After a morning adventure with Honey Bunny for brunch and browsing our favorite Swedish furniture store, I headed to the restaurant to help Chef load up the car for the off-site event (and to drop off some well-received pastries for the guys). I didn’t realize it at the time but I had seen the flyer for this event on Chef’s facebook page — a local chef just opened a new restaurant on the pier and invited three other local chefs (Chef included) who have similarly innovative, ingredient-centric styles. The theme? Surf and turf.
Chef, Sous Chef J, SCJ’s Girlfriend, Station-mate, and I all loaded up into Chef’s SUV and we cruised up the coastline to the venue. It was a beautiful day out, so the traffic was understandably chaotic. We arrived with plenty of time to spare and were welcomed by the Host Chef and his cooks. They helped us get set up at our workstations and we continued the little prep work that remained (Chef was proud of how organized and prepared our team was). It’s strange working in someone else’s kitchen but funny as well when we start to notice familiar conversations and idiosyncrasies. Like keeping scraps of sweets (like banana cake trimmings from the Host Pastry Chef and my ladyfinger trimmings from our dessert) in deli cups ready for passing cooks to nibble on. What was markedly different though was the presence of three female line cooks on the Host Chef’s brigade. That was awesome to see.
Just as we were finishing up our prep, we were surprised to see Charcuterie Guy! He was dressed up all snazzy and it turned out that he was planning to attend the event as a guest. I teased that I was surprised he had the $45 to spend on the ticket and he laughed and said it was good to see me. But later we discovered that he felt awkward shmoozing on the “other side” and ended up grabbing an apron and helping the cooks. It was hilarious :)
As the event started, Station-mate and I hopped on the hot line to claim our places at the deep fryer. Each chef was serving two dishes – one savory followed by one sweet. Our savory dish (the surf and turf one) was a crispy fried monkfish cheek and braised veal tongue torchon served with truffled celeriac puree and honey beer jus. Sous Chef J went out to the front lines to assist Chef with the plating while Station-mate heated the puree and jus and I fried off the buttermilk-battered monkfish. It was fun working alongside other cooks as well, although sharing space was difficult at times. I sustained a nice bubbly burn on my forearm from the back-splash of fryer oil. :( But I barely flinched — the show must go on!
Before we knew it, it was only an hour or so into the event and we were already frying off our last monkfish cheeks. We transitioned to the dessert — a shot glass layered with banana mousse, chocolate marquis, and duck egg meringue, topped with caramelized banana, a chocolate-dipped pate sucre (between you and me – it’s just a ladyfinger), and micro-mint. We had to make the meringue here at the Host Kitchen because the one we brought from the restaurant had already broken (the solids and liquids separated). The only egg whites they had handy were duck eggs, but we ran with it and it turned out awesome. The duck egg white meringue was surprisingly mild and not at all eggy-tasting like regular chicken egg meringue. The dessert really came together and it was a beautiful thing but a bitch to plate. Sous Chef J, brulee-ing the meringue, and Station-mate, brulee-ing the bananas, fought over the torch while I helped Chef plate up the balancing act of a dish it turned out to be. At some point, he said “Fuck the mint. It’s not doing anything anyway.” So we moved a bit faster, skipping the garnish, until we had a few out and people felt the need to ask, “Are these ready for the taking?” Chef confirmed and I remarked that THAT must have been the micro-mint’s purpose… we both had a laugh over that.
What we had not accounted for was that the 150 glass shotglasses we had brought would be distributed all around the dining room with no plans for retrieval. Luckily the waitstaff was observant and started collecting them for us as the patrons finished eating. Yay! When we plated up our last shot glass dessert, Chef let us roam free (and drink a lot of Buffalo Trace bourbon cocktails). Unfortunately most of the food (like ours) was gone so we were starving! We packed up early, having collected most of our shot glasses, and headed back.
Back at the restaurant, service was still going on, though it was slow and I was glad that I don’t have to work on Sundays. I confirmed that my consistent schedule from here on out would be Tuesday-Saturday… meaning, most importantly, that I get tomorrow off. YAY! Time for a break. Six days in a row is rough (though I know the guys tell their war stories about working eight, nine, fifteen, SIXTEEN days in a row without a break!). Till next time, Matcha Bunny out!