Thursday, October 24, 2013

Let's all just take a second to check.  Let's make sure.  You know? 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Coal Yard

Oop.  Got busy there for a second.  Summertime in New York, you know.

Sometimes I forget that this thing exists.  People have to remind me.  So I'm back by popular demand.

.... thanks mom.

Now.  Please, let me tell you a story that will worry my parents.

Two nights ago...

I fell asleep on the subway bench waiting for a train.  It was 5 a.m.  Jarlath woke me up when the train came.  I checked to see if I still had my wallet and my phone.  I did, and I thought, "This guy, Jarlath, really could be my new friend."

Okay.  You don't have to worry.  Every time I allow myself to fall asleep (or "or pass out" if you don't like euphemisms)  I run through my safety checklist as my eyes are closing.  Of course, the list is different if I'm tired from drinking or tired from working.  This was the one I used that morning:

1.  Would any obligations that I have the next day be compromised by spending the night in jail?

Thankfully, I didn't have to work the next day.

2.  Do I have any valuables?

Thankfully, I left my ice cream scooper with the handle fashioned out of an elk horn at home.

3.  Do I have any cash?

Thankfully, I had left the rest of my money with the bartender as the bar closed.

You see?  I keep it safe.  Jarlath could have jacked my wallet with the only consequence being that I would have no place to keep the money that I don't have.  I knew he wasn't going to steal my cell phone because one of the themes throughout the night was how much he hated cell phones.  He'd hang up after a passionate discussion with his lady about where he was and what he was doing.  He'd say, "That cunt is always trying to keep me from good craic," then he'd launch into a story about how he got rid of his iphone so that she couldn't track him even though she always new where he was anyway.  The same old bars.  And the story would end with how much he loved her.  "She's a real cunt but sometimes she's so good that being near her is like an angel crying on your tongue."

We had a rough service earlier that night.  I'm a cook, you know, at Jean Georges now.  The thing about it is that nobody wants to hang when service runs smoothly.  The food goes out, we clean up, everyone walks is done at midnight, and we go home.  When things go poorly like they did the other night, hour waits between courses, the chef's stomping around and yelling and orating monologues from the middle of the kitchen that are Shakespearean in length and SouljaBoyian in vocabulary, the saucier walks out in protest, the other cooks scurry from oven to plate to pass with their heads down and their mouths shut, when things go poorly, the cooks are sure to rally later that night with a round of Miller High Life's.

There we were at the Colliseum, the whole team, four or five High Life's later, discussing the nights events.

Montserrat was there.   She and I worked the hot line in the Nougatine together and we got moved up to Jean Georges at the same time.  We're homies.

David was there.  That night the chef told him, "You're a punk.  I'm not your goddamn high school principal.  Grow up."

Nick was there.  He's a good dude, the type of dude that only laughs at half the jokes when he watches the Simpsons.  But he makes up for missing some jokes by laughing more loudly and more genuinely than the other cooks at the jokes that he does get.  Consequently, Nick understands the things that are coming out of my mouth but he has no idea why they're coming out.  "Rob, I don't care how many ice cream cones you had today.  It's the middle of service.  Sure, Rob, tomorrow I'll try the vanilla double rainbow sprinkle peanut waffle cone.  Go back to your station."

Hey.  The guy at the Mr. Softee truck across the street from my work knows my order.  I hand him five dollars and he hands me a vanilla double rainbow sprinkle peanut waffle cone.  No words are exchanged. 
I.  own.  this.  city.

Franky was there.  Every time I walk by Franky he says, "Rob.  That shrimp was banging."  I guess that's a different story altogether.  (Foreshadowing.)

Byke was already there.  He'd gone straight to the Colliseum after walking off the line in the middle of service.

And Booty was there.  Booty is a short dude.

Understand, I've protected these people's identities by only using there first name or last name and describing them perfectly.

So we were going through the nights events.  I took a strong stance that things would have gone more smoothly had there not been a chef there at all.

"I guarantee you that's not true."
"Rob, you're only saying that because he yelled at you so much for that seven minute pick that you said would take three minutes."
"I mean, the chef didn't do a good job expediting."
"Yeah, that dude embarrassed himself tonight."
"Something must have gone wrong in the front of the house.  Did you hear one ticket took an hour between courses?"
"That shrimp was bangin'."

The night progressed.

