Endurance… I don’t got it. When I work up this morning, everything hurt. Working seven days in a row is no joke. My feet hurt (more than normal), my back ached, and my left wrist was sore from all the sauteing action. When people asked me what I planned to do with my weekend, I jokingly replied “Not a damn thing.” But since my body doth protest, I ended up taking it easy — I lounged at home watching old re-runs of Gossip Girl while a half dozen patches of Salonpas worked their magic.
Sunday was by far the worst day in the kitchen yet. We arrived to find out that the freezer had crapped out overnight. I noticed when I went to fetch a quart container of frozen harissa broth only to find a liquid soup where a solid icy block should be. I asked the guys on Cold Station because they work next to the freezer and are responsible for it. “It’s OK – it was like 70 degrees when we came in and now it’s down to 60-something so it’s cooling down…” I couldn’t believe how naive they were. THERE IS THAWING RAW MEAT IN A FREEZER THAT HAS BEEN HOLDING AT ROOM TEMPERATURE FOR GOD KNOWS HOW LONG. IT’S NOT OKAY! I alerted the sous chefs in charge and at first they tried transferring the items to a speed rack and rolling everything into a large walk-in freezer… but to no avail. We re-temped everything and it was 50 degrees F at best. (For reference, frozen should be 32 degrees F and refrigerated at 41 degrees F or lower.) That meant we had to throw everything away. All 18 quarts of harissa broth that I had JUST made two days ago. Six (very expensive) terrines of foie gras mousse. Quail. Butifarra (sausage). Rabbit. Five types of jus. It was painful to watch all of that food go into the trash, like it literally made my heart ache. So on top of prepping for a 300-cover night with half-staff (one-man stations), we had unexpected extra prep work to restock our inventory.
Monday was physically demanding for me because it was harissa broth day. Making harissa always involves heavy lifting, especially on days when we’re short staffed and it’s just me myself and I. A huge stock pot that I could literally bathe in, big pans of chopped vegetables (that I had scrambled to put together the day prior), cans of tomato and garbanzo beans, and a 22-quart Cambro of stock… it was definitely one of those days when I felt too short or small for the kitchen. haha. It was another busy night thanks to the holiday weekend (250+), but since it’s a federal holiday, at least I get double pay! I was just relieved that it was my Friday and after waking up as sore as I did today, I don’t think it would have been physically possible to work an eighth day if I had to. I feel like I had just run a marathon!