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

Musings on Missing a Friend

https://unsplash.com/photos/EZhGqvcWqiw

I miss my friend a lot these days. Random days where I want to ask how to make something, or what technique I need to learn.  Or when I just want to check in to see how he’s doing. Nothing much, or something much. I miss him most when I have a vivid dream where I can actually talk to him and he’s what I remember. Vivid dreams that I wake up and wish parts of it were true; so true or real; that it hurts.

Today was one of those days where I missed Coffeeman so much it was an ache inside. I wanted to cry, I wanted to fall apart on the line, I wanted to walk in back and have him ask if I was okay. I wanted the old to be there. I wanted the fist bump at the end of the night. I wanted the hug I might get if it had been a strenuous week. I wanted to see my friend.

There has been so much conflict and chaos in the last few months and I struggle with how to pull myself out of this pit of despair. Okay, it’s not that dramatic, but I am writing this at after 2 in the morning letting myself cry a little. The one in the shower wasn’t enough.

58 pizzas was busy for early January

Today was a busy day. And as I snapped a picture of the tickets stabbed on their nail, I posted it hoping Coffeeman would see, which he did, and he asked if it was so. It was a super busy day. And I had had the craziest, vivid dreams the night before where a conversation we had had before I went to bed, happened in the dream. It was so weirdly real, so gut wrenching bold in my dream that I found myself mentioning it to Ms. Godsend (aka, our front of house manager, whom I love to pieces and could not do this job without) who thought it was weirdly strange too. I won’t go into detail because it doesn’t matter.

So there I was on the line at random moments so very very happy for Coffeeman as he’s almost ready to have his new restaurant open (he’s the exec chef, doesn’t own it). I am so happy for him because I hope it works and he’s happy in his new job closer to home. But I am horribly envious that others get to work for him. Why couldn’t it have been us? I know the reason why, and I know that the two of us had our weird moments. But that doesn’t still make me not wish things had never changed.

In my time within the cooking world, I have learned that everyone has their Chef. The one chef that stood out to them. The one they talk about as theirs. Capitol letters and the pride gracing their voice when they talk about whomever it is. Coffeeman is my Chef. I will never refer to anyone else with that stigma. I may work for others, but he is the first one who has meant the world to me. As I tell anyone who will listen, for all his faults, there isn’t a thing we wouldn’t have done for the man. Oh sure, we challenged him, and even his authority, to some degree. But I would have done anything for him. He was pretty much the ‘Jump!”…. “how high, Chef.” It’s funny how you don’t realize that until they’re gone.

I go through small periods of time where I don’t muse on missing him too much. Thankfully we ‘talk’ all the time. Just little snippets of texts that help or vent or update. I don’t think I could exist without a random comment or conversation weekly. Or daily. Yeah, the man is busy. All the time. I worry that I might bother him too much here and there, but hey, he pays attention to my life, and I to his. So that means something, right?

I can count on one hand the close friends I have. I am not someone that has gobs of friends. I have that weird middle ground where there isn’t a word for acquaintance/friend. That in between stage. I know you more than just here and there, but we don’t hang out and you definitely don’t know the inner side of me. I classify these friends as family. You will get a card at Christmas, or a random one in the mail, with a letter. I write letters to those I love. I don’t just do it for the heck of it. So if something random shows up in the mail for you, be it letter, package, etc, it’s because I view you as more than that weird middle ground. You mean a hella lot to me.

And while he probably won’t read this like he used to during the Lucifer days….. I miss you like hell, Coffeeman.

Kate

Sunday Night Flow

Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

The open sign is down. The dining hall is still full of people and orders are coming in, but most of it is limited to me and desserts in back. The boys have started cleaning and Mixologist Man has started doing his form of a last call, though he’s still pouring beers and whatnot. Soon the scrubbing will begin.

In the kitchen, our dishwasher is tackling as much as he can get done before we are all piling everything into the pit. (I haven’t come up with a nom de plume for him yet…) I start taking back wood paddles and anything that I know I won’t need the rest of the night. If I’ve been lucky enough to have had a relatively quiet Sunday, I may have already flipped all of my mise en place and washed out my refrigerated station. Those are good days. But today, instead, I focused on the walk-in. Downsizing cambros and clearing out the old. Tossing weird things with no label or date. Definitely tossing that goat cheese sauce from a month ago with fuzzy little black blobs across the surface. Yeah, that ain’t penicillin.

