Each night I work, I have a different job to do depending on what they are serving and what needs to be finished before our first reservation at 6pm. One night I peeled and cut carrots, another night I peeled and washed brussel sprouts, and the last night I worked...I got to work the cold station! Woo hoo!
Now, if you are not in the kitchen biz, as I am not, you may not know all the fancy terms. But a "cold station" pretty much tells it like it is: cold foods, ie, foods that don't need to be cooked. That night it was just Lady Chef and I in the kitchen and let me tell you, I was NERVOUS! Cold station means preparing salads and appetizers. As easy as this may sound to you, the pressure of making sure EVERY DISH LOOKS THE SAME AS THE LAST is actually nerve racking. BUT, I made sure to have Lady Chef look at everything and asked plenty of questions to be sure I had them right!
For the appetizers, I helped make the pate` plate by making a "mini greens" salad w our house dressing. Easy enough. The second was a tray with 4 square bowls that contained one of the following: Tuscan bean dip, stuffed grape leaves, a variety of olives, and home made crustini's. YUM! Anyhow, it's all about the presentation, so I added the garnish and she told me I did a great job. YAY for me!
Salads were next, so I watched Chef Lady prepare the first few as she described to me how they are presented and what to do. Since we mix the dressing with the salads before they go out, you need to taste it to be sure the correct amount of vinaigrette is on the salad. (BTW, "dressing" is not kitchen terminology...we call it vinaigrette.)
I also prepared 3 of the beet salads after watching Chef Lady create the first one. This was one of my favorites, because the presentation is just beautiful and colorful as well. Two types of beets: red and pickled, along with orange slices, salt and pepper, and garnished with candied orange peel.
Along with the responsibility of the cold station is to help garnish the main dishes. We use fresh edible flowers and herbs for all of our dishes and it just makes the presentation pop. My favorite main dish to garnish was the shrimp, because she plates it fancy with the tails up.
I am still learning some great lessons in the kitchen, and thought I would share them. In no particular order:
1. ALWAYS ask and don't assume: If you are asked to cut carrots, DO NOT assume they are cut the same way as the last time you cut them. We ended up salvaging the carrots I cut incorrectly, but it is important to know EXACTLY what the chef wants you to do with them.
2. Thoroughly wash your veggies: Celery can sometimes have a tight seam that you can't get to with simply rinsing. Either use a small brush such as a toothbrush, or slice in half lengthwise before washing.
3. Have a GOOD TIME! Working in the kitchen is not for everyone. Be prepared to do whatever it takes to make it a successful night. You are part of a team and also need to carry a positive relationship with the servers. If you are not having fun, then you are not in the right job. :) Fortunately, for me it's a blast!
4. If you think you are a good cook, think again. I consider myself, and have been told by others, I am a really good cook. That ALL goes out the window after working in a professional kitchen. I told Lady Chef from Day 1 to "assume I know nothing" about cooking and it was the best thing I could have done for myself. I am not saying that I am a bad cook, by any means, but just realize there is a bit of humility involved by stepping into someone else's kitchen.
5. Recipes, recipes. Everyone wants you to share them, but do you know why chef's do not share them? Recipes are like intellectual property, and if cooks went around telling their secrets, well then, why would people dine at their establishment when they could make it at home? OR who knows, the competition may start selling the same dish and their goes your unique restaurant. You must make sure that if you work in a kitchen, the chef's recipes are kept in the kitchen. I may talk about how individual ingredients are prepped, but I will NOT share any full recipes, so don't ask. :)
There is just so much more for me to learn, and I look forward to my new adventure every time I go into work! Tomorrow I get to go in early to make desserts!!
I also have good news on the PC front...I earned another $50 bonus (I have already received $100 of bonuses!) and I am hoping to earn a few more of them in the next month or so! Woo hoo! I had a great show last week, so I am really close to meeting my personal goals. I know that I have to work harder than I have been to get myself in the financial position I need to be in, so I am trying really hard to keep up with my daily to-do lists! I have to admit the P-Monster (procrastination) rears its ugly head from time to time, so my lists and goal tracking seem to keep him at bay!
Here's to another week of fulfilling my lust for life.....salute!
All photos courtesy of freefoto.com