Day 2: On Picking Herbs and Standing Around

I found myself back in the kitchen, this time though at a much saner hour, 12:30 pm to be exact. The sous foisted me off to the fish station’s entremetier, wherein I spent the next few hours picking and sorting through the various herbs needed for that day’s garnish. Mint, pea tendrils, and cilantro were picked all approximately the same size, all gorgeous in nature, no black spots or rips; Parsley was picked, and garlic sliced thin, both to be deep fried to crispiness. All in all a not-that-painful though not-that-interesting experience.

Except for the green almonds.

Almonds, young and still developing, found in fuzzy green fruit-pod-things, easily halved with a paring knife. Easily when they’re at the peak of their season. Surprise, surprise, it’s the end of the season. Instead of being handed a knife, I was handed a heavy ass meat mallet, and told to go to town. Except… they wanted the almonds whole.

So I whacked away, trying to find the right amount of pressure so the damn things cracked open but didn’t crush the wee-teeny little things inside. It took myself, the entremetier I was working with, the sous, and the executive sous to finally figure out the easiest way to do it. Herp.

After the staff meal, I breifly helped the meat station’s chef de partie make wee-little duck and liver stuffed puff pastries, then scrubbed the entire meat room down. Again, not too exciting.

Service wasn’t any better. I had spoken to the manager and he wanted me to “observe” what went on. While learning about the food was indeed interesting, there’s not much to talk about. I spent the entire night standing around watching thing happen, and feeling absolutely useless. Though, the garde manger’s chef de partie was wonderful, as was the same meat chef de partie I’d mentioned earlier — They were perfectly happy to give an explanation of every dish they put out, and gave me small tastings from whatever trimmings they had around. Delicious!

The peak of the night was when I was surprised with a 5 course tasting of the food served. Of course, I was awkwardly stood in front of the private dining room in the kitchen, in full view of the 9 or so patrons using it that night. More awkwardly, I was given the whole service song-and-dance by collegues that had been at the restaurant, and the food industry in general, for years more than I had. Derp. At one point the server working that room came over and laughingly said to me “The entire chef’s table all would like to know what job you have and if they can have it as all you do is stand there and eat!”

Oh if you only saw me with my hands all up in a chicken’s business, you’d change your tune…

While I really couldn’t help feeling like a lost puppy through these past two days, being passed around chef to chef doing whatever tasks needed to be done, tailing them through the kitchen as, being new there, I had no idea which walk in was for which restaurant, which type of food, and where things went, I enjoyed myself. I know where the food comes from (all wonderful places, most locally sourced smaller farms), and how much fucking work it takes to get it to be the beautifully presented meal we serve.

Gosh, this is cheezy. Herp derp.

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