Archive for January, 2012

All Up In The Air

Last night our baker Meggie came in for dinner and she talked to me about the possibility of illustrating a children’s cookbook with her. Of course I said hell yes to the opportunity. Yeah, like I’m gonna refuse fun projects like this.

And when I told Koren my exciting prospects, she then told me that apparently I’m going to be contributing my art to an avec hoodie. OMG! That’s just too freakin’ awesome.

And even if this doesn’t come to fruition (yet), just being told this stuff, how people want my silly art to decorate their stuff, is just exhilarating enough.

Who knew that my random doodling would lead to this?

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Oh, Snap!: Goodbye Pappardelle

Pappardelle is out, chitarra is in.
Here are some photo memories.

Cutting the rolled sheets.

Lined up and ready for service.

I’d like to think I make some damn pretty pasta.

Oh, Snap!: Bonding

I worked station 3 tonight. It was really weird to be scheduled for 5pm, but hey, I’m not complaining. I mean, aside from my finding out that we were out of cheddar for the cheese plate. And that I didn’t have much in the way of salumi and ended up needing to slice more during service… but again. Not complaining. (And no one ordered foie tonight. Definitely happy about that!)

After work, Katie asked me if I wanted to go to Ian’s, to which I said, “Hell yes!”

Ian’s is this awesome pizza place Katie took me to one night after we didn’t feel like parting ways yet when she dropped me off at the train station. I’m sure they sell “normal” pizza when I’m not around, like plain ole cheese and sausage and stuff, but when she took me there, they had pizza with toppings like “lasagna”, “philly cheese steak”, and “cheese tortellini”. How can you NOT like a place like this?!


I had the chicken fried steak and chicken parmesan. Katie had the mac ‘n’ cheese and barbecue chicken. We split each of them and shared.


Of course, we didn’t just go to Ian’s to snack on pizza. We talked about work and shared our work stories. Katie’s definitely hands-down one of my favorite co-workers. Since she’s still a fledgling line cook, I definitely try to talk with her and see how she’s doing, or answer her questions as best I can, and coach her with what little experience I’ve earned. Or we commiserate about what we don’t like, or who we don’t like, or the night in general. Ahhh, super fun times to really connect with somebody! And it always feels like it’s never long enough!

I definitely look forward to bonding with Katie again.

************

Oh, also found out from Katie that people really liked the antipasto I made! YEAH! *fist pump*
Unfortunately, when I came into work today, I saw that someone had cooked farro and broccoli and added it to my antipasto, so it it looked like Franken-pasto =_= Geez, original much?
Now I’m even more determined to make another tasty antipasto the next time I open!

Katie also told me that Koren said some good words about my push last week with the shoulders and squid. Aww, yay! *^_^*

Monday Opener

It was a bit of a surprise when I saw that I was scheduled to open on Monday since KO has been the Monday opener lately (and I’m usually on Station 3). That was cool though; I had the next day off. Yay!

The point of openers is to get prep (especially major prep) done for the day’s service. After setting up the line, my next order of operations was to start cooking anything that needed cooking. I was at a bit of a loss for a little while though, because I’d checked the prep list the night before and a lot of stuff was crossed off. I’m so hardwired on cooking major prep items first that when there aren’t really any around, I’m thrown out of sync.

In retrospect I could’ve gotten ahead on certain things, like spiced carrots (for the shoulder) or making the Amatriciana sauce, but I was too busy having my head up my ass at the time to remember them. And later on when they did come to mind, a little bit of laziness in the form of, “Eh, they have enough to last for the night. It can be made tomorrow” came into play >_< I shouldn't think like this from now on ._.

One of the big ticket items I did make that day was the pasta. We've changed the pappardelle back to chitarra. My prep cook's heart is a little saddened at this change because I love making pappardelle (I'll have to have a photo entry to that sometime soon) but as a line cook, I'm happier because it was a bit of a pain to cook. In the past there was a pot of water to cook the pappardelle to order, which I'm sure was SO fun :/ And then we started par-cooking the pasta sheets but even after oiling them they stuck together. So the chitarra is really better, prep-wise and presentation-wise. After rolling sheets, you just run them through the cutter attachment. And on the pick-up, there's less of a worry of overcooking the pasta and having it fall apart on you when you're plating it out.
Anyway, I rolled and cooked all the pasta. There were two fish tubs worth, so hopefully I saved Tuesday's opener some hassle.

