Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Daily Routines

It is hard to explain what a restaurant kitchen is at various stages, especially when being in one is a brand new experience but I'm going to give it try so bare with me.

In the morning, before things open and the line guys come into the kitchen to prep for dinner it is super quiet. Just us pastry people ( Me and the Pastry Chef) and our scales weighing out various things and preparing desserts for the night while the dishwasher goes about his business. Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays we make bread, Thursdays usually is the laminated dough for the beginets and then we make sorbet's, cakes, cookies and sauces as needed. I could wax poetic about the feel of a whisk in my hand as I make Creme Anglaise, how the stress seems to melt away but I won't.

As we are only open for dinner the rest of the crew comes in around two, trickling through the doors with lewd jokes about each others sexuality and of course the obligatory Canadian jokes. (which of course I take in good humor because we Canadians are like that) As they begin getting things ready for the savory side I usually find myself helping by peeling, brunoising, or running to the walk-in for what they need. I'm trying to get faster with my knife and I've got the blisters to prove it, knock on wood that I have yet to cut myself. The mood is generally lighthearted and fun, it certainly wouldn't live up to any expectation one might have from watching Gordon Ramsey on TV.

Closer to service you can find the waitstaff polishing silverware and getting the bread ready for service. Everyone puts on their jackets and we start getting orders from the bar. As the tickets get entered they print back and chef's station and at the garde mange station where I work beside the Garde Mange guy putting together cheese plates and sometimes salads. I really know nothing about savory food preparation so most times I just try to stay out of his way. We are the only two yankee's (that word is used for anyone born above the Mason Dixon line) in the kitchen so we have to stick together.

Of course I am the low (wo)man on the totem pole, but oddly enough I don't mind that. What I do mind is the long periods of time where the pastry chef disappears leaving me with no instruction and little idea of if I am doing something correctly. I also mind the being scheduled for 36 hours a week when I am only supposed to be working 18, and the " well if you can't work when we want you to then we will let you go and find a new pastry intern." Being the bottom of the barrel doesn't mean that you should be treated like that. There is such a thing as common decency, and courtesy in the kitchen that goes beyond "yes chef, no chef." What is worse is that everyone is acting like I am in the wrong for even questioning it. I'm sorry but I have to support myself and that means finding a job where the pay is currency not "educational experience."

I digress though. All in all being in a kitchen is pretty awesome, and chef had no complaints about my work the first week though he did say I needed to work on a sense of urgency. (which I agree with) We shall see if this continues another ten weeks or if the Pastry Chef makes good on his threat to find another the mean time I need to amp up my job search.

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