At the base of every meat, fish, or veg dish, there are the stocks. On the top of various meat and fish dishes, are the sauces. These can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to prepare, or so I found out. So when the heck do kitchens find the time to do this? Apparently at 7 in the effing AM
When the chefs come in, they expect all their ingredients to be there, ready to be minced, picked, chopped, diced, and peeled, and all organized, sorted, chilled, preserved. When the heck does this happen? At 7 in the effing AM.
I found out which stocks and sauces were used, the stages they go through, how exactly they were made. Fun stuff.
Even more fun was when I was handed a huge-ass meat cleaver and told to chop up the poultry, just give it a whack right down the middle. It would’ve been very cathartic if I wasn’t half zombified and half crackified from the combination of a lack of sleep and the arse-tons of coffee I had just ingested.
The most coordination that was required of me during pre-prep was skinning and de-fattening chicken. I’ll not describe the process to save your pretty brains from the horrors, but I’ll say that skinning is horrifyingly easy to do.
Inventory wasn’t all that exciting, dairy goes one place, veg for one restaurant goes in another, veg for the other restaurant goes in a different bit. Things got binned, labeled and sorted, all ready for the prep cooks. Wheeeee! (Really, for being hyper and tired, it was the best job.)
With the inventory sorted and the stocks boiling away, I got foisted off to the prep staff which had just come in. And I learned two very important things:
Fava Beans Suck. A lot.
Stinging Nettles Suck. Also a lot.
The set me to prepping shucking and shelling fava beans, where four or five beans were extracted from a pod, and then each bean’s soft squashy shell had to be oh-so-gently peeled off, keeping the bean nick-free and whole. Waugh.
Stinging Nettles. To be used in Ravioli. Sorting the good ones from the bad, a whole 8 quarts of it. Pain. So much pain.
Really though, that was the worst of it, I was saved by the chef at the fish station, T, who had me sorting through shellfish, messing about with lobster, and cutting the roe from scallop skirts. All very messy, but really not all that bad.
Also, he fed me bits of lobster that were to torn up to use. Lobster that had just been alive a few hours before, I know I sorted through them during inventory.
OM NOM. Lobster.
I liked him.
So after 10 hours of pre-prep, prep, the family meal, and putting away the last of the sauces, I was sent home. I promptly collapsed and passed out with my computer on my lap, only to wake up 8 hours later (at a lovely 2 o’clock in the morn) starving.
Om. Nom. Late night chinese.