Thursday, August 09, 2007

Not so bad.

Actually, I had a pretty good night tonight which was suprising.

Our Chef/Owner was expo'ing and freaking out like usual. As in, forgetting to fire shit and flipping out 10 minutes late cause it's not in the window. "I fucking needed table 60 5 minutes ago! Where the hell is it?" "Um, it's not fired yet." "Yes it is! Watch your goddamn tickets!" "Ok, Chef" M eanwhile, I know that he never fired it, because my station runs the tickets for the line and I'm pretty good about keeping up. He's a great business man and really knows what people like, but he's been off the line for so long that he's forgotten what it's like to cook. For example, I braise out these beans with bacon, herbs and aromats as garnish for a dish. I do this before service in large batches, because it takes a few hours. On pickup, I reheat a single serving of beans for each plate. Now, even thought the beans have lots of cooking liquid left, they still dry out when you heat them up. So, I was adding a little chicken stock (which is what they're cooked in) to the beans as they warmed up to keep them juicy. He freaked. "You're just watering them down!" "Um, I'm re-seasoning each batch, Chef. They still taste really good." "Don't do it any more. Just use the cooking liquid." "Ok, sorry." Of course, when the next batch comes up, "Your beans are too dry!" UM-Doh!!!!! That's what I was trying to tell you!

So, long story short, Chef was pissing me off.

So, I fought back. Every fucking plate was as tight as I could make it. My fish was spot on as i could make it. My station was clean and organized. Every plate that spun into the window was a fuck you. It was a "what, what? You talkin' to me?" And, you know what, he couldn't say shit about my food, although I know he wanted to.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Back from Sabatical....

Wow, it's been a year since I last posted...I've been pretty busy. I'm now cooking saute at a new restaurant. Chef X (aka my boyfriend) happens to be the acting Chef de Cuisine which is kinda embarassing, but i originally just took the job there as part time help while trailing around for a new situation. I ended up really liking the kitchen crew and as I'm painfully shy and hate trailing, i took the job they offered me after a few weeks.

Working with my boyfriend sounds pretty cheesy, but the last year has been really hard for me and being around supportive people has become important to me for the first time. See, after feeling bad for a few months last year, I was diagnosed with a very early stage cancer. Totally treatable with surgery, but scary as hell. Plus, as I don't have health insurance, the treatment took a good chunk (almost all) of my salary for while. The very same week that the doctors told me that they thought that they had removed all the malignant tissue and that things looked good for me, I found out that my grandpa had agressive stage three cancer. He is now in chemo and fighting this bastard like hell, but it's hard. Cancer is everywhere; I can't fucking pick up a magazine or newspaper without reading that some new celeb has it. I just want to forget that this disease exhists.

So, sorry about the sappy disclosure and all, but the above drama really made me want to work with my friends. Before this, i thought about trying to stage at El Bulli, French Laundry or L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, but I don't really feel the need now. I know that it would make me a much better cook, but i'm not sure how much i care...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Is it worth it???

Last night I couldn't sleep because I suddenly developed severe chills. As in uncontrollable, chattering, shaking, muscle-cramping chills that lasted for over an hour. I pulled the blanket over my head and snuggled up to Chef X who, being a little chunky, gives off body heat like a furnace. When I finally stopped shaking, I decided to use the bathroom and then try to get some sleep. Of course, it was just my luck that I returned to a room blazing with light and Chef X stalking a mosquito like a butt-naked version of the crocodile hunter. You see, he is one of those unfortunate people whom are loved by mosquitos but have allergic reactions to the bites. So we spend the next half hour looking for the damn mosquito which was naturally nowhere to be found. When we finally tried to go back to bed, I couldn't sleep because I was terrified that the chills were the beginning of some nasty illness, especially since I was still fighting off the lingering after-effects of a summer cold.

I woke up to my day off completely fucking exhausted. I tried to be productive and went to Bamboo Beauty to get my eyebrows waxed. But that was so tiring that afterwards I ended up simply going to the store and loading up on green juice and organic yogurt . Then I went home and spent the day watching Project Runway reruns and reading a cheesy mystery.

I have burns all over both arms, healing stiches and a nasty cough. I see my boyfriend for a few hours a week outside work. I love what I do, and I'm not quitting...but to all you wannabe chefs out there, think twice. If I had known how hard this would be, I pro'lly wouldn't have gone for it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I'm going to be a fish cook!!!!!!!

Holy shit! My chef just spoke with me last night and said that they are going to start training me on fish! This is amazing...Fish is the most technically difficult of all the stations, especially because we do all of our own butchering. With fish, if you make any errors in butchering or cooking it, it's obvious and it usually means that the piece of fish is ruined. As my knife skills (and cooking skills) are still pretty poor, I'm really nervous.

I feel very lucky to have ended up at Restaurant X. It's a very small kitchen (3 man line) and a very busy one. This is my first real nyc restaurant job. I started as garde manger seven months ago and then became a swing cook covering hot apps, garde manger, pastry, brunch and expo. When I walked into the place, I was a newbie fresh out of culinary school who couldn't even sharpen her own knife, let alone use it properly. I used to watch the guys on the line from my safe little garde manger corner and dream that one day I'd be good enough to step onto the line. But as I'd watch them moving in this frantically controlled ballet, choreographing (sp?) the trajectory of smoking pans...over, under, cross, behind...I'd be full of doubt. Sure that there was no way I'd ever be ready. And let's be brutally honest. The first five or so times that they tried to train me on hot apps, I went down in flames (no, not literally). I sucked and was kicked off the line. Finally, though, I held the station. That has got to be one of the best feelings ever. Pure adreneline and euphoria.

I've given up so much to become a cook. Before I started cooking, I had a wonderful boyfriend, cushy job, money and free time. Now, I'm single, broke and work almost 24/7. Worth it? I really hope so...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Like a moth to the flame...

Yesterday was a pretty good day. We weren't that busy but my station got hit pretty hard. I almost lost it a few times but was ultimately able to keep it together and get all my plates out smoothly. I'm still so new to the hot line that I'm always nevous that I'm going to get in the weeds and lose it and get kicked off the line...Sometimes I have nightmares that I'm frantically cooking but I'm forgeting things and my chef de cuisine is like "where are the pork ribs? I need a fucking pork ribs!" And I wake up freaking out because I don't have a pork ribs ready...

But last night was ok. It helps that we have such a great crew in the kitchen right now. My chef de cuisine is the best. She is an amazing person and one of the tightest cooks in Manhattan. It's great working for her because she gives me so many opportunities to do stuff that most cooks of my level (of inexperience) would never be allowed to do, like breaking down fish. The guys on the line and garde manger are awesome too. We talk a lot of shit, but I feel like we take care of each other at the same time.

And then there is my sous chef....yeah, so I'm making one of the biggest newbie cook mistakes and sleeping with my sous chef. Such a bad idea. It's one of those things that you know you shouldn't do, but you just can't help yourself. We were attracted to each other for a while, but we were both in relationships. Then those relationships fell apart and we fell in to bed. And the in bed part is wonderful. But I like him a lot more than he likes me and I kinda get the feeling that he could just walk away from the whole situation with no problem, whereas I couldn't...I know that I'm playing with fire, but...