The first thing I do is say hello to everyone. I've met a lot of amazing people once I joined this team. Before a short meeting commences I toss my potatoes in a pot. While that is getting to a boil I begin peeling muscles off my scallops. Since I'm staring at seafood I grab my grouper out the freezer before I forget. My meatballs are in the steamer marinated in tomato confit soaking all the flavor. The next step is making sure I have enough plain risotto and cakes to last through service. If I'm not satisfied with the amount I grab several handfuls of rosemary and smoked almonds for a rough chop. Throw feta cheese into the same bowl and mix it together with the risotto. About 30 scoops later I begin listing all the mise en place I need to make crab cakes. Bell peppers, lump crab, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, panko and cilantro. My favorite part is eating them I mean cooking the tester. You want to make sure your food tastes delicious before sending it into the dining room later on. I keep hotel pans full of armor or in other words my food in shelves by my knees. The boiling water from my mashed potatoes will ameliorate the process of making my cilantro béarnaise. I whisk until my wrist falls off.. which is daily. Now that the hard part is over I can turn my potatoes hot pink. A splash of beet puree and lime juice to avoid a change of color later on into the night. My last task is baking cheddar biscuits. Within those last twenty minutes I'm mentally preparing myself for service. What I can do differently, what works best for me.
My eyes are scanning the room up and down. The walls are white and the ceiling is made of tile. There's a freezer to my left and right but my station is around the corner maybe five steps away. My first day on Garde Manger feels like yesterday. I was anxious to see if I'd mesh with the others. If my lack of knowledge would show. If I'd feel uncomfortable asking questions or if I'd screw everything up once service started. Once I found my rhythm my skill showed effortlessly which took me to the next station and the next.
When I first got onto the hot line I was scared of failing. Running out of product during service, dropping plates, dropping food, getting burned. All these mistakes have only made me grow. No matter how many reservations you have, you never know how the night will go. I have graduated to the hot line and my world is completely different. One night my chef came to my station throwing pans finishing orders I was behind on. That was the first time I felt like working in a kitchen wasn't for me. Until my team picked me up and reminded me you have to go through darkness to see the light sometimes. You can't dwell on one thing because it will throw you off the remainder of the night. My chef bailed me out that night but it changed my thought process. It forced me to take ownership of my station and never let that happen again. To remain focused throughout service and strive off that same energy I have as soon as we open. To stay ready so I never have to get ready. Reminiscing about that night makes me smile because of how far I've come. Whether you work in a kitchen or not remember to never compare your progress to others. Never aim to work exactly like someone else. Solely perform to pass your own expectations for yourself. Some days you won't want to, that's when you'll decide what kind of person you want to be.