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

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Torta Caprese, Experimenting – Day 25

My special!

So, obviously I didn’t get to writing till it’s already the 26th, but this is an exciting post for me. I got home after an absofreakinglutely great night and was kind of a motor mouth for a good hour, poor parents, and finally am in bed tapping away.

So you know how I had my experimenting the other day about Panna Cotta? If not, read it. But this week, Coffeeman cleared for me to make a flourless chocolate cake.  I’m not sure why this popped into my head to try, but maybe it came from finding a recipe in Cooks Illustrated, or the Martha Stewart Living that showed up in the mail. Either way, Tuesday, I was alone in the kitchen mastering a torta caprese, or Italian Chocolate Almond flourless cake. (It’s technically not flourless when there is almond flour in it….)

Definitely unassuming in its natural state… IE, chilling in the walkin

This cake is rich in chocolate, eggs, butter, and almond flour.  I topped it with a chocolate ganache icing. It’s this single unassuming layer, but it packs a punch.

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

And because it’s autumn, and the cranberries came in, I wanted a cranberry sauce, something that screamed fall.  I found a delightful recipe for a port spiked cranberry sauce and was given the go ahead to use some of the port we keep in our restaurant.  So cranberries and port and orange and lemon zest, a bit of cinnamon and some orange juice…. This sauce is so good, just on it’s own. (“With turkey,” mused Coffeeman and  Astro D today…) Boys, keep musing. You have no idea how delighted I was to see the looks on all of your faces.  (I want to just eat the sauce. It’s that good)

Finished sauce. I liked it better as it simmered, but well, done is done. The taste explodes in your mouth.

Then an amaretto and rum spiked whipped cream on the side…. (because I mean, amaretto. And rum) a bit of candied orange.  I plated the dessert today and all I heard was, “You made this?”

“You made this.”

“YOU MADE THIS!”

And a “nice” coupled with a fist bump and I think a “nailed it” or “knocked it out of the park” along with a “that with an espresso is perfect” from Chef.

Damn…….  yeah, damn fine day. I could have danced myself silly around the kitchen, but for the running into people aspect.

Look at that description!

Good day. Like really really good day. This experimenting stuff is going well….

Can you tell I’m happy?

I only wish I could send you all a piece to try it out.

Kate

Mistakes – Day 24

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

This wasn’t the post I planned to write today. Today’s post is getting put off till tomorrow or later. And like a tail between my legs, I’m writing this late as I am embarrassed.

Most people that know me would know I hate to make mistakes. I have since I was a child when I didn’t get spelling tests right. My mother reminded me of that today when I was nearly in tears because I had not left a note for Coffeeman that the meringue was not a huge amount nor was there a huge amount of lemon curd for tarts.  (leaving a huge pile of dishes then finding out we don’t have a dishwasher for Wednesdays right now, didn’t help either, because had I known, there wouldn’t have been a huge pile of dishes!)

I hate to make mistakes, even minor ones. Even  minor ones like leaving notes. I seriously have issues with making mistakes. Oh sure, I back talk my parents from time to time, I smart off, I don’t do things the non lazy way all the time, I am a cluttered individual, the clutter wins more often than not, I am a perpetual procrastinator, I am a distracted individual, I’m argumentative…. I have a lot of faults, but when I screw up, it really bothers me.

I spent the summer screwing up with relationships and life choices and it was hard to accept the consequences at times. I’m still dealing with the hurt from mistakes made.

At work, I really, really, really hate to make mistakes. Back in early spring, Lucifer needed prep help for a busy morning, so he asked me to push off my dessert baking till we got caught up. Unbeknownst to me, we had a car club come in and those guys always order desserts. Always.

We ran out of pie. Well not that we didn’t have enough to serve them, but when they were gone, we were out of pie and I wasn’t caught up on baking. Needless to say, the chef lit into me because it was going to take me a while to play catch-up especially with a pie that took two hours from start to finish because it needed to cool. I was in tears for most of the day because I had disappointed him, as well as he told me he was going to have to go tell the owners of the restaurant that we were not up to snuff because I hadn’t done my job.

Okay, I realize that the situation wasn’t all of my fault, but it was hard and it bothered me for days. One of those times I went home in tears.

This late summer not having  our roulade cake holding together left me mentally in tears, and actual tears a lot of the time. It took almost 6 weeks of baking the darn thing, trying new things each week before it finally worked for me.  Being mocked by a couple people for not getting it right didn’t help either….. I am a very sensitive individual.

