Day 28-35 Rotation

So currently it’s been a few days with the new Prix Fix menu and has it been hectic. There have been so many days where I didn’t have enough champagne mangoes to roast for my service, so I would end up roasting regular fist sized mangoes. Has anyone ever double peeled mangoes… the biggest pain in the butt EVER, especially when the mango is ripe. They slip all over the place and are a bit tough to grip when slicing in half.

On Wednesday, Chef had me work with Krystina to prep for the party that night. The most I’ve done with prepping for parties was making small components like a chantilly base or having extra garnishes. I ended up making mini alsatian apple tarts, or as the menu says “French Apple Cake”. Cookies, Tarts, and Mignardises has prepared me very well for this. It was Krystina’s and I’s first time making the Apple Cake and we did pretty well. She was working on slicing the apples with a mandolin, while I finished each Apple Cake. Chef Temme would be proud lol! We made about 45 Apple Cakes and it was a pretty nice change from my usual production for service. At that time it was service time and chef decided to takeover. At that point I was freaking out a bit because of the fact that some of the Mise En Place was JUST enough for my service and if we ran out while he was working service, I thought I’d get owned lol. Thank God that didn’t happen and we had enough of everything.

I have definitely picked up a lot of speed and comfort with handling lunch service and prepping. It hasn’t been too tough for me, except when tables order millions of desserts.This one table on Thursday was my last table and ended up ordering 6 desserts, 4 of which were a la carte. 2 of those was the new Chocolate Tart dessert. Let me tell you… this is one of the most time consuming items on the menu to plate. It looks great and tastes amazing, but it requires so much labor. You basically cut about 20 to 30 banana slices, line them within a mold in a circle, finish the inner circle with 4 or 5 banana slices, and then caramelize them. Once that is done, place the mold back on a use a scraper to pick up the ring of bananas. Place the ring on top of the chocolate tart which is on a plate with chocolate glaze designs and finished with a spun sugar nest and maldom salt.

Thursday was a rollercoaster of a ride! The production list was so long that it filled the ENTIRE whiteboard, even worse was that it filled the board again AFTER lunch service was over. We literally had almost nothing… I never thought I’d have to do SO much, but it felt great to finally kill the list. My chef had also given me news that day. He told me that in about April, I would be switching duties and do what Krystina does now which is production, spinning ice creams, setting up catering orders, and prepping for parties. There will be a new extern, who I will show around and have them working Lunch Service. He told me that I was doing really well, looked like I’ve gotten my bearings, and that I should be able to learn the new position fairly well. I was so excited to receive such feedback and also nervous because it’ll feel like week one all over again where I have to learn a completely different position. I’m ecstatic and nervous for April!

Last but not least, Alise had told me that her fiancee dropped by on Thursday night and that he tried the pear tart. He absolutely loved it and complimented Alise on the pears. She told him that I roasted it and that I did a bomb job :) WIN! I definitely feel like this was the perfect place for me to learn so much as I have!

My Gift from Courgette!

My Gift from Courgette!

Day 25+26+27 Paul Taylor

So it was the end of my fifth week and I’m kind of slacking on the manual :/ I’ll definitely be doing some catching up this week/weekend so I don’t end up shit out of luck. Day 25 happened to also be my second time working a Saturday and boy was it a bit intense… Along with a HUGE production list for service, I did some plating and when I thought I would be leaving earlier, I ended up leaving about 11:10ish. It was a pretty relaxing evening though because I got to joke around with Lindsay and our runners.

Monday and Today were quite slow days. Monday I had about 60-70 covers and ended up with only about 20 tickets at MAX. Since it was so easy, I had accomplished everything on my service list and MORE. While I was peeling my pears, Courgette dropped by and leaves me a present… Bok Choy lol. I thought it was a pretty hilarious way to start the week off.

