Calm Down, Mama – Chef Fiction

This last week led to a new guy in the kitchen learning the ropes. But one little irksome thing kept happening to the point where I let it slide then, but won’t now. I do not need a guy telling me to quit yelling when I am just showing him the basics and my voice is normal level. Trust me, he was not doing it to the guys in back. And it started pissing me off. If it happens again this week, well, I’m going to pull a Hela on him.   Pardon the F-word in here a couple times. It’s the only way to express it. 

“Here, like this,” Hela said, showing the new guy how she wanted the pasta coated in sauce. “Then add a dab of butter, a bit of salt and pepper, and finish with the chili flake.”

“Okay, mama, no need to yell. I got this,” Sean soothed as if trying to calm down a child.

Immediately Hela slammed the saute pan down on the burner. Dima, who was watching Hela teach, glanced down at the smaller man and arched a brow. All around, the other stations got deathly quiet, everyone staring, while Gerrit eyed the situation from the other side of the pass. A ticket printed on a machine, but no one reached to grab it.

Hela pulled herself up to her full five feet three inches and stared coldly at Sean. “I highly suggest you refrain from telling me to not yell when I am talking to you calmly. I let it slide last week cause you were the new guy, but I can bet that you have not said the same thing to any of the guys. Do not do it again.” Her voice had dropped lower with each word till even Dima was backing away, shaking his head sadly at the new guy. Hela loud was one thing, but Hela quiet was a nightmare dressed like a daydream.

Sean put up his hands and backed up on step. “Okay, mama, calm down, I was just kidding.”

Hela’s eyes went wide and Dina flinched behind Sean. Oh, the little man didn’t stand a chance.

“Get off my line,” she growled. He didn’t move. Hela stepped into his face, his height and hers identical. “Get off my fucking line!”

When the man still didn’t move, like a wind up toy, everyone moved into action. Dima stepped around Sean and slid between him and Hela. Dina gave Sean a nudge backwards and there was Marcus, clapping his hand over the man’s shoulder to drag him off the line. Gerrit jerked a finger at Marcus and like a firing squad, the three men marched back to the Chef’s office.

Dina reached down and dinged the bell in Carlos’ code before glancing a Hela. She was practically vibrating, the anger dripping off of her in waves of heat. Her face had gone brick red and he could see her eyes were going glossy with unshed tears.

Carlos banged in through the swinging doors his mouth open to ask what.

“I need a Hela bitters and soda and a separate orange juice now,” he ordered, then seeing as Hela started to crumble, pulled her into his long frame and he felt her sigh. Carlos was out the door in a flash, banging them as he slammed through. “Boys, watch the line, do not fuck it up. I’ll be back in a second.”

Dina turned Hela towards the walk-in and marched her inside. They could hear muffled yelling coming from the office that faded as the door closed behind them. Hela stood there willing the tears to fade.

“Hela, breathe,” Dina ordered softly. She took a shuddering breath in. “And again.” She did as was told and he saw the semi relief hit her, along with the cold air. Her flushed cheeks faded a bit. “Stay here, I have to go finish that ticket.” He looked at her sternly and she nodded.

Dina slipped out the door and glanced back at the office to see Sean slamming out and ripping off his apron. The apron was wadded and tossed into the dirty towels bag before he slammed out of the door into the late afternoon sunlight. Marcus and Gerrit followed at a more sedate pace.

“Another one bites the dust,” Dina noted and hurried toward the line calling over his shoulder, “she’s in the walk-in. Carlos is getting orange juice for her.”

Marcus headed towards the doors and caught the drinks just as Carlos stepped back through with the two glasses. “I got her,” he said calmly. “You get the line,” he said to Gerrit.

“You sure?” Gerrit, while having figured Hela out, was still a little unsure how to handle her like this. This was the first time he’d even seen her yell.

“I am. You can talk to her later.” Marcus opened the walk-in and saw Hela organizing. “Come on babe, outside.” He handed her the orange juice first and let her proceed him out the door into the sun. She downed the juice and he handed her the second glass. She sipped it through the straw.

“Better?”

She nodded. “Thank you, Marcus.”

