Monday, June 28, 2010
Adventures of a kitchen slave
This is an adventure tale. After 2 semesters of culinary school, I finally found someone willing to let my inexperienced (but enthusiastic) booty into their kitchen. As of last Thursday, I am the newest intern at Hotel Laguna and their two food service operations. The Terrace is an oceanfront lounge serving classic California cuisine. Claes is their fine dining establishment, featuring panoramic ocean views from the dining room. "Be bold, and the mighty forces will come to your aid". This is the advice that my wonderful fiance offered me to calm the nerves of my first day. Hands trembling, I tried to put this advice into action. I'm not sure what I expected, but these rough-looking kitchen people turned out to be extraordinarily friendly and helpful. Before my shift, I sharpened my favorite Wustof chef's knife (aka: my baby) to a razor-sharp edge, ready to hone my cutting skills. I didn't get to cut a single thing. Instead, I spent the first 3 hours organizing the walk-in refrigerator, stacking and labeling shelves of ripe berries, an abundance of leafy green vegetables, and my favorite...a wall of assorted cheeses. I found the 35 degree temperature to be a refreshing change from the sweaty kitchen, until my shoe came untied and my frozen fingers were completely incapable of doing anything about it. One of the cooks entered, and through my broken spanish (and his proficient english), we exchanged introductions. He collected his necessary food items, and I'm pretty sure told me that I was the color of white asparagus. "Blanca" I said sarcastically, instantly picturing myself as Nancy Botwin from Weeds. "It's a beautiful color", he added, as he smiled and left. Later, I was offered a tutorial on the best way to sweep the floor. One of the cook's told me the head chef used to help out the custodial staff at the private school he attended. I could tell he was editing this story (aka leaving out the good stuff), but the advice was to sweep with 2 short strokes, followed by a sweeping motion. It left me doing a little shuffle around the kitchen, push-push-sweep. I can't wait until everyone is comfortable enough to tell me the good stuff...the full story. That night, I float home on a cloud of self-congratulation. At 30, I'm making steps to follow my passion.