Archive for November, 2011

Oh Snap!: New Things And Dinner

No time for a full entry! Look at these pretty pictures!

I haven’t been snapping many pics as of late, but here are a couple that reflect new changes in the restaurant… and one about the change in myself?!

First up, new cazuelas! We got them many weeks ago, but I never did find time/opportunity to mention them. After struggling with only about 12 of the original ones for so long, it was almost bewildering to suddenly have so many when the boxes came in. As a character in one of my favorite books says, it was “richer than Christmas”!

Two years ago when I had a snack at the Publican, I was amazed to see that they had their own pens. Whoa! Fast farward to the present and now I see they have their own HOODIES. Not freaking fair. But at least a couple of weeks ago, we got some pens of our own. Woot? Yo, when is avec going to get our own tee, let alone a hoodie? Well, whatever. Avec has gone over 90 days without an accident, so Publican can suck it.


I took this pic and labeled it “dinner” as a joke but for some line cooks, this IS dinner. I never even got to finish that sandwich dammit. The bottle of beer was a gift from a friend of mine when she took a family trip to Wisconsin and visited the New Glarus Brewing Company. It was tasty until it got warm (while my sandwich got cold and stale). The Wild Turkey was a gift from a chef guest who sat at the Chef’s Table. His name was Joe Doren of Franks ‘N Dawgs. He was super nice and talked to me while I was on 3 that night.
A weird thing (or maybe not so weird, depending on who you talk to) is that ever since I’ve been on the line, I’ve been drinking a lot more than I have in my life. Granted, “a lot more” is just about a bottle or two of beer, but still, up until then I had NO beer so this is quite a significant change in my humble life. Still, I prefer to drink water and the occasional Shirley Temple : )


When The Moon Hits Your Eye

Today at work Ruth and Ryan both mentioned how they’d heard I had a blog. What do I say to this besides, “yep!”? Are they going to read it? Does anyone really care about my humble trials and tribulations to becoming a competent line cook?
I’d like more people to take an interest in me and the blog, but I’m also so bashful and humble that I’m just as happy when no one knows about the blog. Sorry for being so wishy-washy about this :/

Anyway, more importantly, we reached the 90 day accident-free marker at work and knowing that we killed it is kind of awesome. Sadly, I was brought back down to earth again when KO wryly remarked that it’ll probably take another 90 days for us to get that pizza party. I don’t want to believe that that’ll be the case, but most likely, it’ll probably be the case =_=;;;
C’mon Avec-Powers-That-Be, prove us wrong and give us a pizza party, stat! Who am I even imploring? Donnie? Eddie? PK? Kim? Well, whoever has the power to make this party happen, make it happen, and throw in some beer and dancing! And a day off to enjoy it all! (I’m probably asking for too much, aren’t I?)

Today was a mellow day at work. Nothing too crazy I couldn’t handle. I cooked three fish in one pan for the first time earlier that evening. So cool! I’m sure all the guys would’ve rolled their eyes and been like, “whatever”, but being able to drop 3 whole fish at once by myself is thrilling. I remember the first time I saw KO show me how to do it, I was so amazed. Just knowing you could cook three fish at once was powerful information. And today I put it to good use!
My only caveat with today’s fish pickup was that they had me put a watercress salad on the fish. I think it looks totally stupid and this salad should not be on the fish in the first place. I think it should just be a fish and a charred orange, the end. But I didn’t want to rock the boat today so I just put the salad on the fish but tomorrow I’m going to get the final say from Elliot or Koren. I cannot get over how aesthetically displeasing that salad looks…. So incongruous…. X_x;;;

Another reason why I had such a pleasant day was because no one ordered foie gras today. I should be a bit disappointed and I kinda-sorta am but I’m happier to have not cooked foie. It’s not my fave, even though we should’ve sold foie like crazy today because Koren had Armanzo portion the foie into $30 portions which is CRAZY affordable. Hell, if I was a diner and my server told me that there was a foie special for that much, I would’ve ordered it before she even finished her sentence. But for some reason the servers didn’t sell it. Part of me wondered it’s either because they forgot/didn’t know (not possible, since we have the avec notes where they can find out about specials) or, to be a little pessimistic, because they knew I’d be cooking it and they’d rather it wasn’t me. But is that even possible, either?
Whatever the reason is, I’m sure this gaffe will be corrected Friday when Armanzo’s on 3, and he’ll probably be selling out all his foie…

I’ll be back in my happy little cocoon, aka Station 1, on Friday. How bittersweet! I think I’m growing up a little because today as I was on 3, I thought about how it would be better not to go back to 1 anymore. It only makes me wish I could be on 1 forever, and now that I feel like Station 3 is starting to click, I’m beginning to enjoy its intricacies (minus the bane that is foie cookery). When I’m not too busy, cheese plates are actually fun (what the hell?!) and even when I’m a tad busy, it only makes me that much more determined to get those cheese plates out as fast as possible. The same goes for desserts, where I quickly take the opportunity to plate crepes or chocolate so that I can send them on their way and be done with it.
I’m just a little bit amazed that I’m not the same person I was when I first started training on 3. How long ago was that? O_O??

