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

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

Being There, Being Gone

I was recently reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and in it she quoted Hemingway.

“Maybe away from Paris I could write about Paris as in Paris I coudl write about Michigan. I did not know it was too early for that because I did not know Paris well enough.”   — A Moveable Feast

I found this section on “Composting” and having to take in life’s experiences rather apropos this week. I found myself struggling to write about an experience at work, only a few hours after being in the experience and I just was dumping words on the paper. I couldn’t get my voice out. I couldn’t separate myself from the pure adrenaline rush I still had going on. They say there is afterglow after sex; well adrenaline rushes have the same afterglow. It’s rather heady but killer on writing about it.

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash That’s Exactly what our pizza oven looks like. This is the brand.

This last Friday night our regular man up front was down for the count, he’d called in sick, and Chef Coffeeman was only doing a half day and Lucifer was the only chef on the line. Mr. T and I were literally dumped right into being on the line out front. I’m not kidding. It was a “well, you wanted to learn. Here you go. Either sink or swim.” There was a bit of floundering at first. Making pizzas that do not fall apart, rip, and come out looking good, is harder than it sounds. I mean, I’ve worked with all of the ingredients before, and I’ve even worked with the dough, made it a bunch too. But it’s very different when you are right there on center stage and you have to make it. But make it we did. Mr. T and I swam. Maybe it was dogpaddling at first, but swam we did.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

We got into a rhythm and a fairly decent groove. It became our dance. We were left to our own devices at one point when Lucifer had to show us a bit better how to make things work, but then he was gone and we were on our own. And when he came back at one point and looked down at what I was pulling from a 700 degree wood oven and said “that’s perfect,” well if you think I didn’t get a glow, then you don’t know me.

Supposedly our pizzas were the prettiest things that guests had seen. The servers were ecstatic we were up there (me specifically because all the ladies have thought I should be up there) and the night went well. I was solo for about an hour and a half and it was so amazing.

But the next morning, I could not write about it. I tried my darnedest but it just was being forced out. I realized I was too close to the subject. I needed to give it some time. I got the bones out and closed the notebook with a slap and a chuckle from my writing group. Dona was able to hear the start of my voice at the last third of the poem, but it needed work.

I worked Saturday, a little more on the line and by Sunday, I could gel more into the poetry. But even so, I’m still too close to the subject. It’s going to take the week, or at least days to let it settle in my mind. I keep thinking that I have to get it out now! If I don’t I’ll forget it in a flash and I’ll never get what I want to say out. I panic a lot about losing the story. It’s that feeling of an idea in your head that you spend minutes repeating it, rushing around to find paper to only not have it come out right when you finally have found a piece of scratch paper, a receipt, and a pen that finally works. It’s never as good as that first thought. I always worry that I will lose it.

I hate that feeling. It’s a feeling like I’ve missed out. Gosh, right now I feel that panic as I type. It’s a frantic feeling that makes me super agitated. I haven’t figured out how to calm that Crazy. Lucifer was good at getting me to do that sometimes, but I don’t have the luxury of Lucifer. I need a crazy calmer. I’ve always had a feeling like I’m going to miss out.

But anyways, back to being there, not being there. I need to step away from the writing subject sometimes. I always think I need to be in the season to write about it. Granted, it’s easier to remember how to write about thunderstorms when they are happening. And winter snows, and such, but sometimes I don’t need to be there to find myself in my mind’s eye, traveling to a place and being there in my head. I can sit here right now and be driving up the highway at my grandparent’s cabin, and I probably feel it more than if I were there trying to take it all in. Getting distracted by everything else.

Photo by Jordan Steranka on Unsplash This is that afterglow feeling. Right here.

Right now I can feel the rush in my blood as I finished out the night swinging pizza and feeling like this super bad-ass chef. It’s as heady as  kiss on the neck. Which I know from experience. I can actually make the adrenaline rush come back. Whew! I think I should go write about it.

Do you find yourself needing to step away from a place, situation, season, to write about it?  Tell me about it. And also, who has read A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway?  What about Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg? Have you got a review of those books? I’d love to hear it.