Today’s mistakes, while minor, bug the heck out of me. Yeah, I am really tired and my sugars have been wonky lately, diving really low in the middle of the night and not being so great in the morning. So, that affects my tiredness. Mentally stressing about coworkers, missing idiot boys in my life, even though it was best to separate myself from them all add to the general irked feeling.

I hate to make mistakes. I hate to disappoint people. Which is sometimes a problem. I try so hard to please people that I am always stressing about it. Go figure why I have such insecurity issues. My father can’t figure it out. Heck, I can’t figure it out. Why do I need that A++ on a test, life, relationships?

Mistakes happen. They will forever happen from time to time in a job. I just wish they didn’t happen to me.

Kate

Lemon Curd and Swiss Meringue – Day 15

The halfway point. I’m already feeling it. Probably because I don’t have any backup posts now. Now I have to write every day because I’m not caught up and I’ve lost a little of what I should write about. This always happens.  I do have a few things I know of, but I like to see what inspiration strikes me at work.

Today it’s two areas that a few months ago I would have said no way and no how was I ever going to be able to make them. I definitely would have said it a year ago. I don’t know why I was so worried.

Whisking lemon curd away

I’ve always wanted to make lemon curd, but everyone warned me it was time consuming and you could really screw it up. And I would have never tried a different type of meringue.

Lemon curd has got to be one of the easiest things to make. Oh sure, it takes a bit of time, but it’s like super easy to make. Seriously, I will willingly make it for anyone that wants some, provided they spend the money on the ingredients. It does use a fair amount of eggs, butter and lemon juice/zest….. <—see, zest!  But in a double boiler, bain marie, it’s a breeze. I make it almost every week. And the exploding lemon flavor is heaven. Seriously, I love lemon tarts now. Not that I would have ever balked at it before. In fact, now that I know how to make it, I want to make it for my family.

Filling a piping bag

Swiss meringue

Swiss meringue came after my standard meringue fell quite quickly at work. I’m not an expert at it and it was causing trouble. You either have a touch for it or not. I can’t say as I have a touch. So research began and swiss meringue became the solution. The first trial was too sticky and gooey, but an improved recipe { Rethinking Swiss Meringue: Lighter, Fluffier, and More Stable} made this marvelous concoction that I want to spread and eat and just consume.

It worked every time I made it and lasted days, much to Lucifer saying, “no it won’t” and “see how much time it takes you to make!” Gasp and horrors, 15 minutes for three to four days of it lasting versus 5-10 minutes each day… Gee, I wonder which one was more functional?

A finished lemon tart with swiss meringue

That being said, my swiss meringue has been separating lately. Too much humidity? Too much beating? Not enough sugar? Something is off and it irks the heck out of me. It was decent for the weekend. And I sent out a couple luxurious desserts to guests late at night. I got to plate. I loved it.

Sometimes it’s the silly things I’m afraid of, but Chef seems to think I’m up to the challenge and in the scope of things, I’ve ruined very little. The roulade cake not cracking for weeks was an issue, but I have it solved. I should probably modify the kitchen bible.

I love that I have lemon curd and meringue in my head and I can whip them out without even questioning myself. I love that food becomes almost ordinary in fixing it. Someone says, “can you do —-?” and I can say, “Why yes I can!” Skills…..

“June, you’ve got skills…”   from Knight and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz

I guess I have ’em.

Kate

Creativity, Experiment 1 – Day 6

So, Coffeeman is all about being a chef. As in, we get to experiment. Try new things. Bounce ideas off of him. Instead of talking about it, we do it, as he said to me a couple weeks ago when I was thinking of panna cotta to make use of something odd in our walkin. It’s not about talking about it. It’s doing it. I love that. I love that I get to experiment with ideas. (the panna cotta turned out ok, but I’m not sure it was as popular as it could have been. bummer)

A cured yolk just after being in the salt a week. Now into the ovens.

One idea that I wanted to try was cured egg yolks. I use a fair amount of eggs in the baking process, fortunately the whole egg most of the time, but here and there, when I make meringue, I only need the whites.  Well, cured egg yolks are these really cool bundles of yellow Parmesan flavor. Trust me, they really do taste like Parmesan.

So to cure them, you carefully separate your egg yolks from the whites, then carefully place the yolks into a pan that has a layer of salt and sugar, into little divots you make in the salt/sugar. Cover the yolks in the same mixture and let chill/cool/take a break for a week before rinsing the salt off and drying in a warm oven overnight.

