Posts tagged ‘Dylan’

Your Chosen Fate

Elliot: You ready for tomorrow?
Me: (after a slight pause) I have no choice but to be.

I have to make this short cos I want to go to sleep, but I’m gonna say I had my ass handed to me on the line today.
Fell behind on dates (STUPID!) and Elliot helped me out of a jam. Like helped me big time. By cooking two pans of dates for me on his side of the oven, while I muddled through my other dishes.
I fell a little behind making chicken. John gave me some helpful pointers (no, really) which I’ve got to think about how to make work for me. I can make headway if I figure out tickets (which isn’t hard, but they keep telling me not to worry about tickets, so I keep secretly sneaking peeks). Some points I feel like I’m doing fine. Others not so much. Everyone keeps telling me I’ll get better yadda yadda yadda and they are being kind and supportive, but inside I know this. I’m just inexperienced, working it out, and trying to make station 1 my own.
I used to dread cooking pork shoulder, but today I actually found it pleasant. Sure, it’s a bitch to slide them over with the oversized tongs while I fire is going raging hot, but it’s a comforting dish that, for some reason, touched and calmed me today.

Also, I dropped a pan of chicken veg on the floor. Slightly mortified, but mostly disappointed that I’d have to cook more veg ASAP. I definitely got over it and moved on. Koren’s word from before flashed in my mind briefly.

I have no idea how many covers we did. I’ll find out tomorrow. But now that it’s over, I’m hungry for more. Is it a masochistic reaction? I have my goal. It reinforces itself over and over again each time I am reaching into the oven and my hand is almost burning, or I’m getting behind, and I’m so mentally frazzled I almost forgot Elliot’s name, how to say mustard greens, and calling John “ma’am” instead of “sir” (true events all from tonight). But I have to keep on keepin’ on, cos of two reason: because I have the goal and because other line cooks before me didn’t have anyone to bail them out when things got tough. Sure, Station 2 could help you out of a jam, like Elliot did for me today (for which I am super grateful), but it’s not like when you’re staging and it gets to be too much and the regular line cook jumps back into the fray for you and you step back and watch. It’s a little bit of hard truth and pride. I wouldn’t have stepped back unless Koren actually came over and made me get off. Weeds or no, I’ve got to figure my learning curve on my own.

It wasn’t until I was so busy I didn’t have time to think of anything else did I lose my nervous fear that had been plaguing me all morning. Going to work, starting my dates, getting all my little things together (aleppo pepper, a bain for my utensils, vinegar)–a nameless terror clutched at my heart and stomach. I feel foolish and a little sheepish now, but I know I’ll feel it again for a while until I am comfortable about what I’m doing on the line. But at the time it was awful. I felt like I could cry (not that I would) but the fear welled up in me because I didn’t know what to expect. Armanzo* talked with me a little and he comforted me a little but again, I couldn’t shake it off until I had nothing to think about but putting food out as fast and nicely as possible.

After work I listened to Katie and Elliot talking on the train. Katie has worked at Trotter’s and you can tell that the experience there has made her the kind of worker she is today. Fierce and ready, like a seasoned soldier. She apparently at some points would work 96 hour days!! O_O;; The love-hate I feel for her at times definitely took a step back today because I was in such awe at her ambitiousness. It makes all my feelings seem so petty and stupid. I don’t want to be her, I don’t want to be like her. I want to be capable in my own right so that we can work together. Right now I’m (to be humbly truthful) at the bottom of the totem pole. But I can either get better or get worse, and I’m sure as hell not getting worse. (At least, I don’t think so!)

No more reflections I can think of. I forgot Katie took the brown line too, so I couldn’t ask Elliot if he might leave us. Actually I was going to plead to him to NOT go if he was considering it, but that’s just a little dream right now. Dylan also helped me a little today after his opening. Not too much, if any at all, but his presence also gave me a bit of comfort.

If I sound frazzled and somewhat incoherent in my tone, it’s cos I’m trying to bust this out and go to bed. So good night.

*Armanzo is not his real name. He’s a line cook who opted not to have his real name used and chose this name because it sounded hilarious to him.