The walk-in is a general source of aggravation for me these days. No one downsizes anything. And I do mean no one. Some people might think they are, but most of the time they are just moving containers around or redesigning what they think the walk-in should look like to them. Please don’t. It’s been set up with what works for a year now. I know how it works, people know how to find things that way. Do not, in your small mind, think that you are helping people by changing everything.

The walk-in has been my baby since day one when first Chef tasked me to put away the entire produce and dairy order. And this was before we were allowed to put things in bins. I might not have had it perfect, but I slowly learned to play Tetras with containers. Most cambros stack on each other quite well and there is a method to fitting them so they work. Coffeeman was pretty excellent in downsizing the walk-in too. The one time I downsized it right after he did made for an interesting next day when he couldn’t find anything…. Poor guy. Over-zealous does have it’s disadvantages.

A clean station, nearly filled mise en place. Practically perfect.

So this Sunday, walk-in was fixed. I’m sure I will have to do it again this week, but at least I feel like I got somewhere. So instead of flipping and cleaning my station, it waited till the end. Out comes the bucket of sani water, piping hot and ready to scald even the toughest hands, rags, and new 9th and 6th pans. Flip, bang, reverse. Empty container, new one off to the side with mise waiting in it. All 19 pans are flipped excluding the ones that got filled that day with new ingredients and new pans. Wash out the entire top station and bits of debris. The underneath refrigerator gets organized and wiped down. Pans are wrapped. Dated, labeled and set up for the new week.

The entire area gets swept down, like it does every night, but a few extra areas like under the wood where the dirt drops down. The wall is wiped down where the flour has sifted through the week. Tomatoes are taken off the ledge. Oil bottles wiped off. Everything gets straightened. Sometimes I might sip a glass of beer while I clean, provided all the guests are gone. Tonight, they are not, so I drink cold water. A lot of it. Because no matter how much I drink, it’s never enough to stay hydrated.

In the back, the dish pit is a pile of so much that there is another guy playing ‘catch’ when the dishes come out of the automated dishwasher, Betsy. Other stations have been wrapped and put away. Other stations have been washed down. The grates over the stove area are scrubbed, or have been throughout the day. Garbage bags are combined and taken out. It’s not really anything that we don’t do throughout the week. In fact, it’s pretty much the same thing with only some extra added scrubbing in certain areas.

The fish is iced, things are wiped down a tad better than the rest of the week. This is the night the floors get sprayed down with hot water. If they are really grimy, maybe some Orange Force or degreaser. Out in front Mixologist Man is offering up a jar of celery for anyone to munch on. Why? It’s tradition. It might not last through the weekend and it just is what we do. I usually have several pieces because I feel like I haven’t had my greens throughout the week. Besides, it keeps me from indulging in a soda. Okay, so the giant pancake with the side of syrup was just as bad, but work with me, I’m tired. I need sugar.

This week the music is subdued. Kind of 80s, but most of the time we put on Ke$ha or something super bouncy. Belting it out as the volume is turned up a tad more. The lights go on full blast out in the hall because most of the servers sweeping like to see. This week, I turn them up so I can see all the areas I might have missed in my station.

This week I am out by 9pm. That’s actually pretty good. I stayed a little longer to organize the cambros and dough bins that have gotten mixed up again. I could have been out by 8:30, but I need some organization. It’s only after I head upstairs to put away a pan that I find out I am out of dough for the week. Groan. Why didn’t anyone tell me they pulled the last bin?! Fortunately I have enough dough rolled to start off my week, provided Astro D can make dough at the start of the week.

Seriously, I need a drink now. Okay, no, I really don’t NEED a drink. I just want one to relax with and wind down. It’s been a long pain in the behind week. People have been rude, on my nerves and I’m just really tired. Mixologist Man and I leave the two behind to finish out the kitchen, dishwasher and prep person. We make our way across a completely dead street in a nearly completely dead town. It’s Sunday night, just after nine and only the one brewery/pub is left open. One quick round and I’m off to head home. Wash away the grime, slip out of kitchen smelly clothes and call it a day.

