My Creations, Places I like

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Ides of March

"Oh God! Why did it have to be daggers!?!?"

    Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! I am hesitant to even discuss the things I am about to discuss in fear it will bring me more bad luck; but what the hell, I make my own luck *flips coin*. I guess that reference to Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight was a bad call because if your the one person on the planet who didn't see that movie this is what happens to him later...

    Poor Harvey. At least he gets to become a badass evil doer in the end, right? C'mon everyone has fantasized about being a sweet bad guy (or girl) at some point in their life. The good guys always win but I think we can all agree that the bad guys are just way cooler. Was batman even in this movie? Oh that's right, he was living in the shadow of the Joker the entire time. There is a kid named Anthony who works with me at Sperry's and whenever he screws things up we call him "Tony Bologna", as in "I wonder who is going to show up for work today. 'Tony A-team' or 'Tony Bologna'". Even Lee, our newest Saute Chef has his own version. When Bologna cleans oysters and clams he always leaves the shell fragments in the sink on the line so Lee has started calling Anthony "Barnacle Bill"--a nickname that to this day I cannot say out loud without laughing. I'm even laughing right now as I type this. The point I am trying to make here is that evil doers are not just found in the movies, they're all around us. I myself have an evil alter ago at work you all are probably unaware of. One day I left something out on Greg's prep table and he reminded me of it later. We had a humorous discussion about me needing an evil alter ego similar to Tony Bologna. It was through this discussion that "Petey Prosciutto" was born. Whenever I leave a pot of water on for too long or forget to do something I said I would do (which is rarer than blue Zebras) "Petey Prosciutto" comes out. I even have a voice that accompanies too (why wouldn't I, right?). Its the "Myeah ya see" wiseguy voice as in "Listen up BUCKO and listen good. You must think you're the cats meow around here, but there's a new sheriff in town ya see? Myeah!" We like to have fun. When you work in the same place for 60 hours a week you might as well enjoy yourself, right?

    Now lets return to our regular scheduled program shall we? The other day we needed to make a giant batch of Cesar dressing for our station. A cornucopia of Cesar dressing if you will. Yes a cornucopia. Since its track season everything that has a stable shelf life gets scaled up to infinity. I go to grab the lemon juice from the cooler and realize that there is none. That's ok, I know the hot side has some in their cooler I'll just borrow theirs. Nope they don't have any either. "Your gonna have to juice lemons by hand" I hear from the dessert station. *Record skips off the track* *jogs to dessert station* "did you say by hand?" I mutter to Greg. "Yeah, why how much do you need?", he asks.  *looks at ceiling* *does calculations in head* "four cups?" "Oh wow your gonna need probably 40 lemons for that. You can borrow my reamer only if you promise to wash it and personally deliver it to me when you're done." "Or you'll 'ream' me out, right??" This is the type of relationship Greg and I have. I mean seriously. One day I asked him if our chocolate lava cake was false advertising because the center of the cake doesn't ooze out like lava. His response? "Well that is why we smother it with chocolate ganache" For any normal individual that would be enough; but for me, its never enough. "So then shouldn't it be called a chocolate magma cake?" I ask with a shit eating grin on my face. "No because lava and magma are the same thing" he responds, equally engaged in the nonsensical conversation as I am. "Let the answerer of all answers get to the bottom of this", I say as I scroll through the internet on my phone. "AHA! magma is molten rock that exists inside a volcano in magma chambers. When the volcano erupts magma spews out in the form of lava" Let it be known from this day forward that Sperry's chocolate lava cake is actually a chocolate lava magma cake. This is groundbreaking science at its core (pun not intended...ok pun intended). Pete: 1 Greg: 0