Speaking of pappardelle, since it was no longer on the menu, the remaining bit was consigned to the comida corner. And when I open, I try to make sure I feed Jorge, our butcher (and my best friend at avec haha), and Manuel, our day-cleaner/dishwasher. These two are definitely among avec's hardest working staff and I want to see them taken care of. When I was a kitchen slave prep cook and worked under an opener, I really appreciated it when I was fed because avec doesn’t do staff meals. On top of that, Jorge comes in to work at 4am and Manny’s in at 9am, and aside from coffee, it’s not like they can make their own food. Lunch break? Yeah right. So I’ve made it one of my priorities to make sure to feed them because I remember what it’s like to not be fed and be hungry for hours. And the sting of indignation of being hungry and then seeing a certain opener eating something he made for himself.

Anyway, I cooked off the leftover pappardelle in a tomato cream sauce with kale/spinach, chopped up chorizo (from some leftover dates), and a small handful of the menu’s “ravioli filling” (pork neck meat with grated pecorino).

Katie (who was on 1 that night) came in early and had some, saying it was good. Yay! Jorge liked it. He had two helpings. Double yay!

As opener, I also made the daily antipasto that day. Other line cooks probably don’t think much of it, but I thought it was another big step in my line cook life, having made up an antipasto of my own. The last time I opened and had to make an antipasto, I copped out and remade some more of the antipasto from the night before, which was marinated kale with roasted beets. Freakin’ delicious and definitely sells, but a cop-out nonetheless. This time, the previous night’s antipasto was farro, white aspargus, roasted broccoli, and pomegranate seeds. Delicious and all, but I knew that it was a remade batch from Saturday and I was NOT going to sell the same kind of antipasto for the fourth day in a row.


Tada! It’s red quinoa with shaved fennel, roasted butternut squash and carrots, parsley, with sherry vinaigrette. I hope no one hated it, and I hope at least a good amount of it sold. (You can never tell with certain antipasti.)

Anyway, that was my opener. Who knows when the next one will be, but hopefully it will be relatively stress-free and I’ll make more awesome comida!

Oh yeah, I also wanted to report that on Saturday my Wusthof knife came back! How it happened, no one knows, but Elliot found it in his box. Yay! Ironically, when I went to make pasta, my cheap Edward Don knife that I use for pasta production went missing :/

Oh, Snap!: F**K

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

Saturday saw me on station 1 and it was weird. Slow at first and then it hit IMMEDIATELY. We went from having 120 covers to over 200 in like, I don’t know, half an hour? All I know is, suddenly I had to deal with 7 shoulders, 3 chickens, 4 squid, and a bunch of dates. Except I was so busy I forgot I used up all my dates and didn’t render any more off. And it’s not like I even had room for it. Oh, and my firewood was being a fucking bitch.

Luckily, KO pitched in and took pity on me.

And then it was over. I still can’t wrap my head around it. But at least it’s over.

Oh yeah. The pic. Liz bought this helicopter a couple of weeks back and we thought it a great joke. But I posted it because that’s all I was screaming in my head during the push. Heh.

Shonen Knife

Monday was actually pretty slow, with about 120 covers. But because I’d not been on station 3 for a week, and we had a couple of menu changes, my nerves were in a bit of a state. Katie on 1 felt the same way because her station had a new chicken dish and a pork shoulder change since she’d last worked. The two of us are kind of similar and get along really well because of that.

The new pasta dish on my station is really tasty. It’s pappardelle with pork neck ragu, charred fennel and olives. Of course, I had to deal with the parcooked pappardelle sticking to eachother and it was a freaking bitch to deal with. It wasn’t until I left the pasta out at room temperature that they became a touch easier to peel but I still encountered some difficulties. If peeling pasta on a Monday night is annoying, I shudder to think about what it would be like on a Friday or Saturday night. Gross.

