“I know you wouldn’t just tell me good job to be nice….”


All I can say is that I am so grateful to have been given off yesterday because I certainly needed it with the cold I was dealing with. I don’t know why it decided to stick with me for so long, but this morning I FINALLY started to feel better. Dan told me that they were talking about how they could all tell that I was really not myself on Tuesday. An hour into work this morning, being my normal Sammy self, Dan screamed to me from across the kitchen “GO BACK TO BEING SICK!”. I knew they missed me.

It’s been fairly dead at Napa Valley, at least compared to the chaos that took place during the holiday season. I really do not mind though because when I am doing my prep work, such as mincing a gallon of shallots, I can really take time to focus on my knife skills because I know that it does not have to be done ASAP. One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed between Johnson and Wales labs and my internship is the advancement of my knife skills. You are always doing completely different things every single day at Johnson and Wales because of the amount of information they have to compact into your brain in such little time, but at work I am mincing shallots, chopping bunches of herbs into sawdust, chiffonading, julienning, you name it every day. I feel as though my speed and accuracy have really improved in just this past month, and I am anxious for the way I’ll feel by the end of this internship.

FUNKY INGREDIENT:

Do you know what this is?

Here’s what it looks like without the agriculture all over it.

Celery root. Surprisingly it is not the root from which celery is grown off of. It is a completely different vegetable grown in the ground that is almost as starchy as a potato and has a bitter celery flavor to it. At Napa Valley it is used  for flavoring the polenta.

Tuesday was a really exciting day even though I wasn’t feeling well enough to fully appreciate it. I got to work the pantry station!! The pantry is the station of the kitchen that can be seen by the customers and is where all the salads, soups, cold sandwiches, cheeseboards, dessert platters, and a few appetizers are made. Dan worked with me for about 20 minutes telling me what goes on what sandwich, salad, what size plate to use for which, etc. and soon enough I was getting the hang of it. It was not that busy at the time so he made me work it by myself which I was terrified of doing, but whenever I was desperately in need of help he came and aided. Here are some of the finished plates I made!:

Organic Greens Salad (cherry tomatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds, lemon vinaigrette) with Grilled Salmon, Goat Cheese, and Crostini

Turkey Club (turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cranberry orange aioli, multigrain bread) with Organic Greens

This was a special that Dan created that I thought was so creative. Its a steak salad with bleu cheese mousse, cranberry vinaigrette, balsamic marinated portobellos, organic greens, and carrot chips.

Today when I was cutting lemons Dan walked up to me, gave me a pat on the back and said, “good job.” I asked, “What? Why did you say that?” Alphonso was laughing and I knew he wouldn’t just say that and mean it, so I reached toward my back and ripped off a spaghetti squash sticker. That is the kind of atmosphere that goes on in the Napa Valley Grille kitchen.

Sometimes when I am looking at some of my friends on their internships in amazing places like Disneyworld, the Florida Keys, and California, I feel a little envious that I didn’t just risk losing my housing and went for it. But then I realize something…I am so lucky. The kitchen staff that I work with are all such great people who mess with each other, are always laughing, but always get the job done. Nobody treats me like I’m the bottom of the totem pole and they are all very patient and respectful. I know that in the end I will realize even more that Napa Valley was meant to be my decision and thats all that matters. Work tomorrow at 9!

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