Today was the worst day I have had at the school. My team and I earned a 50% for our daily grade meaning that we failed the day. Now I want to preface this by saying that we are a team of three. Now I am don’t want to seem like I am making excuses but it seems difficult to work with such a small team. Chef said that during extern we would be working one station making double the prep. So I guess I just have to get used to it.
The day started of alright. We got into class and I had the consomme on around 8.00 am. After completing that I jumped on some of the various prep work we had to complete for that day. About 30 minutes before final inspection, this is where chef comes around and checks our prep work to make sure we are all set for service, shit hit the fan. Sorry for the foul language, but that is the best way to describe this next series of events.
I had to finish cleaning the stock kettle because our team was assigned to make stock for the day. As I was wrapping up my team had someone else jump on the kettle so that I could finish our prep. We had decided on vegetarian chili with cornbread for the day. I began to make cornbread but shortly after measuring out the cornmeal chef came by and told me that it was to coarse and that it wouldn’t properly cook. This was only a minor setback, so instead of cornbread I decided on making polenta. Within minutes of me informing my team of the change I discovered that our chili, the body of our dish, had been scorched because someone had turned up our burner. Chances are it was a mistake and we should have been watching it, but it still was frustrating. So as it stands, no cornbread and now no veg entree. In the midst of this confusion Laura remembered that we had not made our consomme garnish. We were already 5 minutes late and had little to no prep work done. The last few hours of work had been for nothing.
It gets better. We knew we had lost all of our prep points for the day so we decided to be creative and use the polenta as our vegetarian option. We spiced it up with cheese to give it a creamier and richer flavor and then we decided, after what seemed like and eternity that we would top it with tomato ragu and fried shallots. “We played chopped in the kitchen…” This was Laura’s evaluation of our days performance and she couldn’t have been more spot on. We made our entire dish from miscellaneous items we found in the kitchen.
We were nearing family meal and we still weren’t ready. Service was going to be starting in 45 minutes. Chef came by our station and told us that we needed a side for the poleta as well. At this point we really had no more ideas, we used carrots that we cut and blanched. As we presented our demo plate chef made a comment about how we needed something else. He told us to make small garlic crostinis. We were about 10 minutes out from service before we started these. We cut french bread, made a garlic butter compound and then spread it and toasted them. If only to make matters worse the first batch burned. We had no more bread in teh kitchen so I had to run up to Bakeshop 1. The chef was kind enough to give me a baguette to use for service. About 5 minutes before service we were just getting the second batch in only to find out that they burned within seconds of being placed under the salamander. Poor procedure but it was the best we could do with our time constraints. Service itself went smoothly but our prep left about 2,000,000 things to be desired.
In the end what did we do. We had a decent consomme and a “F” for the day. The real reason why I think I am writing about this is not to vent and beat myself up. But rather show that our team had commitment and perseverance. After failing the day, we could of just left. Leaving the kitchen short on hands and one less menu option. I know that my group had the same though as we were stumbling to get ready for service. In our chaos, I ran to Chef Riley’s room to see if he had extra baguettes. As soon as he saw me he knew. “What do you need Nathan?” I explained that we were in the weeds and he said just a few words, “Keep going.”
I think that we resolved our issues and tomorrow we plan to have a much better day. The first and second day of A La Carte actually went well. Our timing was a little off but it wasn’t nearly as bad as today. I will keep everyone posted.