Before Chef left Tuesday night, he asked me if I had a lot to do. I told him that I did, sadly, and his reply was to come in whenever I felt I needed to. I got a text from Sous Chef J who declared it would be a 12:30 day, so I decided to come in a bit early at noon. I wish I had been able to take full advantage of the late start since I would have Late Night later that evening.
Chef seemed surprised to see me when I came upstairs to the office to grab an apron. He was sitting at the company computer when he said to me, “Are you ready for this? ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?!” as he logged into his business bank account. “BAM!” he proudly displayed the newly approved loan for his next restaurant project. Thankfully, this put him in a good mood all day.
For me, however, it felt like the day that would never end. Assembling salmon terrines during prep is always a chore, but service was painfully slow as well. We were all looking for things to clean and ways to keep busy (and avoid the wrath of a bored and restless Chef). He walked past me as I was peeling boiled eggs and told me that we’re doing an event next month and serving a thousand deviled eggs. “Cool!” I initially thought. And then I realized… it would be my project. Son of a bitch. Sous Chef J made fun of me at first and then reassured me that I would have help.
During the lull, I researched some new terrine ideas and dug up a recipe I had been wanting to try — terrine di pulpo (octopus). Apparently cooked octopus produces a lot of natural gelatin that helps it set nicely as it cools, and the tentacles make a pretty cool mosaic when sliced. I showed Chef and he said I should go ahead and try it. He also mentioned that they used to do a similar dish where the octopus was thinly sliced and served as a carpaccio. Yum! I’m going to work on it tomorrow so we’ll have it for the weekend.
Today (Thursday) we are starting at 1pm and I am thankful for the extra time to knock out some chores off my to-do list. Boring, I know, but at least I feel productive.
Wednesday was a long day… we have all been a bit on edge because this week (other than, apparently, Monday) has not been nearly as busy as we expected and yet the weekend is quickly approaching. We are all still ramping up the prep so that we won’t fall behind for Friday and Saturday (and hopefully tonight).
The early part of my day didn’t go so hot. I was just about to put a pan of charc board jars into the oven to bake, and when I turned to open the oven door, I could feel the pan starting to tip over. “Don’t break the jars!” I panicked. I swung around and caught it in time but the force of my actions caused the liquid mousse in the jars to slosh and the water in the bain marie to splash all over me. And of course, Chef had to be there to witness my fumbling around. Embarrassed, I threw the pan into the oven thinking I’ll be able to wipe the jars off after they’ve cooked (it was much more difficult than I had I done it then and there). At first Chef was concerned that the water was hot, but as I mopped up the mess, I replied that it was just cold water. He didn’t really say anything and I kinda wish he had made a joke or teased me about it or something. It felt like a disappointed sort of quiet. Sigh.
We had twice as many reservations on the books last night as the night before but it felt only half as busy. Pastry Girl was getting really stressed out (it was her “Monday”) so I helped her out with some small tasks to finish setting up for service while Sous Chef J gave her a hand with some bigger jobs like making pâte sucrée. It was a long night for the both of us as we each have solo stations with a lot of prep for Restaurant Week. This is probably the only time of year that I get jealous of Pantry — they have two to three guys prepping on that station at any given time, plus the additional help from Chef or one of the sous chefs.
Off to tackle another day! Today will be better.
Ahh Restaurant Week. I remember as a blogger, this was always my favorite time(s) of the year. Restaurants all over the city offer affordable prix fixe menus in order to entice new customers, often showcasing classic must-have menu items. It’s an especially great opportunity to dine at any fine dining, $$$$, white-tablecloth restaurants that might be participating. And since food blogging can certainly add up to be an expensive hobby, Honey Bunny and I took full advantage of the week (which seems to get longer and longer each time; this summer is 14 days!) with multiple dinner reservations throughout.
But now, Restaurant Week means something else entirely. Though Honey Bunny and I do intend to pick a destination or two for date night on my days off, the rest of the week is affectionately nicknamed Hell Week at work. In fact, Monday night (the first night of the fourteen) saw a surprising 180 covers. We were terrified of what tonight’s service would bring.
It was another chicken liver mousse day — this time, I made two (regular) chicken mousse terrines, one Restaurant Week terrine, and a round of happy hour jars. That’s 2 kilos of chicken livers and the majority of my day. We also mixed up the garnish for the prix fixe menu, opting for seasonal cherries rather than sweet potato jam. I really like this garnish; we made a port wine reduction and dip fresh, pitted-but-stem-on cherries to coat. So rather than a cooked compote, the fruit is still bright and crisp under the sweet, heavy glaze. Yum!
Despite our anxiety about tonight’s service, it ended up being quite slow (although still respectably busy for a Tuesday). It seems the popularity of last week’s news article is holding strong as I had a few charc boards check in tonight as well. Not bad for my first day back… though we all know it’s only going to get busier as the week progresses!
Game of Thrones fans, anyone? :)
This past week was completely dedicated to preparing my station for the upcoming Restaurant Week (which starts today, Monday, and will continue for the next 14 days!). On Friday, I made three chicken liver mousse terrines in addition to assembling a salmon terrine. Then on Saturday, I popped out those three terrines and used the molds to bake three more. That makes a total of six chicken liver mousse terrines for the start of Restaurant Week. I also made a round of happy hour jars and charcuterie board jars, which means I spent my entire day processing 2.5 kilos of chicken livers (see picture above). I felt a little bad for monopolizing the oven and Vitaprep, but you do what you gotta do.
I didn’t leave work until 11:30pm on Saturday. I knew I had to butter all of the jars and terrines, but what really threw me off was a table that checked in at 9:55pm (we close at 10) that ordered a four-course meal starting with a charcuterie board. No freaking way. At least my course was first and I got it out of the way early. Still, by the end it felt as though I had worked a Late Night shift I stayed so late!
I’m excited but nervous at the same time. Our restaurant is known for its charcuterie program and the chicken liver mousse is a favorite — I expect it to be a VERY popular choice on the Restaurant Week menu. Ahh!
Oh yeah – Honey Bunny teases that I come home with a new injury each week. Sadly, he’s right. This week’s culprit? I was breaking down a leg of prosciutto and when I pulled out a plastic staple-like clip, it dug itself into my index finger, piercing the nail a bit. Hurt like a mo’ fo’ when it happened, and when I ran upstairs to spritz it with the first aid antiseptic, it stung even worse. Now the fingertip is a bit sore but otherwise healing. Sigh.
I had to take a picture of that evil SOB:
Yesterday was unexpectedly busy for a Wednesday during service, at least for my station. I did more boards than I have on some Saturdays and the day felt especially long since I had arrived at the usual time (despite it being a noon day) and I worked the Late Night shift.
On the bright side, I felt really productive yesterday and got a lot of work done, even though I was pushing into my setup time just before service. It seemed that everyone was still scrambling to finish prep around 4:50pm so it wasn’t just me.
I finally had my chance to assemble my own lobster terrine without Chef taking it over. He walked by as I was working on it and smiled approvingly at my technique (which, of course, was his).
The leeks are so pretty when fresh so I snapped this quick photo of them before they got blanched and turned yellow-green.
Apologies for the quick and scattered update; I have some errands to run before work this morning. More later. :)