    Lets fast forward. I just left the cooler with Greg's rough estimate of 40 lemons and began juicing them one by stinking one. I juice all 40 lemons through a chinois (or "fine mesh sieve" if you're a jabroni), before pouring the juice into a measuring cup. I bend down to read the measurement, and say "Goddamnit" before dropping the chinois on the table and going to grab the remaining ingredients. When I return Chef Michael, who was prepping next to me the whole time, says: "what was that all about just then?" "There was no lemon juice in house so I had to juice all these lemons by hand for the Cesar dressing" "Yeah?", he says looking confused. "Well I needed four cups, and Greg thought it would take me about 40 lemons to get that much juice...guess how many it took?" Chef Michael now smiling, "I'm guessing 40." I nod my head and we both look over at Greg who was displaying a "what?" type face. I guess when you're working with ingredients all day that if altered a tenth of a gram they can drastically affect your finished product you tend to have a good eye for things. Pete: 1 Greg: 1 (Greg also has an alter ego, but its not an evil doer alter ego. During Sunday brunch one day Greg cooked up the most delicious batch of glazed doughnuts I've ever tasted, and I HATE doughnuts. I made the executive decision to call him "Guru Greg" on Sundays...but that's for another post)

    I finished mixing the Cesar together with a mega immersion blender (or "stick blender"; again, if you're a jabroni), and was making my way to the cooler carrying the five gallons of dressing. I was almost to the cooler door when this happened:

     My fingers must've been oily from blending the dressing together because the giant Lexan of Cesar slipped right out of my hands and crashed to the floor. Close to five gallons of Cesar dressing and 40 hand juiced lemons down the drain. I had effectively created my own BP oil spill right outside the walk-in cooler...Quickly and quietly I grabbed one of the dishwashers to help with the spill (it was far to big of a mess to mop up so the shop vac was required) hoping no one else would come back and notice. "Don't let Chef Michael see this. We just cleaned the floor earlier today", the dishwasher explained. Sure enough within seconds Spaniard came waltzing by. "Whad you do!?!?" Chef Spain screamed, laughing hysterically. "SHHH! I spilled the Cesar dressing. Don't let anyone else see, ok?" "You got it, I won't tell a soul", he said to me as he walked away. Moments later people were running back to see what I did. "That little bitch!", I mutter to myself before Chef Michael arrived on the scene. He took one look at the spill, nodded his head, and walked away.

    After the mess was eradicated I walked over to the hot side and gave Chef Michael the damage results. Thankfully I had the foresight to pour some of the Cesar dressing into quart containers before I made an oops, otherwise we would've been screwed for service. When I told him how much we lost he laughed and told me to not worry about it. I cannot tell you how vital it is to have a Sous Chef who isn't a dick. He could have tore me a new asshole for my accident, and he would have been completely in the right. But he didn't, and my respect for him went up even higher than it was before.

    When I returned to my station, Chef Mark, my station partner, asked me what happened. I just looked at him and replied: "The Ides of March is what happened." He laughed and we set up our station. Later that night, whenever something went wrong Mark would shake his head and say to himself, "The Ides of March". I know what you're thinking. You're probably thinking, "doesn't he know its August?" Well I was making a reference to Julius Cesar from Shakespeare's play (who's name has nothing to do with Cesar dressing) where he was warned to "beware the Ides of March". I blame this whole mess on the soothsayers. Damn soothsayers...

    Even tonight, days after my great oil spill I noticed a sizzle plate lying on the ground next to the dessert station. Being the good employee that I am, I reached down to pick it up. "YIKES!!" I cry out. The sizzle plate must have been in the oven because it was scorching hot. When I returned to the salad station Mark asked me why I screamed. I replied to him: "God damn Ides of March". Towards the end of the night I found myself in the walk-in cooler shucking a dozen oysters for an order when all of a sudden I hear a crash from outside the cooler. I race out to see what happened only to find Mark bent over picking up a stack of sizzle plates that were scattered all over the floor. I asked Mark what happened and he stands up, looks at me and doesn't say a word. His mouth said nothing but his face said everything..."God damn Ides, man."

