Thursday, August 11, 2011

Muscle Memory

Its been seven weeks since I left New York. I have eaten some bomb food, been to some awesome places, and there have been major developments in my future plans. So now, I will attempt to give somewhat of an abridged version of my summer. Because in about a week, I become a working stiff... for good, and summers will never be the same.

I visited chicago several times, on job hunting expeditions, and managed to eat at Hot Doug's (BEST RESTAURANT EVER), the Publican (THE OTHER BEST RESTAURANT EVER) and a few other awesome places. I went to Cape Cod where I ate my weight in Oysters. I played with my dog, read a few books, and enjoyed my summer thoroughly. But my time has come, it was time to go back to where it all started.

On Sunday I took a trip up to Madison. I visited with Ed, who readers of this blog would know as fish cook Ed, then he became sous chef ED. Now Ed is moving to NY to work at Per Se, Thomas Keller's New York Restaurant, arguably the best restaurant in the country. I am extremely happy for Ed, he worked his ass off at L'Etoile, and deserves this job. Plus, knowing someone at the best restaurant in New York can't be a bad thing. My visit to Madison had several intentions, to see Ed and wish him well before his journey out east, and to swing by L'Etoile, and ask if they would have me back. And I am very happy to say that I will be in the dairyland again very soon. As soon as I can find an apartment.

The one thing that I was taught in Madison last summer that has stuck with me more than anything else is the idea of muscle memory. Constant repetition of the same task will in time make it effortless. That is my goal for my future time at L'Etoile. I want to get better at everything I do. I want to peel potatoes faster, I want to be able to bang out a double batch of agnolotti in no time flat. I want to be able to case and link 80 pounds of sausage in record time while not bursting one damn sausage. Everyday I step out of that kitchen I want to be a cleaner, faster, smarter cook than I was when I walked in that morning. I want to effortlessly glide through fully booked Saturday night service, putting out plate after plate that I can be proud of. I want to be able to break down a whole pig, then set up my line, push through 140 covers, then get ridiculously drunk and do it all again the next day. I want to work so hard for so long that moving at breakneck speed becomes second nature.

I will be working a lot of hard hours for a quite a while now folks. I'm not a kid any more, at least not on paper. Forgive me if I seem distant, or if I'm hard to get a hold of, or if when we do talk I seem like I don't care. Fact of the matter is my life will be whatever kitchen I find myself in, and it will not be easy. There might not be holidays, there certainly wont be vacations, and there probably wont be a whole lot of sleep in my future. I've got a lot of shit I want to accomplish, and not a lot of time to do it. To quote the great Childish Gambino, "My work is my play time, I need you to understand and to stay fine." I am a cook now, first and foremost, and will be for the rest of my life.

I will try and keep this updated as often as possible, but I cannot make any promises. I will be working on two or three personal projects on top of my full time job at L'Etoile, and might not be able to keep up with this for extended periods of time.

I can't promise much, but what I can promise is that I am doing this because as sick as it sounds, it makes me happy. Its the only thing I could ever do. And in the long run, these next few years will turn out to be the most important in my development as a cook and as a person

I may be done with school, ladies and gents, but my education is just about to begin. And personally, I'm fucking stoked.