Today we changed our desserts again and boy am I glad :D Both of these desserts can be 90% pre-plated and almost nothing has to be done a la minute! Our new chocolate dessert is a Feuilletine Base with Chocolate Mousse, a Dark Chocolate Glaze, Garnished with Blackberries, a Candied Hazelnut, and Peanut Butter Fluff, accompanied by two dots of Huckleberry Gel. Our Fruit dessert is now a Half of a Roasted Mango with Passion Fruit Mango Sauce, Coconut Marshmallows, Coconut Dacquois, Lemon Balm, Passion Fruit Seeds, Pineapple Sorbet, and the Roasting Liquid Sauce. These desserts are pretty fulfilling and visually appealing.These desserts were also made to accompany Paul Taylor’s famous dance called “Aureole”. The names are Dance of Death and Roasted Mango Tango. It’s pretty cool to sponsor this company and see some of the dancers drop by in the kitchen. On top of having another slow day, I felt so accomplished with getting so many things on the production list completed. There was a point where Lindsay, Krystina, and I all looked at eachother and each said “what is there to do?” Lindsay and I pretty much joked around the entire time. Best part is that I peeled about 30 Mangoes for tomorrow so that I didn’t have to roast them tomorrow morning, but Lindsay swears she won’t go through much. I kept joking around and told our favorite runner, Adolfo, that he should push selling crepes (Lindsay’s “Favorite” dessert LOL). I can’t wait for the next few days!

Day 21-24 They Call me Powers

So for the past few days, I’ve gotten a few nicknames from my coworkers. Peter calls me Justin Powers, International Pastry Chef, after Austin Powers lol… I’ve been getting used to the environment and definitely forming bonds with some of the many other employees around. Each day is pretty relaxing and about the same pace, except when service starts.

Tuesday went fairly well. Wednesday was a shitshow and definitely not one I would like to recall. Thursday was the FIRST day I literally plated all my orders by myself, without Alise or Krystina jumping in. I felt so relieved that I could handle it and that it was so much better than the previous crap day. Today was a pretty decent day too for me. I was able to handle setting up everything for service except for some panna cotta tuiles that I needed at the end of service. Alise was busy with Astra catering work and catching up on it because Lindsay had taken off the night before. I felt very proud to be able to have all that list done by myself.

One of my coworkers, Paul who works on the savory station even complimented me on how my nice my desserts looked :) I see him as a very motivating person because sometimes during my service, he tells me to “push through it” and “finish strong”. I laugh, but I’m grateful that there is someone there supporting me and wanting to watch me succeed. We had a talk about how service was for the past few days and the savory station has been getting killed for three days straight which began the same day when I was having the worse day.

Another pretty cool coworker I’ve begun to talk to is Grace. She handles the same position as Paul (they both prep lots of fish and work on the savory service line). She’s always pretty happy to be in and very friendly. We exchange greetings daily and she usually passes by me and steals my scraps from cakes, cookies, or brownies. Today she said something about how I must’ve looked like a cute baby when I was younger, which I thought was completely random but funny because she was talking to the executive chef. I noticed she had a kanji tattoo on her arm and I asked her about it. It says “Determination” and she told me that she had another on her back that says “Passion”. This was a reminder for her about why she is in this business because back when she was in Culinary school, she went down the path of drugs and alcohol, which was completely unlike her. I admire her for sharing such a story with me.

Last but not least is Scott. Scott is one of the sous chefs and has a pretty random personality for the most part and friendly also. On Tuesday he decided to call me Bok Choy for no reason. My chef heard him and pretty much told me I could tell him to fuck off if I didn’t like the nickname. I didn’t really mind because I thought it was extremely random. So when I asked Scott about why he chose that name, he first said that someone told him that was my name. Then he said it was one of his favorite vegetables and I asked if it means that I’m his favorite and he said yes (I doubt lol). Then as I was leaving on Tuesday, I asked him what I could call him that’s vegetable related and he says “Courgette”. So that’s that :)

Day 19+20 Improvement

I’m getting a bit used to the new Prix Fix Desserts and slowly adapting to the complications of it. Friday was pretty much an ordinary day at work, didn’t feel quite bad with one less co-worker. The biggest issue was preplating for the new Chocolate Peanut Butter Plate… I’m moving onto Saturday, which is my FIRST time working on a Saturday for Aureole and experiencing dinner service.

