Posts tagged ‘KO’

We Got Your Back

Lucky thing I happened to wake up “early” today (noon is early as far as I’m concerned) because I didn’t hear my phone when it received a text from Elliot to come into work at 2 (I was scheduled to work at 4).

My stomach had recently been in knots over what to do/say about my long-distance boyfriend coming to visit and how I wanted to take time off but not sure how to broach it in light of Armanzo’s situation. I bit the bullet and just asked for a couple of days off and then some openers. Elliot was very nice about it and it looks like things might work out for me.

Except as I say this, I know I’m being kind of selfish and Elliot’s just above-and-beyond awesome because then I found out that KO has a situation of his own: apparently one of his kidneys isn’t draining properly and has to be removed. So, unless someone corrects me, I think KO’s done for the season.

Thinking about the obstacles the restaurant has to surmount (two line cooks down, last night the basement kitchen flooded), my personal problems are just piddly shit.
I’m sorry my timing is so terrible, but I also want to spend some time with the boyfriend for a couple of days >_<

The Young And Ignored

So many things have happened and I haven’t mentioned them. Where do I start?

The most recent to date (and still freshest in my mind) is that a couple days ago, we had a major work related accident: Armanzo had to be taken to the ER after his boning knife went into this thigh. I didn’t see the video footage (unlike server Josh who’s watched it about 10 times and even recorded the footage onto his phone) but the basic points go thusly:

  • It was sometime after 9:30pm.
  • He was butchering lamb meat.
  • He had his knife in his hand.
  • He bumped his knife into his leg.
  • (His knives are known for being sharp as fuck.)
  • There was a lot of blood lost.

Last I heard, he’d just been released from the hospital after an extended stay because the bleeding wouldn’t stop/risk of infection. Speculation that he’ll be away from work for at least 10 days. People have already brought out the “Thanks for ruining the pizza party” and the “He went big and then went home” jokes. As for me, I hope Armanzo recuperates quickly. It sucks when people you know are in pain/discomfort and you can’t do anything about it. That said, goodbye pizza party ;_; I think we’re at 4 days accident-free now….

Next in news is slightly older (I’ve know about this for about a week and a half now), but no less significant: KO will be leaving us in May to be Gilt Bar’s sous chef. I suppose it’s not surprising to me, since KO has gone as far as he can go at Avec; he’s already a frequent Station 2 player and the Avec sous chef position is already filled.
I admit that while I’m happy for him (he’s pursuing his best interests and can recognize when they can be provided elsewhere), I’m more relieved for myself. I respect and admire all my kitchen brothers, but he was never my favorite and I can feel myself always putting up a wall of cordiality in order to get through the day when we work together.


  • Server Christine is going to have a girl, everyone is surprised/delighted, having been swept up in the belief that she and her husband, Builder Dan were going to have a boy. I’m indifferent since I’m not into babies/children anyway. I am intrigued at the thought of an Avec baby, though.
  • Next week’s schedule has intern Theo training on 1 and me training on 2. Good for Theo, Oh Lawd for me….
  • Katie’s down to working 2 days a week and new hire Fred seems to be acclimating well on Station 1. I sense he’s still feeling his way around kitchen dynamics but we’re all like that in the beginning (I was, at least).


 My local animal shelter, Red Door Animal Shelter is having their annual Spring raffle (where the proceeds benefit the animals, natch) and again I’m selling raffle tickets for a dollar each. Through the kindness and generosity of my coworkers, I’ve already raised over $100. I’m hoping to be able to raise $300 but I’m too timid to ask people for money, and I’m not too familiar with our sister restaurants to go asking for donations. I’ll try to make a poster for them though. Knowing Large has got to help for something maybe. I’ll definitely try to shake ask Blackbird though. C’mon big sister, you’re not next door just to look pretty.
And hey, any readers out there? (*echoes*) If you know me and want to buy tickets, come up and let me know. Or, if you’re someone I don’t know and but want to donate to this very good cause, you can go to Red Door’s website and buy tickets online, and they’ll fill them out for you. This will probably be my last year doing this, since I’ll be moving to another state next year, unless Red Door has no problems with my selling tickets in another state…. I better ask them about that 🙂

That’s all for now, folks. The next time I write, I’ll probably be reeling from the nightmare that is Station 2 training. Or maybe I won’t be writing BECAUSE I’ll still be reeling from the nightmare. Who knows?

