Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The End of a Day in the Life of a Professional Cook

...Continued from Previous Post.

Not all Michelin-starred restaurants in New York City open their doors for dinner at 5 pm. What this means however is that on a busy Saturday night, I'll be constantly on the move for seven hours straight--chopping, sautéing, seasoning, tasting, and getting hundreds of plates in and out of the oven. On a busy Saturday night like tonight, that is.

That inner voice of mine speaks to me again. "Pace yourself Thomas, and keep your cool." That's critical to stay energized throughout the night.

As the orders start pouring in, the kitchen turns into an anthill of organized chaos, vividly resembling the inner workings of a well-oiled machine. Any loose ends or worn out pieces in this elaborate jigsaw puzzle will only render the finished product noticeably incomplete.

"Order, fire, pick up two market salad, one gazpacho, two salmon tartar, two beef carpaccio. On hold, three filet, two white tuna, one duck, one red snapper. Let's go!" "OUI, CHEF!" "New order. Pick up one bouillabaisse, two salmon, one lobster, two pappardelle. That's a direct order. I want that on the fly!" "OUI, CHEF!" "Order, fire, pick up one beet salad, one market salad! On hold, one roasted pumpkin ravioli, one spaghetti aglio olio. Busy now!" "OUI, CHEF" "Order, fire, pick up two lobster bisque, one veg. terrine, one smoked salmon..."

Chef's scruffy voice swallows the entire room; his commands are strong, clear, and efficient in discharge. His jargon is tailored to minimize chances of miscommunication and wrongly executed orders which could throw the entire kitchen into turmoil. The cooks always respond in amazingly coordinated unison and the energy in the room gets upped tenfold with every spontaneous "Oui, Chef!”