I attempted to go in extra early to tackle this “monster” production list that I was warned about by Lindsay the previous day and boy was this list long… This list was so long that usually we fit our production lists on one side of the white board, but this covered about 75% of the board O_O. Even though it was about 280 Covers for Saturday, I didn’t feel as anxious or nervous as I did on Day 1. I was like “pffft we got this, we’ll have that whole list tackled.” Slowly but surely Lindsay, Chef, and I deleted the list one by one :)

Of course once the tickets started ringing in, that’s when all the insanity happened. There was about 3 rushes during the entire night of nonstop tickets. I probably counted 7 birthdays. Lunch Service is nothing compared to Dinner Service. First, people can get these little shot glassed filled with a vanilla panna cotta, blood orange foam, almond slivers, lemon balm, and a blood orange piece (Pre-Desserts). Then, some people can actually get Petit Fours which consist of Brownies with Milk Chocolate Chantilly, Macarons (This Month’s Flavor is Yuzu), Pate De Fruit (Apricot Flavored), and Red Sugar Tubes with a Financier Base and Apple Top with Apple Compote. After that, I had seen some tables ordering more than one a la carte dessert. A la Carte desserts really backed up some of the orders, especially with the new Baked Alaska Dessert. This dessert has so many components, I’m just going to List it out.

-Passion Fruit Sauce

-Passion Fruit Seeds

-Micro Cilantro

-Coconut Sorbet

-Pineapple Sorbet

-Lime Sponge

-Passion Fruit Swiss Meringue

-Poached Pineapples

-Roasted Champagne Mangoes

-Pink Peppercorn

-Toasted coconut

-Coconut Marshmallow

On top of working for so long, Lindsay left at about 9:30PM, leaving me and chef to deal with the last rush of the night which was about 10:00PM. At this point, I was freaking out because there were so many orders and some of the desserts, I was still unfamiliar with because Lindsay had JUST shown me how to plate them. There is a Crispy Crepes Plate that is amazing, but I still need practice with it. So my chef and I conquered the late night rush and then he eventually left me for the last 6 tables. He says “I have confidence in you.” Once the last tables rang in, I immediately tried to handle it alone, but some had more than 2 desserts a table… biggest pain ever! After the long hectic day, I mastered plating the Baked Alaska, Molten, and Closing the entire station. I left at Midnight feeling so accomplished with my work and at that point I knew that I’m definitely doing what I love. :)

Day 9-18 Gain Experience, Gain Confidence

So I’ve been slacking with the Tumblr updates, but work has been kicking my butt recently. In short, I have improved on speed and set up, but there is still room for further improvement.

Let’s start with my 3rd week. It was a pretty decent run with set up, production, and service. I began feeling comfortable with the plating of Flexibile Ganache and Citrus Genoise. Even though the Ganache’s presentation was changed, I was able to adapt to it fairly quickly. The Ganache was curled up, instead of placed down in a wavy pattern. Working on Fridays isn’t too hard anymore, even though Krystina isn’t around. I’ve learned how to prep for stuff way ahead of time and improve my speed on certain tasks. As for my supremes… I give it another FULL month of cutting them EVERYDAY until I can master it.

On the Monday of week 4, I was told that the two Prix Fix items were being changed and I was pretty much depressed. Right when I was feeling really comfortable and improved so much with my speed and efficiency, they change it :( These two new Prix Fix are a Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta and a Peanut Butter Mousse with Bananas and Chocolate. All I have to say is FML. These two items are pretty difficult for service mainly because of the inability to have them pre-plated. Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, was the debut of these two plates. Everything was shown to me during service and it’s just pretty damn tedious. I need to caramelize banana slices for the Peanut Butter Mousse plate and slice fruits for the Panna Cotta. With the computer being on the fritz, I wasn’t able to even determine how many items we needed prepped for Lunch and Dinner… So as it wasn’t bad enough not knowing how much to prep, I didn’t know how to plate the new options efficiently, AND we had a ton of prep for the Valentine’s Dinner menu.

