Posts tagged ‘focaccia’

Oh, Snap!: Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting

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

Saturday service is long and brutal but who cares when your awesome manager (Liz) comes in with bags of candy for the troops? ZOMG Starburst! Airheads! Sour Patch Kids! I don’t even really like peanut butter but those Peanut Butter Snickers were the bizniz. Awww yeah… sugar rush all night.

Sylvester came in to eat with his girl and besides ordering a whole fish (which was delicious, I might add, toot toot) he had a focaccia and since line cooks MUST have a sense of humor (it sez so here) Ruth made this:

It’s at an awkward angle, but donger focaccia with cheese jizz is awesome. I totally encouraged it, and I’m glad Ruth had the same thought when I suggested about the “garnish”.

Mwahahaha I love my job.

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Testing The Faith

“In all the nine years that I’ve worked here, she’s the only one I feel sorry for.” -Mikie

 
[This entry about Wednesday service was written Thursday night and published Friday morning.]

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Last night was a fucking shitty night. One of the shittiest services of my life. I probably had a meltdown and everyone could see it. Remember how Tuesday night was a “turning-point”? Well, apparently it was just a foreshadower of Wednesday, which was a fucking hell-fueled, hate-filled onslaught that didn’t let up.

There’s no question of what happened. It’s what always happens. It starts out quiet and then the pace quickens. Except the dinner rush was way too fast for me to keep up. It was focaccia-flatbread city hell. In the span of about five to ten minutes, I already had 7 focaccias on the board. Opener Sylvester didn’t make the focaccia dough until after 4pm. And he’d never made the dough before. Of course the dough would be tight as fuck. And just my luck that he didn’t let the dough proof enough before he wrapped them up and put them in the walk-in. To complicate matters slightly more, Tuesday’s opener Fred made the flatbread dough and I knew Tuesday night it looked tight (even though Koren said it’d be okay by the next day), and guess what? It was deep into Wednesday night and after using up my initial good tray (a batch of Fred’s that Koren super-proofed), I dug into the slow-proofed ones and they decided they weren’t going to be my friends. As I was struggling with all these doughs and trying to sell them as fast I could, more tickets were still pouring out the ticket machine. I was still trying to delegate course firings while trying to find time in between to make all those other dishes I’m responsible for. Everytime Ruth (who was on 3) set down tickets, I inwardly cringed. Everytime I read the tickets and they were full of my dishes, my heart wilted a little more. Every ticket set me back further and further. My spirit flagged, but I forced myself to keep plugging away.

I was getting scared because I couldn’t keep up, because I wasn’t prepared for this, because no matter how fast I was moving it wasn’t making a lick of difference. I was bombarded with tickets there was no use protesting against, only adding to my growing panic. Terrified out of my mind, but with no outlet to release it to, the only way I could deal was to get frustrated and angry. When Server Mikie came up to the window and apologetically asked me if I could agree to take on a ticket for some newly seated diners WHO HAD TO BE OUT IN 30 MINUTES, I almost wailed in despair; they mostly wanted dishes off of my station. I practically begged her to try to course from the other two stations. But these people apparently didn’t eat meat so station 1 was out, and 3 had just gone through a couple of menu changes, switching out its two most popular seafood items for beef. With angry resignation at myself, I bit out, “Fine. I’ll do my fucking damnedest.” And I sent out that shit as fast as I could to get them out of my fucking sight.

Ticket after ticket after ticket…. I tried to make more than just ONE focaccia at a time, but the dough was so. fucking. tight. As soon as I finished rolling one, the one in the oven was ready for slicing open. When I tried to work the flatbread dough, it was so tight, it would stretch a bit and then tear (my only recourse was to let them sit a bit to temper and stretch them gently… imagine what it did to my patience). Koren told me I was 25 minutes behind on focaccia and they had all been inconsistent. (Even when I told her the dough was being difficult, it sounded like a lame cop-out to my ears.) I wanted to curse out Sylvester and Fred and then rip out their throats, but in my heart I knew it wasn’t their fault and every station 2 line cook before me has had to deal with shitty-ass dough. (I wondered if I was the first line cook who had to work with TWO shitty-ass doughs.) A residual cough leftover from my spring flu was acting up again and now that I was so stressed, I couldn’t stop coughing every couple of minutes. I was mortified to look so unprofessional. I tamped down the urge to cry. My mouth was parched. I’d been trying to work so hard, I didn’t even stop to drink water. When I did take the opportunity to take a couple of sips, I felt like I was brazenly stopping for an undeserved break.