See you next week…

It’s only two days away, but well, such are weekends.

Flattery Might Get You Somewhere

Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

Are you the Executive Chef?” comes the question from the dignified gentleman over the protective glass barrier.

“No,” I reply, “but I am the pizza chef and pastry chef.”  Days later I wish I would have said ‘yet’ instead of ‘no’.  Do I think I will ever be the executive chef? No. Do I have aspirations for that? Um, maybe a little, but not really. I mean, to say I am an actual Chef might be nice, but not my goal in life.

The gentleman spent the next few minutes asking questions about my training (two years of this restaurant are my only training) which surprised him at how incredible the food he ordered was. He rated my basque cheesecake as second only to his wife’s first place title.  Asked about what I was making saying he’d have to come back the next night for it (he did. In fact, their entire order the next night, from appetizer to dessert, came from me) and complimented me on how far I had moved up. It was a flattering and delightful conversation as he was a very nice older man.

Later that night I was offered a hand in marriage. Granted, the guy that asked was a tad on the tipsy side of things, but it was cute. I was a little too flustered to answer more blithely, but still, I did get out a “I’ll keep it in mind.’  He was cute.

This job is never dull. I can’t imagine a dull moment. From interesting conversations with customers (pardon, guests) to working with the many quirks of my coworkers, it is never boring. I’m glad, actually, when I have down time to clean a different area, or scrub the walk-in, or something like just putting away dishes. That doesn’t happen often.  This week alone I made four cheesecakes. I think. I’ve stopped counting. I’ve made so many cheesecakes that I have the recipe memorized.

“What’s the recipe?” Jersey Boy asks about something else. I tap my head and he doesn’t listen and pulls out the “bible” (our recipe binder) instead. “Is it in here?”

No, it’s in my head. most of my recipes are in my head. Oh sure, I do have them written down or accessible on my  phone… provided you know where to look, but they are mostly done off of memory.  Hence why a week ago I made a 4 egg olive oil cake with 7 eggs…. Ooops.  The cake rose reeeaaaalllly well in the oven… But most things turn out the exact way, each time. Which is good. Consistency is key.

Coffeeman asks me if I have all the new recipes down. I sarcastically giggle via text and say no, because Jersey Boy, well he doesn’t believe in having these things written down. He wings a lot of things. And for someone who says he has recipes…. he doesn’t. He gets them from the internet. Have I gotten recipes from the internet? Sure. Cooks Illustrated, Food 5.2, Bon Appetit, etc. All established cookeries. Jersey Boy… not so much.  Then spends his time bragging about the one spiced cake he makes for a special, that doesn’t sell well at all.  Ah yes, that was a fun week. “I made that.” He brags. “Not K, she didn’t make that. I made that.”

We all roll our eyes. “What. An. Idiot.” Says Hermione in reference to Ron Weasely. I so relate, girl. I so relate.

Like I said. Never a dull moment.

I’ve been missing Coffeeman like the devil lately. He’s been on my mind so much that now I’m having dreams again. Not good either. Not bad, but not right. Things that happen that worry me. I do believe in prophetic dreams. I’ve mentioned it before. So I get really nervous when I have one. They don’t happen too often…. Pardon, I’ve already had three this year.  All spot on, one even to the day Wildflower and Lucifer had their baby girl. Trust me, that was a weird one.

I’ve been remembering the good points with Coffeeman, the things that made such a huge difference in my life. One that keeps coming back around, and that I reminded him of was one of those first “A Ha” moments a month or so after he took over. I came into a nearly silent kitchen. In those days it was hard pressed to find a day that didn’t involve prep lists filling up the white board, too many people in the kitchen, not enough surfaces to work, and not enough time. Utter chaos. Lucifer created a ton of chaos; so did Wildflower.

Well, there was this kitchen with every surface clean, and this is three in the afternoon, mind you, when cooking has been going on since eight or nine in the morning and there was a lunch rush and dinner started in two hours. There was only Coffeeman and our morning pizza guy on as Lucifer and Wildflower were on their lunches, and all the prep was done. Like literally, the white board was clean. I looked at Coffeeman and said “What am I supposed to do?”  I think he replied with “we’ll find something” or a “here, let’s try this” and I was learning something new.

