The day started off the same as always – the same tasks – I’m very quick now and even coming up with new techniques of my own to improve kitchen efficiency.
There is something we make which they only call “Queso Cuardo”. When this appears on the prep list, it means we have to take a block of queso cuardo and turn it into very fine grains. It’s a fairly soft cheese, so it’s a long process as we have to freeze the cheese intermittently to keep it from turning into a paste in our warm hands. But I realised today that if you pass the cheese through one of our perforated gastro pans, you can make a huge portion of queso cuardo in about 5 minutes – saving about 45 minutes of active prep time.
I’ve spent the last few mornings lamenting the fact that Ellias is being sent down to service next week. We tease each other relentlessly and swear at each other and actually argue with each other but we also have the nicest little moments. He might be one of the people I will miss most at this restaurant.
Alas, the day marches on. And today was the first day in a while that we were “en la mierda”. So much to do!
And then came “brrrriefing”.
We all marched downstairs. I spotted chef and gave him one of my polite, possibly looks a bit like I’m having a fit, smiles. He looked at me, “Emily, you’re on service for afternoon shift today. We have a new dish on the menu and need your help.” I looked at him, wide eyed, “Yes, bueno, ok”. I’m downstairs!!? Ahh! I’m not mentally prepared for this change! Everyone gathered around for briefing. First thing, chef announced to the group “Emily esta en servicio hoy”. Everyone looked at me, Aria smiling, Dara gave me a thumbs up. I nodded “Si, entiendo”. I’m somewhat flattered that they chose me.
Briefing wrapped up and I popped upstairs for my knife. All I could think was, “but I was top dog upstairs – now I’m starting over!” I waved goodbye to my prep mates not knowing if or when I would be returned to them.
I went back downstairs to see everyone surrounding Chef. He was building the new dish and showing everyone how it would be. I stood, trying to get a glimpse of what was happening while not being in anyones way. A base of avocado, finely diced with green mango and the rest. On top, a raw clam with yuzu samphire, some greenery and some little fruit rounds. The pass adds a Leche de Tigre emulsion.
And another new dish, mamey, flamed and served with what is apparently the worlds best caviar.
So we cracked on. It was Chef and I standing side by side, finishing off the plate. He speaks brilliant English: “We just want the tops of the samphire” – “is it ‘tips’ or ‘tops’”. I smiled, “either, or”. We danced around each other, finishing of the plates, wiping them clean and bringing them to the pass. I couldn’t help thinking this was pretty fun.
Alas, at 5pm, I was told that I would finish my shift “at 6pm” as per normal, with the prep shift, but that I needed to turn up a 11am for the service shift tomorrow. I went back upstairs and helped with the clean up – cleaning every surface, packing up all the various sauces – the day’s projects. Everyone was in a good mood.
And it turns out that Ellias’ schedule has changed too. Tomorrow he starts in service – as the tortilla guy. All he does all day is make tortillas. This change is exciting but it feels like the end of an era. The end of chilled days of music, group breakfasts, “llego Gio” and early morning morning jokes – the start of exciting, high intensity days that pass in an instant. And a whole new team. I wonder if I’ll get sent back to pastry next week as per the original plan.
I look forward to my childhood friend arriving tonight – Elise. A happy ending to a big day!
Time to get going with my evening chores now.
Night night. xx