Posts tagged ‘Adam’

Man Of The Hour

Last Tuesday was Elliot’s last night at avec. Even though it was my day off, I made sure to show up that night to see him off. I wasn’t the only one! Armanzo came in earlier that night to eat and bade him farewell. Fred and Theo came in. Ruth, who opened earlier that day, came back that night as well. Adam Walsh, who doesn’t even work here anymore, came in to say his goodbyes. It was totally bittersweet and awesome. Drinks were toasted, pictures were taken, and there was a little bit of dancing (mostly just Master Blaster and Elliot yukking it up).

During a lull in the festivities, I presented Elliot with a thank you/going-away present. It was a (beautiful) Ohishi petty knife that kinda-sorta got him a little verklempt. He looked at it and then he said, “I will pay you back.” “No you will not!” I retorted. The knife was my way of paying him back for all that he’d done for me. I mean, the man stayed after his opener to help me make potstickers for Thanksgiving last year. For that alone, I’m eternally grateful. I hoped the knife would become a tool that would serve him well wherever he went. “Thanks, Betty. I love you,” Elliot said as he looked at the knife. Aww! And then to cut the Hallmark moment, Theo piped in, “That’s a really pretty box [the knife came in].” Hahaha.

Elliot has now achieved Dad status, but in my heart he’ll always be Commander Green, one of the best chefs I’ve had the honor of working with. As of now, he’s totally chillaxin’ in Minnesota with his girl, Nancy (and both of them friend-requested me on facebook! Yay!), and hopefully when he comes back, I’ll get some moccasins. But even if I don’t, I’ll be really happy to see him again.

Good bye, dad!! We love you!!!

Lately You Live In The Jungle

I had my heart-to-heart with Elliot, but it wasn’t really anything because we’re not that close. And Elliot was surprised I didn’t know about his leaving. “I think you’re the last one to know.” Thanks ;_;

He says the new place will be called Reno. Um… not loving this name. At all. Maybe it should be spelled Rino instead.
It’s not like he’s going far away, just to Logan Square. But he’s going to be in the same restaurant group as Johnny Andere’s place, and if I later find out that Adam Walsh has jumped ship from Tavernita and is working in the same company, then I guess my dream was actually a prophecy.

That said, tonight I had a fine time on Station 3. Aside from the fact that I couldn’t find my regular knife all night and it bugged me for hours. I ended up using my Ohishi which I’d rather not use, especially since I dropped it a while ago and broke the tip off; the memory still pains me. Later around 11:45pm, I checked my phone and Katie sent me a text saying she’d put my knife away in my knife kit. Of all the places! >_< I haven't touched my knife kit in about a year. It doesn't have any knives (I keep them in my locker), so of course that would be the last place I'd look. But phew! I'm relieved the mystery is solved, since I'm fond of that knife. It's a hand-me-down Messermeister Usuba that has served me well on the line.

Tomorrow is the first day of the National Restaurant Association Convention. To others it might be the other NRA, but to me, it’s the first thing I think of when I hear “NRA show”. Marcus’s buddy and his dad came for dinner tonight, and I guess the father’s a chef who’s going to be at the convention tomorrow. Long story short, he’s in the industry, so before he left, he left the line cooks a $20 tip. Woohoo! Thank you, sir!

Speaking of appreciation, some diner sitting at 72 apparently loved his pasta so much, he had to express his thanks twice. The first time he asked Ryan to let me know how awesome his pasta was (woot! *fist pump!*) and then the second time, he actually came up to the window to let Elliot know. Elliot called me over and I got to meet this guy face to face. The praise was profuse and I wish I could remember exactly what he said but it was somewhere along the lines of incredible and the best pasta he’d ever had in his life. Yay! I always try to make food really tasty and you always hope that diners like it, but to get immediate feedback is always something that perks me up, especially if it’s positive. It reminds me of the time Josh showed me some credit card receipt slip where someone had scrawled “The fish was cooked perfectly!”. Aww, yay! Go, me!

And then you get the occasional negative downer which just saddens you. Mostly it comes in the form of some dish getting sent back with a mild complaint (“Too salty” or “too dry”) or when it comes to steak, it’ll be a little reheat because the diner thought the steak was too raw or something. It happens. But the only time a complaint has ever confused and saddened me was the Foie Incident which took place about 2 weeks ago. Some couple ordered a half-lobe of foie, which I cooked and sent out (after they impatiently asked “How much longer on the foie?”), but they sent it back saying they thought it “too raw”. Uh, whut? If anything, at the time, I’d thought I’d cooked it a smidge over, but Elliot examined it, called it perfect, and then after rolling his eyes, had me cook it some more. It hurt me to do such a thing, so after putting back in the oven, I had Elliot plate it because I had to go downstairs and get something.
But apparently even after Elliot sent it out, it got sent back with the “still too raw” complaint tacked on it; they didn’t want to eat it; we took it off their bill. WHAT?! I killed a precious piece of foie, only to have these bastards not pay for it?! We were all a bit annoyed to say the least. But damned if I wasn’t going to eat the leftovers. We divided it up and shared it away with the back of the house. I never eat off another diner’s plate, but foie gras is an exception. It was still tasty despite being overcooked ;_; *sob sob*