A couple a yolks just hanging out….

They can be micro-planed onto something as a garnish. This pretty yellow dust that is salty good.  I have a small collection of them at work and I haven’t found a use for them, but I love that Chef let me try them. I want to come up with a pizza that I can grate it on top of for a bit of color and flavor. I’m thinking a cool pasta primavera style alfredo thing might be cool. Something. I haven’t figured it all out yet. Still playing around with ideas.

I just love all the creativity that has graced our kitchen. The other day Coffeeman pulls me out to the back freezers, spoon in hand and has me take a sample of this chocolate sorbet/ice cream he’s made. It’s luxurious. I ask him why and he replies, “Because I can and I wanted to do something different with pink peppercorns.”  So it was a chocolate pink peppercorn frozen delight. It was delightful. So if he’s experimenting, so are we, in a way.

I don’t always have time to mentally come up with new things though a part of me feels like I should, except he is the chef. He’s supposed to come up with things. I’m still just trying to keep my body floating as I take in as much information as I can with everything he dumps on me. One of these days I might come up with something. I’m working on it.

Kate

Tools and Accessories – Day 5

“K, your bag is in the way again.” Lucifer is rolling his eyes at me as my tool bag is apt to dump its contents all over the place.

“I need my tools,” I say as I scoop them all up.

“You don’t need them. You just think you do. You just like to accessorize.” 

Lucifer is mocking me, of course. One of the many of the day.  (Sometimes I wonder why I fell in love with this boy.)

Maybe I don’t need all the tools I have in my bag, but as the Chef has a backpack full of unique tools, I won’t let Lucifer’s words get to me. Besides, things are perpetually getting lost in the kitchen. So I kind of like having all my tools with me. Measuring spoons, spatulas, tasting spoons up the wazoo, microplane, lemon juicer…. I have enough to get me by, but honestly, I wouldn’t mind a few more. Coffeeman has these really cool spoons that have an opening at the end and you can write with sauces. Those are cool.

I use all of my tools on a regular basis. Especially my spatulas. And tasting spoons. I have about 6 or more and they are great when I make chocolate mousse and hand out spoons for people to taste. Yum.

So I’m a woman. So what if I like to accessorize. Big deal, I like shoes too…..

Kate

Beyond the Swinging Doors – 31 Days of My Life in a Professional Kitchen

Behind those two doors my world resides. Oh, and right to the left, where pizza is.

My life as a prep/pastry/pizza chef has been a whirlwind of less than a year. Considerably apropos to spend 31 days writing about it, posting about it, pictures about it, since this is the last year of 31 Days in October. Honestly, I can’t believe that this little blogging thing, which isn’t so little, is coming to a close. But as one chapter of life closes, another opens.  I can honestly say that all my hours spent cooking and baking are taking over my life to the point where I can only blog here and there.

The life has lead to some amazing opportunities, not just within the kitchen, but in my writing life as well. Opening doors to new subjects. New loves. New hates. New, new, new. It’s all new. Exhausting. Amazing.

I write this at nearly two thirty in the morning after not getting off of work till midnight, body exhausted and sore, mind fuzzy and wiped. But it’s all good. In a strange way, it’s good to feel this tired. I wish sometimes that I had more time to devote to writing and being at home, but at the same time, I love my job.

You know how people have to keep saying over and over how much they love something because they really don’t? Yeah, well that’s not the case with me. I say it over and over because it’s true. Even the most frustrating moments, like tonight running out of things the morning prep guy should have stocked for me, screwing up a few pizzas,  not having such and such done, and just not being able to close down till late, I still have the good things overshadow the bad. Like having a guy slip a tip over the window to me because he so enjoyed his dinner.  Having another guy say my pizzas were incredible. And another one saying he loved the mussels (which I did not do, Chef did) but he planned to come back soon because he heard how good my pizzas were. Yeah, those are good moments. It’s a good moment when your coworkers ask you to make them a pizza and they love it. I love my job.

So, I shall attempt for the next 31 Days of October to write and post about my life behind those two black swinging doors. The dance. The magic, the whirling motion of life. The food. I have my camera/cellphone at the ready. I already have several mental posts lined up.  Get ready, dearies and my darlings.