The new whitefish dish on 3 is super pretty and delicious too. Tonight it was manageable but it’s gonna be crazy on the later days because it’s definitely looking to be a popular menu item. Armanzo said of his last couple days on 3 he was “raped” by order-fires. I’m scared to be in his shoes. I once helped him plate 6 pastas. I’ve never even had to fire 6 of anything at once yet…. Urgh… I know there will be a time like that coming eventually but still! Scared of the unknown.

Speaking of unknown, I came into work Sunday and one of my knives (my Wusthof) was missing. At first I thought I’d just left it out and some benevolent soul was safekeeping it for me but it can’t be because for this particular knife, I use a metal honing steel… and the steel was in my locker. And the Wusthof has a knife guard…and the knife guard was in my locker. I asked around today if anyone had seen it but so far nothing. I should probably be a little relieved that it was not my Ohishi that went missing but still, I’m partial to that knife. I’m not afraid to bang up my Wusthof, whereas the Ohishi still has that new-knife-sheen to it that makes me a little apprehensive to use it as hard as I’d like. Also the Ohishi has more delicate metal or something which is also a slight drawback.
Anyway, the point is: where the eff is my knife? Did someone borrow it and forget to return it? Or did someone steal it and I’m not gonna get it back? Damn….

I took the initiative today and actually talked Elliot into letting me sell our mushroom salad (recently taken off the menu) as a special since we still had all the place for it. We ended up selling quite a bit. Despite my elation at this “big girl” move, until I figure out the status of my missing knife, everything else is just minor details.

Grrr… where is my knife?

Babies For Blizzards

I know it’s not beneficial for my growth as a line cook but I am LOVING that I’ve been scheduled to work station 1 all week. I thought I was supposed to work 3 today but when I clocked in and looked at the schedule, it said I was working Station 1.
I totally fist-pumped in the locker room where no one could see me, I was so pleased.

It was a bit slow tonight because it snowed all day. Usually I’m ready to rip my eyeballs out when it’s aggravatingly slow but it was just steady enough where I never got too bored, but chill enough where I could draw a couple of doodles. Of course, the snow got me all excited, with high hopes for a blizzard. I kept chanting, “Bliz-zard! Bliz-zard!” all night long because the heavier the snow, the higher the chances I have of having clean snow to make ice cream with on my off-days. I chill my ice cream bases in bowls of snow instead of using an actual ice bath. But that’s another different blog subject, in my civilian life.

Back to work: we had a stage today called Richard (not his real name to protect his privacy and whatnot), who was apparently quite the greenhorn. I don’t mean this as an insult. Apparently he was just starting out (ah, to be young and not know anything… like me, four years ago!) and wasn’t sure he wanted to go to school. He was looking to find employment in a restaurant and get his working education there. Nothing wrong with that, but honestly I don’t think many restaurants offer anything that even remotely resembles an apprenticeship anymore. I may have treated my prep-cook days as an apprenticeship of sorts but I still went to school.
He’s totally green, but he seems like a nice kid. He stages again tomorrow and will be shadowing me again while I’m on Station 1. (Woot *station 1 fist pump*)

My only caveat about our stage is that he has immature handwriting. And not in a 5-year-old’s-scrawl kinda way. Hell, that would’ve been better. Unfortunately for my eyes, he labeled a bunch of stuff with this stylized, almost highfalutin handwriting that, as petty as it seems, incredibly irks me.

Here’s a picture because I’m petty:

What are you, a 13-year-old girl?

Here’s a close-up (cos I’m REALLY petty like that):

Did you want to be a tagger when you grow up? What the fuck is up with that S, N, and K in sunchoke? It annoys me when men have handwriting unbefitting of their age. Ugh, such an affront to my eyes. Alright, end of rant.

But anyway, that’s my only problem with him so far.

I’m back on 1 tomorrow. Yeah! *fist pump*
Not that I’ve ever really mentioned our dishes (I probably should), but the salmon and the chicken dishes are coming off the menu. Pork shoulder and one other dish I can recall are changing this Saturday. New pickups are always fun, even if they make me nervous at first.