His Girl Friday. . . in the making?

Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

I was flipping through a bit of poetry from last September the other day where I was musing on being “His Girl Friday” and how I desired the aspect to be like this indispensable semi-second in command person.

“His girl Friday, and all the days of the week
or was her name Friday?
Just to be someone’s second hand
to know the ticks and turns that make him run
pour the black coffee, hand him a cup as he
starts his day, that being the hello as he
breezes by, satchel of tools ready to get down
to brass tacks and sifting through lists…

It’s a fanciful thought, to some degree, but I was projecting what I wanted without a clearly formed thought. It applies to wanting to be almost sous chef, but not quite. Partly because right now with my current workload, trying to get back into the kitchen when I am busy three-quarters of the time not in the kitchen, makes it rather hard to be in the actual kitchen managing things.

But future thoughts are nice. Right now, I am one of the most consistent, most reliable persons in the kitchen, and I would like to have more responsibility for running the kitchen. I would have liked more support for this back several months ago when I was at odds with some kitchen staff at the time but was passed over for someone else. For the first week or two it didn’t bother me, but now… and not horribly long after, it did. I would like to move up to directing traffic. And it’s not just for ego. I like being someone’s helping hand. I think it’s in me naturally after helping my father for years be the go-getter.

I’ve moved on far from being a prep chef these days. I am the head pastry chef and head pizza person. A position I would have laughed at, had you told me last year at this exact same time, that I would be there. I never thought I would. I love it. I love the responsibility despite the stress and tiredness from it. I’m also the lead closer. Okay, so the head line chef closes his line….only, …. while I close down everything else. I am literally the last person out of the kitchen. Sometimes I am the last person out of the restaurant. Who would have thought?

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash (I just liked the image)

I strive to get as much done as I possibly can, though I tend to leave ‘snail trails’ around the kitchen. A sticky thermometer, spatula, some random knife or spoon. I have a hard time working clean, but I’m challenging myself to get better. I stress out Chef’s OCD moments when there is a lot of clutter floating throughout the kitchen because too many projects have gotten started. I am notorious for feeling like there is too much to get done and I won’t get it all done soIstartitallatonceandleaveamess! Whew, what a mouthful.

I think it’s interesting that I flipped through my notebook and landed on this poem again after months of hiding away. I fall on a lot of other little poetry, but this one struck me as something I’m still dreaming of happening.

“Do you trust me?” asks Aladdin, holding out his hand?  Well, in a sense, I’m asking that question to God, the universe, my boss. Do you trust me to take on more?

I don’t want to give up my pastries and pizzas. I would like a tad more time to the pastry, but that’s okay. I love working with the dough for the pizza. I’d get more done if my opening guy was on the ball… He’s not. Le sigh.

All of this too has led me to writing more about work again, in the poetry aspects. I think I mentioned that last blog post around. The working with dough. I have dabbled in little bits of irritation poems and things about work that annoy me, but at the same time, they put a perspective spin on what I am doing. I had a lightbulb moment the other day and it helped me figure out a few things about people and situations.

Maybe the dream is still a bit too undeveloped and still budding in reality at this point in life. Who knows. But I go into work each week trying to be a better person, concentrate more on the tasks at hand, not letting work drama get to me, and just striving to be the best goddamn pastry and pizza chef I can be. Oh, and Chef, whenever you want to teach me a new thing, give it to me. I like to know these things. (Like how to steam clams. Boom, got that down now. And making a sabayon…I think I’m going to lose my right arm to whisking)

“And he winds down as Friday finishes all the
checks and balances, twitching the office space
back to rights,to rights, surfaces clutter free,
questions answered, lights going off as he sips
his sparkling drink, the suit gone
and Friday kills the lights, till she puts
on her Monday’s wear. . . ”

Kate

Advertisements

The Sweeter Things In Life

Life sometimes is funny. Okay, that’s nothing new there. No wise bits of wisdom in this little post. Just life.  Like when you have two customers, regulars apparently, who ask if the reason there have been no new dessert specials was due to the pastry chef is now doing pizzas all the time.