A few High Life's later, people were motioning homeward.  Monty, David, and I didn't have to work the next day.  They were motioning barward.  I was on the fence.

The problem is, I'm always down.

This is how it goes:

"Rob you coming out for some more drinks?"

"Nah, dude.  Gotta go home."

"Come on Rob."


"Come on."

"Alright.  Where we going?"

 We took the train downtown where it was determined that I can't touch my toes.  Now, I've got a sixpack riding on that feat two weeks from now.

In a drunken refusal to use our phones to guide us, David and I led the charge for an hour through the Lower East Side looking for an eligible bar while Montserrat trailed behind us trying to convince us that the many bars that we passed weren't too "loud" too "crowded" or too "dudebro" to be passed.

After about an hour we were rewarded.

We found it.

The Coalyard.

And I'm not kidding you.  At that moment in life.  This bar was utopia.

We walked in.  Sensual Seduction was playing on the juke box.  People were dancing.  It wasn't club dancing.  It's the kind of dancing that you do when you're at your favorite bar with old friends and your drunk and Snoop Dogg is on the juke box.  The bartender greeted us, "Hey, loves.  Help yourself to pizza." Yes, the bartender was a beautiful, red-haired, Irish girl.  A giant New York-style pizza rested on the bar.  We ate some.  It was good.  Sausage and roasted red pepper.

We sat down.  Jarlath started chatting us up.   Five dollars for a shot and a pbr.  More shots if you're friends with Jarlath.  We soon became friends with Jarlath.

Jarlath was a carpenter, an honest trade.  He was from Dublin.  He had lived in New York for twelve years.  Jarlath spends a lot of time at the Coal Yard.  He took a half day off work to relax.  He was in trouble with his lady Stephanie for that.  Stephanie worked at bar in Soho called the Ear Inn.  She happened to be the waitress of Montserrat and I two nights before that when we accidentally stumbled upon the place during Jazz night.  The Ear Inn won the award for my favorite bar in New York before I met the Coal Yard.

Jarlath and Monserrat and David went outside to smoke some fags.  I talked to Audrey, the bartender.  She was from Cork.  I've been to Cork.  That's a different blog.  She liked that.  We had some shots.

The bar closed.  Jarlath and my friends and I walked around looking for a new bar.  The search was fruitless because all the bars close at four in the morning, but the walk was so nice.  Jarlath and I exchanged numbers before we left for the train.  Then we left for the train and it turned out to be the same one.  Same train.  Same stop.  Jarlath and I are neighbors.

Man.  I got Pete.  I got Jarlath.  I got a job and a place to live and a favorite ice cream truck.  New York.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Why haven't you people been participating in the poll?

Man.  What a month.  There's so much. 

I've been eating more ice cream than is healthy.  Today, I thought that I'd play one of those vulcan mind tricks on myself by using a smaller bowl.  Small bowl = less ice cream.  Well it turns out, the experience gets more stressful with a smaller bowl because you have to worry about melted ice cream running down the sides of the bowl like what happens with cones.  And then you just have to get up more often to fill up. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"That happened, for sure."

About a month ago, I finished my 2L year. That makes me X if X=(2/3)(Lawyer - bar exam). That is how to represent my professional status via algebra.

I start work at Schiff-Hardin LLP, a bona fide law outfit doing business out of Chicago, on Tuesday.  The firm itself does pretty glorious things. They represent Michael Jordan, some of the Chicago Bears, Pepsi, Aunt Sally's Cookies, the NCAA, and other people. I am about to do among the least glorious of those things, and I am overwhelmed with joy about it: evidence that I have chosen a good path for myself. I will write memorandums for people. Important people. Players. They do influential things like file briefs, lawsuits, responses, and my payroll paperwork. They argue to women and men in black robes, and men and women who agitatedly endure their jury duty. They merge business empires.  Every once in a while, they will have a little question that they need answered in order to answer a big question. They will ask me to answer that little question. With my stunning(ly infantile) legal prowess, I will dodge, dart, and dig through the legal cybersphere for information which I will push into my mind like freshly ground coffee, and coupled together with the hot waters of my passion for my work, it will trickle out through my fingertips in the form of delectable legal analysis.  I will take that hot drank to my boss, who will likely sip it through their spectacles, spit it across the room, and tell me how to make it palatable.

