Posts tagged ‘Jorge’

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.

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Monday Opener

It was a bit of a surprise when I saw that I was scheduled to open on Monday since KO has been the Monday opener lately (and I’m usually on Station 3). That was cool though; I had the next day off. Yay!

The point of openers is to get prep (especially major prep) done for the day’s service. After setting up the line, my next order of operations was to start cooking anything that needed cooking. I was at a bit of a loss for a little while though, because I’d checked the prep list the night before and a lot of stuff was crossed off. I’m so hardwired on cooking major prep items first that when there aren’t really any around, I’m thrown out of sync.

In retrospect I could’ve gotten ahead on certain things, like spiced carrots (for the shoulder) or making the Amatriciana sauce, but I was too busy having my head up my ass at the time to remember them. And later on when they did come to mind, a little bit of laziness in the form of, “Eh, they have enough to last for the night. It can be made tomorrow” came into play >_< I shouldn't think like this from now on ._.

One of the big ticket items I did make that day was the pasta. We've changed the pappardelle back to chitarra. My prep cook's heart is a little saddened at this change because I love making pappardelle (I'll have to have a photo entry to that sometime soon) but as a line cook, I'm happier because it was a bit of a pain to cook. In the past there was a pot of water to cook the pappardelle to order, which I'm sure was SO fun :/ And then we started par-cooking the pasta sheets but even after oiling them they stuck together. So the chitarra is really better, prep-wise and presentation-wise. After rolling sheets, you just run them through the cutter attachment. And on the pick-up, there's less of a worry of overcooking the pasta and having it fall apart on you when you're plating it out.
Anyway, I rolled and cooked all the pasta. There were two fish tubs worth, so hopefully I saved Tuesday's opener some hassle.

Speaking of pappardelle, since it was no longer on the menu, the remaining bit was consigned to the comida corner. And when I open, I try to make sure I feed Jorge, our butcher (and my best friend at avec haha), and Manuel, our day-cleaner/dishwasher. These two are definitely among avec's hardest working staff and I want to see them taken care of. When I was a kitchen slave prep cook and worked under an opener, I really appreciated it when I was fed because avec doesn’t do staff meals. On top of that, Jorge comes in to work at 4am and Manny’s in at 9am, and aside from coffee, it’s not like they can make their own food. Lunch break? Yeah right. So I’ve made it one of my priorities to make sure to feed them because I remember what it’s like to not be fed and be hungry for hours. And the sting of indignation of being hungry and then seeing a certain opener eating something he made for himself.

Anyway, I cooked off the leftover pappardelle in a tomato cream sauce with kale/spinach, chopped up chorizo (from some leftover dates), and a small handful of the menu’s “ravioli filling” (pork neck meat with grated pecorino).

Katie (who was on 1 that night) came in early and had some, saying it was good. Yay! Jorge liked it. He had two helpings. Double yay!

As opener, I also made the daily antipasto that day. Other line cooks probably don’t think much of it, but I thought it was another big step in my line cook life, having made up an antipasto of my own. The last time I opened and had to make an antipasto, I copped out and remade some more of the antipasto from the night before, which was marinated kale with roasted beets. Freakin’ delicious and definitely sells, but a cop-out nonetheless. This time, the previous night’s antipasto was farro, white aspargus, roasted broccoli, and pomegranate seeds. Delicious and all, but I knew that it was a remade batch from Saturday and I was NOT going to sell the same kind of antipasto for the fourth day in a row.


Tada! It’s red quinoa with shaved fennel, roasted butternut squash and carrots, parsley, with sherry vinaigrette. I hope no one hated it, and I hope at least a good amount of it sold. (You can never tell with certain antipasti.)

Anyway, that was my opener. Who knows when the next one will be, but hopefully it will be relatively stress-free and I’ll make more awesome comida!

Oh yeah, I also wanted to report that on Saturday my Wusthof knife came back! How it happened, no one knows, but Elliot found it in his box. Yay! Ironically, when I went to make pasta, my cheap Edward Don knife that I use for pasta production went missing :/

Here I Go Again

Came into work today and the schedule was up: I’m training the next four days in this week! O_O;;;
First thought: Holy crap! Four days!
Second thought: Holy crap! Friday AND Saturday?!
Third thought: Let’s just eat a paczki and worry about this later.

Today being Fat Tuesday, I finally managed to buy some paczki, that rich and delicious Polish doughnut (okay, we’ll be proper and call it a fried pastry), after forgetting/missing Paczki Day/Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday for years since the first time I’d heard of them from an ex. I almost debated not sharing them, but then I remembered that Jorge loves doughnuts. And I love Jorge. So I bought some. (FYI, Jorge is our butcher and Master of the Chorizo-Stuffed-Dates. He’s also my best friend in the kitchen.)

Not much to say except that tomorrow should be fun! *cringe*
Once I’m more comfortable doing what I’ll be doing, the confidence will come, but for now… uneasiness is all I feel.

Pertaining to today’s prep:
Whoever washed those mixed greens yesterday, YOU SUCK. If this was Mixed Greens 101, you’d fail. And then the person who brings this to my attention, whether it be Koren or John, probably thinks it was me since I usually wash the greens. Well, I didn’t wash them this time. And I’m peeved because no customer should have to eat gritty greens, because they should’ve been properly washed in the first place.

I hate it when easy, basic tasks like this can’t even be done properly because of inattention or general laziness. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

Until next time! I mean, tomorrow!