Sunday, February 14, 2010

Feelings of Failure

Today was a difficult one for me, to say the least.  Coming out of the Winterlicious craziness and into the new Valentine's menu seemed to be little too much for me to handle.  I wish it wasn't.

I walked into the kitchen this morning ready for a full day.  I knew it was going to be tough but I didn't anticipate how tough it would really be nor how I would react to the challenge.  I looked around and oh shit.  I was screwed.  On a regular Sunday we are only open for brunch service.  Today, due to the Valentine's Day holiday we were also open for dinner service.  I was scheduled alone.  I looked at the desserts left over from last evening and there was barely anything left for the exception of the million and one parfaits that we made.  Granted, brunch pastries were ordered however, they still needed to be plated and beautified. (ok, I needed to beautify them because that's the way I roll.)  I needed to make a million goats milk cheesecakes with a lack of goats milk cheese and cream cheese.  I felt a slight panic then I told myself, "Don't worry Sam, shit happens.  If you don't finish, then you don't finish.  Who cares?  Nobody."  Not my normal train of thought but it was what it was.  I was overly overwhelmed.

Who cares?  The kitchen was uncomfortably busy that day.  It seemed like almost every cook on payroll was scheduled to cover brunch and then dinner.  Ever cook for the exception of my pastry side kick.  There was of course, a need to keep labour costs low.  While reducing strawberry jus I burned my arm on a scorching hot pan handle.  Oweeee.  Oh well.  Another one to add to my collection.  With no room to move I attempted to carry on with my day.

Really, who cares?  "How's it going Sam?"  "Uhhh...ummmm...I'm screwed Chef B.  I'm fucked for service this evening."  "Where's your mis en place list?" "Didn't make one today."  "What?"  "I'm sorry chef, I normally do but...."  (Seriously, I always make a list and it is almost always done the night before. Last night was a 12 hour day so I didn't.  When I walked into this morning's fiasco and my who cares attidude, I didn't do it.  Bad choice.)  Chef B had a disappointed look on his face, the look ate away at my 'who cares' thoughts.  I hate to disappoint Chef B.  I hate to disappoint myself because really? Who cares? I do.  I always care.  Damn it! I wish I didn't always care but I always do.  So there I went, scrambling like a banshee trying to do what needed to be done.  I love some of the guys I work with.  When push comes to shove, they help to dig you out of your grave.  I received help, lots of it. Thanks boys! 

My head was spinning.  By this time I had made the cheese cake batter shoved it in the oven and was working on garnishes.  Dinner service had started.  I was still sinking.  The cheese cakes had to cook, then set, then be unmolded, then plated.  Panic once again set in.  "Are they going to be done Sam?"  "Uhh...ummm...ummm?"  "So, realistically, how much time do you need?"  "Uhh...ummm...ummm?"  "I need to tell Chef B."  (Oh fuck.)  "What did Chef B say?"  "He's not happy, he's pissed." "Uhh...ummm...ummm?"

I pulled out my cheese cakes from the oven.  (I felt like I should have left them in there and ran away.)  They were slightly overcooked.  Well, overcooked enough that I was ashamed and felt like someone punched me in the gut. What happened? What did I do wrong? In my hustle and bustle banshee-like frenzy I forgot to cover them.  On the plus side, they would set a lot quicker and they were still edible.  There are moments in life when I hate myself.  This was one of them.  I hate failure.  I hate it.  It eats away at me.  Slowly and painfully.  As the cheese cakes were setting I helped plate the existing dessert orders.  They were beautiful.  this made me feel a little better.  I checked on my ugly cheese cakes and they were setting.  I started to unmold some of them.  They looked alright.  They were tasty but I didn't like the texture.  They would have to do. 

I walked up to Chef B.  "Uhmm hi Chef B.  I think we'll be ok for desserts tonight."  "I knew we would be Sam."  "Really chef?"  "Yup!"  "The cheese cakes are set but they are slightly overcooked."  "I'm sure they're fine."

Sigh.  Fourteen hours had passed since I walked into the kitchen this morning.  I was feeling faint.  My diet of the day consisted of two poached eggs and a spoonful of fried potatos about ten hours earlier.  I was starving.  As I continued to help plate desserts, the guys on the line made me dinner.  I love them.  It was delicious.  I felt slightly better.  Food has that effect on me.

I guess I could have left earlier but I didn't feel right leaving if I was leaving them to deal with unset cheese cakes.  I had to be sure that they were not going to be screwed due to my mistakes.  In the end, it was alight.  Not wonderful, but alright.

So, who cares? I do.

Morals of today's blog:
  • Make your mis en place list, even if you are pretending not to care
  • Don't pretend to not care if you really do
  • When in panic mode, remain human and fight away any banshee-like behaviour
  • Cover your damn cheese cakes
  • Eat, it makes things better even when it's not
  • I should stop being so hard on myself
  • Failure sucks but it happens to the best of us

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