Monday, August 3, 2009

It's a small kitchen out there!

Our kitchen is pretty small as far as kitchens go. How can I know this if I have only worked in one and therefore have nothing to compare it to?? We can only fit 4 people on the line if comfort is a consideration. We'll fit five of us if we're really busy but it gets a little cramped. When there's four of us on the line, two on the salads/friers/hot sandwiches and two on the other side, one on the grill, the other on pans and oven, we have just enough elbow room. I haven't measured or anything but I'm thinking we each have about maybe 12 inches or so of working surface. We need a fifth person on really crazy nights, a person that mostly helps us keep it together. There are nights when I don't even know what chit I'm working on anymore, when there's all this stuff going on, all the friers are full, plating while waiting for other food to finish cooking and it's total chaos but, somehow between my line partner and I, we keep it together. On those nights, our Sous-Chef pulls us out of the weeds simply by calling "From you, I need one chicken tenders, one fish and chips and one steak salad right now!" It saves me from having to look up and find the chit I need, between the dozen fluttering up there. 10 precious seconds every now and then, not more, but they make all the difference.

And just when I think I can't do it anymore, someone else better step in here because I'm lost, I also hear "c'mon guys, let's push, we're almost there, four more orders and we've got touchdown!" Talk about a second wind... One minute I'm frantically trying to hang on and the next I'm hearing the voice that will eventually take me from quicksand and pull me to solid ground. Hearing it I find my focus return, I glance over at the remaining chits, and I miraculously remember why I have all those friers full and why I have all those sauces ready.

We made it. We grin like idiots, high-fiving and slapping each other on the back. We made it, didn't run out of anything tonight, nobody complained and we got all the food out in the required amount of time. The celebration doesn't last very long because the line looks like a garbage bomb went off in it. Mixed greens, fries, pieces of bread, pasta and even chicken wings are all over the floor. The back kitchen is no better. In our rush to replenish our stock we didn't bother to put anything back where we took it from. Half empty containers and bins fill the stainless-steel tables and the walk-in cooler is also in disarray as we shoved things around in a hurry.

We are looking at at least a couple of hours of cleaning and re-stocking. We crank up the boombox sitting atop the line fridge, tuned either to CHFI or the Edge, and we all descend upon our station armed with rags, D-10 and elbow grease, knowing that a cold beverage of choice is maybe an hour or so away. As much as I dislike cleaning, this part is probably my favourite of the night. It's when all the banter starts and the camaraderie really comes through. "You can't lift that big pot full of dirty water, little one?!? No worries, step aside, I'll do it for you." Or "I'm going upstairs, do you need anything from that fridge?" Or "Oh, I cut some cukes for you earlier today, here you can use them to fill up your line." So you see... What's not to love?

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