Side Note: Sorry Mom and Dad for all the foul language in this post (my Dad thinks its poor taste), but have you ever tried to watch Pulp Fiction on TV? "Snuff you!" I mean, come on already. You can't tell me you haven't watched a poorly edited movie on TV and weren't half hoping the editors slipped up and forgot to edit out one of the curse words...Although I will say Samuel L Jackson's line in the edited version of Snakes on a plane may be the funniest edited line in the history of movies. With a little TV magic, "I'm sick of these mother fuckin' snakes on this mother fuckin' plane!" suddenly becomes "I'm sick of these monkey fightin' snakes on this Monday to Friday plane!" I kid you not. But don't take it from me, just ask Samuel L Jackson himself...

    Its so epic that if you type "Snakes on a Plane" into YouTube, the 3rd search suggestion is "Snakes on a Plane TV edit". Its the type of perfection that this world needs right now. I don't wanna toot my own horn or anything but this post is awesome. I hope you have half as much fun reading it as I did writing it. Cheers.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Countdown

"Let the games begin!"
    Every July our beautiful town of Saratoga Springs becomes inundated with wealthy elite, news teams, LA-type traffic, and hoards of out of towners. I am talking about the racing season that takes place here every summer. For most, the racing season is a blessing. Local shops and businesses flourish, and the night life can only be described as vivacious. For those of us who work in the service industry the racing season is anything but. These six weeks mean longer days, later nights, and a whole lot more stress. Not to mention you have to move fast. No fast is too slow, you have to move at ludicrous speed...

    After the first weekend of pulling in record numbers (close to 500 customers both Friday and Saturday) Chef Michael approaches me during some down time for a little chat. "How hungry are you?", he asks me straight-faced. "I'm not really that hungry Chef, I just ate a popover a little while ago". Realizing what I just said he begins to laugh. "I don't mean literally hungry, I mean how hungry are you?" Me now realizing what he is asking I begin to laugh myself. "Oh OH, I see what your saying. I'm very hungry Chef. I will do whatever is needed" I say to him, half hoping he wasn't about to drop something insane in my lap. "Ok well you saw how this first weekend went. We did record business and its only been two days. I need some people to start pulling six days a week around here, and I thought I would see if your up to it." I was about to give my answer but he continued. "Now I'm not pressuring you to say yes just so you know. I am going to have this same talk with Todd, Jill and the rest of the kitchen staff but I thought I would bring this to you first." Before he could finish I interjected. "I'll take it." His facial expression slightly changed and he asked me if I was up to it. "Don't even bother asking the others, I want it." "You're sure?" "Yes I'm positive" "You're sure you wont hate me or resent this place or get burnt out?" I can see he wanted some reassurance due to my quick response so I say to him, "Chef I'm 23, I'm single, I don't have a family or a child to look after, and I live with my parents. I knew when I started along this path that there would have to be sacrifices. I am willing and able to do whatever it is that is asked of me. Now give me the six days." Fully convinced he nodded his head and walked away...

    Later that night Chef Michael had me gather the entire kitchen staff around the huge silver prep table on the cold side of the kitchen. Everyone was wondering what he was about to say before he broke the silence. "You all saw what our first weekend of track season was like. It was crazy, and its only going to get worse here on out. 40 days. Give me your all for 40 days, that's all I ask. We are entering the busiest time for the restaurant and I need all of you to focus. Now that doesn't mean we still can't have fun, but you have to be willing to give it your all. You shouldn't be thinking of making dressings in quart batches anymore; you should be thinking in gallons. That's how busy we are going to be now. Sperry's is right up there with the best restaurants in town. If you put your head down and plug away for 40 days we will be the best. That's all I have to say" Everyone was about to go back to their separate projects until I said to them "wait, no hands in? No 'Go team go!' No team break??" Chef Michael rolls is eyes before telling everyone to put a hand in. "remember, its just 40 days and then we can relax. Sperry's on the count of 3. 1...2....3...SPERRY'S!!!" Laughs echo the room and everyone returns to their projects with a new sense of determination. 

