Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rules at The Restaurant

As I reflected about my first weeks of Staging on my recent vacation in Hawaii, here are some conclusions I have come to my attention that are just known facts about working at The Restaurant. 

When asked to organize the "sub-zero-like" refrigerator after a huge delivery of produce from Frank's, do not put any green vegetables, especially celery, under the 1 1/2 foot space where the cold blowing fan dwells above the top shelf. The vegetables will freeze. Then, those vegetables that were just ordered, are ruined for anything other than vegetable stock, and have to be reordered again. 

Do not walk in front of the commercial dishwasher on Saturday Nights. The floor is sodden with soapy dishwater. Watching Chef M and The Head Chef reach for you, with panic in their eyes as you are slipping, holding on to the metal sink for dear life, and running on the dishwater like Fred Flintstone in his stone wood car, is slightly humiliating. 

Never throw anything away: be it the butts (or in my case, crumbly and burnt pieces) of the pistachio biscotti, the rounded edges of a crisp-green apple that are unsuitable for a bruinoise, the picked stems from Italian flat-leaf parsley, or the unservable pieces of escolar, hamachi, or fluke that are just not quite big enough for a portion of crudo. These items could be a snack for a server (or yourself), part of a family meal, a component of some sort of stock, or the one ingredient that is added to a dish that gives it that extra "oomph!". Oh! And, if they do accidentally end up in the garbage, don't think that you can pull them out. 

Thou shall not wipe thy hands on ANY apron that thou is wearing; Not even the white bistro prep apron that gets washed each day. That is what the blue kitchen towel that you tie to on the right side of your apron is for. Even if the blue towel has fallen on the floor, as it frequently does because you have not learned how to adequately tie it to your apron, and you thought it was there when you were wiping, you will still get barked at. 

Always, Always, Always use those blue kitchen towels to pick up any pot, or pan. Unless, of course, you want to rock a burnt and swollen left hand all night long. Although it could be sexy, it is not a recommendation of mine. 

When slicing a peach (or anything for that matter), at 9pm on a Thursday night for Chef B (in a panic, of course), curl your fingers under your palm while slicing, for goodness sake. You do not want to have a bleed-out all over your Chef's coat, the hostess, the kitchen, and the peach. I am just saying...

As you are cooking a dish with your favorite giant silver spoon, tasting the dish for seasoning, and finding that it needs a touch more Kosher salt (it always needs more salt), do not stir it, again, with that same giant silver spoon you just had in your mouth, and re-taste the dish, again with the same spoon. The food will be contaminated, and is supposedly called double-dipping

After drinking until 2:30 in the morning on your first day, do not, under any circumstances, use the tall garbage can in the kitchen to prop your weary body up the next day while you are observing. Although your brain is convinced it is the latest version of a La-Z-Boy chair, and you can hardly stand on your gold Adidas sneakers, The Sous will admonish you, tell you to wash your hands, and say it is unsanitary. The  embarrassment is not worth the minimal appeasement between you, and your hangover. 

And lastly, wear pants that are high enough to cover your butt-crack when you reach down to get cold ingredients from the lower fridge at the crudo station. The Restaurant customers (and staff) do not need to see your hot-pink-cheetah-print thong hanging out of the back of your low-rise True Religion Jeans right before your shuck four Kushi oysters. This is NOT sexy.