Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bloody Blood Oranges

Mmmm....Blood Oranges. I think I have at least one once a week while working in the kitchen. They are so vibrant in colour. I love it when you can see the marbling of orange and red and purple. It looks like someone stabbed a knife into it's juicy rind and cut the fruit's vein and it started bleeding - hence the name Blood Orange.

One of the desserts we serve at the restaurant is a lemon chiboust with blood orange segments. I was segmenting blood oranges for this. To segment oranges you need a really really sharp knife. I was using a sharp knife when a couple of my colleagues handed me what they thought were better knives to use. They were right. The boning knife was super sharp, nice and thin. It sliced that bitter skin off like a hot knife through butter. It wasted no pulp whatsoever. It definitely helped me work quicker and made my life easier. Well, up until the point when I used the knife to flick off a tiny piece of pith that was still stuck on the orange and as I flicked, the knife nicked my fingers and I started to bleed. Waaahhh :( Ok ok. It really was not that big of a deal as you can see in the picture. It is basically like a deep paper cut. As I went to get a bandage, one of the cooks was working by the first aid drawer. He helped me get the bandage and that stupid finger condom that would not stay on. As he was doing that, he showed me all his battle wounds. I swear, the cuts and burns he had were kind of scary.

Anyhow, I survived. Of course no blood contaminated any of the fruit that was going to the restaurant. I cleaned the knife and my workstation. Ate the blood orange that I was working on while I cut myself. And continued on like nothing happened. I only hope that I don't get any cuts worse than that. Owweee!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Today is Sunday, a beautiful one at that. I was just reflecting on some things I've learned either through experience or from what people have told me along the way. Thanks for the advice and tips, I've truly taken them to heart. Here's some of the things I've learned about working in the industry:
  • set up your work station so that you work fast and efficiently
  • work hard, fast and neat
  • always fold your rags neatly on the table
  • write down your mistakes and failures so that you learn from them
  • write down your successes so you remember how you did it correctly
  • stand up straight
  • don't waste
  • ask questions if you don't know
  • don't be shy - you must be assertive to work in this environment
  • speak up!
  • take care of your hands, they are your life
  • sometimes things don't always have to be perfect, sometimes it's part of it's charm
  • if there's an imperfection, I call it 'rustic'
  • help others
  • maintain consistency
  • practice, practice, practice
  • you don't really understand something until you have done it 100 times
  • don't over mix
  • after your shift, get your chef whites for your next shift ready so that you are prepared
  • put things back from where you found it
  • no guts, no glory
  • the days are long and the hours are never ending
  • network and do not burn your bridges
  • get out of the way
  • sacrifice
  • taste it
  • have fun, that's what it's all about
So that's just some of the things I've learned. I'll update the list along the way but for now I'm going to go and enjoy my Sunny Sunday.

ps: Here's a picture of the Pastry team I work with. They are all different characters and all very talented. I am lucky to work with them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

tossing my cookies

I love making cookies, don't get me wrong. It's just that I would like to do other things as well.

On occasion I make scones from start to finish. Making scones are a delicate process. I only get to make them sometimes.

It seemed like for the most part however cookies were the only thing I was doing....chocolate chunk cookies, oatmeal pecan cookies and ginger molasses cookies.....make, scoop, shape, freeze, bake, serve.....every weekend.....It's time consuming. The batches of cookie dough fit in a large bucket. I usually have a couple of buckets to do.

I know I need to pay my dues. It's part of the process - I get it. I'll do the cookies but please let me do other things too! A chef once told me, 'you don't really understand something until you've done it a hundred times.' I really like that thought. I think about it almost every time I am in the kitchen learning new things. I think about it a lot when I am making cookies. Now, does 100 times mean 100 buckets of cookie dough? I've made thousands of cookies at this point, so I'm gonna count the cookies and not the buckets or else I'm screwed for a while.

So I finally spoke to Chef. I was hesitant at first because I did not want to complain nor seem ungrateful for the lessons bestowed unto me however I decided to say something because I needed him to know that I wanted more out of this experience. I am here to learn and develop my skills, not to pass the time or just make some extra cash.

I finally had a moment alone with him and the conversation lasted about a minute. I asked. He acknowledged, explained, apologized and said he'd make things happen. I trust him. I'm ready :) I can't wait for my next shift!