Shellfishness and Having One’s Butt on the Line

victoria —  October 10, 2005 — Leave a comment

I find myself in the middle of midterms this week. A written exam in Purchasing and a production exam in Culinary III. I am trying not to worry so much. I’m trying instead to focus on not setting my arm on fire at work or poisoning my husband with my test cooking for my project.

Last night, I carted my kitchen gear over to CSG and the Carpenter’s house for a test run on some of shellfish dishes for my Mid-Atlantic buffet. The clam chowder was spot on though I think it would completely rock with fresh clams. Sadly fresh shellfish of any sort are not in my current budget for the dish nor were they available at Le Kroger. Wild Oats was out of the picture as there was no way I was getting my plate cost below the budget shopping there. The crab pot pie was a bit of a bust. I didn’t season the filling enough and I put too much water in my dough for the crust making it more than a little chewy… okay A LOT chewy. But everyone that taste-tested seemed happy with the results. It’s on to more rounds of chicken and pork this week and costing out all the recipes. Thankfully Keifel can eat the chicken and pork dishes, the retreat to CSG’s won’t be necessary. It didn’t occur to me until last night as I was at said Kroger buying clam juice (!) that I should have offered to trade with someone for another region because mine was so shellfish heavy and would make testing recipes at home with a deathly allergic to shellfish husband difficult.

Today is my third to last day on the line at the Hotel Chi Chi. It’s been a good experience and, yes, I am now quite certain that I am not a line cook. I only had a few major disasters which the Sous and my supervisor have handled rather gracefully. I caught my towel on fire the first or second night I worked saut mostly solo. I burned up a lamb shank in the oven. I also pulled a stack of pans down on myself into a pan of hot browning butter. Thankfully my face was not the target of the splatter from that one, probably my finest moment. I also had to cook for Chef when she and her partner came in for dinner. I was way more nervous than I thought but the other line cook was very supportive and level-headed about the whole thing and she and her partner were pleased over all with the result of my and S’s efforts.

It is exhausting and a little scary when tickets are printing away and I have turned around to the stove and completely forgotten what I was I supposed to be doing. Scarier that we aren’t a busy restaurant in the least. I would be a weeping mass somewhere with 200-300 covers a night. I do know this about myself. But I don’t know what made me think I could handle working at Zola. I wouldn’t have lasted a week, maybe less. No, it appears that I’m better in the banquet kitchen or elsewhere. Elsewhere is my next rotation: garde manger. The people in GM at the hotel are great and I am looking forward to it. Though I am noticing a trend that everyone in each kitchen, though they get along with each other really well, they are very certain that what they do is better than the other kitchens, or more difficult and requires a certain skill the others don’t have. I think they may all be right. Banquet to line is a huge difference from vats of pasta to a la minute. I can’t speak to garde manger because I haven’t been back there but it is clear that it requires some finesse with arrangement and patience with repetition. I’ll just be happy to begin with to be out of the inferno that is the line for a minute. Yes, I am apparently a wuss. I accept this and I am moving on.



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