Too many cooks, not enough dishwashers

I disagree with Chef about our plating every week. He tells us it looks beautiful. I tell him he is crazy - it never turns out how our team originally agrees upon, nor does it ever look like I envisioned it to be. This frustrates me.

This week we practiced making mousseline sausages with scallops. These types of sausages are extremely delicate both in texture and flavor, so great care must be taken when choosing accompaniments - it's easy to overpower the flavor of the mousseline.

One of the people in our group was stuck on risotto. I was thinking more like a high-end potato chip and an all-white presentation, or something more elegant, like a deconstructed chowder or gumbo, with a tomato water broth lightly kissed with Cajun spices. With the mousseline texture notoriously soft, we needed a crunchy element to balance it. Nope. Risotto turned into rice, which turned into fried black bean and rice cakes.

I didn't argue much because in my mind, I pictured a beautifully textured, thick cake the same size as the piece of sausage, lightly crisped on each side — we chose to cut the sausages into scallop-like rounds and pan sear them to mimic an actual scallop - with a green tomatillo sauce beneath it, peppered with grilled corn kernels. Our top garnish was going to be a mini jalapeno popper with queso fresco I made that day, dusted in cornmeal and deep fried.

While K and I were making the sausages, we gasped when we saw what our other two teammates had been up to: they had made giant cakes, flattened like fast-food hamburger patties and a chunky sauce that looked like vomit (literally). The plate was beige on top of beige, on top of beige. I ran to the walk-in to see if we still had the red pepper coulis I had made a week earlier; thankfully it was still in there and I was able to add some color to our plates.

When Chef said our plates were gorgeous, I shook my head. "Our sauce isn't what we agreed on - we agreed on a tomatillo sauce with green tomato water that would have added color and acidity to the dish." He smiled and replied, "Too many cooks and not enough dishwashers?" "Exactly, Chef," I replied. Exactly.

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