Week 1 out of 18 is finished. I've gotten into a pretty nice routine over the last week. I wake up around 9 to watch the first world cup game of the day, make a sandwich or something for lunch, get changed and head to work around 12 30. It takes about 10 or 15 minutes for me to get there. I walk into the basement, get changed. (I've learned that in this kitchen it is a necessity to wear a dish washer's shirt instead of a chef jacket.) My first day I wore a chef jacket and sweated buckets, every day since its been the dishwasher shirts for me.
After I change I clock in, pick up my stack of towels, and head to the second floor of the restaurant to the kitchen. The kitchen itself is so small. All of the cooks hate it, because there is no space to work, move, or to store anything. They all walk around shaking their heads muttering thinkg like "Only three more damn weeks"... until we move to an incredible new kitchen a block away that will be about triple the size.
I set up my station, at a table just to the side of the Cold Garde Manger Station, and begin my day. You could call me a "tournant" for now. My sous chef said that I have to put in my time doin the dirty work until they can give me a spot on the line, just to be fair to the other cooks and to make sure that I am capable. Right now my focus is speed. I am a free hand, I help all the other cooks get whatever they need done in order to open on time. If the meat cook is running low on pheasants, I break down more. Usually I do about 30 pheasants a day, and I'm getting a lot better. I can do thirty in about an hour. I brine the breasts and boned out thighs in the house brine, and save the bones for stock. Separate the livers from the other offals and freeze them, because when we get enough we can use them to make pates and terrines.
I do other things to. I make the Amuse every day. For the past week it was strawberries, macerated in sparkling wine, chopped tarragon, honey and black pepper. After they sit for a few hours I crush them by hand and the resulting liquid is served with crumbled buttermilk blue cheese and a little brioche toast point.
One of the perks of being the tournant in a farm to table restaurant in the peak of summer, is that there is a ton of labor intensive produce that comes in, that has to be prepped by guess who... thats right... me.
Cherries are in season in Madison right now, Yesterday, I pitted about 4 heaping sheet trays using only a paper clip. If I see a cherry tomorrow I might cry. My fingers are still stained with cherry juice, and the little nicks I had on my fingers sting because of the acidity. But I digress...
Im getting a stage at a specialty pork butcher, so one day in the next few weeks I'll wake up, and instead of going to work at the restaurant, I'll be going to a shop that specializes in butchering local organic pork. I'll spend the day elbow deep in dead piggy and have probably one of the best days of my life.
My Chef and sous chef have picked up on my love of butchering, so Pete, the sous chef is taking me with him to slaughter some chickens a buddy of his needs killed and butchered. So... in a few weeks you'll get to hear my stories of snapping chickens necks with my bare hands, or watching them wriggle around several seconds after I lop their heads off. I'm more than excited.
Also, Fat Sandwich Company in Madison gets a shout out this week. Last night I had a sandwich with Chicken Fingers, marinara Sauce, and Fried cheese curds on it at like 1 30 in the morning while I was roaming around state street, still hyper from my first Saturday Service adrenaline rush. It was so good, though a few people... cough... Mary... cough have said that I'm not allowed to go there.
Well, I'm still tired from working 75 hours this week, so I'm gonna say goodbye for now.
Feel free to contact me any time I'm not at work, because I dont sleep a whole lot, and I'd love to talk. Skype me if I'm online.