Kate

Ravenous, Feverish, Insomnia Passions

I sit here late at night… Actually it is just after 2 AM and I’ve been home for work for hours, but I’m still wired.  I came upon this amazing quote Dona posted from Ray Bradbury.

“You grow ravenous. You run fevers. You know exhilarations. You can’t sleep at night, because your beast-creature ideas want out and turn you in your bed. It is a grand way to live.” ~Ray Bradbury

That is how I feel sometimes. A lot of the times. Right now.  My mind is a whirlwind of a cyclone of a storm brewing of a magic bubbling up. I have ideas and thoughts and fevers rising.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

It’s not often I get off of work this exhilarated. This content. This happy. This just please stay like this. It’s not often I can say I have the most amazing team/crew/family of people I’m working with. Lucifer, Wildflower, Chef Coffeeman, the Twins (because despite them looking nothing alike, their names are used interchangeably) Mr. Dish, Astro D, and our new Mr. T, are my team. They are freaking amazing (Miss Holly is our morning lovely so she didn’t get the night experience). We are just a wow factor, to me at least.

And this doesn’t include the ladies that make up the front of our house and are spectacular in themselves. I’m just talking my crew. Tonight we were in rare form, being entirely inappropriate with our conversations. We are not afraid to make everything totally dirty and about sex and it’s all a suggestive nature, but entirely funny and personal and so us that pulls us closer together. I say this because the night before, while still being amazing had a drama filled scene. Lucifer dealt with the brunt of it and after he came back to clean he was like “oh damn guys, you did it all, I’m sorry I wasn’t here to clean.” I looked flat out at him and said “knock it off. We are your team. This is us. We will take care of you and cleaning. We can insult you to your face (which we do) but nobody outside of our team messes with you. ”

 

This is so true. I may come home and vent, but honestly for the most part, my team is my team. I don’t relay half of the things that go on to anyone because it is between us and besides, I really can’t explain how some suggestive totally inappropriate comment directed at me is said in entire jest and I love it.  I can’t explain these things to non kitchen people. I get now why there are memes for us.

 

Work creates insomnia. Work creates inspiration. Dreams and desires bubble up constantly and I just crave a little bit more each day. I want to be the effing best at my job. I want to grow, and become more. I want  to move up. Coffeeman seems to be adding more to my plate with this and that, and little things, but I want as much as he can toss at me. If he gives me a job, I want to do it to the best of my abilities… no better. I may make mistakes, like this last week where I burned something kind of expensive. But then like yesterday where I made luxurious chocolate mousse and lemon curd that had people’s eyes rolling back. Oh yes. Now that is sexy. That is so full on what I want. I want a plate to come back completely scraped off of its dessert design. I want a server telling me that a couple’s 4 week vacation’s best stop was our restaurant. Right on.

I write a lot about the kitchen. Do you see why? Do you see the passion I have. I’m passionate about a lot of things in life. Poetry for starters. Music next. But my kitchen is such a passion. I wish I didn’t get so tired that I could work more. I wish I could work a 40 hour work week and not be drained. But then I wouldn’t be a writer.

So, with everything in life, there is a bit of moderation. Work when I can, write when I can, and fill y life with passion.  I have new things brewing and cooking and desires and hopes and fun things happening.

This is this cheffing-writing-amazing life. And Mr. Bradbury, you said it best. I am ravenous and I have a fever.

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

Work, Writing, It’s All The Same. It Merges

Photo by Alexandru STAVRICĂ on Unsplash

Every time I get home from work I have some new thing to write about or think about. The drama alone in the kitchen lends itself to a perpetual existence of creativity. Maybe it’s because I like writing, or maybe my life really has become interesting, but I want to write about everything. I have taken to having a ‘work’ journal, a notebook specific to just work related things. Yes, things there might end up in my regular journal, so long as they become personal related, but for the most part, it’s my way to document random things I feel I should write down. There are a couple months where I wasn’t writing but once here or there and I missed out on a lot of memories I could have had down. I’m more inclined to keep it up these days. It’s also where I can vent about work. And no, I do not ever let this book out of sight because oh man, I suppose it could get me into trouble if work people ever read it. It can be unflattering at times.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Along with the actual non-fiction of life, I have been mentally working on a book of sorts for the kitchen. Be it fiction/romance, which is my plan, or maybe it becomes my memoir at one point or another, but I have started to write down little vignettes of sorts or just things that have happened. I have ideas of them being chapter starters. Written in 2nd person, I think I have been inspired by the book Sous Chef, written in the same style.

