Posts tagged ‘Armanzo’

Time Is Ticking

Armanzo’s last day is Saturday. Mine is a week after that. Urgh, I’m nervous and my heart is aching. I feel like I’ve come such a long way and now I’m leaving everything I’ve built up to another (younger) generation. (Of course, “younger” is hyperbolic since our newer line cooks are as old/older than me.)

I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with the blog as well as I should have, especially when I could’ve talked about work in relation to the end of my tenure at avec. I’m just really, really lazy >_< I humbly beg for forgiveness!

I worked on Station 3 tonight. Fred was on 2, and new girl Monica was on 1. Fred's coming into his own, but he's still got some stumbling blocks. Who doesn't? I'm not perfect either when I'm on 2, but I'm a lot more confident than I used to be. And I'm not as intimidated as I was when I was first thrown onto the station. THAT day will forever live on infamy in my heart. But I overcame it, and man, am I that much stronger for it.

Speaking of strong, station 3 doesn't even phase me anymore. I don't know if it's just my competence level or they way the tickets were running, but every time I'm on 3 now, I have really easy nights. (So easy, I don't even bother to write about them.) I can't believe I used to have trouble cooking hangar steaks to medium-rare or getting out cheese plates in a timely fashion. I can even easily converse with diners now (if I choose to do so). Working the station has been going so smoothly, I can even help out Station 2, when they're busy, by starting/finishing their fish dishes for them. I've found myself a lot of the time searing Armanzo's and Fred's merluza (aka hake) or flipping salmon and pulling beans off the heat. I know I help Armanzo, but I've definitely saved Fred some Station 2 grief. It's hard enough for a newbie to worry about rolling out (and not burning) focaccia without having to deal with extraneous fish dishes as well.

That said, tonight was a mellow, easy-paced night. Earlier today Fred brought in a quart of jasmine rice, which I cooked off and cooled. Later in the night, Fred and I tag-teamed to prep out ingredients for fried rice for comida/staff meal. It was fun. "Oh you know, it's just a couple of Asians making some fried rice," I joked. We made two kinds, pork and chicken, which turned out AWESOME. Server Giulietta said she doesn't like rice and she couldn't stop eating it. Sontra hardly ever partakes in comida and she actually grabbed a bowl. I'm gonna toot my own horn: it was good. Rice is king! A billion Asians can't be wrong!

I'm back on 2 tomorrow. Fun times. (Famous last words?)

Oh, I'd also like to mention that in the vein of leaving a legacy (to the younger avec generation), Fred (and to a lesser extent, Rachel) have picked up my habit of calling out the order of firing stuff "at leisure". I started saying it because I didn't want the line cooks to feel like they'd have to rush a dish the minute I told them to cook it, and also, it helped me keep courses paced out enough in a timely fashion without me having to eagle-eye ticket times. Hopefully they also carry on my Saturday night tradition of bringing in something/making comida as a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel as well as my bordering-on-OCD love of cutting parchment paper. It warms my heart that in some ways I'll still be around even when I'm gone.

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Excuses, Excuses… And The Presidential Debates

Will people get mad at me if I say I didn’t update the blog because I just didn’t feel like it? Sad but true. Even though I don’t really update all that much, it started to get a bit tiresome and tedious. And I felt like I had to step back for a hot minute after my boyfriend commented that I “complain alot” in my writing. Drat! Is it true? It probably is. When I’m at work and I think about things I’d like to say in entries, I mentally say things like, “Today was lame/Why are people still eating?/I WANNA GO HOOOOME” and the like. If that’s not complaining, I don’t know what is.

But you know what? Whatever. If I can’t write about my harsh rockstar life as a kitchen slave, then maybe I shouldn’t have started the blog in the first place. (Ironically, I intended to write with good intentions and realize now the downward spiral I’ve taken….)