That was an incredibly sweet part in my life recently. In all honesty, being sick four times since a week before Christmas put a serious damper on baking, thoughts of baking, and just getting through the day, never mind the week. I have to say that I love dabbling in all parts of the cooking industry. “Hey Chef, show me how to finish this dish so I don’t have to come get you next time there is only one of us in house.” This after it was literally only Chef and I in the kitchen one afternoon.  Do you know how irritating it is to have yourself on one dish, he’s on another and he can’t be found because he was off hunting down someone or something else?  I am not blaming Chef. Just the simple fact that he can take over for me up on the pizza, but I can’t take over for him. (sadly, the line still alludes me in comfort zone. I don’t like to be back there unless I have to…. Okay, that’s not quite true. I would love to learn aspects of it, or three quarters of it, but my heart isn’t in that area, at least, yet.)

But I digressed greatly there. What I was going to say was, while I like all parts of the cooking industry, the pastry and pizza end of things are more my forte. I’ve even had a few people I work with say I have a touch that others do not. It’s always lovely to have someone ooh and ahh over a dessert. Or pizza.

This last week I finally did run a dessert special. I call it a Chocolate Om cake because it had a little of our chocolate Zen liqueur in it. For a little om in life, you have to have a bit of zen….   No one quite got the juste of this turn of phrase, but I rolled with it anyhow. Who cares. I enjoyed this uber rich mocha chocolate cake, four layers, mind you, a rich cocoa frosting and three, yes three, toasted marshmallows on top. You think, marshmallows, how can that be special?  Well, I made them in house, that’s how!  Ooey gooey delishiousness (yes I know that’s not spelled right). I sold out the first cake in a day and a half. I feel I would have sold out on the other cake as well had it not been for the snowstorm that dropped 8 inches of snow and cancelled all of our weekend reservations. Drat!

See, Om and Zen go together, and think about a chocolate cake. You can zen your way through eating it and end up in an om state…. Just sayin’.

But I have ideas in my head a bit more now that I am feeling better.  Chef is working on his new menu for the spring. He has no desserts on it. I must see if I can brain storm with him. I even had my dishwasher ask me if now that I have made a dessert special if I am going to dabble in others. He mentioned coconut cream pie.  Pies are not my forte, but I might have to think about it. Coconut is a thing I love… mmmm, I’m thinking tropical items. The cold is getting to me.

I love the scenery. The peach snow when the street lights just come on at night. The cold, icy glow of snow and ice at night. The way it felt like a snowglobe moment the other afternoon looking out the windows as the snow fell. It’s all beautiful. but I could really go for somewhere tropical right now. Maybe I can play around with a tropical-esque dessert. Something with pineapple… oh that’s right, Astro D mentioned individual pineapple upside down cakes. Yum. Dollop of whipped cream.

Kate

 

Stains, Spots, And Smelly Clothes

Photo by Dmitry Arslanov on Unsplash

The cooking industry is murder on your laundry. I am sure that there are a lot of other industries that would be in that category as well, but what with spots, stains, sweat, and who knows what else, professional kitchens are a source of constant obnoxious laundry.

Take for instance this weekend when I accidentally had my gel pen leaking a bright blue spot through my apron onto my nice white chef’s jacket. I stared down at the spot remembering the ‘lovely’ accident of the sharpie mark on my sleeves one day when I didn’t click it closed. That spot is still there, albeit brown now instead of black due to several laundry tricks that never worked.  I was panicking a bit because a blue stain on white seemed impossible.

I have so far, found a trick by accident that works. So people who want to get stains out, get your pens ready and bookmark this post.

Lots of places said rubbing alcohol and vinegar rotated with table salt got the stains out. For me it was Simple Green worked into the stain and agitated out. I used diluted first to start rinsing it, but then full strength and scrubbed the fabric with itself until the stain was itty bitty. I will launder it as usual and expect it will come out.

