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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Silence Is Golden

    Today was one of those days where everyone was moving kinda haphazardly. Its the first day on a new station, we have a new sous chef for the class, and we just came off our best day in K-16. Chef McCue runs his K-16 kitchen like a brigade system (how most kitchens in the real world run) in that each team is responsible for one area of cooking. Every station has a fancy name but basically one team is responsible for all grill items, one station is responsible for all sauces, one for all sauteed items, and so on and so forth. A brigade is a highly effective system if everyone knows what they're doing, the problem is, however, you have to rely on your classmates a lot more than any other class we have had here. Allow me to explain. Say your team is plating the grilled chicken Cesar salad today. Your chicken will be grilled by the grill team, and your salad will be prepped by Garde Manger. You have no control over how well the grill team grills your chicken so you have to trust that they do it right. Well every 2-3 days the teams rotate to a new station so everyone gets a grasp of each station. Days on new stations tend to be a little more chaotic than usual since everyone is doing something new. After a day or 2 on a station you can iron out the wrinkles and everything runs a bit smoother. 

    Today was one of those days on a new station. I switched from Tournot (a fill in for any station that is in the weeds, and overall assistant to the sous chef) to grill and now am responsible for grilling off the burgers for service..all 100+ of them. They sell like crazy. Its not a difficult station by any means but nonetheless you get tripped up by the uncertainties of a new station. As I previously mentioned, our class just came off our best day in K-16 so the bar was set high to repeat our success. We as a class have had partially great days in that some days we will have a great prep day but our service will be lacking, other days we will have a killer service because we got behind on our prep, and other days we did a tremendous job on breakdown/post service clean up; but we were longing for that complete day. Well yesterday was that day. From prep to cleanup we were on the ball. Chef didn't have to yell or interfere with was kinda weird. I even mentioned in my game plan for yesterday that our class was poised for a good day an that there are 4 quarters in a game not 3 (followed by an inspiration quote from Michael Jordan as icing on the cake). Our Chef has told us throughout the course of the class that we are a great class, and that we can cook our hearts out. He goes on to explain that that's our downfall as well. We can cook really well and it gets to our heads at times, making us cocky, and at times...lethargic. We had a somewhat easy menu today, communicated extremely well in our class meeting the night before and were prepared to follow up our great day with yet another great day. If you watch sports you know full well that it is difficult to repeat as champions. Even great teams who won the year before unravel and fall apart the year after. Sometimes things just come together and fall into place the right way. Luck plays a part in your success whether you think so or not, so it can be next to impossible to try and replicate past success in the same fashion. Only the best teams of all time can go back to back...

    Well today things got a little sloppy and Chef McCue was visually displeased. We reverted back to our lazy tendencies and it was a wild ride to service. After class (we do a daily wrap up to see how the day went overall) we hashed out some of the daily problems, discussed what we did well and what went wrong. At one point someone from the class voiced their opinion that our new sous chef, Zeth (we switch sous chefs every few days to mix it up...chef's idea not ours) needed to be more vocal in the kitchen because it was difficult to here him speak sometimes. "You know what your problem is?", Chef asked the class during our post service wrap up. "You guys talk too much. There is too much side chatter going on. Tomorrow the only voice I want to hear in the kitchen is that of my sous chef. We are going to have a 'silent service' tomorrow so I want to hear absolutely no talking from any person except Zeth. You all better know what you are doing because you are not allowed to communicate with one another..." A bomb was dropped...

    We are a really responsive team in that whatever mistakes we make the day before we are quick to fix, but the way we do that is by communicating effectively with one another. Now we are not allowed to speak what so ever. Chef McCue went on to explain that this will be a wake up call for some of us, and that those who have been slipping through the cracks will be exposed. He's right. Now most people would think that chef is just being a dick but he does this because he knows we are a good class (he has told us many times) and is trying to push us back to the level of greatness we all know we are capable of.

1 comment:

  1. Gotta love Entourage. I miss it already. ~ M