Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sir, Yes Sir... errr.. Chef!

Yesterday I went to meet the man who is the head Chef of the opening-soon restaurant I'll be working at. This former U.S Marine says part of his experience includes working at The French Laundry, Bouchon as well as Canoe. The rather inexperienced apprentice/cook in me is impressed. Because I read, sometimes about food, I am quite familiar with Thomas Keller's story and the reputation he has. In addition, dining at The French Laundry -- or Per Se, as getting to NY might be cheaper than California -- is on my bucket list.

The resto was going to open next week but due to the fact that on Nov 7 both Chef, myself and another cook have other engagements that we can't get out of, the owners have no choice but to push opening date to Nov 8. It wouldn't do to have the restaurant open on Nov 3rd only to be open for three days and then close for the day on Saturday Nov 7. So I have to stew in my own juices for a week.

I am excited and nervous. Although I have been honest about the length of my experience and my cooking knowledge, I am picking up on this vibe that my friends and the head Chef seem to think I know quite a bit. They speak of the other line cooks as being "boys", and "junior line cooks." I want to say ... err, excuse me, I have a year of kitchen experience which makes me junior also! Sure I cook at home and have been for years and maybe I have a leg up compared to some 20 year-old that lives with his/her parents and eats mamma's cooking still but I am not sure I am worthy of the confidence placed on me. Our head Chef is a big guy, exactly what I pictured a Marine to be, and I have a feeling I'm going to be getting my ass kicked when I under perform. My only hope is that we don't get slammed for the first couple of weeks while I learn the dishes. It's easier to cook fast when you know what you're cooking, when you're almost on autopilot, instead of having to search your memory about a particular dish. The menu is nice, quite varied but maybe a little too big for the handful of kitchen staff and the smallish kitchen. We'll have to wait and see, I guess, and work out any kinks as we go.

I went in today for a couple of hours and Chef and I got the kitchen clean and ready to receive food. You know... scrubbed the sink, put things away, lit the pilot lights, put up some shelves, swept and mopped the floor (yes, that again!). It was nice being there, I think the place has a good vibe. Since it was just the two of us for a while we had time to chat a bit. I like the guy. I also learned that since he and I live the closest (as I mentioned, I'm around the corner and he seems to be just one street away) we'll be doing most of the closings. I'm fine with that. Honest. Just don't yell or swear at me, Mr. U.S Marine, Chef guy.

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