Today I did so much in the first hour that the rest of the day is a blur.

After two months in the kitchen, I know my way around a lot of the equipment and have done some basic stuff. What I have is not exactly confidence, it’s more a lack of fear. I don’t worry about what Chef Joe or Banquet Chef will have me do next, because by now I know they’ll tell me exactly what they want; they won’t jam me up to make a point. Because I don’t give a shit about being the smartest guy in the room, I know I’ll speak up if I don’t get the concept. Both of these are fairly new work experiences.

As soon as I walked in the kitchen today, Banquet Chef handed me a box of frozen breaded okra and said “fry these off.” Yeah, everything is offed in the kitchen — cooked off, steamed off, grilled off, fried off. It is, I think, the Romance language part of us looking to complement the short Saxonisms. French and English rock together.

I did the okra in the deep fryer to a golden brown, getting in Terrance’s way on the line a little, but he knows I have to be there. Put ’em in a small hotel pan and went back to the banquet area.

Banquet Chef was putting some pans of rice out and told me to rough chop some cilantro quickly. I went back to the produce bin and Brian helped me find some, quickly, and I ripped leaves off stems and chopped like a really intense person. I brought the cilantro over to him and he told me to put it on the pans of rice, wrap it and stick it in the hot box. This is where it clicked that I had gone from Visitor to Rookie to Assistant.

Chef had me pull a Lexan of mixed veg from the walk-in and season it with olive oil, salt, pepper, dried basil and dried thyme and spread it out on sheet pans. Then he had me pull sheet pans of portioned salmon that were defrosting, spread them onto more sheet pans to let them defrost faster, then add butter, salt, pepper and … he looked around at the possibilities … cumin. I’d never have thought of putting cumin on salmon and I hope to get to taste it tomorrow.

Then I pulled four cases of sole from the freezer, dumped them into two Lexans, and we took them back to Dish and put the Lexans in a sink and ran cold water to defrost them. Then we plated for 35, chicken stuffed with vegetarian risotto.

That was the first hour.


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