Friday, October 24, 2008

The new status quo

"So whats your school schedule like"
"Monday through Thursday 2pm-9:45PM and then Friday 4:15-9:45pm"
"Woah...thats almost like a 40hr week of school"

~Lindsay and Me at Mulligans.

Wednesday night I went to Mulligans. My friend Joel had entered a piece into an PBR inspired art show and Lindsay was going. So when I drunk dialed her on Sunday night she made me promise to come. Which is kind of ironic, the last time I saw Joel and Lindsay was the day I got "fired" from Graydons, in otherwords when my life was spriralling into hecticness and stressfulness. Now that I'm on the upswing of that low point, I'm finally seeing them again. Joel didn't win the contests BUT I did get two free PRB t-shirts so thats a plus. I love PBR. Which is kind of funny. I mean all my other favorie beers: Killians, Guiness, Zoomer, Poet. Dirty Bastard: are all more heavier beers and then there's PBR. Oh well, regardless I have two free PBR shirts and you don't (unless you were there).

My new classes are pretty interesting. Principles of Food Preparation more or less covers the science of food (like for intstant, we all know yeast reacts faster with warm water, Principles covers WHY it reacts with water....among other thing). Its going to be an intense 7 weeks with that class and alot of hard work. But I have Chef Angus so it will be fun and SUPER informational (at least per Chef Whitman).

Also I have Banquets and Catering, and get this, it covers how to cook for banquets and catering. heh. Also we'll learn more garde manger techniques as well as how to make sausage and a little bit of ice carving. Interesting shit. One of our big assignments is for our groups to cater an event. My groups is doing a smaller dinner for a group of 8 people. Yeah, part of me wanted to try to do one of the bigger ones. But at least with a small group I have an easier time learning the more practical skills. Besides I have a feeling that all our groups may still do prep and cooking for the big events. But pretty much all we've been working on are the initial planning (I.E. menu's, table setups etc etc) for those. Next week though we actually get to start cooking so I'm looking forward to that.

Things on the work front are great. I'm steadily getting about 20 hrs a week now. And Shawn has a semi-official morning schedule set up for me. I've also been getting regular prep shifts so at least I've been doing SOME thing with food. So no complaints there.

All in all, life I know it has changed, and those changes are good.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Workplace Rundown: Part 1

"Did you take the bakeshop clas yet?
"Did you like it...are you good at baking?"
"Um...I liked it, but I'm not a fan of baking
"heh....neither am I"

~Me and Chef Shawn during my interveiw

I think that question during the interveiw, which was close to the end is when I first got a good feeling about wether or not I'd get the job. It also finished establishing the small little kinship me and Shawn kinda feel due to both going to Culinary School at GRCC. I'd like to say that in the long run Shawn is going to be the chef that ends up being a mentor and an inspiration to me. Every chef/cook has them. Bourdain had Bigfoot, Ramsey had Marco Pierre White, and so on. The downside to that theory is that I've really only worked one day when Shawn was there. So its not really proveable yet

The person I have worked alot with is Peter, the Sous-chef. He (along with Shawn) fit the whole Michael Symon mold of being a chef. In other words the guy you can't really see as a chef cause he's skinny (Symon totally got asked that during an episode of Dinner: Impossible). But he's super nice and he's black. I suppose I should use the more PC term of "African American". but I'm not totally convinced he's from Africa because he does have somewhat of an Central america type accent. Both days I've done prep he's been working and he has taken me somewhat under his wing in terms of teaching me stuff. Also we talked a little about adoption (he asked which of my parents was the white one, and which was the black one, and obviously I told him I didn't know because I was adopted) so that was kind of neat to connect with him a little.

Both Shawn and Peter have one or two shifts a week doing the cooking at nights, but other wise I work with Elvis, Steve or Tom.

Elvis actually isn't his realname. At this point I'm not really sure what it is, but oh well. I hang out with roller girls. I should be used to not knowing peoples real names. Like me, he is kind of quiet so we havn't talked alot out side of the normal work talk. But like most the people I work with, he's nice and is always fun to work with.

Steve and Tom are both a bit more outgoing so I've talked a little more to both of them. Also they both trained me (along with Elvis). So I've gotten to know them somewhat.

Then theres Justin who I've probably gotten to know the best. He's a big Obama supporter which became evident as he got in a semi-heated debate with Don about Obama and Mc Cain. He also trained me for a few days so he showed me the ropes to say. He's mostly just Kitchen Help as well as serving every now and then.