I open tomorrow.
I also asked Elliot to start training on 2. “Oh hoh! Come crawling back, I see!” he chortled. Grr…. Whatever. With Elliot leaving, I have to bite the bullet and learn how to work 2 under him because… I want to train under him. And he’s leaving soon, so better now then never.
Urgh… he hasn’t even left yet and I’m already missing him ;_;

So Close Yet So Far

I woke up this morning from a pretty disappointing dream where I discovered that John (who’s leaving us in May) had poached Elliot away from us, as well as Adam, who is currently in France. But in the dream, he’d LIED about going to France to secretly move over to John’s side. And they were going to work in John’s new place in DETROIT. And not only that, I’d found out Elliot’s focused awesomeness stemmed from an addiction to prodigious amounts of cocaine.
None of this is probably true but dreaming about it is a little disconcerting.

That said, worked the line last night and again, I feel roughed up. I’m improving (I kept up on dates; a small victory) yet I feel like I’m not. If it’s not date sauce, it’s chicken that’s holding me up. I’ll make the mustard greens salad but realize at the last minute I forgot red onion. And when I try to move fast, it’s like I’m not. Yesterday, after a trying episode of chicken orders, Katie made some comment about how it was a “boring” night so far, and I remember thinking, “Really? =__=;; Man, I must suck.” But it’s all in the small victories: my food looks great, it tastes great (according to Katie). My palate’s great (according to Koren). All I can do is keep plugging away, which has been my plan since day 1, so it’s not like anything’s going off-track.

In the burn department, I somehow got one awkward one on the side of my arm, which I rubbed the skin off when I was drying my hands after washing them.

Working the line again tonight (yay?) and I want to say a little prayer for the Kitchen Gods to smile down on me or something, but I’m just going to leave it for my abilities (or lack thereof) to take their course.

Until The Dust Settles This Week

Back on prep all this week.

Turns out it’s temporary, since Adam’s leaving soon. I’m trying to wrap my head around how I figure into this, but I’m not going to sweat it. Prep is fine. Relaxing in its own way. Reassuring to know that I can leave when I’m done (so that my silly wishes of getting cream puffs or gelato or a hotdog can actually come true).

The only (minor) annoyance is sometimes I feel treated like an actual kitchen slave.
Remember that scene in Disney’s Cinderella where the bells that summon her all ring at the same time and the house is filled with shrill cries of “Cinderellaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!” and they pile on all those crazy chores for her? Sometimes, I feel like that’s me, except avec doesn’t have bell pulls. It’s just various line cooks telling me, “[Can you] Make squid crackers.” “Make a batch of pasta dough.” “Marinate some kale.” “Have you done [insert task here] yet? We’re gonna need some today.” And it’s more often than not that there’s a time crunch: either we’ll be open for business in half an hour or there’s not much of said item to start and/or they ran out and no one said anything and they need it NOW.
Times like that, I feel like I’m taken for granted. It gets me down a little but it just makes me THAT much more awesome for busting it out all fast and whatnot. It brings me a little pleasure to know that I saved someone’s ass or picked up someone’s slack.

We had a stage yesterday. I had the day off so I don’t know who it was, but I saw on the schedule that he’ll be back again. Adam’s replacement? Hope not… >.>

In All My Wimpy Glory

I wanted to post Thursday night right after my first day on the line but when I got home, I was so tired it was all I could do to eat a little food and take two aspirin for my heat headache.
Friday was to be my second day learning the line, but it got really busy and I’d have been of no help. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with my first day!

Since all I’ve known for the past two years is prep work in the basement (I fondly call myself a kitchen slave), I was extremely nervous and felt really out of place. Even studying the menu the night before (and the morning of) didn’t seem to do me much good, as it felt like all the knowledge I’d tried to cram suddenly left me and I keenly felt my helplessness. It was pretty much the trend all night.

I wish I could give a blow-by-blow account of Thursday on Station 1, but I’ve got a really shoddy memory and who wants to hear me going, “and then I got an order of dates…and then there was chicken…and then I got an order of pork shoulder and a half order of dates…” blahblahblah boring. I’ll tell you my first order of the day though: burrata. The regular who ordered it wanted it without nuts, oil, and cheese. I remember thinking, “Uh… whut? How am I going to make this dish if there’s no main ingredient?” In retrospect, it was really simple, but at the time it was like some nightmare koan: what is a cheese dish that has no cheese? Luckily, Katie (who was on Station 2 that night) helped me out (the answer: some escarole and beets. Man, I’m stupid.) Without her and Adam (who was coaching me) I would’ve been utterly lost. I’m sure they’d say otherwise, but they’re nice like that.

