Working the Line

Nothing is cooler than being able to experience the line in a real kitchen. The rush of orders coming in, the smell of fresh food being made, the sauna-like environment that slowly cooks you like a turkey by nights end. I’d trade anything for this. It’s part work, part learning and all educational. When in culinary school, everything you do is organized, so you never have to worry about running out of ingredients. In a real kitchen, sometimes you have to learn as you go.

Running out of ingredients is common in fast paced kitchens like the one I’m in. It takes a lot of patience to keep your composure when orders begin to pile up, and your stuck looking for broccoli to shock or steaks to cut. I had to learn to move faster, think on my feet while in school. In restaurants, you must prep everything ahead of time, and when stuff runs out, there is no magic little stockroom that will bring you more. You have to adapt, 86′, or get creative. Just yesterday we were making a delicious scallop special: a frozen stalk of romaine lettuce, four seared scallops upon a bed of shiitake mushrooms and crushed macadamia nuts, with a light balsamic glaze. Now what happens when you run out of mushrooms and nuts? You adapt. Swap out mushrooms for morels, nuts for pumpkin seeds.

No matter what the rush will always come, hundreds of hungry patrons who don’t care how tired or how much that cut on your hand hurts now that you have lemon juice in it, they still want perfect food. A rush is one of the greatest tests for any chef, for it shows how capable they are in leading, and how well they can stay cool under the pressure. I’ll admit, that even I get into the weeds from time to time, but I don’t let it phase me. I have to focus, on whats going out and what I can control coming in. Did I mention that all the while your cooking, the kitchen grows hotter and hotter?

Heat is a wonderful thing and a terrible thing at the same time. Summer days outside at the beach or in the park is amazing and great, but what happens when I take that heat and put it into a 10′x10′ kitchen and combine it with five other guys, six burners, 3 ovens, 4 salamanders, and a steaming dish pit? It means if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

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