The Dark Side

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Today was probably the best Tuesday morning I’ve had in terms of regaining my bearings after two days away from the kitchen. Fish Guy and Sous Chef S took good care of my station, and I was left a very detailed list. My lowboy refrigerator was emptied and cleaned out, my designated shelves in the walk-in were organized… Even better, Sous Chef S had ordered the meats and offal I would need to get ahead on the duck and walnut terrine, so everything was waiting for me in the walk-in when I arrived. What a great way to start my day!

Despite the ease of planning, however, there was quite a bit of work to do. Two chicken liver mousse terrines, Happy Hour jars, break down a 10 kilo bone-in pork butt, start marinating the duck terrine, and a few minor tasks (picking chervil for garnish, for instance). Chef came by, and as usual, “Do you have a lot to do today?” “Yes Chef, but I will manage.” This time his reply took me by surprise: “Oh I’m not worried about you.” His confidence in me means a lot, especially as I heard him checking up on every other station throughout the day, making sure they were on track, offering to help with their prep.

Meanwhile I was left alone to ponder a solid hunk of pig that was still too frozen to butcher properly. I decided to chunk off what I needed for the duck terrine and managed to cut up another 4 kilos of meat to freeze for a future project (another terrine or even a salumi or sausage perhaps). I was intensely focused and heeded Fish Guy’s advice to just keep pushing myself to get things done. By 4:30 I was set up and ready for service.

We had a party of 30 booked during happy hour, with a selection of dishes pre-ordered for the occasion. I had three orders of deviled eggs and four orders of salumi. Easy peasy. I got a lot of compliments on my salumi platter as I walked it up to the pass, and I saw Chef nod his head in approval as I set it down in the window. Yay!

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Happy Hour hit me like a train. One ticket after the other, many of which had dishes from all four stations (Pantry, Charcuterie, Pizza, and Hot Apps) that share the Cold Line’s ticket printer. Since there are only three dupes (duplicate copies) of each ticket, I ended up working largely from memory. Now that’s a challenge; talk about keeping minds active!

Dinner service slowed considerably for me; not a single charc board and only a handful of a la carte terrines. But we all kept busy with some… spring cleaning. The dark side of the restaurant industry, the part that no one talks about, is the inevitable presence of unwanted pests. Chef told us that we would be having a routine fumigation late tonight / early tomorrow and this put us all into gear like a fire drill. Everything needed to be packed away or covered in plastic. The Vitaprep and Robotcoupe got matching outfits of triple layer plastic wrap, while clean trash bags were filled to the brim with our stacks and stacks of quart and pint sized deli containers. Food and dishes went into the walk-in, pots and pans into the turned-off ovens. It was like organized chaos. I didn’t end up leaving until 11pm… and I’m not looking forward to the twenty minutes or so that will be spent on meticulously scrubbing down every exposed surface in and around my station first thing tomorrow. All part of the Life…

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