Posts tagged ‘training’

G(r)8!

Urgh…. Friday and Saturday were excruciatingly long services. And not because we were slammed. It’s because we WEREN’T and we couldn’t just close up.

I had some not-so-secret hopes that with the NATO thing going on, people would be too uninterested to come out of their homes, and therefore we’d do 87 covers. Mwahaha…. But no such luck. Friday we were still pretty steady during dinner hour, though it died a little later that evening. We did 160 covers. That’s like, a Wednesday night. Except we wouldn’t close for another hour. Sad face.

I remember coming downstairs to get my backups and glanced at the clock, seeing it was a little after midnight. “Huh!? Why aren’t we pulling our proteins?” I unthinkingly blurted, and as I said it I remembered what day it was. WAHH.

Saturday was no different, except that I was watching Theo on Station 1 all night. Service was slow enough that he managed to work the station on his own all night. It was a good thing for him, though he did experience slight difficulties. He came out lucky though. One of his shoulders had cooked too long, but wasn’t scorched. I did notice that when he becomes slightly flustered he becomes curt, which might rub some people (especially food runners) the wrong way.
I’m trying to instill more confidence in his movements. Instead of losing precious seconds hesitantly sprinkling salt and pepper on some pork shoulder, or sprinkling herbs like it’s pixie dust, I’d rather he be decisive and just put that shit in. Boom, done, next. It’s all in muscle memory which he has to develop, but he won’t develop it if he’s constantly grabbing small pinches of everything, and going over it five times.
Other than that, he’s doing fine. He’s got details to work out, but he’s on his way to becoming a functioning date slinger.

I have to admit though, standing on the sidelines and doing nothing is mentally exhausting, when all you can say is variations of “More acid, more salt, mind your dates.”

Other highlights of the night:
– Armanzo came clean about his relationship with hostess Rebecca. I’d known/suspected, but was waiting for Big Bro to say something…
– I’ve seen the new schedule and I work on 2 the first three days this week. Uh oh! Especially since Armanzo will be expo. Um… this might not be good….

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Day 2 On 2

Good job, kid. Have a cold one.

Wednesday was my second time working Station 2. Thanks to the slow night (we did 105 covers), I was able to work with relatively no problems. My only missteps? Not checking a ticket which resulted in my firing two dishes too soon. Drat! Sorry Sylvester ._.

Honestly, I was just a little worried I’d freak and whine like last week, but I kept it at a minimum and meant it very jokingly. I’m mostly very glad the kitchen gods smiled on me and let me have a relatively quiet night so I could essentially study what I’ve termed “Station 2 mechanics”, which are the little ins and outs of the station and how I can make them work for me, or what isn’t working and how I can fix it. For example, on Station 1 I keep a tiny cazuela for my chiffed parsley because I don’t want to use the line’s dinnerware. On Station 3, I keep a ninth pan of water in the sink to dip utentils into, especially ones I’ve used to cook brandade or pasta with, because those two dishes have clingy elements (dairy and chopped ramps) that don’t easily wash away with a quick rinse under running water. (Sylvester has actually adopted this practice too. Yay!)

I wish I had watched Elliot more when he was on 2. I took his presence for granted and now I’m just going to have to cobble all my memories together and sift through them and try to make what I can my own. For one thing, the quarter pan for flour and oil is a good idea but something about it is getting in my way. That, or the fact that I’ve got too many freakin’ salad bowls and it costs me too many precious seconds to figure out which is which, despite my trick of leaving one piece of the salad element in the bowl for easy identification. Whatever… still only my second time. (Crutch excuse?)

Speaking of precious seconds, Server Giulietta saw in one of my more disappointing moments during peak dinner hours when I overcooked a flatbread for the anchovy dish and flung it into the garbage. I was a little mad at forgetting the flatbread, that it was too dark to be salvaged (it was a shade too charred or else I’d have rolled with it), and because would it have killed Sylvester to flip my flatbread if it looked like I was somewhat preoccupied?! Maybe I’m disappointed because when I’m on 3, I’ve flipped the flatbread to help out and set it near the Station 2 oven when it was done cooking; I wondered, “Where’s the consideration?” but whatever. I’m sure Sylvester was too preoccupied trying to figure out his own Station Mechanics to flip some flatbread.