So anyway, I finished the law school year, and had some time to fart around. So I went on a lil trip with the Padre. We moseyed on down to Mammoth Caves National Park. It was my first time in Kentucky. The Derby had just happened. As we drove through Lexington and I saw the vast expanse of empty parking lots where tourists' cars were previously parked and the green fields where the horses played after they got done running side by side wondering what the point of carrying around those tiny men is, exactly,  I felt I had grown closer to the horse racing world somehow. Maybe next year I'll watch on TV.

As two generation of Bergsma's trounced through the woods on the hiking trails paid for by your stimulus dollars, we talked about what our protocol for a cougar attack would be. The animal kind of cougar. I carried a 3-inch buck knife passed down to me by Harold Bergsma, the eldest of our clan. There were many rocks on the trail. We decided we would be best off with the Third Degree Black Belt wielding the knife and the former above-average 14-year-old pitcher casting rocks like brutish spells at the pondered beast's face. Getting the blade under the ribs would be key to survival.

Then, a huge tree fell. We heard it. That particular woodland oratory lasted about 5 seconds, I would say. There was some snapping and crackling then some ripping and crashing, then some avian refugees fluttering off to find a new home.  Then, wisely and matter-of-factly, Dan Bergsma said, "Well, that happened for sure."

 There was no hint of self-celebratory tone in this statement, which is odd for our bloodline.

A well-armed woodland prophet.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Family Meal

The budget got kind of tight for a second in April.  I was doing alright.  I had a roof over my head and clean underwear every day.  It's just that I had to cut some frivolities like bookstore trips and pastries.  Also, I decided to go to work early so that I could attend Nougatine's family meal.

We have employee meals everyday for lunch and dinner.  The times are 11-2 then 4-6 or something like that.  All the workers in Trump Tower can partake.  I had heard some bad reviews about the cafeteria which is why I hadn't explored the option earlier.  Someone looking for the family meal cook would say something like, "Where's Sleepy Pete?" Someone would answer, "I don't know, probably cooking bad food somewhere."  I would ask a chef, "Should I put these scallion scraps in a bigger container before I put them on the family meal shelf?  I don't want them to get all slimy and gross."  The chef would reply, "What's the point?  Sleepy Pete is going to cut them with a dull knife and cook them until you can't recognize them."

I had my reservations about family meal, though, sometimes, Sleepy Pete fried some chicken or baked some meatballs in our kitchen, and I sampled the product.  That was always a pretty good pre-service snack.

So it turns out, Family meal is terrible. 

The primary offering is either chicken or ground beef in all there various forms.  Most of the time, the protein is covered with tomato sauce.  Other times, it has a gooey, cornstarch sauce that tastes mostly of salt and vaguely of cumin.  Bits of green things can be found in these sauces- could be green pepper, could be scallion, could be sanitizer bucket.  I've learned not to mess with the main course.  Occasionally, I'll eat it when there's some noodles in there.  Even then, I have to cover it with ladle full of Frank's hot sauce.  That's a thing.  They offer hot sauce by the ladle. 

The side for the entree is usually something like white rice or white rice with corn or white rice with beans.  All of these are manageable with a couple ladles of hot sauce. 

They have burgers once or twice a week with iceberg lettuce and sliced raw onions as toppings.  That's alright.  They had tomatoes once.  I like to use what they have at the salad bar for burger toppings:  iceberg lettuce, chickpeas, roasted beets, corn, shredded carrots, and sliced radishes.  I think they had peas once.  There's six dressings:  russian, italian, greek, and three ranchy-looking substances of different consistencies.

You could eat a sandwich if you want.  They have jelly.  I haven't found peanut butter, just empty jars.  They have sliced ham and sliced turkey and sliced American cheese.  That's the only cheese that I've seen in the cafeteria.  (We're a very patriotic company.)  The thing is, the sandwich game only works if you feel like rye bread.  We only serve rye bread.

Usually, I have a ham on rye with beats, carrots, radishes, and the most viscous ranch offered.  Once, I was hungry enough to eat three burgers: burger with carrots, burger with radishes, and burger with beets, each with a different ranch.  I felt like I was on candid camera.  The guy next to me was eating a cheese and garbanzo bean and jelly sandwich.  He decided on the rye bread that day.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How can there be so much that you don't know? You don't know ...