ANYHOOT. Today was really mellow, thanks to the presidential debates. I’m curious as to what was said (and what could be turned into a meme) but mostly, I’m more focused on work now that my last day at avec is approaching. Everyone’s been asking me when my last day is (Nov. 1) and today Sylvester said he’d miss me. Awww! I didn’t know what to say. Even though I’ve worked there for (maybe?) almost 4 years, I feel as though it really hasn’t been that long. Have I really left an indelible mark? And in what way? And more importantly, where can I leave some secret graffiti that can be discovered years after I’m gone but still remembered?

I know I’m not in the top ranks of avec line cooks (Elliot’s definitely there though) but I’m definitely valued (and am probably hovering somewhere in the top middle tier). A couple of days ago, when I was working with Armanzo, I’d commented that he was working with his Asian crew (me and Fred) and he said, “I know. I made it that way. If I’m gonna write the schedules, I might as well work with the people I want.” Awww yay! It’s nice to know that someone likes working with me. And I kinda-sorta suspected already how favored I am because more often than not, I am scheduled off on Sundays, which is unofficially the worst day to work (though lately not as bad since we have newcomer/old pro Linda to help us open now). It’s nice to know someone’s looking out for me like that.

Speaking of Armanzo, his last day is fast approaching as well. He’d told me he was leaving months ago, but asked me not to talk about it. I think we all know now even if he hasn’t really said anything officially (like a sit-down meeting) but he’s mentioned his upcoming project (a salumi company) more than once so it’s not like he’s never talked about it.
Hostess Rebecca and Server Sontra have both mentioned farewell parties including karaoke, which touches me. I love karaoke! Whether this happens or not, it’s the thought that counts.

It’s getting late and I work on 2 tomorrow. I’m sorry I’ve posted such a lame return to blogging, but it’s the joy of the mundane that keeps me coming back.

Comings And Goings

Last week was the second year anniversary of the avec fire. I honestly didn’t remember (I thought it was the 10th) until later that night, we saw a tealight candle and a small bouquet of flowers in the corner by the alley. It put a somber mood to what also happened to be Liz’s last day.
It also happened to be a hideously long service for a Wednesday that night. So long, in fact, that I never got to break out the farewell ice-cream cake. We didn’t cut into it until long after we’d closed and only a handful of Blackbird staff had come over. And even then, they cut into the cake while I was outside. In my heart, I would’ve really liked to have sent Liz off like we did Elliot, with rousing farewells and toasts. Because I think of Liz as an essential member of the avec family and I wanted to wish her well and let her know she’s totally loved and will be missed.

That said, her replacement is Esther, formerly of Publican. Welcome to the family!

It’s been a while since I last posted. Apologies for that. For a while, it felt like most nights were somewhat smooth sailing whenever I worked a station. However, last night and tonight, for a while, I was sucking really badly. Yesterday I was on 3 and for maybe an hour during service, I was firing things too late or too early. I felt like an asshole, especially cos I fired a whole fish a course too early, with nowhere else to sell it. So that was a $30 loss. (Urgh T_T) Then I fired a foie too late, and had Armanzo quietly scolding me (“When I tell you to fire something, fire it. And now this person is going to wait 25 minutes for this foie”) and I felt even more like an asshole. but you know what? I can’t wallow in this sorrow, so I got over it, and the night ended up fine. Armanzo’s dad came in to eat and totally enjoyed the meal and everything was hunky-dory.

And then the next day, I worked on 2, and we got this early pop that saw me sucking very, very badly and left me lagging. Flatbread is my achilles heel right now and when there’s more than one on the board, I’m already pretty much screwed. I can’t seem to make those things any faster than I already am, while trying to call tickets and navigate orders. On top of that, I got set back even more when, while cutting into a focaccia, it ripped so irreparably that I had to throw it away and start anew. Draaaaaat! AND THEN! Armanzo was in the window and somehow a bunch of tickets got stabbed, so I had servers in the window asking for food on tickets I DIDN’T HAVE.

Normally stabbed tickets are an annoyance, but this time I decided to see it as a silver lining, because if some food is taking forever, it’s technically not my fault because I wasn’t even aware it existed. So, in some perverse way, it bought me some time. And time is what I really needed. Aside from another set of hands, and that wasn’t gonna happen. All in all, I did the best I could. What’s even weirder was that service evened out and I got back on track and was (self-proclaimed) awesome again, I looked at our covers and we only did 133, which was slower than the night before. Whatever, I’m over it.