    We were just two weeks in and I could already sense the low morale and frustration. Everyone was logging hours well into overtime and it was starting to show. People were cranky, and their eyes were glossy and bloodshot from the lack of sleep and late nights. I had to do something to bring the spirits back up. Around that time I had just downloaded a countdown app on my new Iphone and thought what better way to countdown the misery that is track season. I entered September third (the last day of the track) into the app and took a picture in the walk-in cooler for the apps background.
    The next day I made my way down into the kitchen after clocking in and gave my usual greeting to the kitchen staff. "CHEFS!!!! How are we this fine afternoon?" "Peter fucking Hahm. How are you?" Chef Michael says from the corner of the kitchen. We talk briefly about nonsense, upcoming events, the week, and the like. Before I made my way into the changing room I show him the new countdown I created the day before. Immediately his eyes widen and gaze at the seconds ticking away on the screen. "This is AMAZING!" He blurts out before laughing hysterically. "Go show that to Spaniard". I walk to the other side of the line and show Mike Spain (our grill Chef) the app. Displaying the same child-like bewilderment, Spaniard looks up to see a huge grin on my face. He too begins to laugh hysterically. At that point Chef Lee and the others wanted to know what it was on my phone that was causing all the commotion. One by one I make the rounds, showing everyone in the kitchen our new form of inspiration. The rest is history.

     I had no idea that the countdown to the end of the track juxtaposed against my middle finger would be the corner stone for getting the restaurant through difficult times but it seems to be working. Almost everyday at least one person comes up to me demanding to "see it". They don't even need to say what "it" is, I already know. A quick scroll through the phone and the countdown ticks away.  Originally I made the countdown as a joke to get some laughs and get spirits up for the day, but it has become bigger than that. The countdown has become a symbol. A symbol that only gets better with time because it not only shows us how far we have come, but how close we are to the promise land.

    This app gives me a tremendous sense of pride because I am not just interested in the food, or how many reso's we have for the night; I am equally interested in people. When I spend close to 70 hours a week with the same people I naturally want to know more. I want to know what makes them tick, what makes them laugh, what keeps them going through hard times and good times. Maybe I'm thinking too deeply about a stupid Iphone app but this app is not just a countdown. Its a compass. A compass that helps us navigate through dark and stormy times. What began as a joke has transformed into a beacon of hope...

   In the movie Zombieland, the characters find themselves against all odds in a post-apocalyptic zombie land. Struggling to soldier on they must find ways to stay happy even when things seem bleak. Throughout the movie Woody Harrelson's character is searching for the perfect twinky. For him the twinky isn't just a sugary snack, its a symbol of longevity and survival in this dark and dismal new world. After numerous failed attempts in the end he finds what he is searching for, and in turn, finds peace. Amongst all the chaos, all the late nights, all the running around, you have to have something that keeps you going. Something that reminds you that when the chips are down you have to keep moving. The countdown is what keeps us going. Its the glue that holds our kitchen together. It's our twinky...

Rule # 32: Enjoy the little things

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Inside Man

 (The background music from the movie I am about to draw inspiration play it, don't be a jabroni)

Brace yourself. This post is EPIC!

"My name is Dalton Russell. Pay strict attention to what I say because I choose my words carefully and I never repeat myself. I've told you my name: that's the Who. The Where could most readily be described as a prison cell. But there's a vast difference between being stuck in a tiny cell and being in prison. The What is easy: recently I planned and set in motion events to execute the perfect bank robbery. That's also the When. As for the Why: beyond the obvious financial motivation, it's exceedingly simple... because I can. Which leaves us only with the How; and therein, as the Bard would tell us, lies the rub." 

    That was a quote from the opening scene of the movie Inside Man, where Clive Owen describes living in a "cell"; which SPOILER ALERT: turns out to be a cell he built during a bank robbery so he could change into street clothes and walk out of the bank days later with all the money looking like an average Joe. At some point during my 5 hour stint in the walk-in cooler I somehow got to thinking about that movie and couldn't help but notice the comparisons. This is my version...

