I got a text message at 1 a.m. this morning from my teammate, Tom, that he was feeling like death and wasn’t game for today’s class. And then I realized I might be the only person who decides to show up for the first day of production.
Let me give you a little history on what the production station does. We’re responsible for cooking the burgers, butchering the meat, and filleting the fish for the menu. We also have to make the canapés, the pasta special, and the vegetarian entrée. Gulp. And it was our first day on the station so I was already nervous.
I walked into class this morning at 8:20. The next time I looked up was 2:38. (Class ends at 3.) Needless to say, the day flew by, and fortunately for you, I’m going to break it down by the minutes.
8:20 a.m.: See Chef John, who is in charge of production. Say hello. He lets me know Tom will not be coming. Asks if anyone else will show. My answer? It’s always a gamble.
8:25 a.m.: Chef Jeff asks me to take the “bunnies” and defrost them.
8:30 a.m.: Chef asks me to help him with what I call “the boat,” a giant plastic box big enough for me to bath in. When we get into the fridge, he tells me we both need to lift it. First hurdle of the day. I think I was holding my breath the entire walk from the fridge to our work station.
8:35 a.m.: I organize everything in the boat into hotel pans. Then I get working on peeling the 30-odd potatoes I just unloaded. A straightforward task except they were ice cold.
8:40 a.m.: Gabby shows up. I thank God.
8:57 a.m.: I walk to the sink to rinse my beet red hands under screaming hot water in hopes to return the feeling to my fingers since I kept cutting them with the peeler and not feeling it.
9:00 a.m.: Chef screams for roll call. I walk over holding my frigid fingers, and Chef seems worried because he thinks I cut myself. And when I tell him my fingers are just cold, I sound incredibly lame.
9:20 a.m.: The last forsaken potato is peeled.
9:30 a.m.: I have too much fun using a potato-cutter contraption to make fries. It’s like a juicer, but for potatoes.
9:45 a.m.: I start making the whole-wheat flatbreads. A trip to the bread kitchen is necessary so I can borrow some fine whole wheat flour from our upstair’s neighbor.
10:15 a.m.: Flatbread is kneaded with Greek yogurt and chopped parsley and oregano. (It looks amazing.) Resting in the fridge for 30 minutes.
10:30 a.m.: Put a head of garlic in the oven to roast.
10:35 a.m.: Start prepping vegetables for the vegetarian entrée. Cutting maitake and trumpet mushrooms.
10:45 a.m.: Sauté mushrooms under the careful eye of Chef John. I’m always afraid of high flames, and cook my mushrooms on low heat and overcrowded my pan. Luckily Chef John swooped in to empty half my pan and turn up the heat.
11:10 a.m.: I realize I’ve forgotten the garlic. Shit.
11:12 a.m.: I check the garlic. Half of it’s burned.
11:15 a.m.: I start rolling out the herbed flat bread into little pitas.
11:30 a.m.: Lunch arrives. No time to eat, I grumpily admit to myself. Bah humbug.
11:45 a.m.: Service starts in 15 minutes. Yikes. Start cutting the cured char for the canapé. It’s topped with a dollop of crème fraiche, paprika oil, and chives. I sneak one in just to make sure it tastes good.
12:00 p.m.: Damn it. All the fried chicken is gone for lunch. I rationalize it as less calories for my blimped body.
12:15 p.m.: First canapés start coming in.
12:30 p.m.: First burger order. I thought burgers would be no big deal until Chef John gave me a long list of instructions on how to make it. And when my first order came in, I throw a burger on the grill and immediately start freaking out. Flare ups. I need firefighters to help me put out this fire. And then a second order comes in. Crap.
12:42 p.m.: First burger is ready. Second one is still charring away. At one point a classmate from across the room catches a glimpse of my face and asks if I need help. YES! PLEASE! Chloe to the rescue, again!!!
12:52 p.m.: Another burger. I start chanting, “I hate making burgers” while standing nervously on my tippy toes as if that would make the daunting flames die down. I felt like a kid on a two-wheeler for the first time just waiting to fall. But in my case, I was waiting to light my arm on fire or have an order sent back. Neither happened, but I did make a lot of Tina groans while cooking.
2:38 p.m.: Honestly, the next time I looked up was at 2:38 when we had one order left—a vegetarian entrée—and Chef said we could clean up.
3:00 p.m.: I realize how hungry I am and how many tools I pulled from my bag and have left to wash.
3:36 p.m.: Chef comes back to the classroom and sees me still cleaning up. “You’re still here?” he asks. Yes. I’m always still here even though I’m not serving dessert.
TIP OF THE DAY: Want to eliminate flare ups? Blow them out. No really. (Thanks, Ricardo.)