Saturday, February 05, 2005

Pork belly and blue prawn. Posted by Hello

My day at the office:

11:30 am - Dash madly around the house looking for my glasses which I just got and am not used to wearing and which I leave laying in really fucked up places like the closet.

12:00 pm - Get to work on time and run up to the locker room to change. Open the door just in time to hear the pastry cook throwing up in the toilet stall. Nice.

12:10 pm - Finally get downstairs to the kitchen, only to find that Jonathan, with whom I am supposed to be working, is busy. I bang out an omelet and have a quick breakfast while bullshitting with the lunch fish cook.

12:25 pm - We get to work braising a pork belly, cleaning some prawns as big as my foot, roasting pork scrap for jus, browning up some mirepoix and stuffing some quail.

2:00 pm - My station partner arrives, predictably hung over, and we go downstairs to go shopping. The next three hours are spent working on mise en place for our station.

5:00 pm - Thursdays are the days we roll out the specials for the weekend. An example of each special must be ready by 5:30 so that chef can describe it for the servers and let all the vultures eat a bite so that they can convey how good it is to the guests. Usually Kevin (station partner) and I are ready at 5:30 with no problem, but today there is a cabbage fiasco. The baby bok choy we were waiting on never came in, so we have to substitute savoy cabbage instead. We get the leaves peeled off the head and blanched and we start braising it. Chef comes down the line. He wants the cabbage cut into strips, not whole. He also wants it slow poached in butter. The cabbage comes out of the pans and I cut it with burning fingertips. The cabbage goes back in the pan with three ounces of butter per pan and we cook it the proper way. We cut a piece of pork belly off the slab that is still cooling in the walk-in and somehow manage to have everything ready by the time chef strolls back over, ready to do the plate-up. The results are fucking amazing: Pan-seared poached pork belly with a blue prawn, butter braised cabbage and a pork jus/gastrique sauce that sort of tastes like a super-good barbeque sauce. The food goes out looking great and leaving my stomach growling.

6:00 pm - Service starts. I portion out the pork belly for the weekend. Hungry line cooks fall on the scrap pieces like fucking jackyls and we feast. If you've never had pork belly, it's basically what they make bacon out of - lots of fat and a little meat. When it's braised or poached, the fat turns buttery soft and the whole thing just tastes like porky goodness. It's beautiful.

6:15 pm - The sous chef from downstairs brings up a tub of extra duck livers that he has no use for. We don't really have any use for it either, so we use it to make a pate terrine to eat with family meal tomorrow. Jonathan sautes the livers with shallots, deglazes with cognac, purees the mess with some bloomed gelatin, folds in some whipped cream and slaps the whole thing in a porcelain terrine mold. My job is bad. ass.
10:00 - The shift is over. All the guests are fed, the mise is tucked away and wrapped. The fish is stored and iced in the proper manner. I didn't even have to use my AK. Today was a good day.