Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 5

Day 5. The fun began again at 10:30 am. I entered the kitchen, grabbed my apron, a clean towel and was put to work. I helped finish prepping for lunch. I sliced cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese. Then I had to put black-eyed pea relish and sweet potatoes into individual quart containers. The chefs at the National are responsible for all of the prep work at their own stations. For example, if the squid salad is on your line, you need grilled corn, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced squid, arugala, remoulade, and the black-eyed pea relish. Not to mention, have the frying station set up with batter and hot oil. So, I also helped grill off some corn and slice the calamari.

With prep work, comes one of my issues in the kitchen, dull knives. On the first day, Peter, my boss, explained that this is the most dangerous thing in the kitchen. Because you think it cannot cut through things, but then it can truly hurt you. Although using a knife sharpener and steel may help, a dull knife is no one’s friend. When I sliced the calamari, I had to saw the squid. So, I am starting to think it may be time to get my own knives. While they can be very expensive…I do have a birthday in 21 days.

So, after we finished up the prep work, the fun really began. It was the lunch rush. This was the busiest lunch I have ever worked. Today, they let me stay on the line and watch/help out whenever they needed me. I finally got to see all of the components that go into each dish. I primarily tried to watch the “cold” side today. She mainly puts together the salads, hummus plate, desserts, and then works the fryer. She also makes the delicious Cuban (ciabatta, fontina, pork, ham, mayo, mustard and pickles). I helped the “hot” side by doing plate setups for the burgers (that have pimiento cheese, yummy!) and also toasting their buns. We stayed really busy the whole time so I also helped re-stock the bins in the cooler when ingredients ran low.

Another great thing about today was getting to know the other staff members. It’s one of the things I love about food, it truly gets people talking. Everyone in the kitchen works so well together. They communicate articulately with one another and are always willing to help each other out. Even the expo (the one who makes sure the food is pretty and going to the right place) kept giving positive feedback and letting us know what a great job we were doing. People just have things to say about food and their past experiences with food. Especially foodies, we seem to have an opinion and comment about every ingredient, flavor, and restaurant experience. But these people truly have a good time together, there is a positive vibe in the atmosphere, I love it! They also play great music when we’re prepping, which makes it even more fun!

Once lunch was done, we started doing more prep for dinner. I made marinated olives (olives with sherry vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, garlic, red chili flakes, and some other dried herbs). They sit in the juices for a day or two, but I tasted the marinate and it was delicious! I also rolled out flatbreads that are cooked off and served with hummus. The larger flatbreads are made into pizettes at dinner.

Working as a team is the key to success in the kitchen, and this restaurant has that down. They prep with each other, help out each other, and build each other up. I love this job, the time goes by way too fast. Now if only I felt that way about the 50 pages of reading I should be doing right now…

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