Kate

  1. Stainless Silence

Lack of Tact makes me Bite Back

Photo by Mitchell Orr on Unsplash Stupid uphill climb…

Just as I think I’ve made progress in one area of my life, something else seems to derail everything and I feel like I’ve slid back down the ever upward climbing slope. Sisyphus and his boulder. This was a very stress induced week; pardon, the last two to three weeks have been stress induced weeks, where I feel exhausted beyond belief and unable to make any rational decisions. In fact, I’ve made several rash decisions that have made the stress even higher. Mr. T (renaming  Tomcat for personal reasons) and I went through a whirlwind of a thing that created family problems and drama that made me take a step back from it all and reevaluate some decisions and life choices.

It’s never easy to have to deny what you want for the better good. I really, really hate doing that. Mrs. B said that you can’t always do what you want, but what is right. I really hate that sometimes as well, because she’s right. What I want isn’t always what’s good for me. I want to stay up late. But I should go to bed. I want to drink numerous cups of coffee, but I need to drink water. I want to date so and so. But who do I want to end up with in life.

Tomcat and I are in this weird work/coworker relationship that was closer than that. Lucifer and I had the same issue. Don’t date coworkers. It will screw you up. It’s all too personal. And now we are clashing with each other. I don’t think it helps that Tomcat and Lucifer are friends. I think they feed off of each other too much. And currently, after a run-in with Lucifer, I have my feisty nature exposed. I’m tired of being pushed. I’m tired of people telling me I’m lacking passion, that I don’t know anything, that I’m too distracted, that they can whip me into shape. It’s not that I even disagree with all of that, but I’m just tired of the arrogant boys, boys 10-15 years younger than me, thinking they are God’s gift to the human race and they can teach me a thing or two. Honey, just because I have some naivete and haven’t been out in the world sleeping around, doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. Push me so far and I might just snap and then like hurricanes wreaking havoc, you won’t like the end result. You will get burned, stabbed, eviscerated, yes, Mels, I know if someone was ever murdered with a knife, I’m the first suspect…..

Tomcat and I clash when he tries to boss me around, this boy, and I say it with complete and total snark and sarcasm and stabby looks in my eyes, thinking he’s my boss. He’s not. Lacking tact, trying to act like he’s the new sous chef (Lucifer is no longer with us) and just being an all around a**hole at times, I could easily slap him so hard. Last night was one of those nights where I wasn’t going to be pushed. He’s been doing it for the past month since he joined and I had it. I outright defied him and ignored his bossy tone. So he went and got Coffeeman. Fine, I don’t care if Chef has to come in and deal with it. I’m tired of being pushed around by people who think they know everything. This goes back to even a few of my even younger coworkers who are half my age. Children. They are children. I may not have kids of my own, but whatever happened to respect your elders and superiors?  It’s like it just doesn’t exist.

Lucifer was 10 years younger than me and my boss. I get that he got to boss me around, but still, it can really irk when ‘children’ are bossing you around. Because they have no tact. Tact, Tomcat. You have no tact. No diplomatic skills. Brag about you being a person with manners and all, but seriously with me,  you have zip. And you are getting even less. You want to see me bite back, well, honey, there is how I will start fighting. Even if it isn’t for a good, valid reason, I will bite back if you are rude.

Clearly the drama and issues are not out of the water. Clearly I haven’t simmered down. It probably doesn’t help that Tomcat and I had a private message late last night and it still irked me. I still feel he thinks he’s in charge of me in the kitchen. I could use Coffeeman’s advice. I just hate to bother him now that he’s having to take on more with Lucifer gone. I’d really like to be his girl Friday, but I’m so tired right now, I feel I can’t take on any more than he’s already put on me. Not that I’m complaining, I’m looking forward to it. A lone kitchen and baking and experimenting. Now that’s kind of fun. I hope.

Pardon my vent. I had plan to talk about making and baking and experimenting but the issues of the kitchen have clearly frustrated me more than enough.

Bare with me. I might be able to tone down a little today. I had some good advice from various things and people in life and now it’s just applying them.

Kate

Sick Days, Lost Voices

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It’s a very strange thing to go into work and have your boss say, “you lost your voice? What are you doing here? You are sick, go home.”   Probably because I’ve never been in this situation. Sure, I’ve been sick working before, but as a librarian, it’s not that big a deal.  In a kitchen….kind of. So there I was yesterday having Lucifer telling me to get the heck out of the kitchen.  I think he felt a little bad that I had to go, and I really didn’t want to have to go home, but thank god I did.  I actually love my job so much, I just don’t want to have to sit on the sidelines, even though I really want to sit on the sidelines. This virus I have is nasty. A cough, a lost voice, and just an all around “I feel like crap” feeling.  So sick I don’t want to write. Ironic as here I am writing.

