Week 22: Eight Hour Service

Another one of Sous Chef J's hilarious blue tape messages

Another one of Sous Chef J’s hilarious blue tape messages

So we opened at 2pm today for the England vs. Italy World Cup game for early happy hour, which ran right into our usual 5pm happy hour and dinner service after that. By the end of the night, we were all absolutely exhausted. A five-hour service (on Saturday night, especially) is already rough, but eight?? Brutal.

Knowing that we were opening early, we all had to adjust our game plan a bit, though I think I may have been affected the most. Each of the other stations had at least two cooks working tonight, so they could divvy it up (one works happy hour while the other continues prepping). But since Charcuterie is me, myself, and I, I had to think things through. As soon as I arrived I knocked out the prep I would need for happy hour items so they would be ready for early service. I cleaned up a corner of my station to set up all of the garnishes and kept a cutting board on my side table to keep prepping between tickets. It was tough, especially with everyone scrambling with last-minute prep and therefore using up all of the good equipment — the chinois without any tears, the measuring cup that wasn’t cracked, the Vitamix blender top with the sharp blades. I managed to do a half-recipe (15 jars) of happy hour chicken liver mousse so that Meat Guy (or one of the sous) would not be screwed for Sunday’s service. Chicken liver mousse needs to rest for at least a few hours after cooking before you can butter it and serve; having to whip it up for the same day’s service would be seriously cutting it close.

We easily did 110 covers in the first hour of the early happy hour service. Being a British gastropub and airing the England vs. Italy game, we seemed to attract all of the ex-pats out of the woodwork. Orders came rushing in with fish & chips and bangers & mash. It was intense and we could hear the crowd quickly forming at the bar. Not gonna lie, hearing all the cheers and yells really made me want to not be at work and to be out celebrating just like them!

We had a short break before the happy hour tickets rolled in. We had 135 on the books for regular dinner service, a respectable number but what made the evening difficult was the way the reservations were distributed. We had an unusually high number of large parties, 6-tops, 8-tops, 10-tops, a 16-top, some double-booked to arrive at the same time, some barely scattered by a 15-minute gap. INSANE.

TGI(my)F indeed. It made me feel as though I were in college and had all of my finals on the Friday of finals week: get slammed all at once and go out with a bang. Time to relax and enjoy the weekend!

Oh yeah, pro-tip: if you’re ever in need of a liquid bandage, super glue is the kitchen’s go-to item. Another pro-tip: water makes super glue react. I burned myself on the panini press the other day (there’s a stupid raised ridge on the bottom platform that singes your wrist if you don’t reach in at the right angle) and the blister burst open, leaving a wound exposed to the dangers of vinegar splash from my station’s garnishes (stings like a mo’fo!). Fish Guy offered me some super glue today and as I stood there waiting for it to dry, he trickled a bit of water onto it and it instantly solidified and turned white in color. It’s like a synthetic scab now, which is awesome.

And Happy Father’s Day! I’m so thankful for my dad’s never-ending support, especially this past year as I’ve embarked on this venture into the restaurant world. Food speaks to him and I feel like we have so much more to talk about nowadays, which is really great. Love you, Dad!

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