When Mikie came to the window to ask how things were going, in a moment of weakness (which is kinda hysterical given how pathetic a sight I was already), I blubbered in a quivering voice how I was in hell and all I wanted to do was burst into tears on the line and how I couldn’t. I was in the middle of selling a focaccia and as I pulled the peel away, half the focaccia fell off the board. WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK?!?!?!?!?! And I still had like three more focaccia to make!!!! I had no time to waste!!! You could practically see my heart breaking. I shakily apologized and said I’d make another. Luckily Mikie insisted it could be put back together, and with Elliot’s help, the situation was righted. I breathed a sigh of relief and moved on to work more dough. The assault continued.

Though I struggled a great deal, I would’ve been even deeper in the weeds if not for Ruth. When I had that initial 7-focaccia pickup, she flattened down all my doughs for me. When she wasn’t busy, she helped me fire mackerel, made the anchovy flatbread, she plated a couple dishes for me too. Once when I was in the middle of rolling a focaccia but had to pause to pull out a cooked one to slice it open, she wordlessly and generously finished my rolling for me. I asked Elliot for some occasional assistance as well, plating a burrata and maybe a salad.

By the time things started slowing down, I was bone-tired and soul-weary. I hadn’t drunk enough water and was starting to develop a heat migraine. I knew I’d been terrible on the line, but I wanted some constructive criticism, so I asked Elliot, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad was I?” which got me the tepid wishy-washy response of “You’ll get better.” What, he couldn’t be honest with me? I just wanted to know how I did. I said as much, and I guess I was starting to fray at the seams and he didn’t like my indignant tone because he started to lecture me on my emotions; how I’d been angry all night (“Yes, I was infuriated!”) and throwing things around (“I was throwing things?!”) and how everyone could see me: “You have to be a leader. You have to keep it together or else the other stations will break down.”
What little fight I had left in me died and was replaced with acute disappointment. He was not wrong, but he did not help my situation. Did he even understand it? As I tidied up my station, I fought back tears and just let the waves of sadness wash over me. The service had rubbed my spirit raw, but his words had hurt me the most. I wasn’t going to cry, I told myself, I’d wait til I arrived home.

Dan Weiland came in sometime later with a junior coworker of his to eat at the chef’s table. I was happy to see him, but I wish he hadn’t come in that night. I didn’t want him to see how much service had gotten to me so I plastered a smile on my face. Elliot’s criticism had subdued me so I didn’t talk much. A couple more tickets came in, one of them for chef’s table: burrata, mackerel, and a half-focaccia. I inwardly groaned. Thankfully, that was all he’d order off my station; Dan later ordered a whitefish, a half brandade and a squid. After dinner, he bought us all a shot. He was amused I opted for tequila. I downed it but later it worsened my headache. I talked very little, pushed out food when I had to, delegated when necessary, and waited for the night to finally be over.

As service wound down, a ticket came in for a half prosciutto for someone at the bar. I made it and it was taken away. A couple minutes later another ticket came for half prosciutto, which I also sold away. A second later, barback Ryan came back saying the diner already had one, and though I was disappointed at the waste of slicing the meat and making a salad that could not be saved, I chalked it up to Mikie mistakenly ringing up two tickets, because it seemed like a little mistake she’d make. I removed the salad and put the plate of prosciutto in my lowboy.

What kills me is that twenty minutes later, server Christine called over asking about the prosciutto. I realized then that the two tickets WERE separate orders (I was stupid not to read the ticket numbers but I believed Ryan’s words). Stung by the unfairness of all the factors that had been against me all night, I started to weakly protest I’d made one…but I stopped myself. What was the use? Some diner had been waiting twenty minutes for one measly plate of prosciutto, and all the while I’d been chatting or cleaning my station. He probably wondered what was wrong with me. After hearing Christine call me out, Ryan immediately rushed over to profusely apologize. That was when I almost lost it. I started to shake like I was going to break down and cry, but somehow found the strength to tamp it down and briskly say, “No, don’t worry about it, it’s not your fault.” As soon as I sold the plate, I went to the bathroom to hide my hurt. Just cry at home, I told myself, do NOT fucking cry here. The thought steadied me.

Midnight finally rolled around and I volunteered to go downstairs and set up shoulder. I just didn’t want to be upstairs any longer. Koren was getting ready to go home. She didn’t say much to me except, “good job tonight” which was a lie so off-white it was practically brown. I just said thanks and bid her goodnight. I thought about how no one had really said much to me all night.

Elliot had biked to work so I took the train by myself. I was relieved and a little disappointed. It was for the best though, my headache was killing me and I didn’t feel like talking.

When I finally got home an hour later, I heated up a little brown rice in the microwave while I cooked an egg. I hadn’t eaten all night, and I hate taking medicine on an empty stomach. Watching the egg, I started recalling all the night’s bullshit that had descended upon me. I cooked the egg while tears streamed down my face, and ate my sad dinner as I quietly sobbed.