In all honesty, I’d like to say I didn’t suck. But I sure wasn’t awesome. I was what I’d expected to be on my first day ever on the line. Taken into account that one time during a really busy rush when Adam stepped in for me, I managed to persevere the whole night until we closed. I was elated. Everyone said I’d done a good job and I’d killed it (encouragement helps even if part of me knew they were being generous). I was happy I’d stuck through til the end. My last order was two warmed loaves ^_^

The night seemed to go in a rush and I’ve got a memory like a seive, so here are some highlights/thoughts I do remember from that night (in no particular order)

  • When John (who was expo that night) told me it took me 26 minutes to put out some dates, I knew it was time for Adam to step in for a while *CRINGE*
  • Eduard came by with a glass of wine and wanted me to try it. It was a Syrah called Black Betty (haha, get it? Cos my name is Betty?) and it was really, really good. I’m not a big drinker and I haven’t really tasted wine since my school days during wine class (or was it called Beverage Management? O_o?) so all I remember thinking was “Ooh! This is good!” It was seemingly sweet, it was smooth. Katie wasn’t too fond of it, saying it was like “blueberry syrup”. My glass ended up getting shared away. I was a little sad.
  • During some lulls in service, I’d practice my moonwalk. I think I’m getting better!
  • Man, that oven is hot. This is a pointless statement, since it’s like saying, “Man, the sun sure is hot”, but when you’re struggling to grab a cast-iron cocotte from the back of the wood-burning oven with some flimsy-ass oversized tongs, it’s hard not to curse yourself for not having oven mitts for hands. Or wishing you could just wear an Ove Glove all night.

So there you have it for my first night. Granted, it was a Thursday night and we did 106 covers. It was a good first try for me, if I didn’t have it easy. Which brings me to Friday night…. I didn’t have it easy. In fact, I pretty much didn’t do any cooking at all.

On the commute to work, I was half excited/half dreading another day on the line. I could feel my stomach knotting up with worry on the bus cos I was scared. But on the train ride I just reviewed some more, mulled over things (what gets lemon juice, self reminders to try to be faster, drink more water which was a biggie since I forgot to the night before hence the raging heat headache) and felt a little better. I got into work, did a little prep, made some ravioli and around 5pm went upstairs to report to station 1….
And walked right into a busy service. So I just stood to the side and watched Adam whirling around like a dervish putting out orders, ran up and down the stairs carrying out requests to get more things, and basically dreading and anticipating my chance to get on the line. For a long while I didn’t get it. Tess (the hostess that night) came over to me and said (and I’m paraphrasing cos my memory sucks) “I wish I could have your job right now. It must be fun just standing and watching.”
Honestly, it was for a little while in the beginning. I am disgusted with myself to admit that yes, I was relieved at first that it looked like I wouldn’t get a chance to work on the line. Woohoo! Just standing on the sidelines and being a stage! But watching Adam, I got disappointed with myself. For thinking like that, for not being able to prove myself to myself, for just standing and watching like a wide-eyed dope.
So when Tess said that, I told her sincerely yes and no, it was “fun” cos I was scared so I was happy I didn’t have to face the line but I was also disappointed cos this isn’t what I really wanted. But if I jumped on the line now, I wouldn’t be able to keep up.
It felt like I was in limbo, unable to move forward, but not willing to turn back (i.e. clocking out and going home during the middle of service).

A lull came and Adam had to go to the bathroom so I was called into service (not that I was ecstatic over this, but I was game). Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember John saying the wave would come again, but at the time I didn’t hear it. (As I type this, I imagine myself as a little child playing on the beach oblivious to the tsunami that comes roaring up in slow motion.) At first it was an order of dates. And then more orders for me came trickling in. And by the time Adam came back and had been standing a little while encouraging me to keep going, I was getting more swamped, until Adam tagged me out. And then he did his dervish act again. Sigh. I couldn’t help feeling I sucked. I knew it wasn’t really me, being Friday dinner rush and all, but still. Part of it is still me. And all I can do is try again next week.
I tried to stay as long as I could but I ended up cutting out around 10:30 cos I was back to prep Saturday morning. That was the reason my mouth gave. But in my heart, I left because I didn’t think I could handle the line again that night; because I was a pathetic loser-wimp >_>;; Again, caught in between wanting to stick it out til the end, but my wimpy conscience telling me I needed to go home and get some sleep in order to get to work tomorrow morning. Urghhhh >_<

So there you have it.
I’ll have another chance next week. I’m not proud of myself, but I’m going to try not to shy away again. I think it’s probably better for me to ask for line time on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as opposed to trying to tackle a behemoth like Friday Night Service. And also, I should memorize that Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear from Dune:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Right. Good night then. Until next time.