Posts tagged ‘openers’

Oh, Snap!: All Work No Posts

Last week was kind of amazing. Not only did Conan O’Brien come in to eat on Wednesday, but I worked a double the next day (opened and then worked service), and then worked on station 2 on Friday for Ruth (she of the recovering spider bite).

My first Friday on Station 2!!!!!!!! Epic!!!
I was ready to fight my way through a mountain of focaccia tickets, but surprisingly they turned out to be very manageable. It also helped that for a while it was mainly a station 1 party, aka high demand for dates, shoulder, burrata, and chicken.

I don’t think I’d happily volunteer to do another double in the future, but at least I can say that if the need is there, then I shall rise to the occasion. Dare I say that it really isn’t as bad as some people thought it would be? I’d been telling everyone, “If Elliot could do it, so can I!” because he had pulled a double before. I suppose I was just running on my own happy energy/adrenaline, because later that night I started to feel a little weary during a 5-focaccia pop, but I got my (maybe) second wind and all was well to the end. Katie was super impressed that I was pulling a double and left me this awesome “survival pack” that just totally lifted my morale. Woot Gatorade! ZOMG M&M’s ice cream sandwiches!! Scratchies!!! Thank you Katie for the awesome gesture!!! I devoured the watermelon after work. It’s really odd but some of the best watermelon I’ve had this year has come from 7-Eleven, no lie.

I think since I proved myself capable that Friday, I took a look at the schedule for the 4th of July weekend and it looks like I’ll be on 2 that Thursday, Friday, and SATURDAY O_O!!! The training wheels have come off! Or, rather, as Koren said, the training wheels have been off for a while. If it’s so, I’ve been shakily riding the 2-Wheeler (hahageddit?) but you know what? I’m excited!

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Red Headed Stranger

Holy. Crap.
Tonight Conan O’Brien came in and sat at the Chef’s table.
He ate at our restaurant. During busy service. He had no crazy airs. He loved everything. He wears glasses when he reads.

When he and his wife walked up to their seats, I immediately turned around and tried to remain calm and not act affected. But it’s a little hard not to, when you’ve been watching him for a good part of your life when he used to host his late night show. It’s a pop culture in-yo’-face moment and I was kinda-sorta squeeing on the inside.

He ordered (in order of courses): green salad; dates, hangar; flatbread, chicken. We sent him olives and a second course squid compliments of the house.
He was totally loving the salad I made. I could hear him talking about how good it was. AHHHH! Yay!!! They loved all the food and totally thanked us for the meal. I wish I could’ve shaken his hand or gotten a picture or something but I’m too staunchly professional for that. Still! Squee!!! He said the next time he was in Chicago, he’d totally come back. Excellent!

With this Comedy Week going on, I’d like it if Kevin Smith, Sarah Silverman, or Hannibal Burress came in to eat. Come on!!

Sigh. In other news, Ruth got a pretty bad spider bite and I have to work a double on Thursday. Clopener into a double. All I can say is: FUN TIMES! I’m probably just naively trying to convince myself all will be fine, but hey, maybe some other well-known person will come in for dinner and make my night…. Just sayin’….

Taking It Too Easy

My Tuesday opener went swell today. Well, it was all peachy keen until around 6pm Sylvester asked me about the ramps and charred spring onion that go into the pasta. Which I didn’t do. Because they’re not on the list. Well, ramps aren’t. But Buth crossed off charred onion on the list so I assumed all was fine but if Sylvester’s asking for them…. I hauled ass and got them done. Dammit. Oh well, whatever. They’re done.

Pistachio puree also took a lot of my time because I was having three peel pistachios to get the job done faster, but even so, peeling blanched pistachios isn’t a quick job.

I work Station 2 again tomorrow. Not looking forward to it, but biting the bullet anyway. Fear is the mind killer… I am already thinking up Dune references in my head…. (It’s been a long time since I last referenced the book!)

