Nearly three months in and I’m still occasionally baffled by the concept of mandatory “lunch” breaks. Who the heck has the time to take a half hour rest when you’ve only spent two hours prepping and dinner service is about to begin? Since I started working here, I’ve definitely had to learn how to hustle and get a lot done in a short period of time. (At the old restaurant, we’d have days where even coming in at 11am would not be enough to get ready for service 6 hours later.)
A day in the life typically looks like this: openers come in at 3, go on break at 5:30, then we open for dinner at 6 (except Saturday when we open at 5:30 so break time is at 5). Openers usually leave around 11pm. Closers come in at 4:30, go on break whenever the openers come back, and stay until about 12ish.
Anyway, I’m clarifying all this because today I experienced the workaround to this crazy system of being forced to take breaks: the working break. The concept is simple – clock out as if you were going on break, then come back to the kitchen to keep working because you’re in the weeds and you do what you gotta do to get shit done. Clock back in when you’re supposed to.
I had made a lengthy prep list for today with the intention of lightening the load for my station partner who, like everyone else who works on Sundays, is usually screwed over by Saturday night service. Better to get as much done as possible today when there are two of us. We both had to take working breaks to get everything done, and we were so hungry and exhausted before service even began… but we pushed through and handled over 450 covers! I was pretty proud of us at the end of the night. :)
I know I neglected to blog very much last week so here is some food porn to make up for it. Honey Bunny and I took my parents on a double date at my restaurant to celebrate my dad’s birthday and we had an amazing time. Here are just a few of the many dishes we enjoyed throughout our 3 hour dining experience!
Spicy tuna cones with avocado mousse
Grilled octopus, black garlic, onion puree, confit tomatoes, pickled scallions.
Morels and cream. Sautéed morel mushrooms, mushroom cream (made with love by yours truly), egg 63, pan cristal.
Seared scallops on a bed of asparagus risotto, the epitome of springtime.
Spanish flan with orange segments and a fragrant creme chantilly.
Happy birthday, Dad!
This week felt both fast and slow at the same time. After the insanely busy dinner service last week, my station partner still wasn’t quite able to recover and I ended up with a ton of work to do when Tuesday came along. I hustled on Tuesday and Wednesday to get it done and things were looking a lot better by Friday just in time for a (temporary) new partner to come on board. He’s worked almost every station during his three years or so here at the restaurant so he filled in for my station partner who went out of town for a well-known desert festival. It was a little nerve-wracking for me to work with a new partner and I could tell he was being awkward too since I’m fairly new and it seems he hasn’t warmed up to me yet. In any case, we pushed through two busy nights.
Since my station partner was still out of town, I had to fill in for him today (Sunday). Sundays suck for so many reasons. You’re working by yourself on a night that’s still technically part of the weekend (we did about 250 covers tonight), there’s so much prep to do in order to replenish the mise en place that got destroyed by Saturday, and, for me, it means working a 6th day in a row and giving up quality time with Honey Bunny on his day off. So needless to say, I was a bit cranky today and eager for the day to be over as soon as it began.
Also, it turns out that there has been a change in ownership which means that all of the hotel kitchens need to be re-licensed and are due for a health inspection. So on top of it all, we had to scrub down and deep clean our stations for a possible inspection tomorrow. At least everything is pretty legit here… no last minute scramble to get rid of or hide contraband items!
Anyway, I’m super excited to finally have my days off. Last weekend, Honey Bunny and I met up with my family at the fish market and spent the afternoon picking at steamed crab, sharing a pitcher of beer, and slurping oysters that I bought whole and shucked myself. And tomorrow, my parents are coming up to have dinner at the restaurant for my dad’s birthday. So exciting!
We got our butts kicked so hard tonight. But first, let me back up a bit. On Friday, one of the guys (a lead cook who is currently assigned to the grill station) is moving on to work the private dining room and asked to switch with me so he could be physically closer to where they work (immediately next to Plancha). That meant that I spent the evening on Grill, learning how to temp meat (especially important when it comes to our $100 tomahawk steaks!) and helping Grill Girl plate her dishes. I was nervous, and it seems that that nervousness is common among everyone in the kitchen when they try out a new station, but I had a lot of fun as well. I always love opportunities to learn something new. Maybe this will be my next station? :)
Tonight we had a fairly average number of reservations on the books for a Saturday, but what threw us all for a loop was a last minute 40-top birthday party. They sat at multiple tables and we were bombarded with the orders in waves. Our kitchen looked like a banquet hall with dozens of plates lined up and ready to go, assembly line style. One of the guys used a very appropriate phrase to describe how we felt watching our ticket boards rapidly fill with 7 of these and 10 of those and another 6 of this followed by 4 of that…. “shell shocked”. It was a rough push but we all rallied together and managed to get the food out. But boy was I in need of a drink after all that!
Cheers to the weekend!
Plancha is basically Spanish for “griddle” and today I finally got to use the one on my station! Our restaurant was bought out by a pharmaceutical company for a large sum of money, and it was our job to keep their buffet well-stocked with food throughout the night. My station had two dishes: pan fried chicken wings with green olive puree and crab cake sliders on toasted brioche buns.
There were only 45 people to feed so we were done early (clocked out by 8:30!). Woooo! I got to spend some extra time with Honey Bunny and we went out for a proper meal since we had a lot more dining options than usual.