 "My name is Peter Hahm. Pay strict attention to what I say because I'm tired and I don't want to repeat myself. I've told you my name: that's the Who. But its Peter if you forgot. The Where could most readily be described as Sperry's restaurant cooler. But there's a vast difference between working at Sperry's and being stuck in a cooler. The What is easy: recently I planned and set in motion events to suck 100 oysters and 100 clams for a private party. That's also the When. As for the Why: beyond the obvious weekly paycheck, it's exceedingly simple... because I was told to. Which leaves us only with the How; and therein, as Chef Michael would tell us, lies the raw bar"
     Its 5:18. My body is squeezed between shelves of of lobster and seaweed, and giant kegs of beer and boxes of ribeye steaks. My face is covered in oyster guts and tiny shell fragments because the fragile shell couldn't handle the blunt force of my dull oyster knife and exploded all over the place like Leonardo Dicaprio's head in The Departed. I am 20 oysters deep when Chef Miller comes in to tell me he wants the raw tower completed by 5:50. 80 more oysters, and another 100 clams shucked in the next half hour? That's cutting it close. Not to mention assembling it all with 100 cocktail shrimp onto a platter of ice covered by linen. There was no way I was going to make the deadline, but you don't simply tell the man, "Sorry Chef, I won't have it done in time for the party". No that would be certain suicide, so I just nod my head quietly and continue shucking. When he leaves I peak my head out of the cooler door and scream for Todd to come help me. Todd rushes in, sees where I am in the process and joins the shucking party...

    Usually when a lot of raw bar stuff is required for a party it is all pre-shucked well in advance so that whoever is working the raw bar that night will have ample time to focus on getting ready for the regular dinner rush. This entails pre-shucking oysters, stocking plates, refilling sauce, folding linens for sauce plates, etc. Seeing as how our prep list was chalk full of things we had to get done before that (grilling peaches, confiting watermelon, poaching lobster tails and shrimp cocktail, making large batches of cocktail sauce, wedge dressing, and cutting heads of romaine for Caesar name a few) coupled with the fact that I was not told I would be working the raw bar for the party and the dinner service until around 4, I was a tad behind schedule.

    Having Todd help shuck with me was a huge advantage because we were able to bang out 100 oysters in a matter of minutes. A quick check of my watch, and we are right where we need to be. Now its time to move onto the 100 clams...but where are they? My head is down, plugging away at the last few oysters when Todd utters something I hope I never have to hear again: "uhhhh....where are the clams?" I look up with billiard ball sized eyes and look at Todd. "...What?"

    "They have to be in here somewhere. Chef Michael said we got a shipment of clams in today", Todd says nervously. Immediately we both stop what we are doing and try to navigate around the sea of kegs and giant boxes, but to our horror and dismay there was no hotel pan of clams. "Get Chef Michael right away and ask him where they are, Chef wants them for the party in 10 minutes!!!" Todd exits the cooler for a while and I do the only thing I can think of in this moment of crisis: refill my squirt bottle with more cocktail sauce and await the holy shit storm that is about to rain down on me...

    There was no room in the cooler to assume the fetal position otherwise trust me, I would have. Todd comes rushing back in and tells me they shorted us on the delivery and no clams came in. "Were just finding this out now!?!?" I say before ushering him back out to see if we can sub more oysters or crab meat for the party that is going to jump start in a matter of minutes...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Eat, Play, Laugh Part II: No Man's Land

    By now you know I have an affinity for all things sequel; which is perfect because I have more eye-popping photos to share with you from my experiences at Sperry's...and I mean eye-popping.

    To the untrained eye one would be inclined to think that these lemons and limes are placed on the grill in neat little rows just too look extra fancy or what have you. The truth is they're strategically placed so they can easily be scooped off the grill without burning the shit out of your arm. Que the lights Jeffrey, its time for a demonstration...

Anyone smell burning flesh?

    When your grill is essentially a few metal grates resting only a few inches over freaking fire its a smart idea to keep items out of the middle; or as I like to call it: "no mans land". If that indeed was my hand in the middle of that grill suffice it to say that I would not be in any condition to operate a computer keyboard. If you have this much product going on the grill at one time its important to keep everything towards the sides so you can easily approach horizontally and use the length of the tongs to protect your hands from reaching over the gas-powered inferno.

