We had something new in the kitchen today. Music. According to Sous Chef S, after seven years of working with Chef, the idea of playing music during prep has been only casually mentioned but quickly dismissed. But Fish Guy set up his speaker set, hooked up a smart phone with Spotify, and we were jamming to Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me. We had a lot of prep to do but with the classic rock playing in the background, time passed quickly.
At one point, Green Day’s Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) came on and some of the guys groaned at the “lameness” of the song. I teased, But guys! It’s like high school! We’re graduating and never going to see each other again.. isn’t it sweet? They thought it was hilarious and, since we are all around the same age, agreed that the song takes us back to high school. Too funny.
We had two new faces in the kitchen too — Fish Stage trailed Fish Guy today while later in the afternoon, Pizza Stage showed up to shadow Pizza Guy. And I had Musician Stage on my station today, so the kitchen was pretty well staffed. Chef even came over to my station during prep and said, “Since it’s the two of you on Pantry today, I expect greatness.” He went on to explain that he has noticed that Sassy Stage is our weak link. Nothing gets past him!
More new things. Our menu has slight changes which include a new dish for our station. First, a bed of ricotta in a shallow dish, drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of fleur de sel and black pepper. In a small bowl, mix together confit heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved raw cherry tomatoes, shaved red onion, and chopped basil. Dress with balsamic vinaigrette and arrange over the ricotta. Garnish with toasted sourdough croutons and mustard frill. It was colorful and delicious, like our own version of an Italian caprese salad. But sadly, I waited and waited all night for the order to come in. I didn’t even know what it would be called on the ticket.
Then, at 8:15pm, a ticket rang in. Station-mate, whose station is closest to the ticket printer, pulled the ticket and sounded perplexed as he called out, “Tomato salad…?” I grabbed the ticket and peeked out around the corner to ask Chef, “Is this the new salad?” He nodded and I let out an excited “Wooo!” Apparently there were a lot of guys hanging around because I was suddenly bombarded with comments of “OMG that was so cute. Why are you so excited about a salad?” And Chef… Chef was laughing his head off! (Which is a very good thing as he had been yelling and shouting all throughout service, targeting his wrath primarily at Fish Guy and at our station…) Anyway, I eagerly plated the salad and presented it to Chef, quite proud of myself.
After a fairly slow dinner service, I helped Musician Stage break down the station. He scrubbed the station while I handled the prep list. Sous Chef J gave me advice on how to order fish, both very popular appetizers. It was very helpful to hear his perspective, based on his experience, and he seemed flattered that I asked. As I was placing my order for tomorrow, Sous Chef J told me about some of the high-end, fine-dining dishes that he used to plate when he worked with Chef at another restaurant. Michelin-star-worthy, he described it. When I’ve learned all I can learn here, that’s where I want to move next — a fine-dining, white-tablecloth, Michelin-worthy restaurant.
Before he left, Chef remarked, “We’re going to get you full-time soon, right?” and winked. I’m glad that he finds me to be a valuable asset rather than an annoying liability. I can’t wait to truly take the bull by the horns and dedicate my full focus to building my culinary career. Just one more week.