Archive for March, 2012

Oh, Snap!: Epic Comics

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

Whenever there’s a menu change or when menus get worn or dirty, our hostess will print up new ones and dispose of the old. Usually I’d claim them and use them for kindling when I was on 1, but lately, I thought it would be great to draw a comic on them. Not only are they huge pieces of paper, they have great weight so I don’t worry so much about Sharpies bleeding through.

And so I created “Epic Adventures! (Of A Line Cook Wannabe)”… which are essentially slice-of-life comics on menu paper. So far I’ve written three of them, though the only one I bothered to take a picture of was the one I did on Superbowl Sunday. I should take a picture of the Epic Adventure I drew about Valentine’s Day, though. Coworkers especially liked that one. I haven’t drawn any more lately but it’s only because a good opportunity hasn’t presented itself to immortalized into a punchline….

Brothers & Sisters

Sorry for the non-post tonight (a true one is pending), but I wanted to say huzzah for Elliot getting recognition from Zagat’s 30 Under 30! He was featured as #10.

I wish whoever had taken his photo had actually cared about setting up a nice shot because he looks like he’s zoning out and is developing a slight double chin. Wow, so flattering! =_= Thanks Zagat photographer, you suck. Did you just accost him like you were the paparazzi and pulled a snap-and-run? Psssh, I could take a better picture with my camera phone.

That said, Publican’s Erling Wu-Bower (#28) looks like he was subjected to the same treatment, but at least he was given the chance to look into the camera. Not that I really care that much about him because I’ve never worked with him. (And I hear he’s a bit of a poser, but that’s another thing altogether.)

Also notable: out of the 30 featured, five of them work in the company. Truly, we’re a force to be reckoned with! But I’d like it if Avec wasn’t subjected to neglected-child syndrome every time a new sister restaurant popped up….

Congrats Elliot! May more accolades come your way! And may they take good photos of you, because it’s not fair that your other 30-under-30 counterparts got better looking photos (as douche-y as some of them appear… I’m looking at you, Craig Schoettler (#23) and Richie Farina (#6)…).

Pep Squad

Opened today and had a great day. I know I say I cry a little in my heart because of the weather, but by the end of the day I’m actually really happy. The weather’s so awesome it just perks me up. Even if I can’t be out there to enjoy it.

I’m definitely pleased today because for the first time in a long time, I finished my opener at a decent hour. I got out a little after 7pm. YEAH! I’m trying to work my way up to the desired 6pm, but I don’t think I can do it (yet). I’m not comfortable leaving tasks, no matter how little/easy they are (like shaving radishes or slicing cucumber), for the line cooks upstairs or stages to finish for me. I’d rather leave the building knowing that the line cooks are totally set for the night and the list is done and if they so desired, they could twiddle their thumbs during dinner lulls. (Not that Koren would let them haha.)

I’m also happy because I know Elliot opens tomorrow and I did doughs for him so he wouldn’t have to. I remember the horror/annoyance I experienced one opener when I found out I had to make dough on top of an already heavy list of tasks. Dough is easy but time-consuming. Why didn’t the opener the day before do them when I was aware he had a relatively easy opener? I believe in paying it forward and just generally making the other person’s life easier. Anyway, I was sorry I couldn’t make a batch of pasta dough; there was only one flat of eggs left and I wanted to make sure it was there for the couscous dish.

Fred started his first day with us and for a couple of hours he helped me out in the basement. I was glad for the assistance but I think he could streamline his way of doing the crostini task. Oh well, there’s still time to teach him that.

I’m back to work Thursday on station 3 *cringe* but at least I know I’ll be working with Katie that day *beam*

The Cool Kids Do It

Tonight was my first time on 3 in a looooong time. I could definitely tell it had been a while, and I was still trying to make things click way into the evening. Sigh. This is what happens when I get too comfortable hanging out in my happy little cocoon :/

Some friends from school came in to eat and sat at the Chef’s Table, which was pleasant. Elliot was super nice and sent them anchovies and crostini, where I probably would’ve maybe sent them whitefish (cos it’s pretty and delicious) but I didn’t because 1) I can’t just make that snap judgement when it’s not my place and 2) I’m not that nice, even to my own friends. Besides, we were friends from school. They aren’t even my best friends. But they did bring two 6-packs of Modelo and some Doritos so I’m grateful for that. Anyway, it started picking up and it got a little harder to talk to them. I’m not one of those people that can talk and cook at the same time. Oh well, it’s not like I want to be the next Food Network Star. (*scoff*) Luckily, these two were able to read the air and decided to leave. I was a tiny bit sad to see them go but indifferent afterwards. I have problems with this weird pressure to “entertain” when I’m at 3 by conversing with people. Armanzo’s great at it, whereas I’m indifferent. I’m not going to talk when I don’t feel like talking. If you want a show, people, just watch me work. Hefting that huge cast-iron pan that we use for roasting whole fish is a spectacle in itself.