Treating Us Good

I have to make this short because I’m sick and I have to sleep, like NOW, but I just wanted to write a quick post about work.

I’ve been nursing a weird, mutated monster head cold since Thursday and today I wanted to call in and see if KO could cover my shift, y’know, since I covered his when he was sick. But apparently he had family in town and it was a no-go. I pretty much sucked it up and went to work, despite my feeling like crap.
This is one of the rare instances when I feel like I hate my job, when I’m nothing more than a skilled laborer, with seemingly no benefits of any kind. How sucky is that? Maybe a lesser (or smarter?) person would’ve just called in, but like I said, I just had some head cold. If I had the flu, I definitely would’ve called in. But in this instance, I had some weird sense of responsibility to my coworkers since I couldn’t find myself a replacement.

Needless to say, I came into work feeling quite down. And I couldn’t even ask Ruth (who was opening) to work a double because she was getting sick too. Goddamn it!!!!!!! Everything was pissing me off because I just wanted to go home. (I stayed professional and just kept it in. I ain’t no whiny-ass brat.)

I should be grateful for some things, though:
– I was on station 1. If I’d had to work station 3 sick (which I’ve done before), I’d probably would’ve had a little inner breakdown.
– No one ordered chicken until 10pm or so. Because dealing with chicken during dinner rush is an effing bitch.
– Elliot and Armanzo would ask me how I was doing, which to some degree means they care about me.

Okay, okay, they probably do care about me, or else they wouldn’t have sent me home around 12:30am when things definitely died down and stage Theo (yep, he was back… as well as stage Richard, but I didn’t deal with him much) said he could handle the rest. Thank you guys! You are great. Even though I had to work for 8 hours with a leaky nose and sneezing like a fiend, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. They told me to take a cab (which I did) and now, a hot bath and two head cold tablets later, I’m heading off to bed.

Because I have to work tomorrow. And I don’t want to be sicker than I already am.

My Guiding Hand

Tonight was a pretty mellow night for a Saturday. It never got too busy and it wasn’t too slow. It was just as well, because I played big sister tonight with stage Theo on station 1.

Theo’s a stage who’s come in a couple of times. I don’t know exactly if he’s looking for employment from us, but he definitely doesn’t mind coming in and helping out and learning stuff from us. It’s also nice having a stage who comes back because then I don’t feel like all the line advice I give when I do babysit a stage goes to waste because they never come back again.
Lately whenever Theo would come in, he’d have the incredible bad luck to share his stage with someone else, so when the time would come for someone who hang out upstairs on the line, he’d always have to opt out because he’d been with us before while the other stage hadn’t. And I would feel a little bad for him because, like I said, I’d rather share my line-knowledge with someone who’ll come back, rather than give all this seemingly pointless information to someone who won’t be returning.

I guess the stars were all aligned because Theo was our only stage today and I was on station 1. So around 9:30, when the pacing was mellow, I asked Elliot (2) for the okay to let Theo have some line time.
It was a little rough in the beginning. He was left-handed (which I’d forgotten), so some of the advice I gave didn’t really apply to him. He was flustered and a little nervous once more orders came in, so he lagged a little on certain dishes, forgot to replenish his date sauces (resulting in some lagged dates), got caught up in a little oven chaos (his shoulder Staubs were all over the place), and got his station a little messy (squid grease, bread crumbs, chopped herbs all over the place).
Of course, I was on the side to remind him not to forget his dates, watch out for his chickens and to check on his shoulders, and pick up his speed. Up to a point, though. When he kept looking to me to see if he should sell these dates or if that shoulder was ready, I gently but firmly told him I wasn’t going to hold his hand. I told him to trust in himself and his senses. I’d already told him what he was looking for, he just had to be aware of the signs.