And finally theres Sergio. I've never worked a shift with him. But I've seen him on the tail end of his shifts. He seems pretty nice. But having never actually worked with him, I havn't really talked to him at all. Oh well.

Thats that

Monday, October 13, 2008

Update on life!

Time to get everyone up to speed. It seems like ages ago when its only been 2 weeks since I got the job. Alot seems to has happened since then. There seems to be a big debate among blog writers about how much to reveal when they write about thier life. Some like to be more vauge in terms of deniability and to avoid the spector of "talking behind peoples back." While some are cool with being more open. Me, I'm going to be kind of more in the middle. For now I'm not going to reveal the name of the place I work. If you know me in person I'll probably tell you. But yeah, I'll be more open with names and what not. If anything, its easier to ask forgiveness than permission.

Anyway, like I said, I have a job at a retirment center which I'll refer to as "The Square." I got hired in as Kitchen Help, but per my boss will get trained as a cook soon. Not the most exciting of jobs, but I'm not complaining. The job consists of doing a minor bit of prep work for breakfast, filling up the water jugs, then setting the table with the jugs, butter, half and half and crackers, washing dishes, bussing the soup bowls, and then washing dishes like crazy and hope you can stay caught up enough so that by 7;15ish or so the servers can re-set the tables. And belive me folks, its easier said than done. Regardless, thats been my life 4 days a week for about 4 hrs a day, which is the down side. Its a part time job, but it works for now.

Everyone I work with is nice. For the most part everyone is willing to help when needed. There isn't much of the semi-traditional antagonistical relationship between FOH and BOH. And the managers are decent and approachable people. The residents I've met are pretty nice too. One of the first ones I've met and talk to from time to time is Evelyn. She reminds me alot of my Grandma in that the first question she asked me was "Are you single or married?" and then went on to tell me who of the other kitchen helpers/cooks were single. Another was Bob, who is apparently prone to giving the kitchen folk pop. I have been warned about a few of the more irateable one. But I havn't run into any yet.

School is going great. I survived working the cashier station as well as the front line. I kicked butt on the fry station the whole week and kind of just watched the chaos unfold from having "Mr I've never grilled a hamburger before" (aka the dude without a sense of urgency) on the grill. Actually it was chaotic on my end too. But Chef and a few people from other groups helped too.

This 7 weeks is coming to a close so its going to be a whole new beginning in a week or so. Fun times.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Last Supper

Well here it is "The Last Supper" post so to speak. The last time I cooked for myself with out the lingering worn out feeling from work, without the hectic feeling of going to school then straight to work and then back home to squeeze inwatching TV with Zigs. And once again I know I don't have it as bad as some cooks.

The dinner in question was Parmesean Breaded Tilapia with Roasted Potates. This was one of those "recipes" so to say that was partially new to me. I've made part of it before (the potatoes) but the fish was an idea that I pulled out of my butt. It sounded good and upon looking it up online and finding a recipe done by Rachel Ray (ugh...F'n Rachel Ray), I figured it could be done.

In light of the fact that I don't want to be one of those blog writers that regularly write recipes (coupled with the fact that I really don't know the exact measuerments). I'm going to stay away from the traditional "Post the recipe, then explain how to do it in pictures" method. I'm just going to post the pictures and explain. So enjoy.



First you start off with potatoes. Like a good pound or two. Actually depending on how hungry everyone is a pound could easily feed two to three people



Then you take your trusty knife (represented here by my new toy, my santaku knife which I finally gave in a bought), and cut them into little pieces. Depending on the size of the potato, you can cut them into fourths or sixths. Then you take said pieces and put them in a bowl


After that you take your spices and put them in the bowl too. The recipe I used said "a mixture of Italian spices." Here I have Parsley, Mint, Crushed Red Pepper, Oregano, Parmasean Spice mix and some mixed Italian Spices. So yeah, use what ever. Pretty much just use them to taste. Theres no set amount I use


Then you take Olive Oil and lemon juice (which I didn't have when I made these) and put them in the bowl.