This is more just letting the fingers vent a bit and moving. I actually finished a book last night.  I think I am up to three books this year I’ve read.  One that I own. I remember years ago I would read easily 20-30 books a year. My how those days have flown. I don’t have that much time for useless reading, so if I finish a book, it has to be one I really want to read or one that has caught my attention enough to keep it.

I fiddled around the other day and ended up ordering six books from Better World Books, all poetry but one which has to do with cooking. Yeah, like I need more poetry books on my shelf. But I liked what one poet said in an episode of Poetry Off the Shelf. She said that she keeps poetry books scattered on her table like magazines. You can pick one up and read just one thing. That’s what I like about poetry. It can be long. It can be short.  You can take it anywhere.

Right now I’m a little happy with my own poetry as I took three poems into work and posted them on our white boards. Two of them I referenced in the previous post, but one was a quick little ditty about the kitchen and fast movements and in a slant rhyme style. Fun and fluffy, but oh so true. I have had several people at work quite impressed with what I wrote. Juliet was like “wow, we are living this” to me yesterday.  Yes, girl, we are. We (coworkers) are so living this crazy cheffing life; the serving life. We serve. Think about that. We serve. We are placing food out for other people. If you look at it that way, it sounds menial, but it is so not. I have had several people so excited for me when they find out I am a prep chef. Especially when they find that out, and that I am not a waitress (server, as we call them).  They are ecstatic for me. I’m ecstatic for me.

Photo by Jordane Mathieu on Unsplash

There I was on Thursday night, working on a new chocolate frosting for our cakes, experimenting to some degree, but knowing what I wanted. I had the time and the luxury to play around with ingredients and get the input of several people about what we wanted the cakes to look like (now that the menu is about to change…) and it was this great collaborative movement. Having servers walk by and ogling your frosting; let’s just say it did not take any coaxing to get a single one to try it.  Everyone was super impressed. A hazelnut ganache frosting. Yeah, it was swoon worthy.  I want to be able to create more and have that look of hunger cross people’s faces. Like this ultimate desire.  Food is very magical and powerful that way.

I suppose I shouldn’t sound surprised by saying that. Everyone can name someone that moans when they taste something divine. I do it. I’ve done it. Much to Lucifer’s laughter since he does it on a regular basis. Note to readers, chefs do like food. Ha ha. Food is power. Something so primal and relatively simple is at the basis of our being. Eating. And taste, well, there is a reason it is one of the five senses.

So, reading, writing, experimenting with food, are definitely going on right now.  And giving myself a little rest from probably the last 8 months of crazy work. I think my body finally said, “honey, you need a break”. So break it is. Lots of lemon, honey and Alka Seltzer. Thank god for that.

Hope all you dearies are healthy and happy and enjoying the food blogging I seem to be perpetually posting.  I’ve been a little disinclined to submit anything to anywhere because I’m tired. Maybe as the weather cools off.

Happy writing.

Kate

Kitchen Affairs and Poetics

Photo by Luo ping on Unsplash

So sorry, dearies. My life has been a little chaotic, personally, professionally, and writing hasn’t been a top priority. Actually, that isn’t true, it’s been a desire, but the mood hasn’t been positive for writing. I was down in the depths of sadness and frustration with Lucifer recently, but life has changed a bit and my outlook is a lot better. Life is changing again as Lucifer is now no longer my head Chef. Now I have a new boss. A new man in my life. Lol. My new Chef starts today when I’m off work, so I won’t get to know the full extent of what it’s like to work with him until later this week. I met him last week and I already like what I see. I have to come up with a name for him… I’m leaning towards Shakespeare or William from Knights Tale.  I’m sure you can figure out from that what his name is.

But this post isn’t about that at all. That’s just a life update. Now onwards to what this post is about:  The poetry from the kitchen and the affairs of life that create the poetry that is my life. People forget that we are poetry in motion.

