Week 17: A New Book

Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman

Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman

Friday and Saturday were busy, as expected. It has been a noticeable pattern that the end of the week (Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays) is when people really go for the charcuterie dishes on our menu. I sell more charcuterie boards, a la carte terrines, even deviled eggs on these nights each week, and this means that service is super busy for me. At one point on Saturday night, I had eight terrines on order at the same time. Later that evening, two charcuterie board tickets came in simultaneously. Crazy!

Both days were also busy for me in terms of prep. I unwrapped my wild boar terrines on Friday — they look great! And on Saturday I made another full recipe of the pork & truffle pate at Chef’s request. He really likes the new lobster butter (as do I) and I think the mousse-style terrines have an especially good profit margin. After all, pork livers (and chicken livers) are dirt cheap since few people use them.

On Friday, we were listening to 80s music again during prep when “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston came on. Let me tell you, it’s hilarious to watch a dozen guys jamming to Whitney Houston. It was Musician Stage’s phone and Spotify account, and shortly before the song ended, there was an awkward pause. “What happened?” we all wondered. It turned out that Musician Stage “liked the shit out of it” so the app was catching up. And he played it again immediately after.

About halfway through this second time around, Chef came storming into the middle part of the kitchen. “TURN THAT SHIT OFF,” he shouted. “If people find out we listen to music like that, they’re gonna think we’re all pussies. We have a reputation to uphold. People need to think we’re tough!” It took everything I had to stifle my laughter. Like I’ve said before, you’ve never really been yelled at until you’ve been yelled at in a British accent, and I had no desire to be the target of his wrath. Still, it was pretty funny to see him so riled up over the music selection. For the rest of the afternoon, a few of us silently mourned the lack of Whitney Houston’s hits.

I love my job, but work is still work. I was thankful for Sunday to come. Honey Bunny and I took our parents out for Hong Kong style hot pot to celebrate Mother’s Day. After spending time with family and partaking in delicious Asian food, we headed home for a lazy evening. I cracked open a new book that I had ordered off Amazon at Sous Chef S’s suggestion: Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. According to those in the know, this is THE definitive bible of this craft, Reading the foreword by Thomas Keller and the introduction by Michael Ruhlman himself, I felt humbled and honored to be taking part in this aspect of the culinary world that has always been key to the human species (after all, the great explorers could not have embarked on their journeys to sail to new lands without the ability to preserve food). And in the Renaissance era, charcutiers were respected tradesmen who would even have their own guilds. I felt inspired, determined to continue my practice and to learn more about this craft. I can only dream that someday, I could be considered a master charcutier. Now wouldn’t THAT be cool?

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