I miss days like that when there is not much chaos. Jersey Boy creates a lot. I’ve started taking on the, “No, let’s not start a new project. Let’s finish what has been started and clear off these surfaces and clean them!”

I miss Coffeeman so much these days.  But, without him being gone I might not have had a “Are you the executive chef?” being asked…..

Nor a, “Marry me tonight.”

Kate

When Control Does Not Abound

This, this right here above is the only controlled part of my life. And that was taken yesterday. Today, it’s not. Chaos, overwhelming everything, threatening storms are in the air. August is always an unstable month. The hot weather threatens to overload us, yet the nights are cool, and the winds begin. Storms may float in, wildfires start. Unsettled moments. It’s all very nerve wracking.

I feel out of sorts these days. The transition of a new boss is taking it’s toll on my mental and physical being. I’m tired already to begin with, but learning a new person’s flow, it can be exhausting. Especially, if at times, you don’t agree.

“Keep your head up, stay strong, keep working hard.” — Coffeeman

I’m losing Coffeeman. I might sound quite cavalier at times about it. I’m not. Far from it. I can’t go one moment talking or thinking about it that it doesn’t make me want to cry. I never, never thought that I would be this affected by it. I’m trying to suck down as much time with him I can get my hands on. Which currently is about 10 minutes when I get into work before he’s leaving. I actually got a whole half hour last week on one day. I don’t want him to go. I really don’t want him to go.  And this not wanting him to go has started making me rethink things and changes, and changes I might or could make in my life. It’s nothing even definite, but it’s realizing that when things change, sometimes you have to as well.

“When it comes to things you can’t control, keep your head down.” —Coffeeman

I’m not ready for the summer to end. That’s not even fair to ask, but I feel like it just started. I’m not ready for fall. I am enjoying this interim period of late summer, not fall, when the berries are ripening, or are loaded ripe, and everything is just slowly creeping it’s way to fall.  It’s rather lovely. They sky and light, clouds, moon, stars. It’s all so rather pretty.

There are a lot of changes that are going to happen this fall. I know it. Some good, like next week I take my driver’s written test. I have never driven, had a license… But life changes, and I have to move with the times. It’s been a 20 year journey in the making, this driving thing. I’m slightly apprehensive about the test. I’m excited about the driving.

I’m gonna repeat it because this is kind of where the post all started in my head. I’m gonna miss Coffeeman so much. I wish I could pause time. Pause this moment right now where I have one of the best coworkers of my life. Sure, I liked him as my boss, but meeting up with him each work day and going over the mise en place is the highlight of my day. It is the very best part of my work day. And I can’t control a single other thing right now.

“If it’s not affecting you, don’t get involved.” — Coffeeman

So, uncontrolled me, overwhelmed, transitioning, and trying to not get involved with anything that doesn’t affect me. Yeah, this is gonna be a hard fall.

Kate

The Scales Tilt

Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash

“Hey Chef, can I talk to you before you go?”

The question is posed after another long Saturday with the exhaustion of Thursday and Friday getting to me. I can see he’s dreading the ‘Talk’ that I have coming, because I have had serious talks at the end of his shift, not always good.

“How do you balance home life and chef/restaurant life? Like how do you get your family to understand the lack of balance?”  The question gets a chuckle, rueful at best from Coffeeman as he flips a milk crate over and sits down on our back dock and I plop myself on the stairs. I’m way past tired, ready to cry, per usual, and that’s not having been working over 40 hours; I still have another two to three before I hit that mark. It’s just the overwhelming feeling of all my focus on work. Picking up after people, stressing over prep not getting done, sugar lows that make me hurl dough at a table and stomp off nearly ready to melt into a puddle of tears and snarling. I could be a puddle of vampire teeth. I know, weird analogy. But I’m a weepy, bitey puddle.

I never balance things well. Relationships, work, poetry, writing. I go all in. I thrust myself into the fray and sink my heels in; grasp with sharp talons. Moderation isn’t my best suit. I have a lot of flaws. I cultivate bad habits…. Okay, not totally, but I’m far from the person I present myself at work. I think everyone there thinks I am a certain way, and I’m betting they wouldn’t quite recognize me on my off days or at home or when I’m in a comfortable setting. I’m me at work, but not. Which is why I cultivate the name ‘K’ at work (psst. people, it’s not Kay. It’s just the letter…. lol) K is a focused individual, a little messy, but put together, dedicated to the point of ocd-ness, passionate about her work, what her guests think, what her coworkers think, etc. It can be exhausting. I’m nice to a fault. I’m not as assertive as I need to be, yet. Much more passive.