Thankfully this story has a slightly happy ending. Around 3AM I got a text from Ruth with really kind words and advice that made me feel better. She’d experienced 2 herself a couple of weeks ago and every nice thing she said (“Good job tonight! The wheels did not fall off the bus! You shall prevail! Just wait until you have Armanzo stabbing tickets in the window, ha!”) was like soothing balm to my soul. I never saw how many covers we did that night but chances are, it was probably a normal Wednesday number, and it was only I who had struggled alone. A more seasoned line cook like Elliot probably would’ve handled tonight with more aplomb and grace, but it’s like he’s so experienced now, so far removed from the line cook’s initial apprehensions to unfamiliar territory, that when he’d said “You’ll get better” earlier that night, it sounded perfunctory and hollow. He’d had no empathy, which was all I really wanted.

Well, I’m on 3 the rest of this week, but I’ll probably see time on 2 the first three days of next week. Like I said in a facebook post I’d made, “…It’s okay. I’ll keep taking it until I get better, or I vomit blood. It’s looking 50-50 right now.”

All I Want To Do Is Bond

I had a turning-point moment today during my time on Station 2. We went from being relatively quiet to suddenly all these people sitting down and ordering all at the same time. And they mostly wanted stuff from my station and Katie’s. It was all I could do to not scream, “Help! I’m being raped!”
I’m sure a more seasoned pro would have thought nothing of the stream of tickets. But so far I’ve been used to nothing but steady/leisurely services so tonight wasn’t something I’d encountered before. And I got scared. Luckily, Koren was in the window to guide me out of the haze. At the time, though, I thought I was in hell. Later I joked with busser Diego, “I thought I was being punished for all the bad things I’ve done in my life.”
I made it though! Koren was proud of me, though she chided me for my self-deprecating attitude. I’ve also learned it’s okay to throw jobs at people when you’re in the weeds and they’ve got nothing to do. Though at the time my brain was a little too fried to realize this. Sylvester did help me cook off some mackerel, so thank you!

Also of note, I think I sold a record low of 13 focaccia tonight. Yeah!… Waitaminnit…

After work Katie and I headed to Ian’s (even though they call themselves Dimo’s I can’t do it yet) for bonding over pizza. Yay!


Katie says she’ll be seeing some Station 3 training soon. Woot!

What was especially nice about this bonding time was that it was right on the heels of bonding time from the night before. Elliot had worked 3 with Theo, Katie worked 1. And after work we sat around with Liz, who barbacked that night, and talked while drinking rosé.

Yep, that’s Elliot drinking rosé out of a pint container. Like a boss.

Sadly, Elliot’s decided to move his last day up (I’m still kind of upset about it) so Monday night was essentially Katie’s last night working with Elliot. So I coerced him into hanging out with us for a little while. And Elliot’s so nice, he agreed (though for a second I was worried he’d just bike home and not say anything >_>;;). Theo tagged along with us. We decided on breakfast at a diner in his neighborhood called the Golden Apple.


I loved bonding! I can’t say much for the food though. While my pancakes were fine, my eggs and sausage were kind of sad. Elliot had a Reuben sandwich: “On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this a 2.” Theo had a gyro omelette… I don’t even want to know whether any good came of that. Katie had a combo breakfast plate and maybe she got the best of the bunch?

Siiiiiigh, will I never have awesome bonding time like this ever again?

Oh, Snap!: How Long Has This Been Going On~

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

I opened today. It was TOO. FREAKING. LONG.
I worked just about 13 hours I think. What the–?! But I think I managed to cover a lot of prep so that tomorrow wouldn’t be so bad… I hope. Fingers crossed.

I probably would’ve gotten out even later if not for the Knucklehead Brothers (and I mean this affectionately), Richard and Theo. I’ve actually become quite fond of them. Richard is eager to learn and always asks questions, and Theo’s going to be our intern in about a week, so he has no choice but to learn. They helped me out a good deal, and hopefully I gave them good advice and guidance about prepping. Richard rolled pasta today on his own (yay!) and I gave Theo a little tutorial about focaccia doughmaking. Let’s see how much information they’ve retained the next time I ask them to do these tasks….

I got home about an hour ago. I work tomorrow. So it’s off to shower and (hopefully) bed.

I leave you with this picture of what happens when you let me straighten up the walk-in. I just might color coordinate. Haha!

From left to right, we have: piquillo sauce, grapefruit segments, sliced orange on top of sliced persimmons, pickled onions, pistachio puree, eggplant-tahini puree, sunchoke puree, and lemon mascarpone. Mwahaha!