Friday, September 01, 2006

Kitchen Confidential

Holy shit am I tired. But I could also say, "Holy shit was my night awesome!"

Everyone-EVERYONE at the restaurant is so nice. They were welcoming and funny and made me feel right at home immediately. I even got called pretty twice in the first half hour!!

Things I did:

1. Sliced shrimp horizontally and balled them up into 5.5 oz balls for saute.

2. Cut and cleaned calamari and bagged them into 10 oz bags for cooking.

3. Cut 6 billion chicken breasts into strips for saute. That was fun b/c as I was doing it, they were calling for it on the line so I was under pressure.

4. Ripped 800 lbs of basil to make a vat of pesto.

5. Sliced and prepared tomatoes to be roasted for salad.

Yes, I am in the prep kitchen. Which is fantastic. First-the guys back there are great. They're funny and patient but also very crude! I had to throw out a few "F" bombs to prove my worthiness b/c they kept saying, "Sorry" after making jokes. And b/c I'm not offended by those things, I became my sarcastic self, which is always fun. Especially when you can rag on people and laugh.

Things I learned:

1. I was reminded by 2 people again that I do very poorly with the direct flirt. Direct flirt and me are not friends. Putting it out there just makes me nervous and that's not good, especially when I have a knife in my hand.

2. Working in a kitchen is very different than working in culinary school. Obviously it's more chaotic, but also less sanitary (the restaurant isn't dirty at all, but in school they are crazy fanatical about it.) and the knives are not as sharp.

3. Cutting with a dull knife when you are not a seasoned chef gives you a BFB (Big Fuckin Blister) on your index finger. It is nice though when your new chef friend/mentor puts it on for you and says, "Now, don't you ever say I didn't give you no love mommy". He didn't really call me mommy, but it felt like he should have.

4. Leche is all the rage the back of the house. Even though it's not funny. The boys think it is.

5. Being one of the only girls (There are only 2 of us) in the kitchen is-I'm not gonna lie-kinda fun.

6. Culinary school has taught me nothing about the restaurant business. I know, I'm still new, but truly, the men I met tonight are extremely talented, yet not formally trained. I can't wait to learn from them!

7. If people really want to know if you are having sex. They're going to just ask. Being a prude isn't the way to go in a kitchen.

8. Tiramisu cake is yummy. Especially when the customers are too drunk to know that we have a huge chunk of it in the back and are eating it. No, it's not better than sex...

9. In the real world, you do not have to wash your dishes or scrub your floors. There are people to do that for you.

10. Working with a Yankee fan is tough. Especially when he knows you aren't a Yankees fan and makes you stand right by the radio to listen to the game when you are working.

Things I need to learn:

1. Spanish

2. How to snap a towel and hit someone butt. (I told a guy tonight that if he ever did that to me, I'd kick his ass) ;)

3. Where everything is in their walk-in. Someone came to get me after about 5 minuts b/c I couldn't figure out where to put the chicken!

Things that are funny just to me:

1. The look on my face when I cut a tomatoe in half and threw it away instead of in the container.

2. The embarassed look on someones face when someone told me something about him.

3. Teeth

4. When Mr. CM and I went to eat there months ago we saw a display case move in the wall. I'm working behind that. When I mentioned it to the pastry chef and told the story she said, "That was probably my ass!"

It was cool. I loved it. My feet are killing me. My belly is full b/c I got to take home my dinner. It was pasta with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, chicken (that I sliced) and tomato sauce. And garlic. I was so hungry from not eating since lunch that I just now scarfed it down.

I'm gonna have some weird dreams tonight!! Oh, and I got a baseball hat with the name on it and I don't have to wear a neckercheif.

I may never leave this place. ;) 10 hour shift tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Salmon



This just in:

I kinda like salmon now...

And also, doesn't the picture above kind of look like the guy is peeing instead of fishing? Or...it's just me, right?

Blah Blah or Fucking Carrots

So...you know how some of you warn me about spreading myself too thing? Well, I think that may happen.

Tomorrow I start working at Cold Peppers (Don't worry, that's not really the name, and no, it's not owned by Dante). I'll go after work on Friday's and stay until whenever, then work from noon until (technically) 8pm but chef said I may stay later.