The smarter decision
    You can see here, the proper technique is demonstrated (minus the plastic spatula, that thing would have melted by now...but hey its all that a Google image search could provide in a pinch). Even having a 3rd row is a tad ambitious because you are still encroaching towards "no man's land". I will be the first to admit however, that there are extenuating circumstances that force me to neglect the sweet science and load up the grill. After scooping up those first few rows of grilled peaches my fingernails undoubtedly feel like they're going to pop off like pogs...  

Lesson 76: "Stay away from 'no man's land!'"
 I don't really have much else to say for this post so let me just show you what a hundred dollar steak looks like...pardon me, one hundred and two dollars. This here people is Wagyu beef (pronounced Wag-goo). Its American-bread Kobe beef and it has more marbling than ancient Greece.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Little Boxes

                                                                    (Background music)

    This post goes out to Martinez, one of the nighttime dishwashers here at Sperry's. Martinez is a hardworking Latino who spends his afternoons dish washing at Max London's before coming to do the same for us in the evening. He arrives around 4 O'clock, makes is way through the kitchen, and says hello to everyone before changing and tackling the sea of dishes and cardboard boxes that have inevitably piled up before his arrival. Most of the time he walks by my station and gives a "Chupa!" shout out before walking to the back to change.

Quick side story: Every table at Sperry's gets a basket of popovers before dinner, which is our version of free bread (my dad is obsessed with these things). You bake them in cone-shaped tins with a little sprinkle of Gruyere cheese and they pop over in the oven; hense the name. Well one afternoon Martinez and I got to talking about the Chupacabra--a mythical creature akin to Bigfoot thought to inhabit parts of Mexico (If you want to know more I happily have provided the Wikipedia page dedicated to the chupacabra here: time a ticket for popovers prints at my station I have to shout "POPS!" and how many so that our popover runner knows how many to put in the oven before running them up to a table (yes we have a food runner who strictly runs popovers to all the tables). I know, where am I going with this? Later that day I noticed that every time a ticket for two pops came in and I shouted "TWO POPS!" Martinez shouted "CHUPA!" from the steamy dish pit. All the food runners and I were baffled by this until I noticed the connection. "TWO POPS!" sounds very similar to "chuPA!" aka the chupacabra when said out loud. Ever since then when a ticket for 2 pops rings in (which is often) runners can be seen in the kitchen yelling "chuPA!". Now when I see Martinez in the afternoon our conversation goes something like this:

Me: MARTINEZZZZ!! Como estas???
Martinez: Nada chico.
Me: mucho trabajo?
Martinez: si, si. Es Chupacabra!!
    Since Martinez only has a basic understanding of English, and I an even more basic understanding of Spanish, the chupacabra is a way for Martinez and I to communicate to each other that today is going to be a busy day.
"Today is going to suck...gringo!"

    Ok, back to what I was originally talking about...After the morning dishwashers depart to enjoy the rest of the day in freedom there is a gap of a few hours before Chris, Martinez, and Jarad (the new guy) come in to fulfill their evening duties. During this time boxes and dishes pile up almost to the ceiling leaving a huge mess for the evening dish washers to tackle right when they arrive.

     As you can see here things really pile up during the downtime between dish washer shifts. This is a photo I took of the back stairs completely barricaded like we are warding off a zombie invasion or something...