For standard laundering of my regular whites, which are white, mind you, is Tide with Bleach. All of my jackets are from Happy Chef, so are that 30/60 cotton poly blend that you are not supposed to bleach. But Tide with Bleach is great because it doesn’t bleach but gets the grease and stains out. Odor too.  My aprons and jackets frequently smell of old flour and oil and fry oil smells. If you do a regular load of laundry with warm water (warm is a must, cold will not work) and if you can soak the load for a half hour in the soapy water then rinse twice, you will have sparkling clean shirts. I use it for my semi faded aprons as well since it breaks down the oils so well.

For spot treatment on every stain no matter what I use Dawn Dishwashing detergent. I like the ultra or concentrated ones as they work the best. Toothbrush, scrub it in, let it sit for a couple hours or days and bada boom, out comes the stain.

If the stain doesn’t work, consider trying hydrogen peroxide with the dawn. If it’s a colored item, rinse it out once the stain starts to fade otherwise you will have the color fade out because of the peroxide.  A trick for berry stains that has worked wonders, is to first treat the stain with the dawn. It will turn every berry stain into a blueish stain, then use the hydrogen peroxide to slowly erase the blue stain. Rinse.  Every single time it works.

Irish Spring original scent bar soap is excellent for getting out blood as well as sweat stains. Sweat smell too. I have always had a problem with body odor and washing with Irish Spring keeps it at bay, will break down the aluminum zirconium in most deodorant antiperspirants ,  and also helps break apart sweat smells. I have used Irish Spring for years, but I definitely have to use it now that I have switched from a natural deodorant to antiperspirant.

For oil stains, if it is fresh oil, sop it up with talcum powder. Not stuff with cornstarch in it, but actual talc. Raid your grandma’s powder tin, so long as you can handle the strong scent.  Use a small spoon or popsicle stick and apply a little mound over the oil spot. (I have never tried it on anything larger than a dime or quarter size)  Let it sit. For a while. Like an hour or two. Brush off with a toothbrush and repeat if the talc is oily and clumpy or the spot is still there. Repeat as many times as it takes to magically disappear the oil. Launder as usual, or use Dawn then launder. It’s seriously amazing. I have saved so many things from oil spots with this trick.

Definitely if you have a stain that you can’t seem to get out, do not throw it in the dryer or use heat. It always sets stains or oil marks. This is actually why my  chef’s jackets are never in the dryer these days. I never want to set a lot a stain, and sometimes I never know if I have gotten all of the stains. So best be safe instead of sorry and trying desperately to get stains out.

My mother is expert at getting stains out, more so than I am. I am notorious for cooking at home without an apron on. I splatter so many things. I am queen of that. And my dad is notorious for spilling on white t-shirts and brand new clean things, whatever they might be. So yeah, lots of years of stains. She probably has more tricks that even I don’t know, but these work like charms for me. So, if you work in a funky stain inducing industry, these might help.

On a side note about cleaning things, I have found that the kitchen is murder on my skin, producing a lot of blackhead and blemishes. A lot, and I wear a concealer that has sunblock in it, so it clogs the pores a lot. After I wash my face with hot water and a washrag at night, I clean my skin with rubbing alcohol. I have found it keeps the bulk of the blackheads at bay. I still get plenty, but it cuts down the bulk. And if my skin gets too dry, then I use Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner in the morning and I am good to go.

It’s the little things in life that make it easier. So any laundering or beauty care ideas for the cooking industry? Send them my way.  And hopefully these help anyone else.

Kate

In A World Of Food Life And Tasting Meals

New Year’s Eve brought me to another banquet, though this was more of a very nice tasting menu. I have done several party type meals with this restaurant, and all usually involved yelling, crying, and broken glass. From someone, though I was usually the one crying. Yeah, so when I knew this was coming up, I was excited albeit, a bit aprehensive. I don’t do well under mad pressure. Meaning mad as in crazy and mad as in pissed off.

This was the farthest thing from that. This was amazing. This was exciting. This was a step towards a brighter future and opportunities that I have only had a glimmer of seeing with online postings from chefs. This was new. Apropos since it was leading into the new year.