*Sigh*

Sundays will truly be a day of rest for me.

I already made plans 3 times for tomorrow-each time I had to say, "Shit. Never mind. I have to work."

I'm very excited though. I've only worked in a restaurant once and it was only for a summer. And the only kitchen time I got was mixing salads. Hopefully at Cold Peppers I'll work my way up a little bit and get some line time eventually.

And, the bestest part of this whole spreading myself thin thing is that my dear friend Megan and I will get to work together again!! YIPPEEEE!!!!!!

I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Because I'm too tired to think of anything creative or odd to write about, here's a run down of my first week back to school. It was a test week.

Monday: Breakfast final and Breakfast practical. 90% on written test, 100% on practical test. (YUP! 100%!!! He said he's only given out 2 100's in his entire teaching career!!!!) Know it all was PISSED! I had to cook a 3-egg omelet stuffed with gorgonzola and spinach, Lyonaise potatoes with a fresh fruit garnish.

Tuesday: Baking final and practical. 100% on written test and a 95% on practical. We had to make eclairs and cream puffs. My pate a choux was a little under baked-it could have used literally 2 more minutes. And my pastry cream wasn't quite right. It tasted a little like caramel, which means I overcooked it. Know it all got a 92.4. Again-pissed!

Tonight: You know, I don't know the name of this class-but we had a written test and a practical too. I don't know what I got on the written-but it was HARD and I don't think I did well. I guessed on most of the questions. This will be that test that brings me to a 3.91 and not my 4.0. Ick. Anyway, it was the hardest practical I've taken yet. We had to make fresh spinach pasta, Chicken with tarragon cream sauce and fucking tourne carrots. I hate tourne carrots. They are just carrots cut with 7 sides. Who needs that? They are wicked hard to make, and really, a waste of time.

My pasta wouldn't roll out right. It was too wet. It held me back by about 15 minutes. Finally it worked and I got it all rolled out and everything went smoothly. I was 2nd to plate. I got a 94.4 and was told my sauce was the best out of the class. I love my chef. He's my most favorite. Not because I'm his favorite either.

Everyone seemed to have trouble tonight. Bagpipe Willie (hee hee, I love tha name for him!), who is usually 3rd or 4th to plate was 2nd to last. His bench looked like a tornado hit it, and his plate didn't come out looking wonderful. He was 45 minutes late. It was just a weird night.

The kitchen was a mess too! Flour everywhere from our pasta-dishes galore. We all had so much to do we didn't get a chance to hop over to wash like we usually do...


Oh well, 1 more day of yucky work and then the weekend!! And a LONG one at that. ;)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Phone Trees

I've worked in a call center. I've also worked in a smaller office with a phone tree that had number prompts to each department or manager. It's my voice you'd hear if you called the number.

In five years, we updated the phone system once, which involved changing the numbers and departments.

The major call center never changed anything.

My point? There is no way that when you call Peter Pan Bus Company or your health insurance 800 number that their menu options have recently changed.

There's just no way. In the past month, I'd have to say that 7 out of 10 companies I've called use "Please listen carefully, as our menu options have recently changed." line.

No way.

Does no one have creativity anymore? Do they think that by using a popular message like that will make them seem more "official"? And what exactly are they trying to avoid by telling people to listen carefully?

Are people really that crazy that they press random buttons hoping to get helped more quickly?

"Thank you for calling Uni-"

"4!"

"For the bill-"

"7!"

"To request a quo-"

"2!"

At which point they inevitably just it:

"0!"

Ok, so maybe I'm right about the "0" part, but for the most part, I think that people are accustomed to the phone tree system by now, and know to at least listen for their prompts.

And also-what is the cut off for using the term "recently"? 6 months? A year? I'd like to find out so that I can rest easier knowing that "4" will take me to billing and "8" to customer service.

And on another "also". Don't you hate it when they say:

"If you have questions about your bill, press 1...to request a membership card, press 2...if you are a provider, press 3...to speak to a customer service representative, press 7."

What!?! 1.2.3.7?!

How does that work? It's like a trick question on a phone tree.

I guess that's their way of being creative though...

"Please listen carefully, cause we're gonna throw screwy number sequences at you!"