This coming Monday I’ll be helping out Koren at the Food & Wine Entertaining Showcase 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Aww yeah! Hanging out with Mom while scoping out my industry peeps! She says she’s going to serve a quinoa crepe. More details on this later cos she’s still working on it. I’m excited. I LOVE working events outside of work because it doesn’t feel like work. It’s just a super fun excursion and a great opportunity to bond with Koren. Yay!

A Fish Of Wishes

Monday was a pleasantly slow day. The weather was crappy and cold and it rained for a good part of the evening. Plus there was a Bears game (we won. YEAH!) so it was easy peasy. Almost boring. But I knew the next day would be my day off so I relished the feeling of having almost very little to do, while refining what little technique on 3 I’m trying to build up.

I’m trying to get better at speed-reading tickets. I think I’m doing okay so far. All I really do is glance and look for any items that pertain to me. I’ve been getting better at pulling out fish to temper when I see them listed as second/third course items.

Speaking of fish, we have a new fish pickup which is reminiscent of one of our more popular fish dishes. Instead of rice powder scented with herbs de Provence and a charred orange, it’s now cumin-chickpea flour and a charred tangerine. I’d never had our fish before (any/all pickups) but KO read a ticket wrong and had me fire one by mistake. So we had a fish treat! It was delicious!!!! No, I should say it was dericious. Somehow I’d magically seasoned it perfectly, and the skin was a beautiful golden brown and crispy…. KO said it was good. It’s not like he’s my idol or anything but he is an elder and a kitchen-older brother of mine, so when he said it was good and when I tasted it and it was indeed good– I just gave myself an inward squeal because it was a tiny confirmation that yes, I can cook! I CAN be competent in this kitchen! There is hope for me after all! (I mean, I’d like to think that there’s always hope for me/I am competent and useful, but sometimes tangible evidence is reassuring.)

I want to be as competent and trusted as Elliot and Armanzo. When Koren came in Monday night to check in, I doubt she stayed for more than 10-15 minutes after seeing Elliot was expo tonight. THAT is trust and reliability. Knowing that a place is in good hands if you’re not around. It’s the same feeling with Koren and Jorge. There’s that trust. I’ll never be at the level of Elliot or Jorge, but having Koren see me at either Station 1 or 3 and not having to check on me, that trust is awesome too. It means I’m worth something and I have value at the restaurant.

The fish was like a little drop in my bucket of tiny victories. It makes the journey to becoming a full-fledged line cook that much sweeter. The day was overall great but that awesome fish was the highlight of my night.

Lowest point of my night was at 12:04AM when some chick and her friends came in and ordered food. Even though proteins had gone down and I’d turned off the oven. Because technically they’d ordered at 11:55 and the kitchen doesn’t close til midnight. So they ordered dates, squid, flatbread, mushroom salad, quail, and pork shoulder. I wanted to hiss and claw at their faces but mostly because I was aggravated with their wanting pork shoulder (I had the easiest task of cooking up shroom salad after all but I still felt bad for Paula who was on 1 that night) when all I wanted to do was clean up and go home.

Still. It’s my day off now and I’m just relishing doing nothing. Although I really should be out buying cat food and cleaning my house. Oh well, that’s what having two days off in a row is for. Heehee! 😀

Oh Snap!: Durty Ruth

No time for a full entry! Look at this pretty picture!

Aha! Maybe a new sandwich tradition will be born because Ruth made a “pulled pork” sandwich that looks like the Sloppy Betty! I think Ruth used Amatriciana sauce as her base, and she threw cornichons in the sandwich. It was pretty tasty (though of course, I’ll always be partial to my own ^_^). I told Ruth she should name her sandwich the Dirty Ruth (following the same adjective scheme) and she consented “only if you spell it with a U” and so… Durty Ruth it is!

Tonight also marks the first time Ruth has made comida for more than one person (that I know of). Hurrah! Feeding the hungry masses who are your coworkers!

Tonight was also my first Saturday on 3. I survived! And not only that, I did fine. I sold out my specials early and no one ordered any foie gras. Thank the kitchen gods–I’m not a fan of cooking foie. It was cool when we first had it on the menu but now I’m just getting tired of it. My zeal started to flag around 11:30pm when I started mentally asking myself, “Is it over yet?!” and my only hiccup was later that night when I almost had trouble staying on top of hangar steaks. I was able, but at one point, it felt like it was just barely. But the night’s over now and I did well.

