That was probably the weirdest title I’ve ever written. Anyway.
My four year old boy was a little clingy last week. Every morning, except Fridays, he has to get dressed and go somewhere. I know there are lots of working families out there for whom this is the norm, but he’s just not used to it. Thursday, he started whining, “I just want you to stay home wif me and cuddle and watch cartoons. I want you to go get doughnut holes wif me.”
Now, Thursdays are usually open-ish for me, until I go to Food Production 4 at 3 p.m. But he goes to Mother’s Day Out at our church, and I had planned to go to school for a while and do some early mise so we wouldn’t be so slammed this week.
I made him get dressed and go, although it hurt me a little. He was happy when he got there, and I promised him a special day just for us on Friday, including doughnuts.
I managed to spend a little over an hour at the school before class, gathering stuff for that night. It did help having a big hotel pan full of our mise before class officially started at 3 p.m. By 2:30, most of the students were there and we were busily getting things ready.
This week I was on cold pantry again, and I was in charge, with a new partner to show the ropes. Things were going well, until… the caesar.
I made a fairly elaborate caesar dressing from scratch, and at near the last step, it was ruined by a rotten egg. I’ve already spent waaaay to much time on this. I remade it and carried it to the chef, tasting spoon in hand, for his approval.
He didn’t like the texture. “Make a one-egg mayo and mix this into it.”
Really? From scratch. I don’t have time.
I snuck around the kitchen, which also serves the school’s cafe, looking for some ready-made mayo. When I’d spent way too much time looking, I finally found some…only to find the chef standing there. Make the mayo, he said.
I confessed that I couldn’t remember exactly how to do it. He disappeared, and then returned with a printed recipe. I made the mayo.
And I was not.happy.about.it.
I grumbled while I whisked. My arm ached. I’m out of time. I’d been allowed to use a blender or mixer in the previous class where we made mayo because of my fibromyalgia. There was none to be found in today’s kitchen. Grrrr.
I finished the mayo (with a little final whisking help from my partner, while I poured the oil) and mixed it with the dressing. It was lovely, and the mayo gave it a delicious eggy richness that a prepared version would not have provided.
Dang him for being right.
A little later, my partner and I were slicing apples for two different vinaigrettes. The recipe called for fine brunoise, or 1/16″ cubes. We struggled to cut out enough from our apples, many of which were at least partly spoiled.
The chef came by. “Not fine enough,” he said, showing us how he wanted them — actually much finer than 1/16″. We started over.
“I want demo plates in 15 minutes,” the chef boomed to the whole kitchen.
The chef came by a few minutes later, as we struggled. Still not fine enough. Throw it out and start over.
At this point, I was pretty hacked off.
Honestly, I thought. Isn’t there a point where you just get the dish out? But I knew the answer: In fine dining, not really. We started over and got the apples done, and finished out our dressings.
Somehow, with the help of the night’s sous chef (who took over our parmesan tuilles) and the fry station (who took over the amuse bouche), we got everything ready.
Then, I nearly cut off the tip of my finger with a peeler.
I noticed, just before service, that we still didn’t have the parmesan shavings we needed for the caesar salad. I grabbed by beloved Oxo peeler and handed it toward my partner for him to do the shavings.
What happened next, I’m not exactly sure. It was some sort of reflex action, to flick the blade with my other hand. Maybe I was checking that there wasn’t a protective cover still on it, as often happens with the student peelers that come in our kits. Maybe I was seeing if the blade was facing the right direction, since they sometimes get flipped. Whatever it was, it was subconscious, and it was really stupid.
So, moments before our guests were being seated, my finger is gushing blood, and I’m hopping around with equal amounts of horror and anger.
A well-heeled fellow student escorted me to the chef’s office, where he whipped out the chef’s first aid kit and doctored me up. Two bandages and two gloves later, I convinced the chef that I was fine for service.
The chef made me sit with my hands over my head for a moment, but my arms ached. I wanted to prove myself. I was (fairly) certain the bleeding had stopped, or at least slowed down enough that I was good to go. We’ll check it again after service to see if I need stitches.
We got our plates out that night, and they looked great. We somehow pulled it off.
And my finger, although painful, seemed to be holding together enough that it wouldn’t need professional attention. I convinced the chef that there was no need for an incident report. Enough drama already.
The next day, I took my son out for a much-deserved doughnut at Krispy Kreme. As we watched the magic behind the glass production wall, I thought about things like food safety, doughnut recipes and the role of the busy manager there.
Then I turned back to my little boy, and we enjoyed a treat together — a much-deserved reward for us both.