Kitchens Are For the Mentally Imbalanced

I’ll save you 2 terribly tolerant readers some trouble by recounting some of the past 2 days – my FIRST 2 days ever in professional kitchens – in bullet points.

I spent yesterday in 8 hours of externship with a local pub/brewery. The staff was wonderful and, well, patient. They make damn good food and even better beer. My time there went something like:

*Prep veggie burgers
*Wash, cut and par-cook 4 cases of potatoes for chips/fries
*Make cornbread
*Do a shit ton of dishes
*Prep onions
*Slice tomatoes
*Sample roasted peppers
*Make crème anglaise
*Do more dishes
*Listen to a lot of shmack among the staff and metal/rap/punk
*Eat a slap-your-mama chicken sandwich and drink a house brew

What a night. I left wishing they were hiring.

Today, I staged at a bar/kitchen for prep and lunch shift. The staff was so helpful and educational, friendly and cool. The work was super busy and showed me where my skills are lacking. And that a nose to the grind work ethic pays. I helped in pantry with:

*Herb prep
*tomato dicing
*charcuterie storage
*greens prep
*making croutons
*sampling above mentioned charcuterie
*camembert slicing
*salad prep and plating
*more salad making
*listening to girls not born in the 80s sing 80s songs
*lots of vacuum sealing
*supreming grapefruits
*station cleaning and restocking
*Some other stuff I can’t remember right now because it was a busy damned day and I have to be on the shuttle to work ACL Fest at 6am

The kitchen is impressive. It is run by a premiere Texas chef. Everyone seems to enjoy their work. And at the end of the day, I was offered a job. Let’s hope I don’t screw it up too much or too often.

Only crazy people sign on for this. For anyone who thinks they may want to do this, my (very green) advice – be sure you have the stamina and move-your-assitude. Know how to get the hell outta the way. Ask questions but keep your attitude to yourself. And always do whatever needs doing. Also, crass language and thick skin are prerequisite. Luckily, I walked in with both.

So, woohoo! First kitchen job! I’ll drink to that. You can too! Let the next adventure begin.

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(Me, a stage survivor. Tired as hell and happy about it.)

The Best of Hells

Today concludes week 1 of my culinary externship.

Damn, what a week.

With class work completed, I must now log 300 hours – with a maximum of 30 per week credited-of externship in order to graduate.  That can occur via a number of scenarios.

My classmates have a marginally sane approach to this process.  Find a kitchen job, have a supervisor sign off for paid working hours.  No problem.

I, alternately, said “I WANNA GO TO THE FARMS, AND A RESTAURANT, AND HELP PREP FOR A SUICIDE MISSION OF AN EVENT! THIS WILL BE GREAT!!”   (Without the yelling, my little-kid-enthusiasm just won’t come through – )

To translate: I opted to be part of a group helping a premiere Texas chef prepare for and operate a food booth at Austin City Limits Music Festival, as well as work on a local farm and in their kitchen, and log hours in a restaurant. 

I am officially a crazy person.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday I logged a total of 27 hours helping unload, prep, cook, process, package and reload for storage nearly 2700 pounds of chicken and 3000 pounds of pork. 

 mail (683) 

Other students also helped make sauces and dressings.  We seasoned, roasted, sliced, chopped, vacuum sealed, and cleaned in 8 to 12 hour shifts.  It was insanity personified.  But we were so badass further prep was unnecessary and so cancelled.  The next 2 weekends I will work the festival booth in 8 hour shifts. 

 

Monday and Tuesday I returned to Bernhardt’s Fruit and Veggie farm. There, I helped make kim chi, sauerkraut and kale chips,mail (689) then picked, sorted, washed and packaged produce of all kinds to ready them for today’s farmer’s markets.  Next week, we make jellies.   Again I say, consider the long hours of hard physical labor that go into every piece of produce you buy at a local market, into every dish on every quality menu you see.  I assure you, your dollars are well spent.

 

Though not yet assless, I have worked enough to be well on my way.   I am bruised, cut, blistered, and moving like an octogenarian in the mornings.  Week 1 is behind me.  And you know what?  THIS IS GREAT!