Everything in life is an inspiration to me and for my writing. It’s the littlest of things, or sometimes, very large things. It’s the every day, it’s the extraordinary. Needless to say, the Kitchen brings a whole new life to my writing. From love affairs that have not panned out, to friendship, to cooking, heartache, depression, frustration, magic, excitement, creation. Heat, fire, flames, cold, water, air, food…. it all comes together creating this dance of a life that I seriously could not see myself without these days. I can’t imagine not working in this kind of life.   (okay, a little part of me really could, but that’s only if I am married and don’t have to work and can be just a writer. Luxury thinking there)

I read off my ‘kitchen poetry’ to my writing group and it has become a thing where Mels and Dona have both said I need to work on this aspect and focus on it, or at least see it as a chapbook of poetry and such. The work flavors my writing so much these days. I even have a title for my work if it ever goes anywhere. “Field Notes on Kitchen Affairs”  though I think “Field Guide to Kitchen Affairs” works as well.

Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash

I write about ‘the dance’ and the life and things that have come together to create this camaraderie of things with people I would have never spent time with had I not been working with them. I love that I am both morning crew and night crew, or night shift as I think of it. I work mornings once a week and the rest of the week I am a closer, being one of the last lines of defense against the scourge that is a dirty kitchen. There is magic in the morning in the silence before the mad dash of the day starts, there is this subtle simplicity of scrubbing down stainless steel at night and knowing you are leaving it as spotless as possible for the morning crew.

Working hand in hand with people you have been with since day one, where one moment you can hate that person, the next you are arm in arm standing firm against the tide of tickets that have just printed up minutes from end of service.  This fight against your own ego and doubt, the fight against the doubt and egos of others. Moving up through the ranks, learning, cramming ideas and techniques into your head, a neverending supply of knowledge. I joked with Lucifer the other day that I have had three different chefs tell me how to make pasta. His reply? “Well, now you know three ways to make pasta!”  Smartypants.  But it’s true.

Here is some of the poetry or more, lines of poetry that have come from work. I won’t share entire poems as I plan to see about publishing but enjoy nonetheless

An Alliance of Gazelles

A flower girl, a pure one, almost,
brazenly attacking and metal clanking,
we are the black white yin yang of the feminine mystique,
she is no demon,
I am no angel,
I am her, she is me,
we are and have become
a whirling dervish,
flesh against flesh we exist in this spatial moment,
an alliance,
this torrid rip of polyvinyl, a film covering over smells and service,
stacking, towering heights,
steel wool buffs out the filth,
the grime sliding down to coat a slick surface of desperate moments,

 In the Evening Quieting of a Kitchen

With the fans off, with just a gentle hum
stainless counters and sinks gleam in their
scuffed patina from scoured scratches of steel wool
red tiles are mopped and grease free
gentle whirs of compressors from refrigeration units
empty stations, empty Chef’s table but for
a single note scribbled on ticket paper
long and lean, blue tape holding it down.
The long, never-ending list of prep on the whiteboard
is cleared off, black half smudges gone,
and new type is written up for the
new day’s prep when morning crew comes in.
Order lists filling up columns, humor jotted down
on the small squared off ‘kitchen blog’ corner,
the night shift in all their exhausted glory
leaving twisted and strange jokes.
Dishes stacked just so in warmers and on shelves,
cambros lined up neatly; nine, six, third, half,
and full hotels are back to rights.

Kitchen Choreography
Not with a fizzle, but with a bang,
the issues are decided here,
silent nuanced double meanings,
the start of every work day where
a Wednesday feels like a Monday.

A pristine kitchen waits to be cluttered,
surfaces waiting to be filled as we
shift around each other, pieces readjusting,
watch-like mechanical movements, tick-tocking.
Time rushing by us. Pans shift, doors open.
The whir of mixing, snap, snap, snapping—
a knife in an onion, hitting a board.
Steel hitting wood, slicing soft flesh.

Fans deafen; defeat normal tones, a shouting match,
a fight ensues to be heard over the gentle roar.
Ovens are blazing, pilot light’s blue flames.
Electrical currents of live wire flow out from
the shifting of bodies, a warning of human placement,
hands sliding across backs,
a warning, a guard, reevaluating each other’s dance space

You can see that there are definitely things that are so kitchen related. I guess being a writer and a prep chef, you get to see both aspects of the world. The writing world and the cooking world.  It has been so inspirational.  I keep writing more and more about it in different aspects. I have one poem about how a knife isn’t just a knife. There is a whole story there. Personal aspects of people. You love and hate your coworkers. One minute you want to kiss someone then next, stab them, smack them, yell an insult. We insult each other all the time. It is what makes us one of the most dysfunctional families around. I may eviscerate a coworker, but I also stand by them.

Anyways, there are my last three weeks. Heartache, working, exhaustion, food, poetry, fire….. Hmm, a sorceress at work here…

Kate