Is it weird that even though Armanzo in the window was throwing a wrench in the service (and Sylvester, for about three steaks, could NOT seem to stop overcooking them), I totally appreciated his being there because I happened to be in my own little whirlpool of suckiness and wasn’t even capable of looking at the tickets? Well, I totally am grateful he was there, stabbed tickets and quiet scolding et al.

I open tomorrow. I work station 2 Friday and Saturday. May the kitchen gods smile upon me!

Oh, and last Saturday I brought in Velveeta skillet dinner kits (think Hamburger Helper, but cheesier) for Saturday Soul-Suck Survival, and it was epic. I used chorizo in place of ground beef and the whole thing turned out really rich in an over-the-top-delicious-but-my-arteries-are-paying-for-it kinda way (I also threw in sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and green beans in an attempt to tone down the richness, but it was like fighting a forest fire with a squirt gun). Would I buy it again? Hell yes, but I’d definitely make some changes. For one thing, if I’m going to use chorizo again, I’m sure as hell not going to dump in the whole bag of seasoning. That was intense. I’m also going to add more vegetables. Because life isn’t really worth living if there are no awesome vegetables.
(The week before that was amaretto cheesecake from JR Dessert Bakery. DELICIOUS.)

Fighting The Only Way I Know How

Another Saturday Soul-Suck come and gone. It was rough, but even more so because it’s Lollapalooza weekend. Times like these, I’m glad that the kitchen gods seem to smile in my favor because no matter how bad it felt today, it was much, much worse last night. And of course, Armanzo was working on Station 2.
According to him, not only did we do 247 covers (as opposed to last year’s 275; ew gross), they mostly came in huge parties, 6-tops, 10-tops, 12-tops–GROSS…..
Apparently chicken was selling like crazy (focaccia and flatbread a given), and to make it worse, Sylvester was NOT killing it that night. “I told him he needed to stop sucking,” Armanzo recounted to me the next day. And also, to make things even more interesting, a rocks-glass shattered on Armanzo’s station and glass was everywhere, resulting in him throwing out a lot of stuff.

Seriously?! This is the kind of stuff that chips away at your morale. And yet luckily, I’ve managed to come away from the station mostly unscathed. For example, tonight we only did about 210 covers, partly due to an early storm that was so severe Lollapalooza attendees had to evacuate the venue. If not for that, I’m sure we would’ve easily seen at least 40 more covers come in to eat. (Because when I’m at a large outdoor concert all hot and sweaty, the first thing I think of when I’m hungry is avec *eye roll*)
Instead, we got a pop and then stayed steady all night, with nearly no glitches. Service was steady and (atrociously) long, but so what? Since when is Saturday not a long soul-suck?

To combat this, I’ve decided that every Saturday I work up until my last day, I’m going to bring in something for the crew. A light at the end of the tunnel, if you will. Last week it was flavored ice freezer bars. The week before that was Japanese sports drinks and dumplings. This week was cheesecake and sparklers. YEAH! Saturday service makes me want to eat a gun, but having something to look forward to in the evening helps to restore a little bit of my (and my coworkers’) sanity.

Speaking of sanity, a 3-top at the bar came in just before the kitchen closed and dared to order foie. Even though we DID have foie, Liz told them we were out of it. Thanks Liz! Seriously, don’t think that ordering foie this late in the night will impress us. It’ll just piss us off. We don’t give a shit that you have the means to afford the foie. We’d actually like it if you didn’t come in that late to order food. They ended up ordering pork shoulder (just as bad), focaccia, flatbread, and a crostini. *eye roll*

On to next week!

Been Over It

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or just the fickle ways of the Kitchen Gods, but every time Armanzo works Station 2, he seems to be on the receiving end of a beating. Tonight flatbread was popping off, like for serious. It seemed as if every other ticket had flatbread on it, and more often than not it was as a first course. Meanwhile I’m on Station 3 twiddling my thumbs, feeling REALLY bad that I can’t help out in this kind of situation. The most I could really do was to cook off the occasional order of redfish or plate up some anchovy. Yeah… really helpful.

