Monthly Archives: February 2016

New Chapter

Hello friends!

I know my posts have been few and far between, especially compared to when I first started. I guess it just goes to show that this has truly become my career and not just a hobby. (Sometimes work is just a grind!)

Saturday was my last dinner service. I still feel a little bit bad for my station partners because I was hardly able to get any work done. Even with a pitifully short prep list (we planned it that way, just in case), I kept having to step away from my cutting board because of a barrage of piquillo puree, luster dust (edible gold glitter), ice water, clam juice, concentrated red food dye, and (the good part) a perfume of truffle oil. I had already changed chef’s coats twice by 4pm.

At the pre-shift meeting, Chef announced my departure from the kitchen. She teased that if I took back my resignation, all of the hazing will stop. Otherwise, she continued, she strongly encouraged the team to keep hazing me. We managed to pull together our station, glitter bomb be damned, and worked the first few hours of dinner service largely undisturbed… aside from the occasional squirt of squid ink, sprinkling of sugar, splash of butternut squash puree, pulse of yogurt espuma… ¬†all down the back of my coat.

The worst hit around 9pm when one of the sous chefs hit me with this magenta colored powder that, apparently, turns blue and orange and red and green when it hits water. I think patisserie uses it for their chocolate bon bons. Anyway, I thought I could just brush it off and keep working, but every time I leaned over or tried to plate a dish, the powder would flake off and turn everything bright blue. Great. I tried cleaning off in the bathroom sink but it just wasn’t happening. I found more powder in my ear, in my hair, all over my hat… I went down to the locker room and thankfully ran into a housekeeping steward who took pity on me and provided me with a fresh towel and a set of the soaps we keep in the guest rooms. After a quick shower, I came back to work the rest of dinner service.

Or so I thought. We had a lull in service around 10pm so…. the fun and games were over. They busted out the good stuff. The fermented stuff. The gnarly smelling stuff. I got hit with beet puree, savora mustard dressing, and… worst of all… fermented octopus juice and eel scraps. SO FUCKING FOUL. OMG. It made me and everyone around want to vomit. It was horrible. Apparently Chef was going to come over with her contribution until she saw me and others starting to gag and immediately turned around. I hurried out of there and made my Walk of Shame down to the locker room. As I took off my apron, I heard this loud, comical splat as whole pieces of eel and octopus hit the floor. YUCK. I showered twice it was so bad. And I threw away the clothes I was wearing because I didn’t want to deal with washing them at home. When all was said and done, I had gone through 8 chef’s coats. Some say that I got it among the worst of anyone ever — meaning they all just love me THAT much.

Finally, I cleaned out my locker, said my goodbyes, and went home for a proper shower before meeting up with the guys after their shift for drinks at a nearby bar. At the bar, Chef bought me way too many whiskey-cokes, but it was a great opportunity to hang out with my kitchen friends for one last hurrah (Honey Bunny and two of our friends even came out to celebrate! SO THANKFUL for Honey Bunny for taking care of my embarrassingly too-drunk self…). Throughout the night, Chef said the nicest things to me — largely that she’s going to miss me, that she thinks I’m going to do great things, that she learned so much from me, that she had come to rely on me because she knows that my work is high quality, that I can call on her any time I have any questions, that she thinks she can make me a better offer (with a wink). I’m really going to miss this kitchen. Perhaps the most surprising was finding out that R&D Chef was visibly upset to find out I was leaving; I wasn’t even really sure he knew my name.

Most of my peers have been incredibly supportive and happy for my new adventure. A couple of people are upset (dare I say disappointed?) that I would give up fine dining to go into fast casual. And to be honest, I will definitely miss the fancy plating, the exquisite ingredients, the modernist techniques. But I’m also looking forward to learning how to run a kitchen from a management standpoint. And most importantly, I’m excited to have more opening and mid shifts, to have a schedule that somewhat resembles Honey Bunny’s so we can have a more normal life. The title bump doesn’t hurt. I’m moving on up!

This past week I’ve just been enjoying being “fun”employed and having little to no obligations. Taking care of the house, running errands, unwinding and relaxing. My new adventure starts on Monday, on Leap Day, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

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Anniversary

Wednesday the 10th marked my one year anniversary at the restaurant. 365 days since I left the gastropub and embarked on my adventure in high end fine dining. 525,600 minutes of valuable experience learning new recipes, trying new techniques, and tasting new ingredients.

I felt mostly relieved when my conversations with Chef and the sous chefs to give my two weeks notice went well. It had been a long month of anxiously awaiting my official offer from the fast casual restaurant group and having to stay hush-hush. They completely understood where I was coming from – this is a large kitchen and it is incredibly difficult and competitive to get any upward movement. It would take at least another six months to one year just to get promoted from Line Cook to Lead Cook and even then, they hardly get to learn any of the business training nor get scheduled for the opening/”mid” shifts that I hope to get at my new venture.

Still, I’ve had a bad case of “graduation goggles” this past week or so. I mean, I practically hear Vitamin C’s voice singing “As we go on, we remember…” providing the soundtrack to my life as I walk through the kitchen at the end of yet another dinner service, as I work on some particular projects for the last time, and, especially, as I have conversations with the coworkers who have become my friends and home away from home for the past year. One of the sous chefs really hit the nail on the head when he said that this is a kitchen that I’m going to miss. On the bright side, all of the chefs gave me an open invitation to come back any time.

Eight days left.