Ruth may or may not be on her own on 3 this Sunday (Paula’s scheduled to be on 1, but she may go down and therefore Ruth might need to bail her out) but whatever the case, I’m glad I did well. Toot toot! I tried to get out cheese and desserts as fast as I could. My newest stumbling block is salumi plates. Urgh too many pieces of salumi to layer… and I thought cheese with accompaniments was annoying…!

I was able to talk a bit more with people at the chef’s table. Through Armanzo’s encouragement I’m coming out a bit more from my shell. Which shows how awesome Armanzo is because he’s so engaging.

Also: avec’s been work-related accident-free for 86 days now. 4 more days and we get a pizza party. It’s ON! Everyone’s so hyper-aware, it’s almost funny. All I can say is, whoever fucks up and makes us lose the party will get fucked up by me (and probably everybody) in the back alley. I promise!

Mom’s Homecoming

Mom came home today!
It also happened to be her birthday, and I gave her a present: some cute socks. You can never have enough cute-cheap socks. I’m sure other line cooks would rather wear regular cotton socks, but I’m all about cute socks that, if/when they start getting holes from wear and tear, I won’t get too upset over. I’ve got a small collection going. Hmm… in addition to a COMIDA page (pending…fo’ realz), I might have to start a socks and bandanna page or something. Hmmm…!

I was on station 3 tonight and it was really pleasant. Earlier that day I’d come into work a little nervous because I knew it was Friday and I was anticipating a slaughter but in actuality it wasn’t bad. (Probably because no one bought any foie gras. Yay!)
Even with a special thrown on my station (rabbit and sunchoke ravioli) I was mildly surprised I could handle the workload. Even with Koren hanging out by me didn’t fluster me like it would’ve a month ago. Funny how Koren told me she had a dream about me totally killing it on the line, and I dreamt about her coming back from her vacation tanned and relaxed, and for the most part, both our dreams came true. Cos I totally did kill it on the line tonight. Whoa….! O_O!!! Even Armanzo said I did well tonight!

Of course, in my belief of balances, someone had to pay for my good night and it fell to new hire Paula. She had it so rough that Armanzo (who was expo tonight) had to step in for her and I think even Elliot pitched in to shoulder some of the burden.
She asked me later that night how long it took me to master the station. I told her it took me about a month to feel really comfortable (and I just read back on a couple of my old blog entries, and it’s actually true) but I didn’t tell her that she’d been hired with the expectation of accomplishing it at a much faster rate than me. I didn’t want to rub any more salt on wounds and concerns she might have already had.
Speaking of hiring, it turns out Koren didn’t hire her like Elliot and I thought she did. It was actually The Man himself, PK, who did. To which I say, “Uh… whut?” O_o???? Well, at least my faith in Koren has been restored. I’m sorry it was so easily swayed!

I’m on 3 again Saturday. Armanzo will be on 2 and Elliot will be expo. I’m a tiny bit sad about this arrangement because I like working with Elliot the best. He gives me this sense of security that I don’t really feel (yet) when I’m working with the others. Well, now’s a good a time as any to try to feel it with Armanzo.
I do hope that Elliot stays until the end though. Cab rides to the train station are a little bit lonelier when Elliot’s not around because I don’t have anyone else to dissect the intricacies of the day with.

Little miscellaneous things that made me happy about Friday’s service:
– Bartender Mary Rose said that I’m one of the fastest at putting out cheese plates. I don’t know if this is true or not, but the fact that someone threw this sort of praise at me pleases me.

– Koren said I was killin’ it on Station 3 and it kind of was true.

– Mary Rose and Barback Ryan were really nice about plating chocolates for me every now and then. Plating chocolates are a pain, especially because the shelf the chocolates happen to be on is just high enough for me to have trouble reaching.

– Pictures from Monday’s company Halloween party got printed off and a picture of me (with Sontra and Robin) was pinned on the bulletin board. Not tooting my own horn or nuthin’ but I think I looked pretty freakin’ awesome clawing at Big Star’s door. Mwahaha!!

– Koren tasted my food and each passed her rigorous inspection. Yay!

– My knife was sharp and it made work so much easier. Cutting slices of cheese, scoring fish, and slicing steak was a breeze. Ahh, having a sharp knife is awesome!

I hope I have a happy Saturday. Until then!

Oh Snap!: Messy Katie

No time for a full entry! Look at this pretty picture!

Aww yeeeeeeah! My favorite line sister Katie made her first staff comida and it happened to be her version of the Sloppy Betty! So honored and so proud of her for going out of her way to feed people! She’d been very apprehensive about her abilities but I’ve been encouraging her and the results were good! Great job, Lady! I definitely want her to keep at it and to develop her own comida repertoire. I’m looking forward for the next opportunity to taste her food!