The moment I walked into the kitchen, I was greeted by Chef singing the Happy Birthday song to me. It was amazing and totally made my day. He likes to put up a tough front at work so it was funny to see him be so uncharacteristically nice.
Almost immediately after though, he teased me about my “slow” progress on my piccalilli. To be fair, I was in no hurry and didn’t want to dice multiple quarts of vegetables all in one go so I had been doing it piecemeal over the past 2 days. Something clicked in me though, and I realized that moving faster during prep is something he has been subtly and not-so-subtly hinting at since I was on Pantry. So I kicked it into high gear, hauled ass, and finished about five hours’ worth of work in just four. I have no idea whether Chef noticed or not, but I felt accomplished. Perhaps the most daring was starting to build a salmon terrine at 3pm when historically it’s taken me well over an hour to complete. I was still able to finish early so I could set up and get ready for service.
I forgot to mention but on Tuesday, my prep list was fairly light, so I helped Chef roll out pasta. While we worked, he asked me about the dinner that Honey Bunny had taken me out to on Sunday night (we enjoyed a seven-course tasting menu at a Michelin-starred restaurant for my early birthday present). When I told him my birthday was on Thursday and that I would be working, he laughed out loud and announced “Welcome to the fuckin’ kitchen!” Missing holidays and family functions are a part of The Life, so this experience was like a rite of passage.
After work, we went out to a dive bar for cheap drinks, air hockey, and billiards for my birthday celebration. I picked up Honey Bunny and it was the first time he was really able to meet my co-workers. One of our friends who works at the university nearby even joined us around midnight. It was super fun and the slight hangover that I have now is so worth it!