Posts tagged ‘stages’

Looking To The East

Times are a-gettin’ desperate sort of and we’ve been getting in stages to try to fill positions left by others. It was a little disheartening when everytime I’d come in Amranzo would tell me a stage had cancelled 😦 Come on! We’re awesome! (Aside from the brutally long service and shtuff.) Oh well, your loss.

Anyway, yesterday we finally hired someone. Um… he’s not my first pick, but we’re kinda desperate (eeek!) and he’s not too shabby. He got line time last night and he did alright. He didn’t burn any dates and he wasn’t too agonizingly slow >.>;;;
Anyway! Welcome to the family, Andrew! He starts officially next week.

We’ve been joking that avec has been becoming more and more Asian lately. There’s me (Chinese), Fred (Thai), and Ruth (who watches so much anime she’s now infused with a little bit of Japanese, haha). And now Andrew, who is Korean. Ruth and I jokingly tried to poach Blackbird’s Lorraine (Vietnamese) because we need more girls on the line but it was not to be. To add to the funniness, Ruth and I have been slowly stocking up dry storage with Asian staples like soy sauce, miso, and Shaoxing cooking wine. A couple of weeks ago I bought a bag of sushi rice, and am aiming to bring in some furikake. No worries, all of this stuff was for the intent of using them for comida, but then again, Fred’s newest chicken dish on the menu has lemongrass and fish sauce and doesn’t even try to pretend to be Mediterranean….

I’m just pleased that with Andrew as a new addition, Fred will probably see some station 3 action, and hopefully, if I’m still here by the time Fred is proficient enough, we’ll all be scheduled together on the line and it’ll be a freakin’ HOOT. Mwahahahahaha!

Pink Lady Green Juice

Day 2 of NRA Weekend!

Ruth worked station 2, totally rocking it. Like Elliot said, I definitely need to step up my game. So next week, after I open Monday and Tuesday, I’ll be training on 2 Wednesday night. Eep! I’m actually not as mentally frightened as I was last time because this time I asked for the training, as opposed to my elders pointing at me and telling me I’m ready when I wasn’t. There’s a difference! That said, when Wednesday rolls around I’ll be a little nervous of course, but I sure as hell won’t try to run away from it like I did last time….

Today was a little bit of a weird day. Not bad, not great. Not too easy and yet not too hard. It almost felt like I opened, but I didn’t. It helped that our newest hire, Sylvester, was training on 3, and I got to finish a lot of prep downstairs (and supervising stage-turned-intern Theo and return-stage Waldon). At some point later that night, Expo Armanzo (yep, he’s back, despite his bum leg!) had me come upstairs and observe Sylvester and give him pointers. I did, but it’s painful to be one more person hanging out in an already tight spot. Way to go, making me feel fatter than I already am :/

Sylvester works fine, but he needs to be fine-tuned. Years of fine-dining taught him several habits that he needs to break while working at Avec, like arranging steak when he really ought to lay it down and sell it. He also took seemingly forever to cook whitefish and then he’d let it rest for a minute, when again, if it were me, I’d sell the damn thing and get it out of my sight. The way he picks up the octo salad is strange-ish too.
Granted, he’s still new and too many people have already told him things, so my advice was probably just confusing him. I definitely emphasized developing his own preferences that enable him to work more efficiently and faster. Later that night, Armanzo was able to touch base with him more. Armanzo definitely has a way of explaining things that puts things in perspective, whereas I’m better as explaining prep-related technicalities. I feel that I’m too blunt or too vague when it comes to training others on the line, so I’m never confident when I’m asked to “babysit”. It’s like, “What do you mean you’re not telepathic?!…”

Oh well, nothing else to add right now. I should get going to bed since I have to get up to open in about 4 and a half hours. Yeesh…. All I’m looking forward to right now is making some awesome comida for Jorge and Manny with some leftover chicken legs from Sunday night service….

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!

Sun King

Little changes are coming and I am not sure if I’m looking forward to them. When did I start to become ever-so-slightly pessimistic about change?

Elliot came back Thursday from his trip to Mexico, looking tan and relaxed. I’m sure all the stress came back once he came back to work haha. Especially since he worked a double on Friday, opening and then working on 2. I really admire that part of him that shoulders that responsibility. He also worked Sunday which made me really happy (I was on 1, Armanzo on 3). I know he hates to work Sundays: “I’d rather work a double–I’d rather work a 17-hour shift–than work a Sunday!” he said.

He said something scary that brings back what Armanzo said last week: that I would be training on station 2. Both me and Ruth. Argh!!! Of course, my immediate reaction was to reject that statement.
I’m scared! As I type this now, I’m pretty sure I have no choice but to accept. Yeah, like they’d let me refuse. But in my heart, I’m still fighting this. I’m avoiding this responsibility for as long as I can….