The menu was in my opinion, ambitious. I can’t say what Coffeeman thought, though he did say something in regards to New Year’s meals and whatnot.

I was in charge of the desserts. Ta da! Of course I was, though due to a very busy week I was never able to actually make the triple flavored mousses that filled the cannoli shells. I was semi bummed about that, but since my cranberry sauce was used for the appetizer, I can’t complain. Chef could easily make it his way. But he has kept it with my recipe. Thank you. I am honored. It’s pretty cool to say that your lemon bars and cranberry sauce are that; yours. (on a side note, right before calling in sick, I made bourbon caramel sauce and a beer cheese sauce that were perfect in my opinion. Ok, I couldn’t taste them, but everyone else said they tasted good…. I think I am starting to get the hang of this cooking thing where I don’t jump at my shadow and I just make)

The New Year’s Bash went off as a hit, which included a round of applause from a very nice group of people. Several Instagram worthy shots and a closer connection with some of my coworkers. I went home on a high that lasted all that night until the next day when gosh darn it, I felt a virus hit at the tail end of getting rid of another one. Thank goodness it came on a slow week.

Below are some lovely shots of some of the items we served for the meal. And head over to my Instagram account if you want to keep updated on other food related items, or dachshund love.  Kate’s IG  https://www.instagram.com/katielynbranson/

Anyways, Coffeeman has no clue how much I actually wanted to cry because it was so amazing. The last banquet/dinner I had to do involved 60 cakes in 3 hours with no prep and a boss that I am possitive to this day, wanted to break me. He didn’t. He didn’t win. I succeeded and goshdarnnit! I will keep succeeding. Like all things in life, you have to fight for what you want, even when sometimes you don’t know what it is you want. You just keep fighting. And good things will happen.  Well, this is a very good thing.

Two posts in one day. Wow, well, being sick leads to ideas. I have been writing some fiction but I have lost a little zing of that since the last fiasco, which is a bit depressing. I have too much inspiration in my daily life and I want to write about it, but now I sit there wondering where or when I should share it. Le sigh. Such is life.

But this might all be the cold/flu talking and being tired and loss of perspective. Let me just go back to hela good banquet.

Kate

Eighty-Six the Cannelloni, There’s Mashed Potatoes in My Ear

Photo by Benjamin Zanatta on Unsplash

Restaurant life is weird. Like really weird. Like you get to work and you ask your coworker how many reservations (res) you have, they say eighty-six reservations,  and you say, “so no reservations then”.  To ’86’ something means to get rid of it, you don’t have it, or you are out. Only one other person got my 86’d reservations, but go with me here.

I asked Elizabeth Swan (William Turner’s wife, of course) how she was today. “I got mashed potatoes in my ear,” she replies. This isn’t a euphemism. This was actual fact. In a funny twist of life, she reached to scratch her ear and didn’t know she had gotten mashed potatoes on her finger. Go figure. But that also kind of summed up the day.

I find the strangest things sift down and fall onto my head. Currently, it’s ash. A lot of ash. I pull the metal paddle out of the oven and stand it up and think “oh crap” as I feel things sift down onto my arm, my head, my face. People are forever saying I have something on my face. I have to ask if it’s white or black. White is flour, duh, since I work with pizza dough, and black if it’s soot. It’s a common occurrence.

Tonight (December 29th) three of us were tired and hungry. I had told my parents I was going to sit and get a drink then be home. So there we sat, Will Turner, D-boss, and me. My “drink” was a cup of coffee and a bowl of cold cereal, D-boss was eating a microwaved cheese sandwich, and Will had a beer. A motley crew to say the least. (everyone was in a weird eating foods mood tonight.)

I have read books where people are out back of the restaurant in the frigid air smoking and bs-ing. A fair amount of the kitchen staff smokes, I love the smell of cigarette smoke (much to the confusion of my coworkers), and will follow them out to their smoke breaks just to stand with them. Tonight one was smoking while I waited for my ride and I stood there leaning against the brick, breathing in the most frigid air possible, and cigarette smoke, bs-ing about nothing important, and I realized, I have become a book setting.