"To leave me a comment, go to the comments section...to leave this blog, press the "X"..."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I've been looking up pictures for plating ideas. The crab cakes won't have the relish on top, and will sit on a salad, but I like the height...


Crab Cakes
My scampi isn't as saucy, and has much more color b/c of the veggies, but I love the way the shrimp are turned up around the edges...
Scampi

What do you think?

Big Ball-o-Tin Foil

I don’t know why, but you seem to think that I unlimited funds, and can afford to buy 2 lunches per day. Perhaps you believe that you, yourself, are worse off than I am.

Let me tell you, Lunch Snatcher: You. Are. Wrong.

I eat eggs for dinner because we make them in school. Last night, I had a cream puff and an éclair. Tonight, I do not have school, and therefore, I will either partake in a delicacy of frozen peas and cauliflower or olives.

Until payday, I am destitute and only have .80 to spend for food.

I suspect I know who you are. And I can tell you that if my refrigerator broke, I would not be able to afford the $300 you just spent to fix it. I also do not have money to strip and refinish the entire outside of my home, or to have someone make me silk floral arrangements for my desk. (Changing gears here, did no one mention to you that silk flowers are SO early 90’s?)

I tried labeling my food. That didn’t work.

My new plan is to wrap my entire container in aluminum foil. Yup. The whole container. It will appear to be a big ball of foil. It will be so large that it will barely fit on the shelf. You will look like a fool if you take it out of the kitchen, and I know that will bother you.

I on the other hand, care little about looking like a fool, as long as I have food in my belly come lunchtime.

So today, instead of taking a much-needed nap during lunch, I have to rush home to get another meal. I hope I don’t fall asleep at the wheel and die.


Cause it’ll be all your fault.

The Family Stone

When I was little, I may have known in my head that friends change quickly and that next week I would be friends with my mortal enemy. In my heart, though, it felt like an eternity.

I have a cousin who is my same age. We met when I moved to CT from NY. She, though pretty with her olive colored skin and dark eyes, dressed like a boy.

I liked dresses.

She dug in the dirt and threw worms.

I like baking.

Despite these differences, we became fast friends. Because our houses were within walking distance from each other, bus rides became after school play dates which became sleepovers with homemade ice cream and He-man watching, Speak and Spell playing strings of bonding.

So when it was my turn to be the odd girl out, it hurt. Especially because I always felt like I should have priority over everyone else. We were, after all, related.

I don't remember where Amy Creque moved from, but she arrived looking like Annie without the red hair. My cousin and I loved Annie. We sang her songs, watched the movie-I even had a dress. And Amy was close enough to Annie for us. 2 became 3 and our fun times increased.

Until the day Amy got jealous.

It was 5th grade. I was writing, in my best cursive, on yellow recycled paper, a composition. When I was done, I handed the paper into the teacher and peeked inside the classroom where my cousin and Amy were sitting. Amy made eye contact, and froze.

How curious I remember being about what caused her to suddenly stop dead in her tracts.

Later, during recess, I ran over to Amy and my cousin. Mid-swing they stopped being monkeys and hung limp from one arm. They didn't blink though I yelled at them, demanding to know what they were doing. They didn't respond. Others came by, laughing and staring.

The were staring at me.

While I wrote my composition earlier, Amy was spreading her meanness. The plan, she told everyone, was to pretend to turn to stone when I looked at them. The only way to be "unfrozen" was if I left the room, or if someone shielded me from their view.

It seemed like years went by before this passed. I don't remember how it ended, or who was next on the torture chain for that next week, but I do know this:

Making people turn to stone simply by being in the same room makes your heart feel like lead. It makes you wish you were stone and that someone would shatter you to pieces so you could sink into the ground and disappear.

It may have only been hours. But in my heart, it was eternity.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Toosdae ?'s

1. Do you consider yourself more normal or less normal than the others you surround yourself with?

2. Who is the most famous person you have ever spoken with?

3. If you were to be arrested and sentenced to 25 years in prison, would you formulate a plan to escape or would you quietly ride out your time and be released without incident?

1. Absolutely less normal.

2. I've talked with many famous people. In person, I'd say Robin Williams when I helped him get away from crazy people on Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom when I worked there. On the phone, Steven Tyler. It was my birthday and they were staying at our hotel, and everyone in the back office joked that he was coming to sing to me. Oh, how cool that would have been.