Then you toss it all. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees throw it in for 30 minutes or so and then you have something that looks like this:


So while thats cooking you start on your fish. Actually though if you're me you drink this:


Then you do your fish. (sorry, couldn't resist)


Start by putting some flour on a plate


Then crack some eggs, beat them, and put them on a plate


Then your breading


When I made it, used a mixture of Parmesean cheese and regular read crumbs you can get at the store


All in all, your counter should look something like this. Then take your fish, dredge it (aka totally cover it) in the flour, then dip it in the eggs, then cover it with the bread crumbs. A little trade secret is to use one hand for the dry ingredients (Flour and Breading) and one hand for the eggs, so you don't bread your hand.


At this point it should look like this. So then you just throw it on the pan and cook.


Cook to your desired doneness. At some point while this is happening the potaoes should get done. And badda bing, badda boom you have your dinner


Ta Da!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Cross post from my Myspace Blog:

You gotta appreciate the catch 22 of having a job. I mean having a job gives you money. Then the said money allows you to afford to be able to go out and hang out with your friends. Only once you're done with work, you're too tired and out of it to do anything. Granted I don't have it as bad as most cooks. But all I wanted to do was to spend yesterday hanging out with the posse (my semi-drunken name for Zigs, Gina, Paul and Marcy) for pulaski days. But I had to work. I got out at 8 made it to the hall by 8:20, made it to the front of the line by 9:45 only to find out I was in the wrong line. Luckily Dewiit who informed me of the decision was at the front of the right line and he let me cut. I felt bad about it, but I have a feeling half the people behind him cut anyway, oh well. I made it in only to have the posse being ready to head out. Boersma was there so I talked to him and Sheri (his wife) and Dewitt. So yeah that was my grand time at Pulaski Days. Hooray.

Work is okay I guess. I'm still trying to figure out the ropes. Everyone I met is nice. Jim, the manager of the entire retirement center, is one of those types that you're not quite sure what mood he's in because he literally always has the same vocal inflection. But regardless he seems pretty nice. Shawn, the head chef, could litteraly play a younger verstion of Eric Ripert. All he'd need to do was pick up Ripert's accent. He literaly does have the same body language as Ripert (from what little I've actually seen of him on tv). All the cooks and servers I've met are nice so far. My one problem is I still have to pick up the speed. Today (Oct 5) is going to be a real test. Depending on who you ask either I'm by myself (per Shawn), or I'm going to have someone else there just in case I get flustered and behind (per Elvis one of the cooks). But if someone else is there I'll still be running the ship by myself. So we'll see. I'll have to be on my A game.

I have a sneaky suspicion that my main days off will be Monday and Wednesdays. Only because I have class right up till 4 and thats when my shift would start. In the long run it actually somewhat works out because Wednesdays are laundry day and I have a bunch to do.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008




After, what, almost 3 months of searching I got a job. It wasn't at the place I had an interview on Thursday. But it was from last week's batch of applications. I had an interveiw yesterday (Tues) which I felt VERY good about. And then today at the beginning of class I got a phone call. I recognized the number as the place and quicked ran into the bathroom and took it and got offered the job. And so I start tomorrow.

Its a job at a retirement home. I'm going to start off doing dishwashing and food preping and occasionaly serving and food running if needed. And then eventually work my way up to cook. Not the most exciting of jobs. But the people seem nice and it will give me practical experience in cooking.

Hell in this economy, it doesn't pay to be picky. And considering that one of my heroes (Chef Mendoza, formerly of Morimoto NYC) is in the whole "I need a job and have only gotten a couple calls from the 2 dozen or so resumes I sent in" boat, I shouldn't complain.

In other news, the cashier station in class has gone pretty good this week (*knock on wood*). Monday I got the short end of the stick and ended up on the busiest register. And I had no real problems. So I was like, "f' it" and stayed there Tuesday and then today. Which caused our teacher to get on the other guys case until they pointed out I WANTED to. Tomorrow I'm gonna try and get on the slow side though. Just so I can gather my thoughts for work.

On an even better note, I ran into one of my better friends from Graydon's today. In class actually. It got to be to about 10 til 1 (the cafe closes at 1pm) and out of no where we got a final big push. I looked up with this exasperated look only to see her standing there. We actually both looked up at the same time, both got this shocked look on our face and then I regained my compsure and waited till she made her way up. It was nice and it totally made my day.

So thats this week in a nutshell. Yesterday I made what ended up being my "last supper" as an unemployed wanna-be cook. And I documented it. So that should be up soon. Why I don't want this blog to turn into one of those blogs where every entry is a new recipe. I may do it from time to time.