It stayed mellow for most of the night which was nice. The weather was awesome. I cry a little in my heart every time I have to go to work when the weather’s beautiful but whatever… I console myself by working hard and psyching myself up for the summer. Or practicing my moonwalk and running man on the line.

Blackbird line cook Lorraine came to visit after work and talked with me a little. Apparently she’s aware of the blog! And Katie Furst told her about it! I’m grateful and bashful. Yay thank you!

Two horrible things happened today which I have to mention so that I’ll feel bad about it for, like, the rest of my life:
– I undercooked a whole fish (red snapper sucks… too juicy to hold up to oven roasting… am I being stupid and bratty for saying this?) and it got sent back. Sorry! ;_; This is what I get for assuming when I do the flesh poke test and not actually checking >_< I fired a new whole fish and this time I checked for doneness.
– I accidentally slammed into Rebekah the bartender (because I didn’t know she was behind me while I was grabbing for stuff in my reach-in) and smashed her vagina into the corner of a metal table. I AM SO SORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! >_<!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I want to repent but I’m gonna head to bed now. I open Tuesday. Ooh, and new hire (I’m just gonna name him here) Fred is training on 1 with Katie so that should be fun. Welcome to the Avec family! And now goodnight!

Miss Congeniality

Just a little mention:
Ryan Poli of Tavernita came in near closing two nights ago. For some reason I get the heebie-jeebies when he’s around. He looks creepy. Who knows, maybe some people think he’s attractive. I’m… not one of them.

He went up to the Chef’s Table to greet Elliot and Armanzo. While they were talking, I went up to the sink to rinse my bain, and he greeted me. “Hey, Beautiful,” he said. I bowed and then I turned and walked back to my station.

At the time I didn’t really think much of it, except for miscellaneous thoughts like, “Big Time Chef, I shouldn’t dawdle in his presence… let the boys talk with eachother.” But then Armanzo and Elliot started cracking up later. It hit me that what I did was kinda rude. Kinda gauche. I asked as much. They said, “Yes. But in a good way. That was awesome.”

I guess I’m not the only one who isn’t sharing the Poli love.

Shooting That B-Ball

The NCAA tournament started tonight, which made for a pretty mellow night overall. Unfortunately, our newest hired foodrunner, Anthony, was not feeling it, and I was left a little neglected all night. He wasn’t very good about stocking up on cazuelas or shoulder/squid staubs. Sometimes he’d stand there, spacing out. Come on….

That said, the weather has been extremely awesome as of late, with today’s temperature a high of 80 degrees. Freakin’ awesome! I was sweating and enjoying it. Well, except for the part where it felt like my pants were glued to my legs with sweat. Ew. Still, hope the weather continues on this awesome trend. Something just short of a heatwave, that is.

I’ve been scheduled on 1 a lot lately. I want to feel weird about it, but honestly, I love being on station 1. It’s my happy little cocoon, even if I have to work it with KO on 2 and he’s being an annoying SOB every now and then.

He does have his uses though:

He fixed the stoves a little and we had four working burners that day. Awesome! Who knows how many we’ll have tomorrow, but for now, a boost to the morale. Huzzah!

Oh, Snap!: Not Booze!

Yesterday I was feeling really grumpy, which I attributed to my missing my boyfriend due to our long-distance relationship. Turns out it might have been because of the full moon.

That said, no matter how out of sorts a person feels, it can get lifted with gifts. Look! A diner gave us these sweet pick-me-ups! (Haha, you can see we grabbed for the Gatorade first.)

Sometimes diners who are industry-folk (or just plain ole civilian diners) will come in with “gifts” for the cooks. Usually it’s out of the goodness of their own hearts (though once we had a diner who thought he’d get “special” attention *eye roll*), and more than likely, it’s always alcohol in some form.

Hey, we love gifts and all, and surely we don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but we definitely love it when we receive non-alcohol items. We work really hard and usually we don’t get time/have time to eat so when the occasional gift of cupcakes or Doritos comes in, we’re all over it. Also, Armanzo and I don’t really drink, so when we receive booze gifts, we don’t really benefit.
You might be going, “Huh?! You work at Avec and you’re eating Doritos?” Well, duh. Chips are delicious!

I actually have been trying to accumulate photos of our food gifts and turn them into a blog entry, so look forward to one of those in the future. Until then, I’m gonna try to hold on to my sanity while the full moon is still in effect….

Tiny Steps, Huge Leaps, And Lots Of Progress

Holy crap, I just realized that this is the first anniversary of my becoming a line cook. Last year, March 3rd, I made a tiny announcement to the world… and now here I am. Damn, I’ve come a long way.

I’m glad I started this blog or else I would’ve forgotten this auspicious day entirely, but that in itself wouldn’t have been so bad either. To me, working is savoring each day, but also knowing that all the days blur into a collective. All same. All different. How zen. I told a stage today I’d been a line cook for “about 9 months” so the blurred days comment is quite apt. My sense of time is skewed!

