I was off Saturday and Sunday and just could not get around to updating my day on Friday. It was my first semi- “fast paced” experience in a kitchen on Friday. The morning, obviously, was slow. I did a lot of preparation, cleaned A LOT of oysters (I have the cuts on my hands to prove it), and then in the afternoon it got busier. The first thing I did in the morning was take a huge pot, filled it with about 4 gallons or so of tomato juice, than chopped 6 onions, a few carrots, a whole head of celery, and added it all to the pot. I also had to halve a bunch of lemons and throw them in there as well. I was not sure what I was making but did exactly as he said anyway.
Then, Dan asked me to go into the freezer and obtain something. I am going to see if you can guess what this is before I show you the completed product.
After I threw that into the pot, it was off to the oysters. Oysters come in thousands of varieties and grow in all different parts of the ocean. Personally, I do not exactly see what the fuss is all about. Especially when they are raw, they are, to me, expensive little chewy balls of slime. I LOVE clams and mussels. Oysters, no thank you.
I had to clean three of these sized bags which totaled over 150 oysters. And let me just inform you, those shells are SO sharp! Especially the second variety I cleaned. It had so many nooks and crannies, coral, and pointy things coming out from everywhere and my hands ended up covered in nicks and cuts.
Octopus!!!!! When Chef Erik got to Napa Valley Grille he explained to me that most people buy the baby octopus because it is more tender, but it is very expensive. So, Chef Erik buys the adult octopi, and tenderizes it with the acid (from the tomato juice and lemon), than grills or roasts it to the customers request. The octopi (there were 3) simmered in that pot for a good 4 hours. Although the octopus did not look very tasty, I thought that was very interesting.
Around 12:30 or so a party of 9 came in. They already had their party scheduled with the restaurant and it was one of those meals where every person was eating the same thing. 9 salads, 9 steaks, and 9 desserts. It was only Erik and I plating and he made me so nervous because he is so perfect at it and I am, well, not. He can pack salad into his hand and drop it on a plate to give it the perfect height and my little hands cannot pack enough and when I go to plate it, salad goes everywhere. Luckily, he was pretty patient and told me “it’s okay, it’s okay, just keep going”. In the long run, I did not feel like a complete failure.
Dessert sampler. Top left moving to the right: Pumpkin Cheesecake with pecans and a maple glaze, chocolate cake topped with fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings, butterscotch bread pudding topped with homemade vanilla ice cream and an anglaise (vanilla) sauce.
Today, unfortunately I did not have my camera with me. However, I think that it turned out to be a good thing because of how mobbed it got at the end of my shift (I was supposed to get out at 4 and did not get out until almost 6). The morning was spent making pastries. I made white chocolate orange creme brulee, chocolate cakes, butterscotch puddings, and cheesecakes. My chef coat had the markings to prove it. One thing I do pride myself in, however, is keeping my station clean. I am beyond obsessive compulsive when it comes to wiping up every little drop of what not that falls onto the counter, but I think that is a good thing. Chef Erik certainly did not mind it either, which was another good thing.
The butterscotch bread puddings were a problem for Chef Erik. The ovens at Napa Valley are far from state-of-the-art and they affected us in a bad way today. Chef burnt 90% of the butterscotch bread puddings. I found myself apologizing for some reason, but he put the whole blame on himself and I felt so bad. It was actually pretty funny to witness his reaction to the oven piling out burnt smoke followed by the blackened bread puddings. He dropped a lot of curse words with a big smile on his face. He looked at me and said, “this is bad” with a smile on his face. He was so calm, did not yell at anyone, and right away figured out how to fix the problem. Luckily there was plenty of extra creme brulee batter and he made a bunch of mini creme brulees. I suppose that really is the only way to go about those fixable problems. Things happen. I grew an even higher level of respect for my Chef after that happened today.
I got finished with all of the desserts at around 3 and then got right to helping with a party coming in at 5:30. Say goodbye to my little table of 9 from Friday, tonight it was a party of 50! Hors d’oeuvres, 50 salads, 50 entrees, 50 desserts. Tonight was my true first experience of a busy kitchen. Every time Chef Erik came over to me to let me know what he wanted from me, he literally bent over and took a deep breath because of all the running around he did! I enjoyed it, though. I helped plate all the hors d’ouerves when he looked at the clock and said “okay, you can go…the schedule said fo….four? four! It’s 5:45 I’m so sorry I’ll let you out early tomorrow!!” Hahaha I laughed. Of course I did not mind and I knew to not even say anything about the time because of how busy it got. 9 am again tomorrow. I am so tired….