Sunday, August 01, 2010

I Dream of Shallots

Week 2 of the internship at LudoBites: More shallots! More shallots! Every night Chef wants more fried shallots in the charcroute. Every night, I literally dreamt of shallots: slicing them on the mandoline, frying them, drowning in a sea of shallots. Every day, I played chicken with a mandoline trying to get the best yield from the little buggers I could. (My husband said there were too many f-bombs in my last post, so I'm trying to keep it clean.) Most of the time, I won, but it only takes one loss to the mandoline to totally screw with my day. I'm investing in Band-Aid stock.

My goal on Friday was to NOT hear "More shallots!" from Chef. Success! And the shallots that haunted my dreams were gone that evening.

So what did I learn this week? I learned that during service, communication and coordination is absolutely key. When you get slammed with order after order in no particular order (pork belly! bass! belly! foie gras! duck! duck! belly!), you have to absolutely be aware of what proteins are going down on the plancha and you have to know what dishes are on deck to be plated. Wednesday was a total clusterfuck and I got my ass handed to me. After a sit-down meeting about coordination and communication with Chef and the sous, I started getting a handle on the movements of service and by Friday, it was starting to become more natural.

I still suck, though. It's easier, however, to spot the efficient movements that Chef and the sous are using to plate the dishes. I'm trying to mimic as best I can.

Quenelle update: the two-handed quenelles of cucumber relish go down on the plate pretty easily now. But now there's a one-handed quenelle of soft mustard ice cream that goes on my favorite pork belly dish. I practiced at home this weekend, but I have about a 1% success rate. And even that one ice cream quenelle looked so much like crap that I couldn't be bothered to take a picture of it to post.

On the plus side, my body has started getting used to standing all day. My feet weren't in any pain at the end of the week. Also, Chef yells at us if we don't take a break between prep and service. He sits in the dining room in front of the staff meal and knows who has come to take a plate and who hasn't. "I will be very angry if you don't come eat now!"

Yes, Chef. I was just coming to eat right now, Chef!

None of us really wants to stop because we all want to make sure our stations are set up properly, but he's right. Making us sit down for at least 5 minutes before service - and preferably 15-20 minutes - makes a huge difference for the rest of the evening.

Next week, the Chef has promised a couple changes in the menu. Just as I was getting the hang of the old one! Oh well... what dreams may come...

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