A Day In The Life
8.18.2002 by , every Saturday.
This week I'm going to walk you through a day in the life of a cook, namely me.
7:00am: My alarm goes off, fuck, gotta get up... in 10 minutes.
7:30am: Get up, throw on some clothes, brush teeth, read comics, I'll shower tonight.
7:45am: Leave for work by bike.
8:00am: Arrive, punch in, change into classy checkered pants, put on apron, grab some rags and grill wipes.
8:05am: Check whiteboard; the whiteboard is our way of communicating (sometimes with ourselves) what needs to be done each day, today the lunch side looked something like this:
Soup: Ok, check garnish
Fish: Ok, check garnish
Melon: Melon / Onions
Crab: check after pm (this means we're running the dish at night too so I have to see how much has been used when I wasn't looking)
Chicken: Pull / Rub / Cook / Veg.
Sandwich: Dough / Tom. / Arug.
Pasta: Pasta / Herbs / check shrimp
Salmon: Pull / Noodles
Chili: Pull / Cheese / Chips
This looks like a typical Monday, lots to do and the other cook (who happens to be the owner) won't be in till 10am. First thing I do is throw on 2 pots of water to boil, one for each type of pasta, big pots of water take a while to boil so you don't wanna be doing this at the last minute. Next I'll have a look in the seafood drawer of my fridge, I've got some shrimp left from Saturday supper that's been covered in oil to keep it fresh, I'll pull some more out of the freezer for the night guys just to be safe though. I don't have any scallops (garnish for the fish soup) but the fish guy should be in with some soon. Next I run down to the freezer and pull out the salmon, chili, chicken legs and a box of shrimp. I bring these upstairs and let them thaw in the sink under running water.
Now I've gotta make the dough for my sandwich, I've made it so many times I've got it memorized so here it is:
-Combine 2 cups warm water with 1.5 tablespoons yeast and let proof in a warmish area about 10 minutes.
-Add 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons garlic and pepper, 1/4 cup olive oil to water mixture.
-Put 2 cups cornmeal and 4 cups all purpose flour in a mixer and turn it on low, slowly add the water mixture.
-When combined remove and knead 10 minutes by hand, add flour to make a stiff dough
-Put the dough ball in a greased bowl, cover with saran and let rise 1 hour on countertop, throw it in the fridge after that to slow the process down.
-When you're ready to serve devide into tennis-ball sized balls and roll flat, grill.
The fish guy just came, brought along some nice fresh scallops, big ones. We'll slice these in half crosswise and fry them at service for the fish soup (corn chowder with scallops) but for now I'll just clean them and put them away.
Jeez, time flies when you're having fun, I think I'll do my tomatoes and chicken veg now since I enjoy chopping stuff. Oh, before I start on that I'd better throw my pasta into the water I boiled earlier, I'll grab that when I go down for my veg (the walk-in fridge and dry storage are in the basement so I climb a lot of stairs in a day, helps me keep my girlish figure).
I head down and grab a buncha peppers, some onions, that pasta I was talking about and a box of tomatoes. I've gotta slice the tomatoes and marinate them in olive oil, salt, pepper and basil for the sandwich the slice up the onions and peppers and caramelize (fry) them on the stove in several batches for the Jamaican Chicken wrap. I've got to say, chopping stuff is just about my favorite part of the job, it may be tedious and repetitive at times but it's also almost like meditation (did that sound obtuse?).
Oh, the chicken legs have thawed, I'll throw 'em in a hotel pan with a marinade of oil, peach juice and lime juice. The shrimp are thawed too, I drain 'em and throw them in a bucket in the fridge, if I have time later I'll clean (shell and devein) them otherwise the dishwasher can do it. Now I'll make the rub for the chicken, it's a mix of various spices (allspice, cinnamon, cayenne etc..) herbs (thyme) and brown sugar but all the spices have to ground individually so it's a pretty time consuming thing to do. I'll turn on the oven and the grill now so they're ready when I need to cook the chicken.
I pull the chicken out of the marinade, toss it in a generous helping of the rub and throw a few legs on the grill. I'm just trying to give it a nice charred flavour so I only cook it till it has good grill lines and then I throw it on a sheet pan and into the oven to finish.
I pull my (now risen) bread dough out of the fridge and portion it into 4.5oz ball with the scale, 1 recipe makes about 10 pieces which should be enough for today, I checked the book and we only have 11 reservations. Now I dunk each ball in flour and roll it flat, next I stack them on the pizza pan with layers of saran in between to prevent sticking and allow easy access during service.
Shit, I forgot to check the crab situation, I need to thaw frozen crabmeat for the crab salad, good thing I remembered early enough, lunch service starts at 11:30 and I'd be screwed without crab meat. I check the veg mixture for the crab from last week and it seems fine, I'll make more tomorrow but this should hold for today. I've got enough drizzle (mango and avocado) and enough dressing (tequila!) but I'll need to cook some tortillas, I'll do that now. I start up our deep fryer (which consists of a pot of oil on the stove) and set to work cutting raw corn tortillas for the chili and the crab salad. Once the oil's up to temp I'll fry 'em crisp.
I pull the chicken out of the over and let cool, I'll have to pull it off the bone before service.
This is traditionally the time I turn on the stove, grill and soup warmer so I flip on that last one since the other two are already on. I run downstairs and grab a small bucket of each soup, the fish soup needs to be brought to a boil on the stove but the other soup in a cold one (vichyssoise) so it only needs to be placed in the line fridge with a ladle and some bowls.
I need to chop some herbs for the pasta (parsley, basil) and for soup garnish (chives).
I run down and grab some arugula for the sandwich and greens for the salads, wash the aruguala and put both in my fridge.
Grate cheese for chili. Pour boiling soup into warmer.
Get my tray from downstairs, set up my side, get spoons for things that need spoons, ladles for ladling, tongs for tonguing, a brush for brushing and oil for oiling. Also need a supply of small ramekins for chicken wrap dip. Slice scallops. Grind pepper.
No customers yet, make a snack, maybe some chicken. FUCK! I forgot to debone the chicken, do that now, snack during (mmm... delicious chicken...).
First customers are coming in now and I just remembered I need diced melon for the melon salad, I run down and grab some and finish dicing just as the first order comes in.
Did I forget anything? I try to do a mental checklist but I'll only know for sure when the orders start to fly.
"Ordering hot soup, cold soup followed by chili and lamb"
Lamb? Oh crap.