     I try to help Martinez out if I have time by breaking down boxes when I am done with them and washing a few dishes here and there before things get busy. Sometimes however, everyone is busy right from the get go, and there is just no time. Martinez looks like he has been around the block a few times so I know he can handle it.
    Its always important to take care of those who clean up after you, whether it be doing some dishes here and there, giving them a fat steak for dinner or from time to time staying an extra hour or two after work to help unload hoards of bus bins to make their lives a little easier. Washing dishes for a living is no joke, especially when we do anywhere from 200-500 covers a night (you can't even imagine how many dishes that is).
     There is an old adage in Football that the QB who treats his lineman the best is often the most protected QB during games. When Tom Brady won all those Superbowls he rewarded all his offensive lineman handsomely for making him look like a hero (and I mean sports cars handsomely). Brady didn't have to do that, but do you think he would have been so virtually untouchable during the Patriots' dynasty days had he not? The same goes for your dishwashers too. If its a wild Saturday night and I have an extra tuna tartar in the cooler or a ribeye comes back untouched you can bet your ass its going to the dishwashers first, no matter how hungry you are. I have found that when you go out of your way to help them out, then they will do the same should you find yourself traveling down shit creek without a paddle. So I have no problem sweating it out in the humid dish pit well after work with the dishwashers after everyone else in the building has gone home. Throw on a pair of gloves, grab a neglected bus bin and start digging. The bin will almost always be filled with uneaten food soaking in spilled water, beer, wine, liquor, and what have you. On occasion plates or glasses will be shattered requiring you to delicately pick out all the broken pieces so as to not cut/severely hurt any of the unsuspecting crew. Do this and your good deeds will not go unnoticed.

    Sadly not everyone in the industry (or even at Sperry's for that matter) understands this fundamental principle: treat those beneath you with the same care and respect that you would your head chef, or boss, or friend, or family member; not to expect anything in return, but because that's what being a responsible individual entails. I don't expect anything in return but if I find myself  in the weeds, desperately in need of sauce ramekins for the raw seafood bar, I can almost guarantee you that the next cycle to go through the dish washer will be a rack filled with porcelain ramekins. That's something no culinary school in the world is going to teach you. You just have to have the prowess to understand what is going on around you...

Eat, Play, Laugh Part I

    Rather than opening with the usual "your king has returned/sorry for the long hiatus" speech I always tend to give after some time away from my blog post, I thought it would be more appropriate to skip all that hoopla and jump right into it. For those of you who don't know, (which is most of you I presume) I have been working/doing my externship at Sperry's Restaurant in town for a while now, and I find that friends and family alike all want to know what it is exactly that I do there. Well, a lot of the time its difficult to describe what I do to those who don't live the restaurant life so let me just show you instead...

I took this picture one day while Greg, our pastry chef was making raspberry tarts. The tarts were cooling on a rack on his giant wooden prep table just begging for me to snag a photo. (I spent my night after work alone in my room, and in the dark coloring in the raspberries with a neat photo editing app I have on my phone). I donno what else to say here other than that if this picture isn't enough to draw you in then I should just give up now. But I am confident that it did so I'll keep going.

gorgeous heirloom tomatoes

     Your eyes have duped you. Believe it or not your not looking at pineapple here. No, what your looking at here is actually yellow watermelon. At the time I took this photo I had never seen yellow watermelon before let alone even heard of it. Here at Sperry's we cube the watermelon and confit it for our summer salad. Its a customer favorite but a hassle to make since it involves more steps than the other salads.
    During service you start to view the things you make as merely a system of steps. When there is a sea of tickets in your window its best to scan all the tickets and group everything together. For example, lets say there are ten tickets in the window, and there are summer salads on five of them. It would behoove you to make all five at once rather than making the one on a ticket and then another when you reach the next ticket and so on and so forth. That way you can systematically eliminate one item from all your tickets before moving to the next items. Its just faster that way...

the salad station setup
Shaved filet of beef, parmigiano reggiano, horseradish aioli, balsamic vinegar, truffle oil, arugula, fried capers

    I have a soft spot for our beef carpaccio because I still remember ordering it when my family and I first dined at Sperry's a few Easters back. It was right around the time I learned of my acceptance into the CIA so I will always associate this dish with my humble beginnings. Back then I was eating this and anticipating my next step in life. Now I am at that step, making this same dish for customers on a nightly basis. Its funny sometimes how things work out, ya know?

    Its 3:30 in the morning and I can feel my brain shutting off while I write this so look for the next few segments in the near future. Peace.