“Anytime. Are you going to be able to finish the line?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Finish your soda, and head back in. I’ll take over till you come back.”

Hela nodded again.

“Oh and the new guy,” Marcus said poking his head back out the door, “he’s gone.” He made a finished sign with his hand and slipped back inside.

 

One can dream the idiots are swiftly removed from the mix. Miss Holly, do not go repeating this. I’ll deal with said idiot this week. As Toni says(one of our ladies), “girl, you’re evil”….. I’ll deal with the little boys, the idiot men of my life. As Twin Bear used to say, “I am a strong, independent woman, who don’t need no help from any guy.” Damn straight.

Kate

 

Just A Little Coffee Thing – Fiction Part 2

Photo by Eric BARBEAU on Unsplash

She did notice him, though, when she came out of the door, yelping in surprise as he leaned next to the opening. She didn’t have any more time to get out more than the shriek before Gerrit grabbed her clipboard and pen and tossed it to the counter. She watched the pen roll off just as Gerrit’s palm enclosed around hers and he swung her around in a spin. He pulled her close and slow danced with her to a Crystal Gayle song.

“Gerrit,” Hela protested, pushing on hand against his chest and tugging against the hand he gripped. Her heart was pounding and to say butterflies were taking flight in her stomach was an understatement. She shivered as she felt his other palm, quite warm, settle against her waist.

“What?” was his innocent reply.

Hela did not believe a minute of his wide blue eyes.

“Oh stop struggling. You love this song. You sing it whenever it comes on, you always spin around and glide through like you’re on stage.”

“Twirl.”

“What?”

“I don’t spin, I twirl,” she corrected.

“I beg pardon. You twirl,” he teased, then released her waist to twirl her around again, before catching her and dipping her back. She was laughing but when his face was inches from hers she thought in an instate he might kiss her. His eyes flashed to her open mouth then back to her eyes, but he quickly righted her and they went back to dancing, the song now a one.

“You are stressing too much, Helena, he said, using the name no one ever called her, except for close friends or family. She looked up at him ready to argue and deny it.

“Oh, no, you are not going to get out of this one. I’ve been here three weeks, and you are like a time bomb waiting to go off. Or on pins and needles. I’m not sure which, but you know you are doing amazing, don’t you?”

She stared at him. “Um.” She bit her lip. She always felt like she was falling apart. Snapping at line chefs, getting impatient with the pantry girl, ready to throw her hands up at servers who asked bizarre questions. Constantly thinking about the new menu and the changes in flow. She was mentally exhausted and she felt like she was cracking at the seams.

“You are. You’re keeping things running smooth. You’re good, Hel. You’re a whiz at plating, you can take over the line when one of the guys is in the weeds or goes down. Organized, on your toes, you leave me amazed at how you keep things flowing in this madhouse. You’re already better than you think.”

Hela couldn’t respond. She had hoped someone had noticed. Micah had been her person to work with, but even he had sometimes left her wondering if she was as good as she hoped. She and Gerrit worked well together, like she and Micha could. Quiet, handing each other things as they needed it without even a word. Notes on boards were underlined from agreements; they could bounce ideas off each other like two kids playing catch.

“Obviously you doubt yourself too much.” He gave her a chastising look, as he spun them around. “Stop.”

She wrinkled her nose at him. “Obviously you don’t know how my brain works,” was her caustic reply.

“I do. More than you know.” He grinned, his eyes twinkling. “Now, what was that thing about something sweet?”

 

So part two, mostly because it was a 1200 word document. Thought it might overwhelm you all.  Like I said, I’d like someone I could relate to at night when I close. Currently I can’t relate to anyone. At least on the level I’m at. But one can dream of a dream chef and dream team and someone I might have as a close colleague. One day.

Kate

Just A little Coffee Thing – Fiction Part 1

Photo by Shotlist on Unsplash

The restaurant was empty but for Carlos polishing glasses at the bar and Johnboy mopping the front dining while Hela and Gerrit went over new ideas for the upcoming menu. Prep lists, schedules, ordering, and a menu marked up, crossed out and notes scribbled in the margins. A giant whiteboard leaned against shelves on a prep station and occasionally one or both of them would walk over and scribble something else on the entire menu written out in black dry erase marker. The notes were in red and blue; for Gerrit and Hela, respectively.

