickets was slow and when they did come in, they were mostly for pizza (Pizza Guy stays behind to help). Sous Chef was with me, and he and I got to chat. I told him about how I had attended an expensive dinner at which Chef was a guest chef, and it turns out that he was at that same event assisting Chef in the kitchen. Small world!
After about 45 minutes, he finally got frustrated with the lack of orders and declared an early Last Call. We cleaned up, scrubbed down a bit, and packed up our knives. At midnight, I finally left, completing my third week of working 3 days in a row at the restaurant and my very first Restaurant Week experience. I’m exhausted but pleased and so glad that I made this decision. I love Kitchen Life… even if my feet don’t. And riding the wave of service during the intense rush feels awesome.
Despite having witnessed the chaos firsthand, Honey Bunny and I are going out for Restaurant Week tomorrow night. I’m really looking forward to our date night but I can’t help but feel a little bit bad for the kitchen. After all, our schedule reads “Restaurant Week Nightmare” at the bottom. ;) Time for some much needed rest!