I want to tell all of you that I'm dominating this kitchen noise, but meat station has been challenging.  I work Friday Saturday Sunday only on meat, and I get my ass kicked those three days.  I haven't had much time to become acquainted with the area or the dishes.  It shows in my performance.  In three weeks on the station:  I've overcooked the executive chef's pork chop, I've had one chef bring me into the office after service to tell me something like, "You need to move faster, man.  This is New York;" and I've had another chef kick me off the station with twenty minutes left of service because my station was such a wreck.  I was banished to peel potatoes, an embarrassing thing.  (I peeled the shit out of those potatoes, though.)  I need a bit more practice with the meat.

I have been told that I was moved to meat because I was killing it on fish.  Also, they say that meat is easier than fish.  So I got that going for me.

We had a bacon challenge the other day.  A chef handed each cook in the kitchen a three inch slab of bacon and said, "Make a dish with this before 10 o'clock.  The winner gets a six pack."  I represented my former kitchen Grange Kitchen and Bar with "roasted chicken, bacon jam, grilled ramps and asparagus, pan sauce."

The chef decided, "Sue, you're disqualified for being too slow.  I'm sorry.  For the rest of you, all the dishes were excellent.  Roy, you're bacon caramel was really good, but I was expecting something more intricate than an ice cream that you didn't make with caramel.  And since, Rob stole his recipe from a restaurant that he used to work at, I'm going to give this one to Jim.  Jim you had a lot of things going on."

Shoot.  As I was plating, the chef said, "I have a feeling you've done this dish at a previous restaurant."  I shouldn't have proudly said, "Oh, yes."  I didn't know it was a bad thing.

Everything is stolen.  Carmel and ice cream?  Roy didn't get flack for ripping off Dairy Queen.  The other dude's dish was "bacon roasted in chili oil, jalapeno, asparagus, bacon powder."  Bacon powder is bacon fat mixed with tapioca maltodextrin.  I don't know where he came up with the idea, but if you google "bacon powder" it has 19 million results.

I'm not upset that I lost.  Okay, I'm really upset that I lost.  Bacon jam gets down, and I don't like losing.  But, man, that judgement was ridiculous. 

Everything is stolen.  You know?

When Avatar came out, millions of people watched it even though it had the same plot as Disney's Pocahontas.  When Pocahontas came out people watched it even though it had the same plot as that time John Smith sailed to the Americas in 1607 and hung with a native lady named Pocahontas.  Do you think John's bros told him that it was awfully cliche of him to be hanging with the exotic, native chick, that it had been passe since Solomon trying to get with the Queen of Sheba?  Do you think the Queen of Sheba would have liked Disney's Pocahontas?  I hope so.  That movie is so fly.  I mean... have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?

The chef was helping Roy brainstorm ideas for his dish.  One of the chef's suggestions was bacon and  Parisian-style gnocchi.  It happens that one of the most popular contemporary cook books,Thomas Keller's The French Laundry, has a recipe for Parisian-style gnocchi.  It's possible that the only reason any one is thinking about Parisian-style gnocchi right now is because of that cookbook.  We made it at my former restaurant.  I just ate it the other night at a friends house.  Do you think the chef has read Keller's book?  Do you think the chef is aware of Keller's influence?  Do you think Keller is aware of a gnocchi recipe in Everyday Cooking With Jacques Pepin from thirty years agoHow much do you think Pepin digs bacon jam?  I... just... think that the rainstorm and the river are my brother, the heron and the otter are my friends, and we are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends.
Everything comes from somewhere else whether the person making it knows it or not.  Oh yes, bacon jam is a more specific recipe than Parisian-style gnocchi.  The whole dish that I made was a Grange dish.  If you gave my former Grange chef a piece of bacon and told him to make a dish with it, I'll bet he would decide something like, "Bacon jam will impress these guys.  I'll make some bacon jam, put it on top of a meat, throw some seasonal vegetables in there, and boom.  I'll win."  And that's exactly what I thought.  I think my former chef would be proud.  I learned that type of meat-centric, simple, seasonal cooking from him.  That's why I worked there.  Experience.  Influence.  Now that I've worked at Nougatine, if somebody handed me some blackberries, I might juice the hell out of them and throw some yuzu in there, and Jean George would smile. He might even taste the sunsweet berries of the Earth, roll in all the riches all around him, and for once, never wonder what they're worth.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Post 101

This is the 101st post for 3300 Miles to Bliss.  To commemorate the occasion, I thought that it might be nice to take a retrospective look, analyze some stats, give a state of the union.

