Tom the Pom loves my new Chef coat.
I worked along side Chef DJ MacIntyre from the Seattle Seastar a couple of times for school events. We talked a little bit and he asked me to come in for a banquet then he referred me over to the Bellevue location because they had more time available for me. Just like that, I’m working in a restaurant!
I do prep which consists of getting everything ready to cook for lunch and dinner. Lots of cutting, sauces, stocks, and just about every other finishing or beginning component to a dish. We’re not the rock stars, we’re the guys that put the elbow grease in and get dirty…..well, especially me since I”m pretty clumsy in the kitchen.
One of the things about being a prep cook that I wasn’t prepared for was the hours I would work. My whole schedule was based on evenings but that’s not when prep cooks work! I wake up at 5AM on Thursday-Sunday in order to get to work by 7AM then my shift goes until 3PM. It’s pretty cool because I have the rest of the day to do stuff but by the time 9PM comes around I’m tired. I don’t complain about it because there are other guys there that work 3-4 doubles a week at different restaurants so if I come in there and say, “I’m tired”, I’m sure I would catch a lot of flack.
The first thing I did that was a very smart move when I started there was just shut up. Nobody wants to hear about my blog, trips, or school. I know that’s a little harsh but I didn’t want to come in and be the guy that was there to show up anyone. I’ve been in school for about a quarter and over the last ten months I have taken cooking seriously. There are guys that I work with that have been doing this over 20 years and they put me to shame when it comes to everything in the kitchen. They say something and I say, “ok…..let’s do it!”.
I was cutting onions on the first day and I was quickly stopped and told a different way…..a much quicker way! Being in the restaurant a few days taught me something about school…….they’re defnitely are teaching us the classical way to do things which equals slow. Slow can be good but when you have to chop up 5 pounds of onions that need to go into a sauce that will make 5 gallons…..well……that school slicing technique doesn’t work. Mincing garlic by hand? That’s hilarious! It’s called a Robot Coupe and it’s a food processor that’s on crack! Dump in about 5 pounds of garlic and 10 minutes later you’ll have nicely minced garlic. I can’t tell you how many hours I practiced mincing a shallot…….guess what, Robot Coupe. Let me go back a little bit with this…..it’s not about quicker….it’s about smarter….it’s about managing your time in the best way possible. I get paid to do this so why do I need to finely mince shallots the school way when I could do it in 3 minutes in a Robot Coupe and work on something else.
Seastar is busy. They post their food costs for the year and I hear about the previous nights and they are always busy. Bellevue is the king of the eastside and is quickly growing into what I call The Beverly Hills of the Northwest. It’s where things happen. Microsoft is starting to put their name on every skyscraper there and there was a new shopping mall that was built called the Bravern that houses Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and just about everything else I can’t afford……I can’t even afford to window shop there.
So here I am…..low man on the totem pole at a great restaurant. I wanted this and I got it. It’s a great start and I look forward to waking up everyday and going to work. Mix it with school and this blog and now I’m living this whole culinary thing to the fullest extent.