I think that believing in him and letting him stew on the line was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Even when he was a little behind and then Elliot told him to work 4 more orders of squid, and I got his squid into a bowl, then let him do the rest and stepped back, it was a good decision. Because even though he was flustered, I think he was thrilled, especially after he sold his squid and I congratulated him on his squid push. It definitely helped his spirit. There were a couple of times I considered switching him out but I held off and I’m glad I did.

Elliot came down later as I was straightening the walk-in and pretty much affirmed what I felt: Theo did a good job, it was a little rough in the beginning, but it was good to have faith in him. Alright! Even though I considered it, I assessed the situation and decided it was best to leave him where he was. Besides, the restaurant wasn’t even that full and no one was coming in. Elliot said that maybe if someone had complained about dates being late or something, then he would’ve switched him out, but luckily, no one did.

Anyway, Theo was super thrilled to have been on the line on his own for so long (I let him stay until closing and he even broke down the station and cleaned the slicer on Station 2), and I’m happy for him. His being on the line reminded me of the time I was struggling on Station 1 and Koren almost pulled me off but Katie Furst had faith in me and let me muddle through. It was almost like coming full circle and then paying it forward.

And maybe like a little reward from the Kitchen Gods, I heard something tonight that made me very happy. While I was in the cab with Elliot after work, I asked him if he’d be working Monday (affirmative). That was good, because it would be me, him, and Katie. I told him that Katie liked working with him and it was good for her confidence because he was a Zen Master. He said he liked working with her too. Not only that, he said he liked working with me too!!! “Because there’s no drama,” he said.
Arrrgggghhh I wish times like these I didn’t have such a terrible memory and that I could recall exactly what else was said (we talked about how Armanzo sometimes doesn’t call tickets which sometimes troubles Katie, and I confessed to Elliot my apprehensiveness about KO), but all that really matters is that one of the people I admire the most told me he likes to work with me.

Ahhh! Such happiness!

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 :/

First Gripe Of The Year

Today was supposed to be my day off but KO just called me. Apparently he’s really sick and can I come into work?

Of course I said sure because I’m available.

And of course, as luck would have it, tonight was to be the night I was going out to eat at Maude’s with Elliot, Marcus, and Katie (with their respective significant others).

My heart’s a little broken, but what can you do when someone’s sick?


And I just know I’ll probably be on station 3 tonight, when I’d rather be on 1.


Last Gripe Of The Year

It’s been a while, but I just want to make this short.

I worked last night on 1 and really, KO was freakin’ getting on my nerves for the first two hours after he got into work. Afterward, it was alright and I got over it because I’m a bit of a believer on karma, and karma came to pay him back by 86-ing his brussels when he still had orders. He was inconvenienced and annoyed and it brought me a tiny bit of satisfaction.

New Year’s Eve is my day off so I’m going to chill indoors and not partake in the end-of-the-year madness, though when I think of all the fun I might be missing at avec, I do feel a little twinge of envy.

My new year’s resolutions: I hope to be a little more prolific in the blogging and I hope to become a reliable, capable line cook that my coworkers can trust and admire.

Have a happy new year, everybody!

The Ranks Of Humans

I know I should probably stop with all the weird Dune references; I’m not anything like Paul and Avec is not Arrakis or anything. But working on the line is definitely like a trial by fire and sometimes your brain does the whole nerve-induction thing when you get burned or you’re hungry. So excuse me if I keep at it with the gom jabbar references.

That said, last night I was nervous about my being on Station 3, but Monday night, I did really well! Elliot said I did a great job! I may or may not have a tad overcooked some smaller pieces of foie, but at this point, it’s too late to worry about that. I’m just elated that I pushed out food quickly and they all looked really nice. Elliot went “Ooh!” when he saw a plate of softshell crab I put out and also praised one of my foie dishes that looked really nice. Yay!!

Tuesday I work 3 again. KO is supposed to be on 2, which worries me slightly. Lately he’s been one of my lesser favorite coworkers because I’ve been getting this odd feeling that he doesn’t like me much, or he’s annoyed by me. Perhaps I’m just paranoid and imagining things, or I just happen to catch him at bad times. Whatever it is, I don’t trust him as much as I do Elliot.

Here’s hoping Tuesday is just as good as Monday was, and I do so well that KO can’t reproach me on anything. Fingers crossed!

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.