Archive for July, 2011

Living Without Soy Sauce

…is unimaginable. Especially since I’m Chinese. If I went to another Asian person’s house and there was no soy sauce, I’d be a little concerned. That said, I wonder if my friend Dave has soy sauce in his new apartment….

I mention this because tonight I made one of the worst comida meals I’ve made in my time on Station 1. If I haven’t talked about this before, Station 1 is in charge of making food for the dishwasher and nightcleaner. And if they so desired, they could make food for the staff too. Why we refer to it as “comida” and not “staff meal” I’m not sure, but when I think comida, I think staff meal, even if I’m only feeding a select number of people.

Anyway, long story short, I wanted to make something like noodle soup with this bag of shirataki that Koren received as a sample. It didn’t taste bad, but it would’ve tasted soooooo much better with soy sauce. I was a little ashamed to serve it to those two hardworking guys in the dishpit but I had to cos I’d made it and I didn’t have time to make anything else. Suffice to say, I cried a little inside as I gave it to them.

I have to bring some soy sauce dammit. Or else put soy sauce on the ordering list.

I just wanted to immortalize my shame in a blog entry so I could look back and remember, “Oh yeah, I need to stop making faux-Asian comida if I’m definitely missing KEY INGREDIENTS!!”

Maguro & Comb Honey

It was all about fun tonight on the line, with Elliot on 2, Mikey Rook on 1, and me on 3. And since this is my favorite lineup, I enjoyed myself immensely. Despite a table full of late diners that ended up being the last to leave (and ordering a second course hangar steak after I’d scraped down the plancha/ordering second course quail after Mikey Rook had cleaned out his cast iron). And despite our not having a night cleaner so we ended up doing the scrub-down ourselves. I still had a really good night!

It helps that whole fish was 86’d so I didn’t have to cook whole fish the whole night, but I think I did a really good job on station 3: I sold 3 orders of foie gras (that’s a lot… and on a Tuesday), I pushed out cheese plates pretty quickly, and the few times Koren came around to try my food, she gave me her little approval wink signifying that I was spot-on in flavor. Huzzah!! I even talked with diners sitting in front of me!

I’m really proud of the cheese plates though. Usually when a cheese ticket comes up I inwardly cringe because I’m afraid I’ll take forever on those. But tonight I seemed to get them out in pretty good time. It was like something clicked in my mind; I remember thinking, “Okay, there’s a small window of time, let’s get this shit out before another ticket comes.” One of the highlight memories of that night: doing a cheese plate while I had several things working on the stove, and I was in TOTAL CONTROL. I was totally multitasking, and Koren was there to witness it, which is probably why she came up to me before she left and high-fived me with a “you killed it tonight.” YAY ME!!

The subject of this entry actually refers to one of the cheese plates I’d plated. I was cutting a piece of quince paste for the cheese board and one of the guests at the chef’s table commented that he thought I was cutting a piece of maguro tuna and serving it honey (honeycomb was one of the cheese accompaniments that night). “Maguro and honey? That sounds gross,” I laughed. Sure, tuna can be cooked with some element of honey (honey in the marinade or honey in the sauce for example), but a slice of sushi-grade tuna with a glob of honey comb on top of it? That sounds like a really wacky combination. Does anyone else besides me think that as well?

Later that night Urban Belly/Belly Shack chef Bill Kim (and his wife Yvonne) came in to dine and I cooked their pasta for them. I was on pins and needles when ate it, sneaking looks to see if they liked it or not. It tasted fine, but still, I was extremely nervous (bordering on paranoid) that they might not like it and send it back, therefore supremely mortifying me. I nearly had a heart attack when after one glance, I thought I saw Yvonne frown and shake her head. It was nothing though… right? >.>;;; And Bill Kim wasn’t smiling while eating the pasta… but the pasta wasn’t sent back… so it must’ve tasted fine… right? This internal monologue lasted for a couple of nerve wracking minutes, with me reasoning that c’mon Bill Kim’s just a regular diner like all the other diners and the food tastes good; it wasn’t like he was going to come down the line and fling the pasta back at my face or the wall; it’s BILL KIM! It’s just Bill Kim.
I confided my small worries to Mikey and Elliot and they goodnaturedly made fun of me.

Also much later that night (around the same time as the last super late diners that ordered the second course hangar after I’d cleaned my plancha), the whole cast of Goodman Theatre’s Chinglish came in to eat. Cool! I wish I’d known what they’d ordered, but I suspect that it was that one ticket order that included several first course dates and three second course hangars. Man, I wish I remember what they ate! One of the cast members came up and thanked me for the meal, which made go, “Aww, thank you!”

Our hostess Tess turned 30 on Tuesday. Elliot made her a veggie flatbread and I convinced him to stick a candle in it. Server Giulietta turned out the lights for a minute so Tess could blow it out. Aww!!!

After we closed, ex-employee Adam came in for a visit. He’s been helping out at ex-sous John’s new wine bar, Telegraph. His girlfriend Lorraine is working there now, having left the Publican. Adam recounted a story to me about how Lorraine made a master prep list and Johnny looked at it and said something was missing: “Can you draw creepy pictures at the bottom?” LOL. This is because I used to draw cute but disturbing pictures to decorate the basement kitchen walls when I was still a prep cook. The most memorable drawings included a bird ripping out a helpless baby’s eyeball as he lay in his crib and a unicorn caught in a bear trap. As a present to Adam and John, I drew a giant pumpkin with a dead rabbit in its jaws.

Anyway, we cleaned and I didn’t get out of work until nearly 2AM, but I’m still basking in the memory of Adam telling me that I’m cool (because I didn’t mind working five straight days–that’s my schedule for this week).

And I’m back on Station 1 from Wednesday until Friday. Yay! My happy cocoon!

All in all, a very good day!