But out of all this, what I’m most upset/troubled over is that today was Elliot’s day off and he invited me to hang out with him and Marcus at the Orbit Room after my opener. And I would have LOVED to go, but I had to decline because I came to work dressed in a Spiderman tee, a fuchsia peasant skirt, and powder pink Converse Chucks. Honestly I looked like an overgrown high-schooler. I could not go out to a cool social event looking like I did. And I live too far away to do a quick-change and do meet-and-greets. Goddammit. I admit it made me a little sad to miss out with potential bonding time with the cool kids. Especially since Elliot’s leaving soon. Arrrrrrgh. I left work a little sad over this non-encounter, which resulted in me being even sadder because I tried to go through my (nearly empty) mental rolodex of friends who might want to meet and hang with me, but I came up with nothing because I have no friends. Okay, that’s not true, but if one of your friends has a kid, your other friend is joined at the hip with his girlfriend, and your other good friend is currently without a cellphone, and your best friend currently resides in New York, it’s nearly the same as having no friends.

Is it better to just be friends with people at work? How is that even possible when most of them are working when you’re available and vice versa? Sigh.

Oh, Snap!: Something (Cray)fishy’s Going On…

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

I was off Sunday, the day they decided to boil off the crayfish Scottie Wildcard gifted us, so I thought it would all gone and eaten up. But lo and behold, come my Monday opener, I found not only one and half trays of leftover boiled crayfish (I ate one–yummy!) but a shallow hotel pan full of the uncooked ones! So of course I put one on my knee and took a pic of it 😉

Monday’s opener was a little annoying because the plumbers came by to install the new dish machine and they took FOREVER, which cut into everyone’s time. They came in at 11am and didn’t finish til nearly 6pm. Still, not all of it was the plumber’s fault for my opener gone slightly astray. Sometimes there are little easy jobs that take forever and cut into prime opener time. Stuff like de-seeding peppers to char, or slicing a crap ton of leeks for blanching. Times like that I wish I had a twin or a clone or even a stage to help me take care of that piddly shit while I do something more meaningful with my time. You know, like actually cooking. Granted, Intern Theo came in to help, but he was scheduled for 2pm, when I wish I had a noon prep person. Whatever, the help was totally appreciated and welcome regardless.

Looks like the kitchen gods smiled on me a little because for all my hard work (I think they turned a blind eye for the 15 minutes I spent helping Armanzo out with his $5 Bingo scratch-off. I was helping out, not giving in to my Asian gambling habit! >_>;;;) I got to take home those crayfish and had a really awesome dinner. Yay!

I open again Tuesday, and Justin Large, aka Dad is back on Station 2. Woot!

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!

Pep Squad

Opened today and had a great day. I know I say I cry a little in my heart because of the weather, but by the end of the day I’m actually really happy. The weather’s so awesome it just perks me up. Even if I can’t be out there to enjoy it.

I’m definitely pleased today because for the first time in a long time, I finished my opener at a decent hour. I got out a little after 7pm. YEAH! I’m trying to work my way up to the desired 6pm, but I don’t think I can do it (yet). I’m not comfortable leaving tasks, no matter how little/easy they are (like shaving radishes or slicing cucumber), for the line cooks upstairs or stages to finish for me. I’d rather leave the building knowing that the line cooks are totally set for the night and the list is done and if they so desired, they could twiddle their thumbs during dinner lulls. (Not that Koren would let them haha.)

I’m also happy because I know Elliot opens tomorrow and I did doughs for him so he wouldn’t have to. I remember the horror/annoyance I experienced one opener when I found out I had to make dough on top of an already heavy list of tasks. Dough is easy but time-consuming. Why didn’t the opener the day before do them when I was aware he had a relatively easy opener? I believe in paying it forward and just generally making the other person’s life easier. Anyway, I was sorry I couldn’t make a batch of pasta dough; there was only one flat of eggs left and I wanted to make sure it was there for the couscous dish.

Fred started his first day with us and for a couple of hours he helped me out in the basement. I was glad for the assistance but I think he could streamline his way of doing the crostini task. Oh well, there’s still time to teach him that.

I’m back to work Thursday on station 3 *cringe* but at least I know I’ll be working with Katie that day *beam*

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 :/