But at home I am cluttered, distracted, emotional, snarky, tired, always tired, prone to starting too many projects and not finishing them, a reader, a dreamer, a writer. Writer me is rarely visiting work, and when she does, it’s while making a pizza on a slow day when the clouds are forming to the south and I stare out at the fields, meadows, and mountains, writing about Wilson Tennu, or what he should be writing about…

I guess in that way I’m balanced. A balanced wreck, but balanced nonetheless.

“Twenty plus years in the industry, and I still haven’t got it all balanced,” says Coffeeman.

“How do you unwind? I find myself getting off at 11 and awake till three in the morning,” I say.

“I still do that.” His replies help (and don’t help) because I don’t feel like I’m the only one dealing with it. I know he gets it. He has it seven days a week with ordering or being at the restaurant, family life, a wife, kids, a long commute. I have at least the two days off, which he says to be thankful of.

“Don’t drive past this place, (course you get your mail at the post office behind…), don’t think about work. Don’t plan recipes or menus or specials. Do it at the last minute. Do it on the fly. Don’t talk about work. Let it go for the two full days you are off and the morning before you come to work.”

It’s all easier said than done. Coffeeman… I failed this week, as I sat there discussing work and thinking about hand pies and do we have puff pastry in the freezers still? Do I want to run a special this week?

It’s currently Tuesday evening, my Sunday night, and yeah, I’m thinking about work. It’s one of those bad habits.  But I don’t feel as stressed other than I wish I would have had more time to watch a few things filling up the dvr. I wish I could sleep more. I feel like I don’t get enough sleep. This balance thing is hard.

But again, balance isn’t my strong suit. Nor is patience. I want it to happen now. Drama queen that I am.

I like to think that maybe the scales are shifting a bit though. I took a long walk and hike yesterday by water, which I love. Saw plants and wildlife and just got away from the house. And not just to town, or to the city. Just away from the generals of life. It was nice. Summer is rapidly progressing and I feel like it’s going to be all over before it even began!

I found myself feeling kind of weird about how much of a struggle last summer was, but right now it feels very far away. Some things are not far away, having animosity towards people still, months from when it happened, but it seems ages ago. This year is a struggle as well, but in a different way. Other problems creep in, others fade. I’m still too emotional about things. I don’t think that will ever change, but each day might bring something new and a new perspective.

Coffeeman left me with a hug of serious proportions. The kind that says, “I get you” which I needed because I was so tired and need to find balance. “Just be thankful you don’t have kids,” he says on a final note. And to that, I am fortunate. My immediate family wears me out. I’d hate to think of kids in the picture. And that’s the rueful me talking there.

Kate

It’s A Sign Of Behind The Times

I’m actually having trouble naming blog posts these days. I was thinking in the terms of song lyrics. “It’s a sign of the times….”, it’s a Harry Styles song… bear with me.

Today I finished Paradise Lost by Milton…. Caveat being that I didn’t read chapters 1-11; only chapter 12. I was a little late to the game with the local ‘Salon’ one of the ladies from the writing group hosts. It was rather lovely to be in a literary setting which has been far from my realm for months. My writing group has gone to the wayside because my Friday nights are so late that I can’t force myself to get up at 9am to write. Bleh.

Or Nathan Englander. Look at that hair. He has to be tall, right?

But I am still writing. Not as frequently as I would like, because while inspiration is there, and pops into my head all the time, it’s rather hard to write while pulling pizzas from a 700 degree oven in the middle of a rush. Whew!

Farley Granger. Good, American stock.