My life is one giant plotline. Heck, I was writing in my head today as I worked. I can’t quite remember what I was writing, though the title did come to me along with the line from You’ve Got Mail via The Godfather “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” Though I was using cannelloni because that is on our menu and gosh darn it if we don’t have to 86 it a lot due to its popularity and time consumption in prepping it.   Also, isn’t this like the greatest blog title? Bizarre enough that you just have to keep reading. Pardon if my post isn’t the most exciting.

I actually sat there realizing that this full time job is my job. Sometimes if I think really hard about it, it becomes this weird out of body thought and I am left wondering how I got here.

Currently I am out for the count due to a nasty virus or something that gave me a horrible cough and ear infection. I missed three days of work this last week. A week that came on the heels of New Years Eve and a tasting menu that was to die for. I am going to finish up this post then sit down and write about that….

The strangest things delight me at work. Or about work. It’s the little things that make you feel closer to a coworker and you suddenly realize that you are a fairly strange misfits of a family. It may not be a perfect family, but it’s family non the less and you know they get you, for the most part, and you get them, and you can say weird stuff like, “I got mashed potatoes in my ear” and that means a whole host of somethings.

I told Elizabeth that I got over a panic attack, and she was like, ‘well at least you got over it’, which was code for “I’m not doing so ok myself.” We all have our moments where we lean on each other, poke daggers at each other, but hold each other up. We manage to keep afloat somehow.

But seriously, let’s stop 86ing the cannelloni….

Kate

Anniversaries – Day 31

Um, yeah, I had no clue…

I am going to end my challenge on a high note. A different note than what I was writing about earlier in the afternoon, which was kitchen hierarchy, where am I in said spot, where am I going, and the book Sous Chef. It was a good post, but I’m too close to the subject at hand right now that I need to take a step back and reevaluate my macro look at everything.

Today/yesterday as it is past midnight, is my one year anniversary with my restaurant/company. A year ago I walked through the doors of a building that was still being built and finished inside, met the five other individuals who would be my kitchen team. I met my first chef, I filled out paperwork and I found out that while I had applied for hostess, I instead found myself in the kitchen working with the chef.

Damn straight I am…. now just to go about doing it is another matter entirely…

Two of those coworkers are no longer with us and life is always perpetually changing. Even I have changed. A lot. I’m still to emotionally invested in this business. I’m still trying to micro manage things that even the first chef said I needed to stop doing. “K, you are going to burn yourself out if you keep this up!” he told me in January a week after I had quit because I couldn’t handle him any longer. But he was right. I still find myself caring so much that I over care in some ways. I take my work home with me a lot. Mentally.

A friend snapped this of me when I had no clue. Busy as a bee making a pizza

But a year ago I would have never thought I could be where I am today. Pastry chef and loving it and pizza chef and loving it. I love my boss, though I think he and I are a little too alike at times. I love most of the people I work with. And I just love my restaurant.

My life is too crazy to count and the holiday season is upon us. Gads, how can it be Thanksgiving in a day? But it’s here and here comes the crazy. I am excited for it. I think this winter will be much better than last. I hope. I pray.

This challenge was really really great for the most part. Tackling the Write 31 Days one last year. My life behind the swinging doors (and outside of them now) has definitely turned my life upside down. Last year all I wanted to be was a published author/poet. This year all I want is my desserts to wow.

I’m no supergirl…. but I can bake… that is a superpower

Okay, well I was actually quite satisfied with asking Coffeeman if he liked my lemon bars the way they were. “Yes. But they are kind of hard to eat in the car.” (I had sent one home with him last Sunday)

Damn straight. Thank you, sir!

Yeah, that praise and look in his eye from him was a compliment enough. I know when I’ve done my job. Being a pastry chef is pretty darn cool.

Signing off (of the challenge, not the blog)

Kate

Be Assertive – Day 30

“Katie, you need to be more assertive,” says my GM. “Walk around like a guy, like you have a big d—k and b—s.”