I guess I was sweating under all these preconceived expectations of myself. I wanted to work as fast as I could while still churning out quality food, trying not to lag, trying not to falter. Little failures tend to throw me off a bit. I guess it’s really true when Koren says I’m somewhat of a perfectionist.

Anyway, that and the early course firing were the only two missteps of the night. My focaccia and flatbread were relatively good looking. It helped that I had my own mental Elliot yelling in my head, “Work faster! Move your hands and spread that cheese!” though he did have to remind me to mind my flatbread and not to forget brandade crostini. Around 10:30pm Elliot declared, “You’ve got it. I’m going home.” What! I was a little sad to see him go because I like to talk with him when we take the train together, but I was a little happy that he was satisfied with my progress. It was smooth sailing afterward. That is, until around 11:40pm a 6-top came in, ordered a slightly lengthy three-course meal, and I was told that one of the guys (who was kinda tubby, wearing a pageboy cab, and was oddly very red) was a Food Network chef named Beau MacMillan. Not that I gave a fuck. As far as I was concerned, it was late and I wanted to go home. So what did I do? We cooked their courses, I waited three minutes, fired their next course and after sending them out, waited three more minutes and fired the next. I told Giulietta, “If Beau MacMillan thinks I’m rushing his courses, it’s because I am.”

Avec’s Thursday buyout: I wonder how that turned out? I mean, aside from obvious smooth sailing, I wonder if there was any fun anecdotes I’ll hear about?

Who knows if I’ll work 2 next Wednesday, but I saw this week’s schedule and I’m working on 1 this Saturday with Theo. WHOA! It’s been so long since I was a date slinger! Awesome! In actuality, it’ll just be me watching over Theo as he sweats his way through 1 (Said Theo, “Elliot said I need another person to yell at me.”) but still, yay!

Who Wants To Live Forever

It’s my day off (Thursday) as I currently write this and aside from a bunch of expletives, I’ve no idea how to accurately describe the mixed emotions I feel after working on Station 2 for the first time last night.

Oh well, might as well get it off my chest:

HOLY FUCKING CRAP FOCACCIA SUCKS ASS BUT I SURVIVED HALLEFUCKINLUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!

I admit I wasn’t very brave going into this. I definitely whined a lot and more than once half-seriously pleaded for Elliot (who was in the window) to trade places with me. I drank a quart and a half of coffee, fought down the occasional wave of fear-induced nausea, jokingly threatened to projectile vomit, and more than once inwardly wished I was dead.

I didn’t do the greatest job of calling out tickets either; it was through the luck and pluck of my fellow linemates that I managed to squeak by the peak dinner hour. When I was lagging Fred did the salad pickup about twice for me, and Sylvester helped cook off three anchovy flatbreads while I floundered around cooking focaccia and struggled to pull my head out of my ass–I distinctly recall one time where Sylvester asked me to report on his all day fires and while I heard his request, my brain had shut down by then and all my mouth could muster speechwise was “Uh…guh.” FAIL.
My legs were turning into jelly.
Fred plated some anchovies on a flatbread for me.
I burned a focaccia.
I made an ugly flatbread that couldn’t be sold and was taken downstairs to be shared. (Elliot did say later that it was tasty though.)
Fail, fail, fail, FAIL.

But I didn’t get pulled off the station and no one bailed me out. Thanks to Elliot’s dogged persistence (“C’mon Betty, work faster! Faster! Make those focaccia! Watch your crostini! Rotate your flatbread!”) and his flippant refusal to switch out with me, I stuck it out and Koren gave me a high-five later that night. Elliot congratulated me for surviving. I was so relieved and elated when I realized it was 11PM that I did a cartwheel in the basement. And then I triumphantly brought up some shift beer for the boys (and that day’s stage).

