Monday, March 31, 2008

kitchen tour: prep

As a cook, your "meez" is your first principle, your belief system, your religion, your Tao. All else springs from this basic relationship with your food and your environment...

There is something really great about transforming a big heap of raw ingredients into an organized array of useful foodstuffs...From chaos, one slowly but surely creates order. And when the work is done, and the music's over, there is no more beautiful moment than when one takes stock of the fruits of one's labours, everything in its place, one's meez complete, a moment of true beauty, certainty, and nearly limitless possibilities...
Anthony Bourdain, Preface to Les Halles Cookbook


And so, what might be a typical day at the restaurant, beginning, of course, with the fundamentals: your prep work, your foundation for the service to follow, your mise en place...


11 AM - 12 PM


After changing into your whites and finishing your large coffee, go through your setup from yesterday. Check out what needs to be made and what needs to go. Write your prep list.

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Grab your ingredients and equipment. Barter for trays and whisks, if necessary.


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The spice boxes...pick a pepper, any pepper.

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The knife rail. I wish I had one of these at home...


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Roasters, for browning bones, mirepoix, sometimes staff lunches (that's another story...)


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Oldest mallet, ever.


Noon


Pots are on, ovens are nice and hot; your day is (hopefully) off to a good start.



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The hot line; the territory of the meat, veg and sauce boys.

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Water is a booblin'... steam action is happening.

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Pots and pans containing mother sauces and poaching liquids in holding pattern, awaiting future action.


2:30 - 3 PM

Staff lunch is up. (Pasta again!) Scarf it back if you can.


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Keep on skimming those stocks...


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Cleaning up artichokes.

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A bit of butchery going on. (Just in passing, J - in the middle - can debone that entire hotel pan of birds in about 5 minutes, no kidding.)

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Prepping squab.


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Baked goodness cooling on rolling rack.


3 - 4 PM


Check your list. Check your list. Check your list. (By now you should have an idea if you're screwed or not.)


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Good communication makes everything easier.


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Different oils, ready for some squeezin'.


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Neat & immaculate: ready to go!


Keep your station as clean and as organized as humanly possible. Your OCD tendencies will reward you, really.


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Cipollini onions.


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Julienned radish.

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Potato puffs a deep fryin'.


4 - 5 PM

Final prep and push time. Hopefully, you're crossing off those final few last minute items on your list.


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Last minute snipping of daikon and shiso sprouts for garnishing.


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Testing/previewing the blini batter.


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Grab your spoons, terrines, fill your containers.


5 - 5:30 PM

Scrub down. Get that station clean and ready for service. Grab your wipes, (and any extra clean dry towels hidden in your secret stash), do a last check of your fridge.


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The dish pit.


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Consolidate. Downsize. (That should be a rule for sure: When in doubt...)


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Scrubbing down the stations. (Like shaving before the prom...)


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Final fill-ups and organizing.


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6PM

First orders arrive. The printer starts its staccato rat-ta-tat, and the chits start coming in.

Two amuses, away!

2 comments:

  1. Nice summary! How fun to and intriguing to get a peek into another kitchen. I find much comfort in the immaculate orderliness and consistency of professional kitchens, particularly the mise en place and the permanent fixture of brewing yumminess at the stove. Thanks so much for the post!

    ReplyDelete