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Pans and Perspective

You provide the food and I will provide the perspective." – Anton Ego, 2007

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2017 Ireland

I started back on fish station.  When I arrived I checked our prep list and then made soup.  I decided on a cream of celeriac soup with truffle oil.  While the soup was cooking down I started on making the daily compressed pickles.  Afterwards I made tomato petals for tomato concasse.  The next thing on the list was to wash spinach for service.  Just after getting this done one of the commis walked in.  He began the station setup while i cleaned samphire.  Service began but I was kept on prep so I prepped and blanched a couple of kilos of green beans.  Afterwards I picked shellfish.  Service had just started winding down and I was asked to make some more pickles.  I quickly diced a few apples and compressed them for service.  Dinner began and I continued prep.  I peeled and compressed some red baby beets and then moved on to prep livers for the parfait.  I cleaned the livers and then marinated them in sugar, curing salt and white port.  I ended my night by cutting some smoked salmon and cod for chowder.  The wrapped up by bavging a handful of various items.

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As I mentioned meat section has been quite behind.  I wanted to help my team members get caught up so I came in a few hours early.  I started off by setting up beef stock to simmer for the day.  Afterwards I did my usual section setup as well as steaming potatoes for mash.  I helped by chopping herb garnishes as well as stocking up on other items as to create a surplus for the week.  As the day progressed my partners came in.  I did a large amount of vacuum sealing for various items.  Then we had a quick briefing before service.

Service started fast with tickets coming in as soon as we opened.  Rather then the usual menu items I was responsible for seared duck as well as a seven ounce sirloin.  Both items out sold the chicken dish that is usually very popular.  The interesting fact I learned about the duck was that it should actually be seared in a dry pan.  All items are always cooked in a medium of some sort of fat.  Duck is unique because as it cooks thr fat renders out causing the skin to crisp and generate its own fat. 

I was working the station solo once again and had no problems for the entire service.  It really is rewarding to work a station and have fun at the same time.  It makes me enjoy my job even more. 

The cover count was looking pretty small for the day.  I came in and gathered my mise en place for service.  I followed it by setting up my starches and then jumped on prep.  I threw on a large batch of chicken stock for the kitchen and then began slicing onions.  I was also tasked with making an onion broth, which is essentially strained French onion soup made with chicken stock.  There is an addition of onion brule which helps enrich the color and flavor of the broth.  Afterwards I jumped on searing off a few chicken breasts to make service easier.  I then finished my section setup by reheating sauces and purees as well as finishing my mashed potatoes and panning up the remaining starch.  Half an hour before service, Chef held our daily briefing and went over a few training items.

Service started slow with tickets casually rolling in.  I had both braised beef cheek as well as chicken coming off my section.  Both dishes are equally popular so I was kept busy.  Brendan was working the pass again today and service breezed by.

Meat section is a simple station that requires good mental organization and speed.  After many days working it, I have determined it is leaps and bounds easier than fish section.  Rather than worrying about timing items, meat is really just a matter of properly cooking or picking up items.  I find it fun and during a busy night I’m certain it would be excellent.  I am reverting back go fish for a few days after my days off.  For the remainder of my stay I will be splitting my time between both sections.

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Dominating.

As per usual the day commenced by setting up for mashed potatoes.  While they were cooking I began my section setup.  Breakfast service was pretty slow so I managed to get it 90% completed pretty quick. Shortly after I put on my cream and butter and riced the potatoes.  I then heated up my purees for service and put the finishing touches on the section.  While I was waiting for service to commence I assisted by chopping some chives.  Around one the tickets started rolling in.  We had a group of 70 who was dining throughout the day so things went pretty smoothly.  This was only part of the 100 plus reservations we had slated.  I worked the station solo with Brendan on the pass.  We stayed busy all day and service closed around half four.  Before I departed I vac packed a few purees and helped fish section who was behind.

Service in one word: supberb.  I dominated the station by myself having my garnishes and main items up and ready before fish and before they could ask.  I was always ready and I didn’t miss a single ticket.  It was by far the best experience I have had at the Shelbourne and it turned some heads.  I will be working raw bar tomorrow just for a day then I will be back on meats. 

Still cracking on.

I was still on the AM shift for meat section.  When I walked in breakfast was in a frenzy.
I started to get my section setup but it was far to busy.  I threw some potatoes in the oven for mash and then helped my partners with a few small tasks.  Things started to die down around half 10.  At this point I began my setup.  I continued to help prep after.  Service started around half 12 and we got slammed with the first lunch rush.  We opened up the menu to allow a venison dish.  This resulted in an even heavier load on the station.  Around half two everything began to simmer down.  Tickets casually rolled in and I worked the section solo.  We had two super late tables so I didn’t get to do my breakdown until half five.