Here are some I just wrote down today.

Exhaustion. It hits and there is nothing you can do about it but paste on a smile when everyone is looking then drop it when eyes are no longer on you. You get off of work tears forming in your eyes as the adrenaline fades away. Too tired to eat. Nearly too tired to sleep. Each movement becomes forced. You are ready to snap. Crackle. Pop; and explode at the first insult tossed your way. You grip your knife in a death grip, ready to stab anyone that even thinks about crossing you. Then the chef tells you that you need to stay for overtime. . .

The bruises show up in random spots. A wrist, a bicep, the hipbone. Was it from something you ran into? Or did you lift something too heavy in your arms and the weight left a mark? But out of nowhere a purple hickey forms and you look like you’ve been in a fight. You actually have. Been in a fight, that is. A fight with pans and food, forcing it to be what you need it to be. Very few items are coaxed into becoming an edible masterpiece.

Envy. It forms when someone gets preferential treatment. Maybe a new knife, or a jacket, or even a word of compliment. Somewhere, someone received what you wanted. And you find yourself trying to find ways to collect something, some form of pleasure that comes from all the pain studded days. The wounds inflicted, by yourself(knife cuts, bruises), by others(insults, offhanded remarks). The envy that forms when something, or someone, you wanted doesn’t come to you and goes to someone else. Suddenly you find yourself averting your gaze at the mere mention of something. You can take the pain. But you need a reward afterward.

I suppose these are autobiographical, to an extent. I did find 10 bruises the other day after work. They were all over my body. I’m still trying to figure out the one on each arm and one on a wrist. The envy is there. Mostly with someone. But I can’t go there.  I do, but I shouldn’t. It hurts. A lot. Yeah, I avert my gaze a lot these days.

The exhaustion was at the beginning. Are there good days? Of course. But there are a lot of mediocre days as well. The work lends itself to writing though. I like to think that if I ever publish a poem or something, in my bio it will say, She spends her days as a chef (or something along those lines) but moonlights as a poet, crafting food like she crafts her words….. Oooh, I really like that, not to toot my own horn, but that’s kind of catchy.

Needless to say, my journal has been filled with a lot lately. Dreams have been crazy. Work, again, changed. But as tired and frustrated I am, I’m good. Ish. Are we ever good when tired? I’m never on tip top game.

I do have to extend a note of gratitude to my lovely writing ladies and hopefully occasional newest member Crystal (again, names have all been altered to protect the innocent) for giving me some very valuable support this last Saturday when I was at my wits end about personal aspects of the kitchen. A semi-broken heart, fortunately averted before I delved in too deep with someone, and just perpetual work drama lent itself to a teary moment which came from some absolutely beautiful and spot on poetry. Darlings, you are all rocks to me. I needed your support more than you will ever know. I forget to tell you all personally, but you are all wonderful ladies.

This week is a little less drama filled. A shorter week, and a hope that I can advance my career more next week. Things are a’changing. Ideas are floating around.

Hey, all you lovely readers, do you find your work enters into aspects of your writing? Do you find your writings as a way to vent about work? How does writing help you through your day to day life?

Kate

Moving Through This Rhythmic Groove

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

We’ve lost our rhythm.

The kitchen is currently going through a staffing and schedule change and the rhythm is all out of sync. We run into each other, we shout out commands that go unanswered, new staff ignores the more experienced ones…. the groove that once was, while chaotic at best, is now so out of whack, Chef Wildflower and I were groaning today about it.