Ah! This bittersweet feeling! I came out spiritually bruised and exhausted but alive! I didn’t necessarily face my fear and kick some ass, but I endured my Station 2 beating and clawed my way out! I am humbled; I respected Ruth’s tenacity on Station 2, but now after experiencing it for myself I definitely admire her.

What else is there to say? Elliot said to just keep up with focaccias and work on my communication (duh and duh), but c’mon really. It was my first day. I could barely make sense of my own tickets to fully deal with anybody else’s. I’ll get better with time though. Right? Right?! >_>;;;;

I work on Station 3 for the rest of the week but what next week will look like is anyone’s guess.

I am very grateful to Elliot and in my heart I’m crying bittersweet tears. Aw, I’m a big girl now.

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….

Don’t Ask Me To Rise

I ended up not doing any training on Station 2 Tuesday. Either Elliot told Koren I was a spectacular failure, or maybe it was because we got a little busy right off the bat for me to get another try on that station.

Either way, I was a little relieved and disappointed.

It was a steady stream of orders that kept us busy until about 10:30, and then it suddenly died and got quiet. What a difference… you’d think we’d be mellow on a Tuesday but at one point I had three cheese plates, a salumi plate (or two), and some foie going on. It kinda sucked at the time. (Elliot: “All I want to do is drink my Gatorade and enjoy my fun-size Snickers. Is that too much to ask?”) I ended up selling out all my whole fish (granted, I only had 5 all day), and by the end of the night, I had one order of whitefish left. Phew!

After work Katie and I went to Ian’s to have after-work pizza, which I think is the best time to have that pizza. We brought some dates, hoping our regular pizza would be there. Ian’s somehow renamed itself into Dimo’s, but the pizza and the staff (we finally found out the guy’s name is Jason) are the same, so I’ll probably still be calling it Ian’s out of habit.
(For the record, I had the corndog pizza and the steak & fries pizza. Random and delicious! Katie had buffalo chicken and… I’ve forgotten her other slice of pizza, but oh well, it was tasty.)

I open on Thursday.
Hopefully I’m not confronted with that horrible wallpaper on the office computer that’s essentially a tiled picture of Blackbird’s pastry chef Bryce Caron with an awful haircut and trying to pose all avant-garde. He looks like a goth Geico caveman. It’s terrible. Why he cut his hair, I’ve no idea, but it looked better when it was longer and he tied it back, as opposed the current pigeon’s nest he’s sporting on his head.
I guess one good thing came out of it. Elliot sent a picture of it to Armanzo who got a good laugh out of it.

Betty Downer

I trained on Station 2 for about 15 minutes today. It fucking sucked. I totally appreciate Station 3 now. I never thought the day would come when I would be SO glad to be in front of the stove cooking foie gras….

It started out a great day (I went to JP Graziano’s for a tuna sub and then walked to La Colombe and got two bottles of Pure Black for Elliot) but then things took a turn for the worst when Koren showed up and had a little pow-wow with Elliot and decided that then was just as good as any time to get a taste of Station 2.

It turned out to be a horrible, bitter taste and I am now scarred for life. Okay, okay, I jest (just a little bit). But it was still a miserable time for me. At first it didn’t seem so bad (*scoff*) but then more orders started coming in, and I had to start calling out orders and in the corner of my eye Elliot was already working on second courses without me calling them, which lowered my morale a little. And then I put out a couple of (in my opinion) shitty looking focaccias which further lowered my morale. And then more orders came in, and it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to keep up.
So when Elliot asked me if I was having trouble, I answered him honestly and said yes. Just my luck to have, as Elliot put it, a string of bad tickets. Was it the kitchen gods saying it wasn’t meant to be (yet), or was it just me not being physically ready for the incoming orders? I think it was a little bit of both.