Hela had teased Carlos into playing something new tonight. The “Bread” station was on and now the two of them were humming and singing their way through 1970s classic light rock. Ambrosia, Dan Fogelberg, Randy Vanwarmer, and other smooth classics. Hela had finally parted from her whites, slipping into a loose white gauze button down, the front tails tucked into her sensible slacks. She’d pulled out the plethora of bobby pins, groaning at the release of tension from all the metal bits biting into her scalp. A sharp pencil replaced the pins, turning her mass of kinked hair into a messy bun, tendrils brushing her cheeks and neck. She’d also snuck into her locker in the office and grabbed her moka pot. She needed something better than the sludge sitting in the pot for the last two hours since the last guests had left.

She hummed to the music as she heated water on the closest gas range and rooted through the lowboy in the pastry section for her hidden stash of Guatemalan dark roast coffee. Fingers tamped down the grounds, a towel to remove the nearly boiling water. The moka pot was back on a low blue flame as she went out to the bar and snagged four coffee cups. She grabbed some spoons, a carton of cream, a ramekin of sugar, then back over to grab the now spitting pot.

She didn’t see Gerrit watching her quietly from the whiteboard. He held a clipboard and pen where he had been marking the garnishes they had in stock and what he wanted to use next. He grinned, nearly laughing when she groaned after running the base of the pot under cold water at a prep sink. She set the pot down on a towel and marched out to the bar then came back with a shot glass. She measured out two shots of rich coffee to three cups, then glanced up in his direction.

“You want?” she waggled the shot glass in her hand and held the spout over it.

“Sure.”

She poured two more shots and added them to the fourth cup.

“Carlos! Johnboy! Espresso’s up!” She had more water simmering on the stove and she topped off her cup with that, adding a pinch of sugar and a very light dollop of cream. “Fix yours how you like,” she directed at Gerrit.

She stirred her cup while she watched Gerrit add a generous spoonful of sugar and only a splash of water. She made a face when Gerrit downed half the cup. Carlos came through the swinging doors baring a tall highball glass of peach effervescent liquid, a lime wedge suspended between the ice cubes. He handed it to Hela who tilted her head in thanks.

Gerrit frowned.

“Bitters and soda,” She clarified. “I mix my drinks.”

Johnboy and Carlos fixed their coffees and headed back out to the front of house. “I’ll have something sweet in a while,” Hela called after them, Johnboy grinning at her statement.

They went back to their notes. Carlos changed the station and a Juice Newton song played Hela didn’t see Gerrit watching her as she hummed and swayed as she wrote things down, stopping for random sips of coffee and her soda water. Nor did she see him grin as she sang a few lyrics and swayed her way into the produce walk-in…..

 

I was missing work the other day and I had this thought about how I’d love to have a good moka pot at work. A nice Bialetti, for when the sludge in the pot has been sitting for hours. Normally I use the French press, which is fine, but it’s still not quite like how I like my coffee. I’d love to have a nice Chef at night that I could work over prep, orders, and ideas, and drink a good cup of coffee. But no one I work with appreciates coffee at night quite like I do.  Oh, and part two is in the next post.

Oh, and if anyone notices my conflicting verb usage, would you please point it out. I have issues with passive voice. Bleh, and mixing my verbage.

Someone New – Fiction

Another foray into my fictional kitchen. I had a break in an idea for my fiction, with ‘Her’ meeting  someone new after Micha’s off on sabbatical. I watched this new Alaska PD show and one of the police officers was like the perfect model. Good name too. So boom! Fiction! I always get excited when something new comes to my head and I can actually write. I have missed fiction. Oh, and I finally settled on a name for said “Her”. I’m going with Hela, like short for Helene, but she goes by ‘H’…. Just like I go by ‘K’ in the kitchen.  Hope you all enjoy. It’s a lot of dialogue, so forgive me.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

“H, there’s someone out at the bar asking for you,” Carlo opened one of the swinging doors to where Hela stood at the pass checking over the day’s menu choice.