This comes after several weeks of being challenged within the kitchen. It didn’t matter how  or what I did, it was like I was dealing with another Lucifer. Actually, this person tends to treat me like Lucifer in ways regarding respect, meaning lack of, especially when no one is watching. Which…. well…. irks me. I am not some peon within my restaurant. I am not the inferior here. I’ve got some experience under my belt. And everyone deserves respect.

I am not an assertive person. Never have been. I am almost as girly as you can be, without being like a complete and total priss. I do get my hands dirty with this job. To be assertive as a woman, you have to be a take charge, don’t let the big boys push you around and have this ability to have authority roll off  of you.

I’m not exactly that person. As Mrs. B said, ‘you have never lived the life your GM has lived, and you probably won’t get jaded to life like more assertive people are.’ It is a fact. I don’t have kids, haven’t been married, haven’t dated a lot, so life hasn’t made me nearly as cynical as  most people are by the time they hit their late 30s. Not to mention I am 20 years behind my GM as far as life experiences go. Oh and the whole health issues which screw up my brain on a regular basis. <—-there’s a real confidence in me builder….

Heck, I go into  a one on one meeting with Coffeeman and GM nearly in tears….. pardon, I was falling apart. To the point where I am not sure I even got out everything I wanted to say. In fact, I know I didn’t say everything I had been rehearsing for two days with my parents. Stuttering, tripping over my words, worked up….I know what I did say got most of my point across. Basically, if you don’t fix this you are going to lose me because I am so frustrated I’m not sure I want to say with this job. I was back to crying before work and crying after. That was/is how frustrated I am. Granted, I cry because I am more sensitive, but this comes from sheer and utter frustration.

I am  a more sensitive person and a lot of things bother me. I am soft. I care about people; I care a lot about people. If they struggle, I am sympathetic or empathetic to their plight most of the time. If someone I really care about is not doing okay, then I really find myself chewing on it. There have been a couple of our servers who I keep my eye on because I care about them a whole heck of a lot and when they go through things, it bothers me. Makes me want to cry.

 

Okay, in general I am a watering pot.  That is how I show my passionate side, besides getting a glow and a sparkle, I tend to get teary. Compliment my dessert, you won’t see me trying to dab my eyes, but I will be.

I have got to learn to just walk away….

I will never be as assertive as my GM would like me to be, but you know what? These people I work with wouldn’t like me as much as they seem to if I wasn’t me. Maybe it’s good to be more soft in a lot of ways.  Life is a dance of opposites. Hard and soft, light and dark. I’m the soft. I’m the light. I’m the laughter. I’m the feminine.

Someone else can be the masculine and the assertive.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have the ability to be more assertive and such. That is something I am working towards. I need a backer who has my back when I request someone do something and that backer is the enforcer and makes sure what I say is done as well. I’m one of those ladies where if I had kids, I would need my husband to be my backer when I wanted those kiddos to do what I said. Basically, not that the backer is the only one making it happen, but giving me the authority that what I say is rule.

Right now I don’t feel like I have that backer completely…… I am hinting at someone.  I’m afraid he’s a little like me. Too subtle…  Hint hint. HINT. I need your support to be semi assertive.  I need to feel like I have authority of some sort, because I am working to that goal. Maybe I will never be in charge totally, but I do think I have skills to be directing traffic and managing. With and enforcer by my side…. Or back, or whatever. Help me help you, so that we both have help….I’m quoting Jerry McGuire there, sort of.

But be thankful I’m not an assertive lady. Trust me, you will like me much more as I am.

Now pardon me while I go hunt down a tissue…. just kidding

Kate

Being a Pastry Chef – Day 29

“Hey, T-Bear. Want some crack?” I ask tonight as service slows down a bit.

“Uh. Yes!” comes the expected response.

Out comes the six pan of lemon bar edges and such and the moans are heard around the kitchen.