I don’t want to get too maudlin but I’m just amazed at the changes in me and all around me in the year that’s gone by. I’m still timid and exasperatingly ultra-cautious (station 2, anyone?) but I can definitely tell that I’ve acquired a little moxie from working on the line. Is it too introspective to say that I am a reflection of the people who have and are working with me?

I have tried to imbue in myself:

  • Katie Furst’s vivaciousness
  • Dan Weiland’s friendliness
  • Justin Large’s wit and sagacity
  • John Anderes… uh, I try to do things opposite of him, but he had pretty sweet taste in music.

I want to be as awesome and reliable as Elliot, as fun and confident as Armanzo, a pillar like Jorge, and always try to lead by Koren’s example (though timid ultra-cautiousness tends to get in the way).

I opened today and I just had to take a picture of the pasta dough I was working. It’s one of the first things Justin Large taught me to make and I’ve had a special fondness for it ever since.

Cutting rolled dough into uniform sheets is always a thrill. It’s for that reason why I love to make pappardelle or pasta kerchiefs.

See those white speckles in the dough? Those are salt speckles. In my humble experience, a dough that’s rested long enough will develop those specks and is an indicator that it’s ready for rolling. It handled like a dream.

Thank you Justin Large for being my first (and so far only) kitchen Dad. Thank you kitchen brothers and sisters for enriching and educating me. Thank you Kitchen Gods for smiling on me more often than not.

I’m off Wednesday but back to work Thursday on Station 1. Fun times.

Not A Millionaire Yet

So I guess I didn’t beat the odds and win that $12 million jackpot yet. Oh well, I still have next week, when the Mega Millions $120 million jackpot comes around 😀
I wondered aloud today that if I did win the lottery, would it be weird if I still wanted to work on Station 3 :/

Tonight was slow but steady, which is how I like it. A push is exhilarating and all, but it’s nice not having to sweat or struggle. Things died down around 10:30. Katie and I quietly started to begin breaking down by wrapping up place and getting together dirties while Elliot did the ordering.

Mikey Rook came in to dinner with server Sontra, which surprised me since I didn’t know they were such close buddies. They sat at the chef’s table and I happily fed them food which they totally enjoyed. Amazingly, Sontra’s never had the whitefish, mussels, or the anchovy flatbread. Then again, neither have I…?
It’s funny how some of us who work here don’t eat here, or haven’t eaten certain things. Katie’s come in with her husband, and before she worked here, she’d dined at Avec and absolutely loved us. But when she came in last Sunday with her husband and some family, and I sent her the chicken, she was thrilled because it was something she’d never had before. Before Armanzo joined the Avec family, he came in all the time to eat/visit, and now he never comes in. I don’t blame him. As for me, except for 2 times I somehow stumbled in to eat late at night as a prep cook, I haven’t been back since ever since I became a line cook. What gives? I live too far away to want to come in to eat on my day off, is all. I also don’t really have friends who I have to take to dinner with. I have to remedy this.
But it’s something to think about that I cook all this delicious food and not once have I ever really had a real taste of it….

The night ended and we sent Mikey and Sontra away with this random gift bag we’d gotten from one of our more notorious taxi cabbies. It was full of interesting items, like incense, coupons, samples and miscellaneous food items. A bottle of lotion that smelled horrendously floral was teased mercilessly.

Seeing good friends come in and eat, going home earlier than usual. I definitely feel like a winner.

Sun King

Little changes are coming and I am not sure if I’m looking forward to them. When did I start to become ever-so-slightly pessimistic about change?

Elliot came back Thursday from his trip to Mexico, looking tan and relaxed. I’m sure all the stress came back once he came back to work haha. Especially since he worked a double on Friday, opening and then working on 2. I really admire that part of him that shoulders that responsibility. He also worked Sunday which made me really happy (I was on 1, Armanzo on 3). I know he hates to work Sundays: “I’d rather work a double–I’d rather work a 17-hour shift–than work a Sunday!” he said.

He said something scary that brings back what Armanzo said last week: that I would be training on station 2. Both me and Ruth. Argh!!! Of course, my immediate reaction was to reject that statement.
I’m scared! As I type this now, I’m pretty sure I have no choice but to accept. Yeah, like they’d let me refuse. But in my heart, I’m still fighting this. I’m avoiding this responsibility for as long as I can….

One of our previous stages (whose name I’m not sure if I mentioned so he’ll remain nameless for now) looks to be a hire! He works (worked) at the Violet Hour and he’ll be starting the 20th. He staged under me once when I opened, but I’m not good with stages so I didn’t glean much info from him. I didn’t even ask him at the time if he was seeking employment from us. I never seem to know how to act with stages :/
So looks like he’ll be making fast friends with Station 1 this summer with Katie. I’m so jealous! I was looking forward to sweating on 1 for the fun of it, but with this new hire, I’ll definitely be on 3 from now on (and from the looks of it, station 2 as well… MLURF ;_;).