3. Oh, I'd formulate a plan. I'd just never execute it. Living in fear for the rest of my life would get tiring. But if my boyfriend Wentworth wanted me to come with him, I'd totally have to go. Screw living in fear-I'd follow those lips anywhere!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Crab Cakes and Shrimp Pasta

I'd just like to share one thing:

I GOT THE COOKING JOB!
And the kicker is...she only wants the crab cakes and the pasta. EASY! No dessert. Nothing. And she picked the easiest menu. For the same price.
She also asked if I'd be interested in more work if this works out.
Duh!
Thanks for your input guys. It really gave me more confidence to talk to her.

I Shall Believe

There are certain things you just shouldn't do at any age, let alone when you're in your 50's...

1. Talk to strangers about how crazy the "horses" are
2. Wear a crocheted shawl wrapped around your waist creating a weird fringed butt look.
3. Pair crazy shawl with crazier teeny bopper hat
3. Get a french manicure with blue tips instead of white
4. Eat nachos in a concert venue
5. Put anything blinky on your person. Ever.
6. Wear dangly handcuff earings
7. Be so annoying that the people around you bond because they all hate you.

This weekend the ever adorable and wildly funny Mr. CM took me to a concert. It was supposed to be a John Mayer/Sheryl Crow concert, but JM was sick and had to cancel. Luckily, Mr. CM is not a jerk and we got to stay to watch SC. Also luckily, SC's not a jerk and she played for 2 hours!! I can honestly say that she was awesome.

I've always been someone who truly appreciates a beautiful voice and I was ecstatic that Sheryl Crow's voice is as crisp and clean and powerful live as it is recorded. She's an amazing entertainer and I feel very lucky to have been invited to see her. And yes, her pants were linen.

I was kind of disappointed that I didn't get to see John Mayer. People wouldn't call me a huge entertainment fan-that is, I don't obsess about actors, musicians, etc and I don't live and die by releases. But I do love music, and I've always loved John Mayer and enjoy his lyrics, his dreamy, velvety voice and as a daughter of a guitarist, I appreciate his skill. I also like that he's a little funky, and that he's from CT. And, if you've ever visited his blog, he seems to really like shoes. A lot.

Unfortunately, what this weekend did not produce was an American Idol contestant. BUT-the show is popular (much to my dismay) and there will be other times. Just the fact that you were going to go makes you a success...and just think-now you've got more time to plan and practice! ;)

Have a great Monday everyone! Don't forget to stop by tomorrow to answer my Toosdae ?'s!!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Menu Selections

There's a small chance that I may be commissioned to cook for a party of 2 in a few weeks. I was asked to prepare several menus for the customer's selection. Here is what I came up with.

Please tell me your thoughts-does anything sound gross? Would you like any of it? Does something not fit in the menu? Most of all, would you pay someone to cook it for you?

All menus will have the option of adding on an appitizer, such as:

Garlic Shrimp
Artichoke Dip
Bruchetta
Crab Dip
Menu 1
Crab Cakes w/ Sweet Red Pepper Dressing
Large lump meat crab cakes served on a bed of escarole, radicchio and endive dressed with a sweet red pepper vinaigrette.


Blue Cheese Stuffed Filets with Bacon Mashed Potatoes
Filet Mignon stuffed with blue cheese, served over creamy mashed potatoes and a port wine reduction.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Rich, creamy chocolate cake served with fresh sweetened cream and berries.


MENU 2

Salad with Warm Goat Cheese
Salad greens tossed with a light vinaigrette and served with warm goat cheese melted over French bread crisps.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Braised Chicken (bone in) served with a white wine cream sauce and rice pilaf and red potatoes.

Lemon Meringue Tart
Fresh lemon curd in a crisp, short crust. Simply delicious!


MENU 3

Endive, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad
Seared with a white wine vinaigrette. A perfect pair of sweet and salty.

Shrimp Scampi Primavera
Fresh carrots, peppers and squash and shrimp sautéed with garlic and lemon, served over angel hair pasta.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
Creamy vanilla cream paired with fresh berries and drizzled with chocolate sauce.