Lucifer and I have lost our rhythm that used to make sense. Part of it is personal, but most of it is that I have not worked with him under the conditions I am now. I don’t know how he moves and needless to say, I have flubbed up more than once in the past week. I’ve run into him behind twice, while he is on the line (at the stove) cooking for a ticket. That has not gone well. That becomes a moment where I get yelled at and I turn red. It’s mostly my fault. I totally get that and I will take the blame. But it’s hard when the movement is off.

The kitchen has lost it’s dance moves.

                                                                                               Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash                                                                                        I feel this is how Wildflower and I would look if we wanted to create a ‘mood’ picture.

 

Wildflower and I have a system that is unbeatable. If there is one thing that hasn’t changed, it is the two of us and how  we read each other. How we work together.  We have been together from the very beginning. Maybe because we were both the younger ladies of the group, maybe because we were shoved together from the get-go, maybe because we were just meant to, but we connected and we have something no one else has in the kitchen. The two of us can close down the restaurant like no one else.  Just the other night, I’m not sure who said it, but they said that the two of us are kind of amazing.  That no one can break down quite like the two of us.

Now that is rhythm.

It’s too bad that only the two of us have it right now. I would like to have some semblance of ‘the dance’ back in the kitchen. I’m too scared to be myself because for 6 months I was in this perpetual state of fear for any decision made might result in me being yelled at. The previous Chef was, well, scary. So now I second guess everything I do. I second guess myself and want exact directions from Lucifer. It hasn’t gone so well. He trusts me more than I trust myself. At least he has faith.

Back at the end of April I was struggling with relationship issues with someone and we kept banging heads. Dona was sweet enough to give this bit of advice. “Relationships are a dance. Two steps forward, two back, etc. Finding love’s rhythm takes time.”  Granted, that was about love and such, but it applies to working with people. Over time you do find a rhythm when you work in such close quarters.

Michael Gibney, author of Sous Chef, basically said the same thing about the kitchen being a dance. And now the choreography is off. At least we’ve all realized that it isn’t quite on par and that the metranome needs to get back into the right beat. The tick-tocking movements need to be realigned. I’m hopeful. It’s been rather frustrating to feel off kilter and like at any moment you are going to run into someone and end up burned, cut, bruised….. God, the looks Lucifer gives me when I move the wrong way. Murder is almost too nice of a word to describe the ‘evil eye’ I get when I finally move out of the way.  The thing is, previous Chef basically wanted me out out of the way. So that’s what I still do. Instead of sucking it in and just leaning out of the way, I do this whole body movement that ends up making me even more in the way. It is frustrating.

                                                                                         Photo by Michael Henry on Unsplash                                                                                      This is how we should be in the kitchen. A team. Let’s hope we get there soon.

Life’s grooves sometimes just get bypassed and trying to step back into the dance takes time. It is like jumping rope and you are waiting just the right time to jump back into the loop and not get tangled up in the whole darn thing. Spin your partner round and round… Recognizing the issues makes it so you can fix the problems. Talking it over with Lucifer last night when I was so tired helped. I can’t help but feel like having a meltdown. Did I cry? Of course I did. But as much as Lucifer and I can be at odds, he’s sweet enough to let me have a minor cry (all while telling me to calm down) and resettle myself.

It also helped today to sit with Wildflower and say “we had a rhythm before”, to which she replied “there is no rhythm now.” See, she noticed it as well and it was stressing her out. Maybe this next week will be better.

On the plus side, I now know how to make the risotto rice for the restaurant! (this might sound minor, but it’s exciting for me because Lucifer specifically said no one can make it right, and I did….)  I can julliene the scallions just how Lucifer likes. I finished my entire prep list last night, with extra, and had the kitchen cleaned with my crew by 10:30 last night. I get to work with Micha (St. Michael) I have great things and prompts to use for writing. I finished Sous Chef and now have to read it again because it was so good. And currently I have my knives home with me. Oh, I never mentioned that I have my own very pricy chef’s knives. Two of them. And an order for three new chef’s jackets…. I splurged. I can’t wait for them to show up. I needed to order them months ago.