Armanzo said that he sold 24 flatbread. WTF?!?! It blows my mind on so many levels. How is it possible that he sold less focaccia? Why was the flatbread so popular tonight? Why is Armanzo constantly getting raped on Station 2? It didn’t help that earlier that night, Giulietta accidentally knocked over a pint of oil all over his station =_=;;;
All I can say is, I am SOOOOOO glad I wasn’t working that station tonight, or else you’d be reading a completely different blog entry. Probably full of cursing and maybe a lot of crying and recounting how I had another meltdown or something.

That said, I had a really good night on Station 3.

In other news, we have another addition to our avec family, albeit a part-time one. Her name is Linda, and she’s friends with Armanzo, having worked at the Publican and Perennial. She’s very sweet and she’s the owner of a beautiful Corian knife that makes me want to run out and buy more knives. She’ll be working with us for two days out of the week (don’t quote me on this), so yay for having another girl on the line!

Pain Is A Constant Reminder

I had a really easy service tonight on station 3. For some reason, whole fish was popping off and I sold out all 10 of mine. Ahh, I really love it when we have dourade! It’s such a well-behaved and beautifully-cooking fish. It’s not long and unwieldy like branzino, nor is it juicy and rebellious like red snapper (it’s also hideous-looking when it’s cooked).
I also only had a one and a half third-pans of pasta all day and I was looking forward to selling it out. Sadly it didn’t happen but by the end of the night I had a half-order left. I went through my third-pan of hangar and had two trout left when the kitchen closed. Man, I was popular tonight!

I’m looking forward to my day off tomorrow. With Katie and Elliot gone we’re a little more understaffed, and then Ruth took a 5-day staycation because her friend was in town visiting, so Armanzo and I really felt the burn. On Monday I was scheduled for noon, which hasn’t happened in a long time, but Armanzo came in at 10 for a couple of days. I was a little worried for him and his health because he’s tired and he’s also trying to move out of his apartment. Oh gahd, I still have to prepare for my own move; I left a note for Jorge & Co. to please save the boxes from our Werp Farms delivieries so I could use them for packing….

I need a six-month long massage. The right side of my neck feels tight and achy and the pain is starting to radiate down my upper arm. I finally broke down and applied some of those Salonpas medicated strips, which of course don’t really do much in the long term.
Also, I fell down a couple of days ago and there’s a big ugly bruise on my knee.

I want a vacation. I’m taking one, but not until mid-August, WHICH CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH. In the meantime, I’m really freakin’ looking forward to my day off tomorrow and Sunday.

Oh, Snap!: My Little Friend

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

We have a lost and found box full of random things, mostly people’s scarves (though once there were three pairs of reading glasses and someone’s physics notebook full of calculations). On Thursday I dug around in it because I’m curious and found what I assumed was the mitten part of some child’s lost glove mittens.

Since it was cute and weird (attributes of which I am quite partial), I started playing around with it, fitting it over my fist and saying “Say hello to my lil’ friend!” and pretending to punch people.

Since I can’t make food if my hand’s in a fist, I left the little guy on top of the knob of the slicer. It’s a slicer cozy! I hoped people would comment and notice but few did. Or if they did notice it, they didn’t say anything.

Today Koren saw it and she thought it was cute and hilarious. She even found a tiny baby carrot and stuck it in its mouth to make it look like it was eating a carrot/smoking(?). Yay! Love it when my boss is in on the fun. Without asking, Armanzo knew the cozy was my doing. “How’d you know?” I asked. He gave me a look that said “Really?” and I acknowledged that yep, I’m the sort of person who does this kind of stuff.

At the time I was listening to the Talking Heads so I named it Psycho Killer, but it looks like a little bear my brother had when he was a kid and so now its name is Larry (Psycho Killer).

Hi! I’m Larry! When I’m not being used as a slicer cozy, I pretend I’m a cute shrunken head! Whee!