The blog was two years old this last February.  I live in Brooklyn.

Okay, great.  Now, let's look at some stats.   We've had 10865 views as I'm writing this, and that's solidly mediocre for two years.

906 of the views have come from people stumbling across this page:

So that's nice.  People love taking polls.  Stuie's uncle told us that.  Perhaps I'll have some more.  What do you think? (See what I did there?)

96 of our views have been provided by the Russian search engine  I don't really know why that is.  However, it is a fact that the dude walking in between Stuie and I in the blog's banner picture has grandparents from Russia.  I'll keep him there.  Keep viewing the page comrades, and please encourage North Korea to simmer down. 

According to the stats, about 100 people have arrived at the blog by searching keywords directly pertaining to the blogs title.  5 people have arrived at the blog by searching "dad isn't keeping."  I figure that I lost five potential blog fans when they clicked on my url but found no information on how to keep dads fresh.  Now, to meet the demand, I will supply what information I have on the subject.


Your pops is losing that skip in his step?  Dad has a bit of salt in his pepper?    Pappy doesn't strap the roller skates on as much as he used to?  Your old man is getting a bit too comfortable with his title? Tu padre aparece mas como una chihuahua que un joven?  The governor needs a few more swings to chop down that tree?  You find that your progenitor dozes off when he hears too many words like progenitor?  The author of your family has lost some prolificacy?  The old seed sower doesn't seem to walk the fields as much as he used to?  Pa's gettin' old?  And you're un-familia how to deal with the increasingly elderly condition of your paterfamilias?  Well, do I have an answer for you!

After my sister and I discovered the consequences of time's inevitability on our father, we tried everything to help preserve his freshness:  the classic treatments--mud baths, meditation, yoga, saunas, cryogenics, plasma replacement; the creams--radish, date, pickle, spf, bourbon, cat dander, skittle; the dietary supplemants--radish, date, pickle, spf, bourbon, cat dander, skittle; the periphery treatments--plastic wrap, refrigeration, the lima bean, polka.  But nothing worked!


Also, some of the treatments, as invasive as they as are, were not received well by our subject.  Apparently people don't take kindly to being pounced on by four handfuls of cat dander cream as soon as they arrive home from work.

Finally, we had the epiphany that would keep pop as fresh and bouncy as the day that we met him.  Lucky for us, we discovered the treatment relatively early on, and it's proven to be supremely effective.  You can see the results for yourself.  People say to my sister and I all the time, "Is that you're dad or a young Justin Bieber?"  Then they are told to stop leaning on the counter.

We decided to treat him much as we would treat freshly picked garden chives.  Because what do freshly picked garden chives and fathers have in common?

Dad isn't keeping?  Wrap him in a moist cloth each night and put him in a temperate spot in the ice box.  You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pete, my neigbor

Did I tell you about Pete?  That guy who gave me a ride from Michigan to New York?

Turns out, he's my neighbor.

I was on my way to a wine store to pick up a bottle for a dinner, walking down streets that I hadn't explored.  Not ten minutes after I left my home, I hear my name called.  I turned around, and hallelujah.  It was Pete, barefoot in front of his open apartment door, shouting and waving and smiling at me.  He was practicing guitar in his living room and saw me walking.  He invited me inside.

Pete looked scruffy compared to the clean-shaven driving face he once had.  He told me why he had a beard while he gave me a quick tour of his abode.  He was avoiding fluorine, hadn't showered in forty-seven days or something, only drank filtered water.  He said that he feels great because of it.  He believed that he was forming more articulate sentences and making better music.  That's so good.  He didn't smell all that great, but you're running the risk. 

Peter.  I'm happy to have a neighbor.  I didn't stay long because I had to get to that dinner.  Stop by anytime, he said.  We said goodbye, and before I opened the door Pete was strumming his guitar.  I turned to close the door, and I saw him strumming, smiling and looking at me like he really had something going with those strings and only he and I knew it.  I left him strumming and swaying and bouncing, getting stinky with that guitar. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Grown Up Choices

Yesterday, the chef told me that my hat was dirty.  He said that I needed to bleach it.

I guess the hat thing is news.  Once the chefs realize that a cook is going to stick around for a while and not quit after the first few days, the cook is presented a white beret.  It looks ridiculous, but it fits better than the paper hats.  The cooks upstairs wear the tall hats.

