Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back in the Kitchen

There is less and less to do at work now that the cold weather is here. The Chef de Partie was called off today, told he was not needed, and that left three of us: myself, the Sous-Chef and Lauren.

For the first three hours Lauren and I took care of the cleaning and prep downstairs while the Sous-Chef kept herself busy in the upstairs kitchen, apparently organizing it. Lauren and I were not really sure what that meant and why it would take three hours but we were relieved to have her gone so neither one of us asked her any questions.

I cleaned the dish-pit and Lauren cleaned the oven, burners and all. I think she got a little high on the EZ-Off fumes because she was quite giddy for the rest of the evening. Once the dish-pit was clean I took the ciabatta buns and the panini rolls from the boxes they arrived in and individually wrapped the breads in plastic. On the table there was also sliced roast beef in a hotel pan awaiting to be portioned. By the time I finished putting all the beef in 6 oz portion bags it was 5 p.m. It was nice working side by side with Lauren, quietly, without interruptions. I felt like the kitchen was ours. We sang along with the radio, took a break to drink hot chocolate and eat leftover pumpkin pie topped with whipping cream, and checked our line to make sure it was full and ready for the dinner service. During the service we helped each other and were quite efficient. The Sous-Chef was in the middle calling the orders and doing very little cooking so Lauren and I ran the show. I really feel good about my speed tonight. It would have been nice to have someone in the dish pit so we didn't have plates piling high but since we didn't and I was the closest to the pit I would run over every few minutes to send some dishes through. It really is quite a feat to be the cook and the dishwasher at the same time, especially during the service. My personal challenge right now is too get faster by being more organized, more efficient and thinking ahead. For example, if I go to return the spinach to the back fridge, is there anything on the table or in the fridge that I can grab on my way back to the line thus avoiding making the trip to the back later on? If I am putting out food orders, is there any prep I can do while the food is cooking? I have to say this multitasking leaves me quite tired, but in a pleasant way. Not dogtired so I don't feel like lifting a finger at the end of the day but tired in an i've-just-had-a-good-workout kind of way.

Also challenging is checking my line when I come in. There are a lot of containers and I find it very difficult to remember everything so I'll think everything's full and then during dinner service I realize I have no chipotle mayo. Had there been a half-full container of chipotle mayo in the fridge I would realize the container needs filling. When the container is missing altogether it is more difficult to spot. It's like trying to figure out which facebook friend or twitter follower dropped you by going through the existing friends and finding those now missing from your list. It's not easy! Maybe I should slowly build a list with all the items I need on line and walk around ticking things off the list as I replenish them. It feels like a good solution but a little late for it, we're only going to be open for another four weeks or so.

Tomorrow I'll be alone at my station accompanied by the Sous and the CDP on the hot side, not my favourite team to be on. I seem to get dumped on more when the three of us are in the kitchen together. I think that's happening mostly because the Sous is timid when it comes to demanding things from the gruff Chef de Partie which leaves me to take the brunt of her requests. If you were to ask me who is actually running our kitchen, I'd tell you that's it's the Chef de Partie. He's been there longer than all of us and he also has problems with being told what to do, regardless of who is doing the telling. A bit of a wild card, that one. It'll be interesting to see if we ever find a Sous that the CDP will listen to or if he will leave untamed in the end. Maybe next year.

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