One of our previous stages (whose name I’m not sure if I mentioned so he’ll remain nameless for now) looks to be a hire! He works (worked) at the Violet Hour and he’ll be starting the 20th. He staged under me once when I opened, but I’m not good with stages so I didn’t glean much info from him. I didn’t even ask him at the time if he was seeking employment from us. I never seem to know how to act with stages :/
So looks like he’ll be making fast friends with Station 1 this summer with Katie. I’m so jealous! I was looking forward to sweating on 1 for the fun of it, but with this new hire, I’ll definitely be on 3 from now on (and from the looks of it, station 2 as well… MLURF ;_;).

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!

Babies For Blizzards

I know it’s not beneficial for my growth as a line cook but I am LOVING that I’ve been scheduled to work station 1 all week. I thought I was supposed to work 3 today but when I clocked in and looked at the schedule, it said I was working Station 1.
I totally fist-pumped in the locker room where no one could see me, I was so pleased.

It was a bit slow tonight because it snowed all day. Usually I’m ready to rip my eyeballs out when it’s aggravatingly slow but it was just steady enough where I never got too bored, but chill enough where I could draw a couple of doodles. Of course, the snow got me all excited, with high hopes for a blizzard. I kept chanting, “Bliz-zard! Bliz-zard!” all night long because the heavier the snow, the higher the chances I have of having clean snow to make ice cream with on my off-days. I chill my ice cream bases in bowls of snow instead of using an actual ice bath. But that’s another different blog subject, in my civilian life.

Back to work: we had a stage today called Richard (not his real name to protect his privacy and whatnot), who was apparently quite the greenhorn. I don’t mean this as an insult. Apparently he was just starting out (ah, to be young and not know anything… like me, four years ago!) and wasn’t sure he wanted to go to school. He was looking to find employment in a restaurant and get his working education there. Nothing wrong with that, but honestly I don’t think many restaurants offer anything that even remotely resembles an apprenticeship anymore. I may have treated my prep-cook days as an apprenticeship of sorts but I still went to school.
He’s totally green, but he seems like a nice kid. He stages again tomorrow and will be shadowing me again while I’m on Station 1. (Woot *station 1 fist pump*)

My only caveat about our stage is that he has immature handwriting. And not in a 5-year-old’s-scrawl kinda way. Hell, that would’ve been better. Unfortunately for my eyes, he labeled a bunch of stuff with this stylized, almost highfalutin handwriting that, as petty as it seems, incredibly irks me.

Here’s a picture because I’m petty:

What are you, a 13-year-old girl?

Here’s a close-up (cos I’m REALLY petty like that):

Did you want to be a tagger when you grow up? What the fuck is up with that S, N, and K in sunchoke? It annoys me when men have handwriting unbefitting of their age. Ugh, such an affront to my eyes. Alright, end of rant.

But anyway, that’s my only problem with him so far.

I’m back on 1 tomorrow. Yeah! *fist pump*
Not that I’ve ever really mentioned our dishes (I probably should), but the salmon and the chicken dishes are coming off the menu. Pork shoulder and one other dish I can recall are changing this Saturday. New pickups are always fun, even if they make me nervous at first.

Are You Clowning Me?

Today when I got to work, I was surprised to see a stage in the prep kitchen. Non-culinary readers might want to take note that in kitchen-lingo, a stage (rhymes with Taj Mahal) is someone who apprentices theirself in a kitchen for a short period of time, usually working for free. If a kitchen is hiring, they set up a stage to see how the potential employee works. If a cook just wants to see what a certain restaurant’s kitchen is like, they might just set up a stage for fun. A couple of months ago, we had a stage who happened to be Adam’s friend who was visiting from New York. We also once had a stage who couldn’t handle the line and slipped away in the middle of service without telling anyone. Sometimes I wonder where he is now….

That said, at Avec we have stages prep for a while and then hang out on the line where the action is. Today was no different. Except that this stage would be observing me, which I thought was going to be surreal, since I’d only started working the line myself. I kept up pretty well actually and in retrospect I think I looked pretty good. During a lull, John had me switch with the stage so he could get a taste of line time, with me acting as his guide. “Oh no… it’s going to be the blind leading the blind,” I groaned. But he was pretty decent. He handled the heat well. He caught on quickly once I explained some basics or told him what ingredients went in a dish. In fact, he was so decently proficient, my self confidence kind of waned. I had half expected for him to get swamped and I’d jump in, like when I got overwhelmed and Dylan would help me out of my jam. But it never happened. He only switched out once, when he cut his finger and he went to get a bandage. A couple minutes later he was back with a glove on and jumped back on. If anything, I kind of got bored and a little sad that I had nothing to do but observe and fetch items ._.
It made my night really easy though. And when he left later that evening, I just breezed right through the rest of service.

I’d like to say that tonight was a WIN situation, but I kind of wish I had my line time. Whoa…how weird is that, considering last week I was nearly prostrated by fear of the line? Am I getting better or growing up? Maybe a little bit of both.

My next two days are off days and then I’m back on prep Saturday. Hmm… does that mean I’ll be working a Sunday?! OOOH!! Will report back as soon as I find out.