Friday, August 28, 2009

The Banquet Kitchen

"Little Chef, you're coming upstairs with me today" said the Executive Chef. "You're going to do this function with me." He hands me a clipboard with the details of this function. It would be a small party of 22, which is why no banquet staff was scheduled to work. These 22 guests would start arriving at 6:30 pm, have hot and cold starters, followed by soup for six of them, salad for 16, and then the main course which was also varied. Some wanted chicken, some wanted fish and there was also steak. We also needed to prepare the starch and vegetable as well as dessert. We got everything done in under 4 hours, without breaking a sweat.

I love the convenience of industrial kitchens. At home, steaming potatoes for 22 people would take a long time as I'd have to work in batches. Here, I dumped them all in a deep pan and stuck the whole thing in the steamer, turned on the timer and moved on to another task. I also cannot say enough about the miracle that is the hot box! The home cook would have to time absolutely everything (case in point, see my blogpost from yesterday) if he/she wanted to have the food still hot when guests arrived. At work I just stick the finished starch or veg in the hot box until later when I am ready to plate. It's fabulous! If I had the space for them at home I would get myself one. And don't even tell me that I should use the microwave. The only thing we microwave at my house is popcorn, and recently I have been thinking that even that can be done in a pot, thus eliminating the need for microwave altogether and saving precious counter space, space which undoubtedly will be taken up by a food processor, or some such thing.

Exciting moment of the day was when Chef shared the 'secret' of his thai broth. I have mentioned before that currently my favourite soup is the thai chicken soup and yesterday I got to make it. The bistro was quite low on the broth so Chef had to whip up a new batch. As I was his Sous for the day, I had a chance to see what went into the broth because I was the one chopping everything that we put in. Incredibly simple. I would let you in on it but, since I have not obtained Chef's permission, the insurance adjuster in me fears a potential suit! "What do you think you're doing, putting up my recipes on the internet for all the world to see? If I wanted them to know, I'd write a book myself"

All in all it was a better day in the kitchen. I learned new things and it was a pleasant break from executing the same dishes every day. I made beurre blanc sauce and minestrone, thai broth and smoked salmon rosettes and I even prepped the rainbow trout. The day ended with Chef shoving me out the door so I can attend the staff party, a party he would also join later in the night.

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