Getting "L'Ecole'd"

It was a Wednesday, and my second night on the fish station. All evening long my partner and I made sure the pan was piping hot as we sizzled the mushroom garnish that our Arctic char sat atop with a fragrant carrot-fennel sauce on the side.

Everything seemed to go well. But we got off track on one order and that was enough to feel like we let the station down. Yes, it felt like we got schooled.

Our class has been cooking at the French Culinary Institute's restaurant, L'Ecole (which literally translates to school) for the past two weeks. During this week's Wednesday service, my first hiccup in the restaurant wasn't too fun. It wasn't the end of the world but my partner and I felt dumb.

Here's the story: It was my turn to step out to take a quick dinner break (as in five or ten minutes at most). Somehow during that time period we missed an order of Arctic char being placed. By the time I got back the front of the house wanted the dish within three minutes. It takes a good 10 minutes to steam the char. Ouch. As soon as our chefs heard we were behind, they swarmed our station like bees asking what went wrong. Our reply was simply that we missed it somehow. It's not a good enough excuse.

I guess the lesson learned here is that teamwork is more important than ever when we're working in a busy kitchen and to double and triple-check things. Well, it's a Friday and our busiest service is awaiting me in less than 12 hours. My partner and I will be responsible for the poached cod, potato terrine and spiced chicken consomme. We hope to make the grade tonight.

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