Sunday, February 01, 2009

Learn something new every day

pre-oven beef wellingtons
Beef Wellingtons before going in the oven at my sister's house for Christmas dinner. Thanks, Mister Ramsay!

How do you quantify what you've learned? Recently I've been asking myself this question in regard to my work, in an effort to get better and figure out how best to improve my skills, technique, work habits and efficiency. I can be a bit of an overthinker sometimes, and consequently I'll find myself in an existential state of mind where I'm overly conscious of exactly what I'm doing and exactly how it's helping me. It's as if I'm mentally filing away a thought or an experience in the proper file cabinet.

This is, of course, pretty silly. It occurred to me today that over the course of the past ten months or so, the most important things I've learned can't really be boiled down to bullet points. I've garnered so much over my time at school and especially at my restaurant that the things I've learned have much more to do with who I am as a person rather than what I can recite off the top of my head.

Still, there are quantifiable lessons learned on a daily basis in this line of work, as things change so quickly and there's so much that happens in a single day--a single hour, or single minute even. That said, it then occurred to me that it might be fun to keep a running tab of things I've learned in the kitchen. I'm going to try and do this every week.

So without further ado, here are five things I learned this week at work:

1. I can never know enough about my station. Or rather, I can always know better what I have and what I need.

2. "Spoon" in Spanish is "cuchara". My Spanish is truly, embarrassingly pathetic, but hey, I'm trying.

3. I was having difficulty keeping the firm-peak Chantilly from melting on the ice cream scoop until I started putting a deli cup of ice water on the pastry station. Dipping the scoop in the water, tapping it dry and then scooping the cream works like a charm.

4. Filling fresh ravioli with bread pudding and deep frying it sounds way more awesome than it tastes.

5. Do not ask servers to pull fryer baskets. Things will inevitably end up on the floor and fire times will double. (Totally my fault, should have never asked in the first place. Love ya, E!)

Wow, coming up with five things was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I'm thinking this weekly list might be a good practice.

P.s. - Richie, aka Line Cook 415 hits the nail on the head again with his post, You're Missing Out. God, he's a killer writer, and sometimes I swear it's like he's reading my mind...


Boogie Man Montoya said...

As a writer/food weirdo who has followed Line Cook 415 for a long span of time, I have to tell you that if given the choice, I'd rather read what you have to say.

That said, he does hit the nail on the head quite a bit.

Ingrid said...

Wow. That could be the nicest thing a stranger has ever said to me about my writing. Thank you!