Last night I found out at the last minute that I would be starting the next special terrine today in preparation for the busy weekend which will probably wipe out the rest of my veal tongue terrine. This morning did not start off so well — after a misunderstanding with Sous Chef S, I started rendering the back fat intended for the pate de campagne (the next “pork & bacon” terrine) instead of the beef fat. It was an honest mistake and luckily, Chef did not seem angry. I swapped out the meats and tried again… no harm, no foul. (No fowl either, it was pork and beef. Badum tssh.) I did end up feeling pretty mad at myself though; I just really don’t like making mistakes.
After making a pair of chicken liver mousse terrines in the morning, the rest of my day was spent learning the new recipe for the pate de campagne. At that point, Chef asked me if I needed help; he gets bored if he has nothing to do, so he tries to keep himself busy. He offered to dice the pork butt for me but seemed surprised (and perhaps a teeny bit impressed) when I told him that I had already diced it prior to packaging and freezing the last time we had ordered it. I went over my game plan with him and mentioned that I had originally wanted to do my salmon terrine today but didn’t think I’d have time since I was taking his advice and marinating the new terrine today. He offered to do it for me, so I was glad that I had all of my components ready to go and one less thing to worry about. Yay! (I checked on it before I left tonight — it’s SOLID!)
During service, I was certainly busier than yesterday but still not quite swamped. I sent out a handful of charc boards including a VIP one for Chef’s friends (I didn’t get a chance to snap a photo before it went out, but here’s a picture of the new mortadella that we included on the salumi selection).
In my downtime, I ran Pantry’s board, shucked oysters, and helped with desserts and beef wellingtons. Sous Chef J asked me what station I want to go to next. My reply was that I am really happy on charcuterie but would love to someday work the Hot Line. He agreed that Hot-Apps would be the logical next step and he hinted that if that’s my goal, I should be spending more time there and less time on Pastry.
After sending out a few a la carte terrines, I wandered over to Hot-Apps where Sous Chef S was working. He seemed confused to see me so I explained what Sous Chef J had advised me. He took me under his wing so to speak and showed me how the dishes are made. Luckily I make fresh pasta fairly often at home so when Chef called out for timing, I was able to reach into the pasta boiler and respond. Raviolis not quite al dente… “Two minutes out, Chef!” I saw a bit of surprise in his face when he heard me call back, not used to hearing my voice on the Hot Line, though when he double-checked with Sous Chef S, he gave the same answer I had given. Score 1 for Matcha Bunny!
I helped plate and walk some of the dishes, but man — it is HOT standing next to the flat-top for hours on end. It’s physically grueling even when there are only a few tickets on fire. That is definitely going to be the most difficult part. I discovered that intense heat makes my fair, delicate skin turn bright red. But I told Sous Chef S that I really want to do it, if only because there seem to be so few female cooks on the Hot Line in any kitchen. He agreed and told me that there had only been one or two who came through our kitchen, and even then, they did not stay long.
I had been worried that I might fall to the same fate that Station-mate did when thrust into the chaos and steep learning curve that is Charcuterie. But after having these conversations with the Sous Chefs, I feel more confident in my abilities. Having the conversations at all show that they are planning for my future as much as I am, so that’s a good sign, right? I guess I worry because I had given up so much to make this career change — it’s scary and from time to time, I wonder if I had made the right decision.
But then, toward the end of my Late Night shift, I asked Sous Chef S what he was planning to do for the garnish for this pate de campagne. He replied, honestly, that he had no idea and that I should start doing some research. Just picking my own garnish was an exciting prospect, but then the Sous Chefs asked me, “So [Matcha Bunny], when are we going to start marinating YOUR terrine?” They want me to come up with a terrine (or mousse) recipe I’d like to try out in our restaurant. A new idea to propose to Chef to add to the menu. To put my stamp on the Charcuterie Station.
Now that’s pretty awesome.
PS: Poached granny smith apples. I think that would go really well with pork and bacon.