You all have seen the TV shows, read the tell-all kitchen exposés, bought the cook books, heard how glamorous professional cooking may be and also how punishing. Disney made a cartoon mouse that can cook and Hollywood tells us that all kitchens are staffed with creatively cool people and, given the close proximity, involved in the occasional romance. It’s all of that and none of that. Cooking is unique and rewarding, back breaking and stomach churning, mentally challenging and financially precarious. Follow me for few minutes in the morning….
Good morning chef.
Good morning Jose. Were you busy at your other job last night?
No, not too bad.
Good, we have a lot of work today.
Good morning Chef. Morning Jose.
Produce arrive yet?
Damn chef! We need that for our prep! We are so down!
I know, start pulling up the proteins from the walk-in and I’ll call.
Anybody seen where the dishwasher put the large rondo this time?
Good morning Brenda, Donde la Rondo por favor?
Good morning Chef, you have today’s specials so I can program them in the computer?
No, not yet. And without the produce there will be no specials.
Chef, is this lentil soup or the lentil base for the pilaf? It’s not marked…
The next time someone brings something to the walk-in and does not label it, in the fryer he goes!
Jose, your station is in good shape, start on the soup, okay?
Chef the fish company is on the line and the dry goods man is in the dining room.
Chef, I found the rondo, but without the produce I can’t start the stock.
Hello Chef, I’m coming down from Portland and I have some beautiful bass, want it?
How much do you have and how much is it?
I can let you have 5 lbs at $11.00 a pound
Forget it, too much.
OK, send it in.
Chef, the produce is here.
Great, start on the stock and cut up the veggies for the specials, I want you to braise up some of the fennel and set aside the radicchio to grill with the bass.
Pull the prep sheet from last night and lets see where we stand.
We need the aioli, the remoulade, the frites and slice the Jamon to open.
Man, this station is devastated!
I’m going down, anybody need anything from the basement? Last chance…
Where are we? Fish is coming, chickens need to get in the oven and the stock is on, rotate the dairy and start rolling out the dough, dry goods order needs to be in by 2:00.
Chef, phone call.
Unless it’s my mother take a message.
Chef, it’s the bank.
Yes sir, I just want to tell you that our system is down today and that you will have to make your payroll transfer in person.
At what time?
It has to be done by 2:00
That’s just after lunch!!!
Chef, you have the recipe for the lentils?
What time is it?
Two bistro salads, two Panini, one pasta.
Lets go! Lets go!
In this small scenario I wanted to give you the feel of the pace of a kitchen. It is a pace that continues through the day with numerous spikes and valleys and the occasional fury.
The reward is when a guest comes to the open kitchen or at the front door when I am there, and says thank you and that they will be back. The entire day becomes a blurred memory, and I feel happy and successful. I cannot imagine doing anything else but what I do. I would not have the creative outlet, the addictive buzz, and that romance that has been going on for almost 30 years with Claudia.
This weekend look to the black board for seared skate in brown butter, grilled whole calamari with grilled escarole and white beans, and Bourride ( a seafood stew from Nice). If we are lucky, there will be braised beef in wine (beef deliveries depend on circumstances beyond our control).
See you soon