Based on her overall tone I was given the impression that Mary, my section partner, was not pleased with my performance.  I personally thought I did alright.  The exective chef was asking for things here and there but compared to fish, who was getting ridden, we were doing fine.  I will never talk back in a kitchen to any superior but I really wanted to tell Mary that getting flustered does nothing to help service along.  We cleanly served over 100 people smoothly.  I work meat again tomorrow and I look forward to it.

I arrived early to both my section partners chugging away with prep.  The meat section demi chefs left the station in a very poor state and as a result we have been playing catch up all week.  I did the usual.  I threw my potatoes in the steamer and began to gather my mise en place and equipment for the section.  The kitchen was pretty packed with over 10 chefs on deck.  Breakfast service was weeded and my partners ended up spending their morning help them dig out.  I was working with Mary again.  The executive chef was working the pass and calling tickets so we had to be on our A game. 

It was an average day with a massive early push near the start.  We got hit with a spread of our menu items making service fast paced and interesting.  I had a few slip ups but I felt pretty good about everything.  I have noticed that I need to move faster on the station.  Mary is constantly giving me three and four tasks to do at once and by the time I complete a few she’s asking for the other items.  My overall presence on the line has increased and I am much more confident with the steps and intricacies of service.  I am remaining on this station for a while so I am excited to see what other growth I will experience. 

Day 1 service.

This was my first full day on the section.  I came in for the AM shift and began my prep.  I had made a basic mirepoix mix the night prior for beef cheek marinade.  It still needed a few more ingredients so I finished it by chopping garlic.  I set that aside because we were still waiting on the protien to arrive.  Next, I setup the potatoes for mash in the steamer and made a cream and butter mixture.  Once they were cooked I milled and seasoned them.  It was getting close to service so I setup the station and began getting ready for service.  We started slow so I helped finish some more prep by chopping a few butternut squashes. 

Service followed swiftly.  My supervisor, Mary, was working on the station as well.  She was in charge of teaching me the dishes.  I only have about four items during lunch service so I caught on very fast.  Meat section is tasked with seared chicken breast, daube of beef, risotto as well as vegetable sides for both fish and meat.  Compared to my first day on fish I had an excellent performance.  I missed a few items here and there but my organization and timing were solid.  I had a great time and really felt like I was doing a fine job.  Unfortunatly it was over before I knew it.  By the time I had broken down and reset the section it was time for me to go. 

First day on meat section!

Today was my first day on meat section.  I was introduced to the new prep items by Brendan, the same gent from fish.  I started off by making a puree of butternut squash.  This consisted of only two ingredients: squash
and butter.  The result is a super rich, vibrant orange puree that is sweet and almost nutty.  Next I sliced and  cooked celeriac for ravioli.  The restaraunt has an vegetarian entree option that is open face ravioli.  The skin is two lightly poached, thinly sliced pieces of celeriac.  Its filling is a mixture of cauliflower, shallots and cream.  My next task was to chiffonade some parsley.  Both meat and fish section use the same selection of fresh herbs.  I also did some minced chive as well.  It was nearing service time so I helped them by making some mash potatoes.  I will say that the combination of Irish potatoes and dairy makes some of the best tasting mashed I have ever had.  Shortly after I did standard breading procedure for black pudding croquettes.  This involved lightly dusting the sausages in flour and then washing them with egg and rolling them in bread crumbs.  Once I completed that task I took my break

Upon my return I peeled some potatoes for next days service.  I was pretty caught up on prep for the station so I offered to help fish section.  They had me clean some prawns. 
My last task was to vac pack a few items.  The braised beef cheeks were cool so I did those first.  Afterwards I bagged and sealed a butternut puree and a parsnip puree.  We were looking pretty good for tomorrow so they sent me home. 

I have some catching up to do.

My last day on fish station went extremely well.  I came into a heavy prep list.  It commenced with daily garnishes of compressed apples and cucumbers.  I threw on some white chicken stock from chicken carcasses.  I also made some more chopped herbs for the station.  I had spoken to the partie the day prior and he asked me to bag and freeze some other items so I took care of that as well.  One of the new recipes I learned was a lemon puree.  Using the juice of seven lemons, and the bodies of five, I made an awesome lemon gel.  The lemons are cooked in 7 cycles, boiled then strained and refreshed with cold water.  This process is repeated so they become tender and lose the bitterness from the pith.  Once cooked a simple syrup of lemon juice and sugar is made and that is added to the puree to adjust consistency and flavor.  My partner arrived shortly after and did station set up.

I worked with him throughout the entire service and I can proudly say I was very satisfied with my performance.  I worked exclusively on starters for the whole service.  I had minimal supervision and my partner was happy because he could focus solely on the entree items.  We easily fielded more than 100 guests and pumped out great quality food the entire time.  I do feel sad leaving fish because I was just getting into the swing of things.  Nonetheless I am just as excited to move to meat section.

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