Off The Menu

A few days ago I had the pleasure of walking into work and finding out we had reservations for a 31 top and a 75 top. For those of you not familiar with what that is, its tables and the amount of people ordering. Now I love a good challenge, but we had already lost Dan on the line due to illness, so it was just Chef Joe Bae and I to work the line. We frantically tried to call in the lunch guys to cover, knowing full well that even if they were to come in, they still weren’t as good or experienced at a rush as Dan.

As Charlie and Matt showed up we were knee deep in prep work, time kept ticking away till the two parties and all I could feel was this sense of dread overwhelm me. I began to question my own abilities, wondering if I had enough strength to carry an entire side of the line by myself. Then, all my worries flew away, as one of the owners, Joe, stepped onto the line and threw down. The owner of Encore was a former cook, so seeing him re lit the pilot under all of us. We stepped up the prep, we were determined not to fail.

Then, the rush comes. Only a few short moments after 5 PM, whole packs of people started appearing in the main hall. Our 31 and 75 tops had arrived, we braced ourselves for the worst. Steaks, salmons, and scallops flew in, orders upon orders of specials. We fell into the weeds early, I nearly lost my composure. Just as I felt myself slipping, I felt a hand upon my shoulder. It was Chef Joe Bae, reassuring me without saying a word. Sometimes thats all it takes in this business is a pat on the back or a simple good job to boost morale. Well, it worked. We finished strong, pumping out orders like an assembly line. Then, thats when I got yet another tap on the shoulder. It was the owner Dale, and he requested I make something off the menu. I looked at him like he just called my mother a whore. Then he pointed out the window, to which I turned and who did I see? Former Team USA Goalie and NHL All-Star Ryan Miller. I was exhausted, mentally blown, and still I wanted to impress such a famous star.

Chef Joe Bae and I decided to have a mini competition on the line, as whose stir fry would be better and we used Ryan Miller as out test subject. I went a sweet and sour route, mixing crisp veggies with sweet fruit in a sour hoisin sauce, where Chef Joe turned up the heat with a Gochujan sauce over duck breast stir fry. While both were delicious, mine triumphed in the end. My little moral? The small things matter in a kitchen, even if they are meaningless.