When I say ‘crack,’ I don’t mean literal crack. Just like when I talk about cocaine clouds in my poetry. (which is just powdered sugar clouds from roulade cakes) I literally can blame all of this on Coffeeman.  Wednesday I was trimming down the edges of the lemon bars so they  were all pretty to plate and so of course I am not going to toss those edges. Into a pan they go and get passed around for anyone with a sweet tooth. (practically the entire kitchen)

Suddenly, an hour or two later, Chef is shoving the pan back at me and saying “get this crack away from me!”  Yes, it is that addictive and YES! I know I have done my job when Chef says this.  Let me blow on my nail and buff them on my jacket… Preen like a bird. Damn straight.

There are some serious perks to being able to call myself the pastry chef. Mind you, I am not classically trained. At all. Most of my baking has been rather haphazard over the years. The job was shoved at me because the first ‘chef’ decided he needed his wife to not be carting their 4 month old child around the kitchen. Don’t ask. Long story.

So job shoved at me, making boxed everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cakes and such and I am suddenly the  pastry chef.  But I digress way too far down that rabbithole.

So, perks to being pastry chef.

  1. Sugar.  I mean, come on, everything is sweet. How can you go wrong?
  2. Sliding sweet things over to your coworkers as you bake. It is seriously fun to be chopping a block of chocolate and shards get passed over to this person or that person.
  3. Seeing the look of ‘moaning’ delight on anyone’s face when they taste something good.
  4. Do you know how delightful it is to tell a guy you are the pastry chef and see this insta-perked up look of fascination? Um, yeah, there is serious power in that. I say that to a guy, not to mention pizza chef and whatnot, but serious interest is suddenly there. Why just a week and a half ago as the kitchen was filled with all of us on a off day to prep, here comes a very seriously cute/handsome/adorable new FedEx delivery guy and the look on his face as I went to sign his tablet but had to stop because I was chopping a big ole block of chocolate and had it on my hands. Power. There is serious power in being a pastry chef.
  5. Sending out good things to friends who come in……
  6. Handing out spoons for people to sample chocolate mousse, lemon bars, creme brulee, apple pear cranberry crisp (today I treated our hostess to a delightful bit) Ah yes, again it’s power… Good power. The power to create happiness.
  7. Stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Come on, no one can be in a bad mood after desserts.
  8. Your hair, skin, clothes smell like vanilla and cinnamon and sugar cookie dough, and almond, and yumminess. I have taken showers after baking and the scent that wafts off of me as the hot water hits my hair is literally what I was baking and the essence of whatever was baking in the oven.
  9. Power.
  10. Did I mention power? It’s a really sexy power.

So, yeah, I stress a lot about screwing up desserts. I mean, my lemon bars were too wet this time around, needing to have baked them a hair longer, and that roulade cake through the summer, but there are some amazing perks to this job.

Kate

Behind the Scenes Prep – Day 28

Photo by Aaron Thomas on Unsplash

“If you don’t do your prep you don’t have a kitchen.” Wise words from Mrs. B tonight, as I discussed who was good on prep and who wasn’t.  We all do prep. Well, most of us do. There are a few that don’t do as much as others, and some who refused to do prep, and a few now who run around like a chicken with their heads cut off saying they have so much prep but not doing their prep……but we’ve all done some prep.

I got my start in this job as a prep chef. I worked the pantry (salads and such), but most of my day was prep work. Back prep work. I have done a lot of cutting, sous vide, sauces, baking, etc. All I did at the beginning was prep. And walkin duty.

You have to have your prep to have a fluid, well oiled kitchen. In my restaurant, just about everything is made in house. There are a few things here and there that are not, but these days, thanks to Coffeeman and his love of all things house made, we house make everything. The only thing right now we don’t do is bake our own bread (though the focaccia went through the summer just until the menu switch){and to do that we need a full time baker and another kitchen practically} .  Everything else we do.