Today was another insane day because Chef didn’t explain how he wanted the new Peanut Butter Mousse Plate redesigned or even how he wanted to alter the recipe. I didn’t have any pears, so that meant no roasted pears and 86 Pear Tart. Along with that, we didn’t have any bananas, so an employee needed to run out and pick up a few for my service. The entire day was a waiting game, especially since chef showed up about half hour into service. I think I had about 12 mild heart attacks and many moments where I wanted to run away. At one point during lunch service there was about 8-10 tickets fired and with the new Prix Fix, everything took so long! Oh and the best part… chef added a tuile component to the panna cotta lol.

As much insanity I go through, I’m so thankful for my day off tomorrow :) Since I was barely able to find a lot of information about Aureole online, I figured I would ask Charlie Palmer himself. Unfortunately he wasn’t around during family meal, so I decided to write a letter and leave it with my general manager. As I was halfway through my letter, Charlie Palmer arrives and spots me. We actually sat down for 30 minutes and had a mini interview and chat session. I must say that even with his fame and success, he is such a humble person. With that, I end with a quote by Charlie Palmer himself. “You go on externship to learn. Gain Experience. Gain Confidence in yourself.”

Day 7+8 Charlie Palmer in the Flesh

So Day 7 was pretty much a normal day with all the scrambling to getting lunch service ready and prepping for dinner. I’ve been able to pick up the pace with my Candied Hazelnuts and Gianduja Foam, but I need to work on Multitasking with confidence.

Day 8: Today. I was originally going to witness a walkthrough of how to work the Ice Cream machine and eventually master solo production, but a special guest was due for arrival. My chef actually came in quite early today, which was unexpected but thank god because he was able to help me get everything ready for lunch service. So far today was probably the day I was ready to shoot myself. Chef just kept pushing me to do everything so quick and questioned me about whether I was stressed. For some reason I still don’t feel too confident in undertaking many tasks and multitasking just yet. I know within 2 days I’m just going to have to make it work one way or another.

Lunch service began and thankfully I had everything prepped and ready. Bad part: Lunch service was complete insanity. There were VIPs, Chef wanted to plate a Crispy Crepes plate for them, at one point I didn’t have enough plates for my Genoise, I had to soak Genoise and use 2 for service, there were so many to-go orders but no stupid to-go containers, AND there was a party of about 60 -__-. Honestly this was a nuthouse and I’m completely glad that I’m home now on a chair with my butt glued onto it. So even though it was such a crazy pace, it has definitely pushed me a lot.

Just before the lunch service, head boss man arrived: Chef/Restaurant Group Owner Mr. Charlie Palmer himself :) He noticed I was new and greeted me with a huge smile and a “Hello, How are you?” I was quite shocked that he really notices who’s new to the kitchen and that he is quite humble enough to take time and acknowledge people. I’m still a little starstruck that he was so friendly.

Here’s hoping that tomorrow doesn’t consist of this insanity.

Day 4+5+6 Pick Up the Pace

So I’m pretty much done with my first official week of Externship and I must say “WOW”. Each and every day I learn how to make something new from the production list and I feel more and more comfortable with handling lunch service. Friday and today have been pretty calm for service, but I’m not complaining one bit. It’s given me the opportunity to continue with production while juggling ticket orders. One of the main things I’ve learned is that not everything will come out great the first time around. I was told to cut segments by my chef and boy… did I get a lesson. I had Alise, Chef Pierre, and Lindsay all tell me how to cut segments with different methods. Times like these I kind of just want to finish the task immediately and hope for the best. After 45 fruits, Grapefruits, oranges, and Blood Oranges, I had about 2 quarts of juice and so much more excess on my cutting board.

Work is FUN and I have a blast, even if I feel overwhelmed at times. Everyday I have to make poached pears, gianduja foam, and candied hazelnuts. I can’t complain about my work load, especially since this is only the beginning. Who else gets to play with sugar at work like me ;)