Life’s dance continues to move on. Writing abounds. Kitchen life has filled me up with even more thoughts and days of extra work. Forever writing, forever thinking of food and a world I never thought I would be in. At least, while last week I was about ready to say ‘I quit, I can’t do this anymore,’ this week I feel a lot more inclined to be ready for the week. Okay, I’m not ready for the week; your Sunday is my Friday. I’m just settling in to my weekend. I want to enjoy the next two days off. But I am looking forward to getting back to work and rewriting the symphony.

Yeah, music, dance, rhythm; it’s all there.

Pardon my constant kitchen talk. It has become my life.

Kate

Entering Into the Work

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Life has been incredibly hard these past two weeks. Hard and sad. So sad that at times I wonder what the heck I’m even doing and I don’t even know what to do. Losing my dog has been one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to not have him around and to want desperately to be holding my puppy. I miss him so much that it really is an ache that hits out of nowhere.

I’ve also lost the camaraderie of someone I would have classified as a close friend. That person is still a part of my life, but I don’t trust the person, per se. I struggle what to tell this person and how to act around them. It’s all gotten very challenging. It’s led to lots of crying and lots of moments where I am really not sure what the heck I’m doing. I can honestly say I don’t know what to do. I really am at a loss.

I stress about work and succeeding, and today was one of my first days back after a tiring schedule last week. This week is bound to be tiring as well, but at least I have a general schedule. Today, for the most part, I killed it. At least I believe I did. Sure, I had a few scattered moments, and times when I thought I wouldn’t make it through the day, but I did.

Mels asked me what I was going to do to deal with the anger I have inside. Because it’s there. A lot of anger, deep anger. Sad anger. My reply was, “write. And cook. Do the best to my ability to make it happen.”  Cooking has kind of flowed into my blood. Duh,  of course, it has.  I wake up thinking about baking and improving recipes, I finish out the day looking at cookbooks, watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, and just today my new book to read is Sous Chef by Michael Gibney. Lucifer has it in his car and told me he would loan me his copy… I didn’t want to wait, so Better World Books delivered.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life, other than being a poet and published writer, but this cooking thing gives me a bit of passion that is so hard to explain, but I like it. I read this Sous Chef and I drool about the luxury of a well-organized kitchen. I think in kitchen terms: deli containers, 9-pans, cambros, half sheets, whole sheet pans, mis en place, roux, the line…..   I want to yell ‘behind’ at home. I slide my hand along the backs of people to let them know I’m there.

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Today there was this flow that was actually the best I’ve seen in a while. To the point where I was doing things, my head down, but I could duck out of the way as things went past my head to land in the garbage. As pans were passed off and handed off, pots caught as they dropped, things shifted back into place with a well-aimed hip, pilots lit, ovens restarted, butter melted, luxurious sugar-free lemon mousse that went out to a diabetic guest. (I did not make said mousse, Lucifer did, but I did zest the lemons) I like being able to get whatever it is someone asks me to get. To be able to put out a lunch dish that is not my responsibility, and know that it went out looking the way it was supposed to. I’m rather proud of that. Not sure Lucifer actually noticed, even those D-man told him I sent out an awesome burger. (Okay, so it’s not super fancy, our lunch menu, but a burger at our place is an art. I felt pretty proud of myself)

My pies have finally leveled out to looking gorgeous and elegant enough for my tastes. I like that I can make pretty food. I’d like to do more in that department. I want to work with Lucifer in updating and revising our desserts menu. I am classified as the pastry chef. I want pastry to look damn good. I want it to be something you come in and drool over. I may not want to nibble on many sweets these days, myself, but I want you, the guest to fall in love with it and when you see me on the street, think back to that luscious dessert you had.

I may not have any classical training, I may not have a culinary degree behind my name, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be the best at what I can do… all while being a runner, and a closer and a prep chef. I have too many hats right now. I like closing, and I can do that well, but whew, it can be exhausting.  I’m getting off topic.