Stocks, dressings, soups, sauces, dicing, slicing, cutting, grating, zesting, baking, rolling, forming, stuffing, shredding, and the list goes on. I come in every day and the first thing I do after I clock on is to check our white board for what needs doing. Our prep lists are usually pretty thin these days when I get in because the kitchen is so organized I don’t find myself bogged down with prep that wasn’t done in the day, because, shock of all shocks, Coffeeman is right in the thick of things with prep. He does so much prep work. He doesn’t stand around BS-ing  and saying “Oh I have so much to do!” but then not doing it. He actually does it! (unlike a few previous employees, and a few previous ‘chefs’) That man works so hard.  And we all do prep.

“We are all dishwashers, bakers, prep chefs, etc.” Coffeeman always says. He’s right. While I’m not the dishwasher, I do find myself doing dishes when we are busy, or now when I am alone in the kitchen on my days of baking. We all do a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Tonight (this is several days after I started this post….[come on K, get your but in gear and finish these GD month of day posts!]) Chef sent our dishwasher home early so he could catch a break and the kitchen was left to William, T-Bear, and me. So while T-Bear went on lunch, I cleaned up the back prep area and found myself running silverware and dishes through the dishwasher. I don’t mind it. Why should I?  The job has to be done, be it mopping floors (which I did) to making a pizza (which I also did). It’s all about running a smooth kitchen.

Prep may be boring to some, but without it, you cannot have a functioning restaurant. Astro D has moved to days and is in the thick of prep, and he loves it. I love coming in and hearing what he did during the day. He’s getting to make soup! And he’s thrilled. And I’m thrilled because I come in to work and I don’t have prep waiting to be done. It’s done so I can tackle things that are for what I do. Like making sure my station is all set up. Now if only I could remember to actually finish…. I forgot to check some things tonight. Whoops.

It’s this giant clockwork of a machine. And prep work is one of the largest cogs in this wheel of a clock of a restaurant. (hey, that would be a cool start to a poem)

Kate

Everything Changes – Day 27

So yeah, I didn’t actually complete the Write 31 Days in a 31 day period… sue me.  Busy, tired, busy, tired, I could repeat….  And I can’t quite remember what Twin Ponygirl said for title, but I’ll give her the credit for this. So any comment made to this post, she get’s 50 cents royalties…

Lemon Bars Photo by Dana DeVolk on Unsplash

Literally, everything changes, from coworkers to menus, the restaurant business is ever evolving. Months ago I wrote how Miss Holly and I hated change, and for the most part, it’s true, but honestly, I am excited for the new changes to the menu. The other day as a bunch of us were prepping on a closed day, Coffeeman asked how we were all feeling. I wasn’t sure if it was in general because we all put in a long day, or because of the new menu. For me, I am feeling quite excited about the new menu. Yeah, there is a lot of prep. It’s an ambitious menu, to me at least. But it’s a good and exciting change.

I didn’t get what Coffeeman was blathering on about a week and a half ago about being bored with the summer menu… Then I started thinking about it. Like that night I went home and was totally in agreement. I was bored with the menu. I needed a change. I needed something different to challenge my mind. My creativity. My passion.

I’m always passionate about what I’m doing, which is why it takes me a bit longer to make things because I want them to be perfect-ish. But even I was feeling like the menu was mundane at times. It needed something to spice it up. It needed to embrace fall. Lots of fall, even if there are only 54 days till Christmas… (yeah, I killed you there, didn’t I?) I need dark flavors and spices. I want rich and heavy. It’s gorgeous fall weather  as I look out to a blue sky and this rust colored oak tree. I mean, it is absolutely gorgeous! So I want flavors that embrace that.

Oh the cranberries, port, orange, lemon, and cinnamon are a simmering. Gorgeous sight…

I am excited Chef decided to use my cranberry-port sauce for the lemon bars. My sauce!  Okay, well I did find the recipe and tweak it.  And the other day he asked where my recipe was for the lemon bars. “What recipe, you are the chef, aren’t you supposed to have it?” I asked

“You’re the pastry chef! Where’s yours?!” he countered.

Damn straight. I am the pastry chef. Where was mine?  I have to tweak it a bit working with a much larger pan than a 9 by 13!  But it’s good and I have plans.

Fall is bound to be exciting, and changes are forever happening. I’m learning to roll with them. Sometimes.

Kate