Saturday, November 14, 2009

Late Nights

Although I've only been at this bistro for a week I am beginning to see a glimpse into the life of a restaurant cook. The golf club was different as we rarely got any orders after 9 pm unless it was in the middle of the summer and daylight lasted till almost 10 pm. This meant that the latest I ever got home was 11 pm and even that happened rarely. Here, we don't even start closing procedures until close to 11 pm which means I could still be cooking at 10 pm and don't get home until close to midnight. The hour between 11 pm to midnight is a pizza only menu so that the staff can start closing the kitchen. One guy (the pizza boy or Chef) stays behind until midnight to do pizza but the rest of us clean up and are gone by 11 pm. I'll have you know though, before you start feeling sorry for the pizza boy, that this only happens on weekends. During the week we have an 11 pm close for the entire restaurant so it's not like someone is there till midnight each and every night. Not to mention that with us cleaning everything else, all he has to do is wrap up his station, drain the dishwasher and go home. Not a bad deal.

I look forward to the end of the night though when I sometimes take off the white jacket and sit at the bar for 30 minutes having a drink, watching Tv and shooting the breeze with whoever is still there: the bartender, one of the grrls or Chef himself. This was also something I never experienced at the golf club because by the time the kitchen closed, the dining room and bar were already closed and the front of house supervisor was dressed, bag and key in hand, waiting for the kitchen staff to finish cleaning up and leave so the place can be locked up for the night. It just all has a different, nicer vibe here.

The only few things that still have to happen is Chef needs to delegate more of his prepping duties; he still shows up at the restaurant bright and early to do all the daily prep and mise en place so by the time we get there, at 3 pm or later, it's all done for us and all we have to do is locate everything and conveniently place it at arm's reach. He does all the vegetable grilling, the potato roasting and mashing, all the desserts, all the sauces and dressings, and all the meat roasting. Essentially, he does all the hard, monotonous work and we come in for all the fun stuff -- the adrenaline-filled cooking that is the dinner service. The guy sets my nerves on edge but I also wouldn't want to be without him in the kitchen. As jittery as he gets me, I know he knows his food and can get it together. I don't have to worry about much when he's there, other than the things I am responsible for. He is the conductor, if you will. He watches the boys, calls ordering, firing and pick-up of dishes, all we have to do is execute. Without that, we'd be a little lost. Am I giving him too much credit? We'll see. He will have to take some time off eventually as he had none so far. His plan was, and still is, to be at the restaurant every day at least for the first three weeks. Once he's gone we'll all find out if the cows still get milked.

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