I hope to god I am important in my hierarchy within the kitchen. I’d like to be invaluable, though not so invaluable that if I need time off they panic without me… Okay, well if they panic without the chef, why not the pastry chef? I’m being silly, but still, I want to be valuable in my job. I like my job. Despite all the stress, all the inconsistencies, all the crazy, all the moods, the romantic interests, the betrayals, the turn downs, the frustrations; despite all of that, I like my job. So I am trying to deal with life by ‘entering into the work.”

All of this came out of reading Sous Chef today and this lovely prompt above from Dona. I want to think the best ideas are going to come out of the work, the process and work itself. So. Okay then, now that I’ve rambled on long enough, I’m off to read more of Sous Chef, and I think I need to pick some rhubarb for work. If there is one thing I have found, you can get the sexiest moan out of Lucifer when food is involved.

Kate

The Sweet and the Bitter

Some days are good days, others bad. The sweet and the bitter. Pardon me for stealing that phrase, I literally picked up Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler today and started reading it a few minutes ago. I’m already hooked.

Today was a sweetbitter day. (I think I want to use that phrase now) For me it was a pretty sweet day, with a taste of the bitter; for others, it was definitely bitter. I’m not sure it even had a sweet moment.  Life in a restaurant is far from dull, always leaves an interesting taste in my mouth, and a sense of wonder that I am working in a professional kitchen.

But today had an example of how marvelous our staff is, especially working with them. Thankfully music is almost always on while we are cooking. Today, D-man had a great Pandora channel on, I think it was the U2 one, and Simple Minds’ ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ came on. I happen to love the song (though I prefer Anna Kendrick’s version from Pitch Perfect best….) and Lucifer was talking with Richard, our new line chef, though we’ve worked with him since the beginning in different capacities.  Richard either couldn’t hear the song or didn’t know what it was.

Lucifer: It’s from the Breakfast Club.

Me: I love the song, but I’ve never liked the Breakfast Club.

Lucifer: (a phrase that is not polite and I won’t repeat)  I bet you were a 16 Candles girl.

I guess my face must have registered an ‘oh crap moment’ because Lucifer clapped his hands and said: “I’m right!”

Me: Yeah fine, yes I love 16 Candles.

Lucifer was not going to let that go so about ten minutes he goes to the chef, who is not really a soft kind of guy.

Lucifer: Hey Chef, can you believe K (me) hates the Breakfast Club?

Chef: I never really quite liked the Breakfast Club. I never quite got the point. [pauses] I was always more of a 16 Candles fan.

Oh my gosh! I shouted a thank you and we were all busting up laughing because if you saw the Chef, you would not think 16 Candles. Ever. He is super badass. I mean he has these tattoos that are just so badass man. He has a mouth on him that would make every one of my girlfriends turn so red. I was one of those girls till recently. I’ve learned to let it go. My mouth has actually gotten a lot less nice since working there.

But it’s sometimes the little things like this that make for a sweetbitter day. This definitely hit in the sweet department. Another exchange I found highly funny is that I looked up the French translation for ‘eff you’ last night. Va te faire foutre.  As a general rule of thumb, don’t sass someone with this if they know Spanish. Lucifer teasingly snarled at me to shut my mouth and I had best watch what I say. Damn him.  But it did make for a funny exchange.

Again, sweetbitter moments.  I wish most days were sweet for all of us. I wish the bitter didn’t crop up so much, but I love that I can joke with my marvelous coworkers. I love that we have this thing that is a pretty sweet working relationship. I love that I love all my boys (all the prep chefs, dishwashers, and line chefs) and that they are so seriously sweet with me. Richard, St. Michal, D-man, Lurch, Lucifer, and a couple others I haven’t come up with names for. I always tell Chef Wildflower to take care of our boys when I leave. She’s 17, nearly 18, but all the guys who are older than her and younger than me are our boys. We couldn’t do it without them. (and I might add we couldn’t do it without Miss Holly who is like the Mom of all of us)

Ah yes, this kitchen thing is an interesting life.

