Friday, August 14, 2009

Where's All the Stuff??

Yesterday evening, after borrowing someone's cap (yuck!) because I forgot mine at home, I got a good look at our new menu. Well, ok, maybe it was not a good look, but it was a look. Although the menu changed last Tuesday, I hadn't cooked off it yet as I had my much needed (and deserved, I say) days off Tuesday/Wednesday. Sure I had previously read through the printed pages, but I was still unprepared for walking in and seeing my first order go up:
1 Tandoori Salmon
1 Sonoma Salad

Tandoori Salmon and Sonoma Salad? What the hell is that? Oh yeah, it's the new menu! Luckily, the menu and a list of ingredients is taped to the fridge door for us to refer to as we need. Chef is also in the bistro for 70 hours a day* (you heard me, it's not a typo!) for the first two weeks after introducing the new menu as he needs to observe and guide us to ensure the correct preparation and plating of the new-to-us meals.

In addition to learning to prepare new meals, we also need to get familiar with the line setup all over again. There are more salad dressings than before, and the squeeze bottle that held, let's say, a honey mustard vinaigrette now holds a mint yogurt dressing. So much time is spent sniffing the squeeze bottles that I am determined to make labels for them the first chance I get. (although by then I'll likely have no need for the labels). Olives have also appeared at my station now, in the location that formerly housed mandarin orange segments. And this large container on the shelf where I used to have condiments? Why, it's baby spinach!! Anyway, you get the picture. Nothing is where it was and it all looks very foreign, almost as if I stepped into a different kitchen. It sure cuts the boredom, I tell ya!

So how many cooks does it take to make it through dinner service on a Thursday with a new menu? Surprisingly, the same four cooks that were needed with the old menu.

I didn't work on the hot side yesterday for it was too crazy a night (a busier Thursday than we're used to) but I did learn a couple of the dishes on that side. I know I won't work hot side today either because it's Friday and what feels like the entire city will be descending upon us for dinner. Friday is a zoo in there, not a good time to throw the newly promoted kid in there. It'll have to be next week.

I did french my first rack of lamb today, under the guidance of my favourite Sous. Sounds dirty, doesn't it? Frenched it the hard way too, with the boning knife, as he couldn't find butcher's twine. When I was done, after inspecting it, he declared it was a pretty good first attempt, and that he's seen lot worse. Now tell me that doesn't make your day!

*side note: Last year, when I was working two jobs (the kitchen and the insurance adjuster job) I half-complained to Chef that I was tired. "I am working 70 hours a week!" I said. His reply? "That's all? I do that in a day!"

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