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Biting That Bullet

Got home an hour ago and was going to post, but I Really. Needed. A Bath. First. I didn’t look it, but I felt so grimy and gross and I wanted to wash my face so badly. I asked Katie about it today and she said the heat just takes getting used to, and that she broke out in the beginning too. “And you’ll get heat rashes too,” she warned. Ugahhhhh ;_;
For now, I’m just using some hydrating face wash my sister gave me as a birthday present. It’s some fancy shmancy Swiss brand that I just googled and the face wash alone costs $39. Man, I hope this stuff helps cos for that amount of money (even though I didn’t pay for it) it would be utterly tragic if it didn’t. Fingers crossed.

Spent more time on the line tonight with Dylan coaching me. It was really busy, it being Friday and all, so I was really, really, really grateful that he was around to tell me what to do. Okay, so I didn’t do much thinking on the line tonight. I was Dylan’s Date Bot and I’m not ashamed to admit it that I leaned HEAVILY on that crutch. Katie, sweet soul that she is, didn’t want me mindlessly following Dylan’s orders and to figure it on my own, even going so far as suggesting that I fly it solo tomorrow. But I put the kibosh on that. I feel like I barely made it through the night, even WITH Dylan’s coaching. Saturday on my own would just be throwing me under the bus. I told her nicely that I felt I would be too overwhelmed and that I would like to experience this week with help and attempt a solo gig next week. Erg…. =___=

Tonight was a little brutal for me. I felt like I was behind on everything. This might not be true (one of the food runners told me Katie fires off courses too fast) but even so, I felt like I was getting beat up. While on the line I had to constantly fight the urge to step down and ask Dylan to take over. I wanted to run away and go back down to the easy schedule of prep work, to just say, “Okay, I don’t think I can handle this right now, please save me.” But I just steeled my nerves and reminded myself that others before me have had to deal with the same situation. They couldn’t just coward out on a busy night–and neither would I stoop to that level. And besides, I have a personal goal to attain and it means staying put on the line. Still, it was a relief to have Dylan step in while I went to the bathroom. I washed my face, I retied my drooping bandanna head covering. I took a deep breath and looked at myself in the mirror. Then I headed back to the line, since there wasn’t any turning back.

Despite the rough edges, some highlights tonight were:
– Rebekah (one of our bar staff) requested the chicken dish, which I tried to make really nicely. She came back and told me I did a great job on it.
– Joking with Erik (Eric? I have to ask him next time), a food runner, during a lull. I showed him my joke dances: a super dorky shoulder bounce and a dance I call The Librarian. He cracked up so much. Hehe!
– Ex-Avec line cook (and current C-House sous chef) Dan Weiland, whom I felt a special kinship with since we sometimes hung out after work and chatted, came in to eat with some friends and it was such a pleasure to have him see me on the line since he always encouraged me to try my hand at it.
– Our hostess Liz and her boyfriend offered me a ride to the red line train station after we closed (cos the green and brown were closed), which saved me from taking a cab. Liz told me she liked the cereal milk ice cream I’d made. When I’ve got the time I’ll make her some, along with my other requested ice creams).

Right, and now it’s nearly 5AM (where did the time fly?!) and I’ve got to get up early for a mandatory staff meeting tomorrow at 11AM. Urgh…. goodnight.

All In The Same Boat

Fun night tonight, as I was on the line with Elliot (on 3), KO (training on 2), and Dylan to watch over me. Elliot’s one of my favorite line cooks (if not THE favorite) because he’s like my line cook role model. In my mind, he’s like a sharpshooter; one shot, one kill. He’s fast, he’s efficient, he’s affable, he’s smart. He’s the first person I’d ever seen make his own couscous and mascarpone cheese from scratch. If I didn’t think of him as a cool older brother(-in-arms), I’d probably have a crush on him. Hrmm. Too much information? Don’t worry, I don’t.
KO is the newest addition to our Avec family, but he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite people to work with (this is from a prep cook perspective because usually I work closely with them when they work as openers, as opposed to lately on the line). He has a hearty laugh. Not that that contributes to line cook prowess, but you can’t dislike a person with such a good natured laugh.
Dylan is like a brother to me too, but one where our ages are so close together, we should practically be twins. He was hired around the same time I was and worked prep on the days I had off. For the longest time I’d never seen him, so I had no idea who he was. I even nicknamed him “The Me Who Isn’t Me Because I’m Better” after our prep cook duties and because I thought I was a better prep cook. But unlike me, he started to learn the line early on and is now a proficient line cook on station 1, whereas I’m JUST starting to try out my wings. So who’s better now?