My hat was dirty.  This presents a challenge in that I don't own bleach, and I've never bleached an article of clothing.  After I bought some bleach today, I realized that I didn't have any containers to hold it and my hat.  The only thing that I had that could serve the purpose was a plastic ice cream container.  I bought the ice cream when I bought the bleach.  The next challenge was that the container was filled with ice cream.  I did the sensible thing.

Now, my hat is soaking in bleach.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meat Station

I'm shocked by how much toilet paper girls go through.  I know that's a thing.  I'm not really complaining.  Just let it be known: shocked.  I walk into the bathroom, take an inventory of my surroundings, and that's followed, nearly everyday, by my use of expletives.  I want to see statistics, read some studies, talk to academics.

Looks like I'm training on the Meat Station this week.  Soon I'll be fondling those prosciutto wrapped pork chops and dancing with the beef tenderloin.  They want me to cook meat half the week and fish the other half, and that sounds nice.

The last meat guy moved up.  Sensitive subject.  Maybe we'll talk about it later, or maybe we won't talk about it until I'm tenured.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Make it to Bliss

Stuie came to visit last week.  I was working when he arrived.  He couldn't get the keys to my apartment, so he hung out at local restaurants for four hours until I was off.  I think he told me that he ate a philly cheesesteak, two tacos, a slice of pizza, and a cinnabun.  I saw him at one in the morning walking towards me with his rolly bag.  That guy...

We got back to the apartment, cracked open a chocolate milk, and talked news and logistics for the days to come.  How's your sister?  How's law school?  You look thinner.  What have you been cooking?  Do you need me to shave your head while I'm here?  What do you think Tom Izzo is doing?  Where'd you get that chocolate milk?  My, my, those are nice shoes you have.  Where do you think we should get pizza?  How do you feel about this New York air?  And so on.

One night, Stuie's friends Nick and Liz took us around the East Village.  I almost didn't make it.  Stuie and Nick and Liz were already out at drinking drunk punch and phones were dying and people were getting tired and I was in the subway.  But I found one of those ghost trains when I was off work that took me right to my destination and screwed all the other passengers.

I boarded the train.  I thought it was a D, but the dude said over the intercom, "This is the G express train to wherever Rob wants to go"  So we went.

We rendezvoused at the drunk punch bar.  I drank a glass, then we were off to this Japenese speak-easy with a detour to a shitty pizza place.  The pizza was excellent.  The bar was closing when we arrived.  They let us have a quick drink.  I ordered a Get-er-done or something like that.  They brought me the glass upside down over some smoking incense.  They flipped it over and poured my drink tableside.  I was into it.

More drinks at a sake bar.  More drinks at a lesbian dive bar.  More pizza at an imitation Ray's pizza.  And we were home at 7am. 

I've been thinking about what the hell this blog is about these days.  It used to have such a defined purpose with a beginning and an end, you know:  Discover America.  Friendship.  Make it to Bliss.  Often, it seems a bit self-indulgent to continue with the blogging when the conflict -- make it to Bliss -- has been resolved.

But Stuie comes to visit, and I think, Man, this is good.  People should know.  And I'm hit with all these Thoreauvian notions with the universality and infinity of "Discover America. Friendship. Make it to Bliss."  And suddenly there are so many things that I feel you should know.  And so many things that I should know.  And so much more chocolate milk to drink and frozen chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick to eat.  And we'll always have that conflict with making it to Bliss.  And sometimes we'll make it.  And sometimes, you'll see, that we won't. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fish Station

I cook the fish.  I've been running the fish station by myself for a week now.

Service is from 5:30 to 11.  We have two pushes with about half an hour in between for me to refill my oils, drink some water, wipe everything down again, and eat a cookie from pastry.

This place, Nougatine, is good for me.  I have to be on point.  If my apron gets dirty, I have to change it.  If my towel gets dirty, I need a new one.  I get two towels a day.  Metal things in the kitchen have to shine.  Food goes into the family meal if it's over two days old.  Containers need to be plastic wrapped a certain way.  Little things to get down.  It's been easy, though, because the sous chefs remind me if I forget something.

If I'm a little too cavalier with the salt, one of the sous chefs likes to say, "Rob, wipe the pass.  It looks like my coffee table."  I like working with him the most because he yells the most.  If somebody tries to put out bad food, he rides them.  He says, "Paul.  I showed you how to do this yesterday.  You want me to show you again today?  I'm not you're mother Paul.  I'm not going to do you're job for you.  Do you want to work here Paul?  Yeah?  You have to do you're job then."