I wrote two poems back in 2017 that were from the standpoint of this heteronym Wilson Philips Tennu, a writer living in New Orleans. Tall, thin, similar to Farley Granger (or Nathan Englander), but more floppy hair, he’s in this physical relationship with a Mrs. Robinson-esque woman, although I don’t see her as quite as old, nor is she married. Just she has this way about her. He’s fed up with her, so off to France he goes, which is in poem number two.  Well, these two poems lead to a three month writing spree of various points where he’s trying to find himself, he’s left France, gone to the west coast, lives in a small, rural area, in this mountain cabin that’s very, um, rustic.  For those not knowing what a heteronym is : via Wikipedia 

The literary concept of the heteronym refers to one or more imaginary character(s) created by a writer to write in different styles. Heteronyms differ from pen names (or pseudonyms, from the Greek words for “false” and “name”) in that the latter are just false names, while the former are characters that have their own supposed physiques, biographies, and writing styles.

Wilson writes very long poems with no breaks. Semi rambling on…. Okay, I’m a little like that, but not quite as bad…. making conditions, because like, yeah, I am the one actually writing it… gads that’s confusing.

Anyways, here he is, in the west, and I am working on his journal and poetry. The poor man is rather lost, confused, disgusted with himself. He needs a change. He’s decided to get a job in a restaurant as a dishwasher….. irony……. working the night shift, and he smokes cigarettes like a fiend, courtesy of the Mrs. R. He drives a 1973 sky blue Capri, has two typewriters, one is a travel one, an Olivetti Lettera 22, light blue….  “but I still took my typewriter with me,
the travel one, sky blue, sleek, like a convertible
with its top down, zippy, light on its keys”   (I always say this in my head like Linguini from Ratatouille when he’s explaining about Anton Ego, the critic, coming to dinner)

Olivettie Lettera 22

I’d actually rather like to meet this guy. He’s so not my type, but well, any guy that likes his typewriters and is a bit edgy, sounds interesting at least. Writing from his standpoint is interesting. Sometimes I get lost as to whom is writing, and then I start getting really depressed and wanting a cigarette…. I don’t smoke. Sometimes Wilson can be a bit of a bad influence on me. He stays up late, having dark circles under his eyes. He probably drinks a bit too much, obviously smokes too much. Sometimes I want to shake him for being so dramatic at times. Everything is always so over the top with him. A real drama queen….

So bits of my life make for a perfect inspiration for his life. I kind of feel sorry he’s a dishwasher, but since he’s a writer that sends off work as his bread and butter, I’m okay with him having a lower tier job.  The dishwashing is his jam, though he would much rather have the writing be bread, butter, and JAM.  Fickle man.  Someone should give him a good ‘Snap out of it!’ slap, a la Moonstruck.

Just the other day, the swoop and curls are even better as I work on them, this was only day two of testing.

I realized I hadn’t blogged in quite a while, but then a new spring menu dropped at the restaurant, I was sick again, and just this week finished a 6 day work week with a couple of extra overtime days. Days where I didn’t clock off till well after midnight.  I am seriously tired and two days off isn’t enough. I need one extra at least, but such is life. I am excited about the new menu and one of my ideas made it to dessert menu. Pots de creme. I had done spiced ones a month ago that were not super popular, but these new ones are plain, rich chocolate.  I am excited about a few new dessert ideas I have playing around in my head. I have been killing it on being lead pizza chef. I mean, I am rocking it, even with a Rosie the Riveter look. I have the headband and have been swooping my hair a la 1940s.

That doesn’t mean work has been easy. I love my job but there are aspects that make me want to slam my head into a wall… Or more like coworkers heads, but that’s way too psychopathic, which I am not…. insert evil grin, like the Grinch….. I jest. Really, I do. I joke that I always have my knives with me, but if I actually stab someone it will be because I forgot to walk with the point down and I went around a corner. Yes, I can hear Chef in my head…. ‘Point down!’

Yes, Chef.

I’m not sure how to end this post, other than to say, I need to now read Paradise Lost, especially chapters/books 7 and 9 per Mads suggestion. I am actually going to read the whole thing as I rather like blank verse. Enjoy this Harry Styles song, because I rather like it, and need to listen to it again.

Kate

Being a Pastry Chef – Day 29

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

“Uh. Yes!” comes the expected response.

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

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

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

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

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

So, perks to being pastry chef.

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

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

Kate

Behind the Scenes Prep – Day 28

Photo by Aaron Thomas on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kate

Everything Changes – Day 27

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

Lemon Bars Photo by Dana DeVolk on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kate