Hi Everyone! This week has simply flown by with all the prep in anticipation of Thanksgiving. We are open for an all-you-can-eat buffet and it is already completely booked out (200+ covers) plus a waiting list. This, plus the reintroduction of our king charcuterie platter (it’s so gluttonous that we’ve dubbed it Henry VIII) means that I have a whole lot of work to do. Here are some updates:
We have a new guy who used to work with Chef years ago but left to join a catering company (more money though less food creativity). He is filling in on Hot-Apps a few days a week. We got to chat on Wednesday night during my Late Night shift and it was cool to learn about his background, having graduated from culinary school and worked for Wolfgang Puck’s catering group. He asked about my experience and remarked that it didn’t seem like I had been doing this for only a year (in a good way).
Service was hectic since it had started out so slow that by 7:30 or so, Chef had sent home three people. And then, as luck would have it, the rush came. We all ended up floating around and filling in where needed — Chef and Sous Chef J took turns tossing pizzas, I’d run back to put wellingtons and chicken pot pies in the oven, Honey Badger helped Sassy Stage with salads, at one point, I was even plating dishes on fish.
It was just me and Sous Chef J during Late Night, and he asked me again what I planned to do with regards to the new restaurant, which is turning out to be his and Chef’s joint project. He told me that Chef had asked him who he wanted (and did not want) on the new team and he had strongly pushed for me. No pressure. I asked him how the kitchen would be structured and he told me that the layout is very different from the way it is now — Pantry will have a fryer next to them, there are two or three cook tops on either side of the pass… Additionally, the menu is going to be small and frequently changing, leaving plenty of opportunity to experiment with new dishes. Sous Chef J said I should talk to Chef and iron out the details, see what my options are. But, he added, he would really like for me to go.
I was reminded of what a pain-in-the-butt it is to break down and de-bone a rabbit… we had ordered four of them to do a batch of rabbit, pistachio, and apricot pate. I was actually pretty quick at butchering them down to the main components — front legs, back legs, loin, saddle, and neck meat. But the time-consuming part was deboning the legs. By 4:45, I had to stop, get my station cleaned and set up for service, and then come back to the butchery off-and-on during service. I was finally able to get my terrine marinating at the end of the night (I needed to know how much rabbit meat I had first so that I could scale my recipes). With all the scrambling though, I could see how it would be easy to fall behind on my station. If I hadn’t gotten the salts and alcohol and meat mixed together that night, I would have lost an entire day in the process. Sigh.
Yesterday was Honey Bunny’s first day of funemployment while he transitions between jobs (he found a new one that seems to be better in all respects — commute time, role, responsibilities, salary, and it’s a cause he truly cares about… it’s the camp program that we had met through as volunteers in college!) so we got to enjoy a leisurely brunch before I went to work.
When I arrived, still earlier than the rest of the guys, it turned out that one of the convection ovens was no longer working. It had already started to crap out this past week or so, but at least it would generate some heat and could cook things that were not picky about fluctuations in temperature (so not cakes or breads, but baking potatoes or roasting chicken). Now we were down to just the one convection oven plus the still oven which I usually get all to myself since everything takes considerably more time in there. This threw a huge wrench in my game plan as I needed to cook off my rabbit terrines and some chicken mousses, and I was dependent on keeping one of the convection ovens at 325 degrees (a temperature that other cooks could use as well) and the still oven at 225 degrees (for chicken mousse). Since Pastry Girl needed to bake bread, however, my rabbits were pushed to the still oven and I wasn’t able to get to the mousses at all.
I was feeling panicked. It got worse when I realized I only had 4 chicken liver mousse jars for the charcuterie boards for Friday night service. It was already 4pm. I told Chef and was honest about my fuck-up and he simply replied that it’s not a big deal and I could just use slices of the terrine if I needed to. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It reminded me of Sous Chef J’s advice that when dealing with Chef, honesty is always the best policy. (Sous Chef S tends to fib or exaggerate and often gets yelled at when he gets caught in his lies…)
We ended up doing over 300 covers, and Chef congratulated us all on a job well done at the end of the night. And as for me, I’ll be coming in early today (Saturday) to get some extra prep done. I hate feeling rushed when it comes down to the wire, plus I want free reign over the equipment in the kitchen!