We switched out just as it was starting to get a little busy and never more have I rejoiced being on Station 3. Even though it’s just one step away, in my heart, I practically ran over there, like it was some long-lost family member I just reunited with. Cook foie and make salumi plates? Okay!!! With pleasure!!!!! Talk with people at the Chef’s Table? You got it!!!

I never went back on 2 again that night, but that’s not to say I won’t train again tomorrow. Oh, I know it’s coming. And I’m still gonna fight it in my heart. But now that I’ve been given a taste of the bitterness, at least I know what to expect. I just haven’t developed the muscle memory yet. I haven’t developed the resolve to accept the responsibility either, but that’s another matter. Sigh. Back on 2 tomorrow for a little bit. I’ll try not to be too negative about it like I was today, but I’m not gonna make any promises that I won’t wish I’d rather be dead.

Biting That Bullet

Got home an hour ago and was going to post, but I Really. Needed. A Bath. First. I didn’t look it, but I felt so grimy and gross and I wanted to wash my face so badly. I asked Katie about it today and she said the heat just takes getting used to, and that she broke out in the beginning too. “And you’ll get heat rashes too,” she warned. Ugahhhhh ;_;
For now, I’m just using some hydrating face wash my sister gave me as a birthday present. It’s some fancy shmancy Swiss brand that I just googled and the face wash alone costs $39. Man, I hope this stuff helps cos for that amount of money (even though I didn’t pay for it) it would be utterly tragic if it didn’t. Fingers crossed.

Spent more time on the line tonight with Dylan coaching me. It was really busy, it being Friday and all, so I was really, really, really grateful that he was around to tell me what to do. Okay, so I didn’t do much thinking on the line tonight. I was Dylan’s Date Bot and I’m not ashamed to admit it that I leaned HEAVILY on that crutch. Katie, sweet soul that she is, didn’t want me mindlessly following Dylan’s orders and to figure it on my own, even going so far as suggesting that I fly it solo tomorrow. But I put the kibosh on that. I feel like I barely made it through the night, even WITH Dylan’s coaching. Saturday on my own would just be throwing me under the bus. I told her nicely that I felt I would be too overwhelmed and that I would like to experience this week with help and attempt a solo gig next week. Erg…. =___=

Tonight was a little brutal for me. I felt like I was behind on everything. This might not be true (one of the food runners told me Katie fires off courses too fast) but even so, I felt like I was getting beat up. While on the line I had to constantly fight the urge to step down and ask Dylan to take over. I wanted to run away and go back down to the easy schedule of prep work, to just say, “Okay, I don’t think I can handle this right now, please save me.” But I just steeled my nerves and reminded myself that others before me have had to deal with the same situation. They couldn’t just coward out on a busy night–and neither would I stoop to that level. And besides, I have a personal goal to attain and it means staying put on the line. Still, it was a relief to have Dylan step in while I went to the bathroom. I washed my face, I retied my drooping bandanna head covering. I took a deep breath and looked at myself in the mirror. Then I headed back to the line, since there wasn’t any turning back.

Despite the rough edges, some highlights tonight were:
– Rebekah (one of our bar staff) requested the chicken dish, which I tried to make really nicely. She came back and told me I did a great job on it.
– Joking with Erik (Eric? I have to ask him next time), a food runner, during a lull. I showed him my joke dances: a super dorky shoulder bounce and a dance I call The Librarian. He cracked up so much. Hehe!
– Ex-Avec line cook (and current C-House sous chef) Dan Weiland, whom I felt a special kinship with since we sometimes hung out after work and chatted, came in to eat with some friends and it was such a pleasure to have him see me on the line since he always encouraged me to try my hand at it.
– Our hostess Liz and her boyfriend offered me a ride to the red line train station after we closed (cos the green and brown were closed), which saved me from taking a cab. Liz told me she liked the cereal milk ice cream I’d made. When I’ve got the time I’ll make her some, along with my other requested ice creams).

Right, and now it’s nearly 5AM (where did the time fly?!) and I’ve got to get up early for a mandatory staff meeting tomorrow at 11AM. Urgh…. goodnight.