Tonight was busy for a Wednesday, especially since it seemed to start early in the evening. It tapered off by 10:30, but for a good while I was on the sidelines watching and I was slightly dismayed that this would be a repeat of Friday night. During a lull, Dylan asked me if I was ready to take over. “Nope,” I said. “I’ll take that as a yes,” he retorted, and stepped aside to let me get by.
There weren’t any tickets on the board yet so I put some parcooked dates on their warming plate and dropped my next to last one so it left a greasy orange stain down my apron. D’oh! Elliot saw it and gave me a friendly smirk: “I didn’t see that,” he said.
As things started to pick up and more orders came my way, I started to get a little overwhelmed. I hung in there until I was just about to fire a pork shoulder that was simmering on the side of the oven and it slipped out of my grasp and fell on the floor. Ugah!!! I was mortified but Dylan just wiped up the mess (while I got together a replacement shoulder) and took it in stride. “Were you hurt?” he asked. When I said no, he said, “Then that’s all that matters.” Times like this, I’m really grateful to Dylan. He makes it seem like we have all the time in the world, even when we’re working as quickly as we can. I like it when he’s coaching me because I feel like I pick up and absorb more information when he’s talking.
Of course, despite my diligence, I was starting to get behind and reached a low point when I’d forgotten to put on a pan of dates and ran out of cooked ones just as I’d gotten 3 orders of dates on the ticket board =___= This was pretty bad. If there’s one thing to know about Station 1, it’s that you pretty much have to be a Date Machine. If Avec is known for any one dish, it’s the dates. McDonald’s has the Big Mac. School cafeterias have Mystery Meat. Avec has Bacon-Wrapped Chorizo-Stuffed Dates. And I dropped the ball and was getting backed up. Dylan stepped in and helped me out the that jam. And then I went back on the line until we closed. Huzzah! Made it to the end.

I really have to stop sweating the small stuff. When I dropped the pork shoulder, in my mind, the world stopped. And when we ran out of rolls, Dylan just went downstairs to get some baguettes. He really puts things in perspective. Koren gave me an encouraging follow-up: “Everybody drops stuff. Just move on.” Yes, Chef!

After work, just before we left for the train station, we stayed for a bit and the guys had a cocktail and I had water. (It’s always a great laugh when I ask for a Shirley Temple, even though I’m half-serious.) I chatted with the food runner, Marcus. One of the servers, Sontra, hugged me for hanging in there and made sure I was coming to her bday party. This is what I’ve wanted! To feel included and be one of the gang. Yes!
When we got to the train station, my happy euphoria wore off a little when Dylan and Elliot started talking about more serious matters. I couldn’t tell if it was just pipe dreams, but they talked about moving to one of the tourist towns in Mexico and opening a food joint, which then turned into lament over our crappy wages and how it’s getting harder to live off it. Apparently front of the house staff makes at least 3 times more than the cooks do. It made me sad, even though I like what I do, working with food for a living. At some point they turned to me and told me I should consider working in a hotel. “Huh? But I can’t go anywhere yet when I don’t even have any line experience.” I didn’t want to work in prep forever, not knowing what life was like on the other side. Elliot said that in some ways prep work was more important than line work. Anyone can work a line, but prep takes skill. Dylan said that with my prep skills, I could kill it in GM (my brain was saying “General Manager?” but I knew he meant garde manger).
It’s something to think about. Hotel restaurants like NoMi pay better wages and they offer benefits and lots of perks. But despite all this, I still love where I work. As long as I can still work with Elliot, Dylan, Jorge, and Koren, I’m happy and mostly contented. Is that naive?

One thing’s for sure. Just before I got off the train at my stop, Dylan let me know that I was getting a lot better. Phew!
If I can have more times like these: pushing out food, winding down with the guys and drinks, a semi-serious discussion with people I respect, then I look forward to tomorrow.