“Hmm? Who is it, Carlo?” She asked distracted as she frowned at the mushroom selection. They were decidedly low on matsutakes.

“He didn’t say. You want me to tell him you’re busy?

Hela looked up. “What? Oh, no. Hang on a sec.” She crossed off the mushrooms and added shiitakes. “Bobby, we’re switching to shiitakes tonight. Could you make sure they are prepped? I’ll have Justine change the menu.”

“Sure thing, H,” her lead line chef called.

She was texting Justin about the menu switch as she stepped out the doors towards the bar and it wasn’t till she was near the shadow she’d seen in her peripheral that she looked up as a throat cleared. Blue eyes, filled with an incredible amount of amusement, had her catching her breath. The sharp intake of air and the breathy sigh she barely let out, had the corners of his eyes crinkling just a tad more.

“I’m Hela,” she murmured, extending her hand while she slipped her phone into the front pocket of her jacket.

“Gerrit,” the man replied, his voice tinged with just enough masculine gravel. His warm palm engulfed hers and she felt an electrical tingle all the way to her shoulder.

“How may I help you?” She was tempted to tug her hand from his grasp when he didn’t release her hand, but the electricity was humming across her back and up into her hairline. The feeling was delicious and made her want to stretch and arch like a cat in the sun.

“I was told I needed to meet the famous sous chef from Tableside,” his enigmatic response had her cocking her head to the side. She arched a brow.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say famous,” she argued and nearly groaned in disappointment when he released her hand.

“I suppose that is opinion based.”

She hummed a non-committal answer. “Are you from the area?” she asked.

“No, just relocated here for a job. A colleague suggested I stop in and see some of the amazing selections on the menu.”

“Oh, well thank you. Most of the menu is from my chef, but I have a few of my own.”

“And is your chef here as well?”

Hela stared at him, Something he’d said tickled the corners of her mind at the question’s strangeness, but she couldn’t form it into anything concrete. 

“No, he isn’t. I’m actually interim chef as he is on sabbatical and I’m waiting to meet my new chef for the next year.”

“Ah. When does that person arrive?”

“Any day now. No specifics have hit my ears yet. Chef, Micha Grant, said he’d let me know when the new chef was set to come in.” Hela said this as if it was just an everyday occurrence, but inwardly she cringed at the thought. Micha had told her she’d like his replacement, yet he’d been so vague about it all, Hela was apt to be rather apprehensive. She remembered too vividly Lucas and all the hell he’d put her through before Micha had fixed everything.

“Well, I’ll have to come in when the change happens,” Gerrit mused. “Though I would love to try one of your dishes if possible.” 

“Quite,” Hela said warmly. She grabbed on of the menus by Carlo’s computer and handed it to Gerrit. “The coconut curry is a specialty of mine,” she said pointing to one of the items, “but then there is breakfast salad with oven roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, or the zucchini involtini,  or a simple pasta aglio e olio.” She rattled off the three other items Micha had let her put on the menu. She was secretly hoping Gerrit would order the pasta aglio as it was her signature dish. Simple in it’s execution, it had been one of the first dishes Micha had taught her to saute properly. It was still her favorite dish to make.

“Oh, you had me at curry,” Gerrit interrupted her thought. 

“Very good. Carlo, send it through. Gerrit, it was a pleasure to meet you. Any special requests on the curry?”

“No. Surprise me.” He held out his hand for her to shak and the grip was just as warm and inviting as before. “And Hela?”

“Hmm?”

“It’s been a pleasure as well. I look forward to bumping into you again.” His eyes twinkled like he knew a secret.

“Mm. Yes.”

Hela couldn’t resist looking back at Gerrit as she headed back to cook the dish. He was watching her, a slight smile on his lips as he rested a palm over his neatly trimmed short box beard. A finger rested on his mouth and her breath hitched again  as he caught her  gaze with his and grinned again. She nearly burst into giggles as she fled to the kitchen flustered all to heck.

 

Hope you all enjoyed.

Kate