He gave me the "Do I look like you're mother" once.  He said, "Where are the mashed potatoes? Don't tell me you don't have any warm mashed potatoes."  And I said, "No, no.  I have them right here Chef."  I smiled and handed him the mashed potatoes.  I felt pretty confident that he would says something like, "Oh good, you're not worthless," but, that's when he hit me with it.  And I wasn't so sure he didn't look like my mother at that moment.  Sometimes, Mama Guimond is really concerned with the mashed potato situation.

If things are going well, this chef yells things like, "The foods been looking pretty good today.  And you guys better keep it that way.  Otherwise, I'm going to yell."  He's a gem. 

The other day, I was finished, and I asked if I could go.  He said, "Did you clean the fish walk-in."  I said, "Yes."  He said, "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?"  I said, "No... er.. yes?  What are you trying to ask me here Chef?"  He said, "You can go, but ask Chef David if he needs help with anything first."  Sometimes, they just try to get in your head.  It's like boot camp.

Since I've started, two people have been moved up to Jean Georges, the dude that trained me and the dude that works meat.  I gotta get this red snapper technique down to get moved up, but it'll happen.  I'm cleaner than the meat guy, and I'll be just as fast in a week or two.

I'd like to be moved up, but I'm in no hurry because I have a lot to learn at Nougatine.  We serve proscuitto-wrapped pork chops, and foie gras brulee.  I haven't even cooked those, yet.  My goal is two months.  That will give me enough time to learn all the names of the pastry cooks. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Moving In

I live in Brooklyn now.  I got a job and a place to sleep.  Easy.

The kitchen is furnished with a fancy pepper grinder, a flask, and a cookie cutter shaped like the upper peninsula.  I might pick up a muffin pan today if I see one that tickles my fancy.  I have the day off, so I'm going to JB Prince.  I guess it's a kitchen supply store with all good things.  I need some tweezers.

I live with Diana and a cat.  I've forgotten the cat's name, but I'm going to call it Pololo until he corrects me.

I cook on the JV team at a place called Nougatine.  When I make Varsity, I'll cook at Jean Georges.  The prep areas are the same for the two restaurants.  Jean Georges line is a floor above Nougatine's line.  When I was hired they said, "Every day is a competition.  The chefs are watching you all the time.  If you're the cleanest, fastest, and best cook down here, you'll be moved up as soon as there's an opening."  So that sets the scene for my work environment in the months to come.  I don't think that part will be too stressful, though.  I've experienced similar circumstances.  My biggest problem is trying to keep my tiny, sailboat-shaped, paper hat in place on my huge noggin without ripping the paper. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

New Adventure

I drove to Brooklyn last night.  I found the ride on craigslist for fifty bucks.  Pete drove.  Greg went, too.  We were supposed to be accompanied by a puppy.  Pete backed out of that because he thought it was a scam.  I would have liked a puppy on board.  I would have put it in my pocket and taught it facts about Michigan.  State bird.  State tree.  State rock.

Pete and Greg were alright dudes.  We giggled.  Once, we hadn't spoken for a few hours or something.  So Greg asked me if I was sleeping.  I said no.  He said that we should talk so that things wouldn't be so fucking boring.  That was thoughtful.

I won't tell you anything too personal about Pete and Greg, just yet, because we might become friends.... just that Pete likes to pee into his hands in the shower and splash it into his face.  He likes how it feels.

You ever hear that AM radio show Coast to Coast?  I haven't either because I was sleeping, but Pete likes to drive to New York through the night so that he can listen to the show.  1 am to 4 am.  Pete might have missed most of it this trip, too.  He had to stop twice so that he could sleep.  I didn't mind the stopping because I was sleeping.  Greg said the show wasn't very good because they talked about corn or something. 

I've been sitting in this coffee shop since 9 this morning waiting for my friend to get home from work at 7.  I got the shakes. I'm nervous about Wednesday, and I've been drinking so many coffees so that they don't kick me out.  The Tin Cup Cafe.  I was worried the owner wouldn't let me use the restroom because I guess that's a thing in New York.  But I pooped here.  I charmed her with my croissant purchase.

Tomorrow I gotta buy a chef's coat, a sports coat, and some pants.  I might look into the chocolate milk situation, too.