Kate

Merry Christmas, Writers, Poets, and Friends Alike

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Hello, Dearies, and Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas (for you British lovelies), and Happy Holidays! Talk about a whirlwind year. For all of us. Writers alike; people in general. Life has changed dramatically and will probably never be the same.

My life has continued to be a zoo. A tired zoo. The tigers and lions need a serious dose of coffee all the time! I have been on crazy mode all this week with KP (kitchen patrol, for those who don’t know White Christmas or military terms)

I have been having late nights and ups and downs; burns and cuts. And a world of writing ideas. I never knew what kind of people worked in a kitchen. I never knew how a kitchen even functioned. While I still am a total newbie and this is my ‘first rodeo’ (my chef rolled his eyes a that statement. I guess he has never lived anywhere near the country) I  am slowly learning how things function. I had our new sous chef ask me how long I have been in the kitchen world and I replied, “Since November 20th.”  I have to laugh. Just over a month.

Christmas came too fast this year and I haven’t had much time to enjoy it like I usually do, which has dampened my spirits some. A lot. But I have three days off, including today, which is Christmas Eve, so that helps. I have Christmas ideas in my head and I am working on my Hallmark new story. Basically you have Noelle, a personal assistant to a retired judge and his wife who own a large mansion. Noelle Snow has been decorating the house up to the nines, or rafters, because the whole entire family of the judge and his wife’s are coming home for Christmas. Including one of their favorite grandsons who just so happens to disapprove of Noelle and all she has done for the Carson’s, even though they have never met in person.  Well, of course Noelle is going to win him over! It is Hallmark after all. Of course there is going to be Christmas music, and gingerbread cookies with kids, and snow, and maybe a sleigh ride. Lights everywhere.  A house decorated with a Christmas tree in every room. And Noelle? Well she happens to always have Christmas music playing in her room. Why wouldn’t she?  Did you see her name?  Can you just hear the disapproving tone of a handsome lawyer grandson when he says “Miss Snow.”?  Too perfect.

I need happy right now. I need ridiculously cheesy Hallmark Christmas romances. I need to write it. Life is too funny and fickle to not have it in your life. I don’t care if I sound like a goody two shoes. Apparently in my job I am the ‘too nice.” I don’t care. If everyone were too nice, the world would be a lot happier place. I have acutally had people ask me if I get up in the morning as perky as I am when I come into work. Haha. Oh the miracles of makeup and a boatload of coffee. It’s nice to think that people think I’m perpetually happy. It’s a far cry from the truth, but I figure they shouldn’t know my problems when I’m out at work. Unfortunately my family gets the brunt of that when I come home. I vent. A lot. But I try to get through every day with a decent attitude.

My not so positive attitude comes out in my poetry. That gets to the heart of my heart. I have something started about being flayed open. Cooking terms. Filleted alive. A pound of flesh. Goodness, that’s depressing.  I get through some days realizing that I have a manuscript on editor’s desks right now! It’s been there for almost three months. I have a manuscript on editor’s desks!  Even saying it still blows my mind. I mean, it’s legit. I am a poet. I may not always have the time, but I am a poet through and through.

It’s rather funny to think about sometimes when right now my life doesn’t even have the time to think. My chef, bless his soul, thinks that me working 40+ hours a week and getting paid overtime will make it so I’m not a poor writer.  Doesn’t he know that the reason writers are poor is because they can’t work if they want to write? Doesn’t he know that half, no wait, three quarters of a writer’s life isn’t writing, but thinking about writing? I have to think days and days to write! I haven’t had times to even think, so writing has been severely killed. Murdered. Knifed to death. (there are a lot of knives in my life right now)

Anyways.  Merry Christmas, darling writers. Readers alike. I’m off to watch a Hallmark film with the family. I think The Holiday is in the near future, but that’s a prerequisite. Oh and Charlie Brown! I need Charlie Brown.

And I know this may sound strange, but I now associate Meatballs, the camp movie, with Christmas and winter. I am going to make that a tradition. My parents don’t know this, but I so love that film now.

Joyeux Noel!

Kate