American School Chef: The Year of the Girl

“Hey, how do you feel that your hands are getting smaller,” the friend asked, raising his hand in surprise. “But this is a bit like a girl’s hand. Will you take the nails in the next day?”

“Hmm…” I lowered my head and didn’t talk.

This is really the worst comment, it is more than 20 pounds more than being said to be fat. My hand eventually became the “soft hand of a baby” that American chef Anthony Boden reviewed in his own preface.

However, for a former chef and catering practitioner, it may not be a matter of pride. Those scars, cuts, and rubs will slowly fade away from the body as time goes by. I tried to pick up my sleeves and check my first scar, call, okay, still. Burns are really hard to heal.

But because of these physical imprints, I reminded me of every “behind you” in the kitchen when I sweated in the kitchen. (The rules of the American kitchen, standing behind people need warning slogans , anti-scald stab wounds), every white T that can’t be washed, every dish served…

I used to be a bloody girl who was a small head!

Culinary military school
Two years after I graduated from college, I embarked on the road to study abroad. Unlike most people studying abroad, I belonged to “downgrade” and went to the American Culinary Institute on the Hudson River in New York State to go to a “full-time” cooking.

The American Culinary Institute is the top culinary school in the United States and the top three in the world. It was once a professional cooking school set up to house a large number of veterans. But I became attached to it, simply because I saw this school in Food Lovers Companion. I was very interested in cooking when I was younger than my grandmother. I could have stayed in the editorial department of a life magazine after graduating from college. But because I can’t give up my love for cooking, I don’t want to know only the fur. Go to the United States to learn Western cooking.

Taking advantage of the Hudson River’s scent, the school’s main school building is quite a Hogwarts’s demeanor, and it has also appeared on the “Ghost Hunter” program, which is also a mystery for the campus.

Rumors of ghost stories, more than 44 courses in the kitchen classrooms, including the purchase of goods, whole meat, whole fish decomposition, cost calculation, operation open to the public and other restaurants. Strolling around the campus, the scent of the calf soup is floating around. There is a breakfast class at 3 in the morning, and when you get out of the bakery, you will disappear.

In the classroom on the other side, the students of the baking department had already passed through the middle of the night, waiting for the bread to “awake” (the last fermentation after plastic surgery) and then into the oven, so that it can be placed in the school before 7:00 in the morning. Open coffee shop.

Since all the students’ meals are more or less from other students, everyone can’t neglect the dishes they send out. No one wants to be said by other classmates: “This class can’t work, it’s slow and delicious.”

Our school is enrolled once every three weeks, which means that every three weeks the school’s dishes will have a reincarnation. Even in schools where “anything is delicious, there is always the secret of “better to eat”. For example, K5’s American cuisine is best in the first week, but to eat authentic Italian pizza, you still have to wait until the second week to get the K17 of the real stove oven; occasionally homesick, you can go to Chef Cheng’s K9, Mutton Authentic Chinese food; a bad day passed, and the beer of the senior class is waiting for you…

Because the teaching is extremely strict, the final joint graduation is usually not the original enrollment partner, and some teachers may also be driven by the age. Although a little sad, but when I left, I still smashed a leaf, the color, like the sunset on the Hudson River when I arrived at school on the first day.

In their view, only when they are full, their responsibilities are counted.

I love “big pot rice”
The staff meal has a warm English name: family meal. In an environment like a military restaurant, there is occasional arrogance between the frontcourt and the backcourt. But as long as everyone sits down and eats together, they will feel that the restaurant is actually a big family. No matter how different the brothers and sisters are, they can sit down and eat well, and everything can be turned into a jade.

Usually, chefs and restaurant owners attach great importance to employee meals. The chef’s urging is still impressive: “How is the employee’s meal today still not good?” “Before you eat and work!” And the chef himself usually just licks a few salads and continues to tell the menu for the next two days. . You will feel that the staff meal has been integrated into everyone’s blood. In their view, only when they are full, their responsibilities are counted. Everyone is a brother, and the brothers need to take care of them.

When you feel that you can’t hold it anymore, go to the wind room for a while, then come back and continue fighting.

Staff meals can be regular, such as porcelain plate silver fork, together slowly at the table, or just use a plastic container to hold a large bowl, squat in front of the wind room to enjoy 5 minutes of tranquility. Whether it is working for a few years, or just trying to “see school” for a few days, the staff table will always have a seat for you, just like the grandmother often mentioned at the feast at home, “is nothing more than a pair of chopsticks?” “. Whether you are catering from your own restaurant or ordering food from outside, as long as you work in the kitchen, you will not lose your ration.

I have enjoyed and served the dishes on the plate to give the guests a different kind of exquisite food. After only a few hours of busy work, I finally sat down with the staff of other restaurants when the guests were all exhausted. The first meal. I have eaten because of the wrong number of people, forgetting to count my share, everyone really “alms” the real “big pot”, but also chewed the Chicago hot dog after two in the morning.

When I left, my colleagues prepared a love breakfast.

The restaurant style of each restaurant is different, but the chef’s concern for the partners is the same. As an Asian, when you see a Spanish master with a high hat, you want to use a shovel to smash the gourd in the big shovel to “spec” the special fried rice of today’s staff. funny.

But calm down and think about it, when the combination of butter + soy sauce + mascarpone + Korean miso appears together, how can it be bad? Even if there is no country-wide “pan-Asian” cuisine, what about it? “The amount is too much, the taste is good” is the king of the staff meal.

During my internship at the Canlis restaurant in Seattle, it was the restaurant I had ever served to offer the most luxurious staff. When dining, all employees must come to the second floor, which is only used in private private areas. Sitting at the table with ironed tablecloths, a staff meal prepared by all the chefs in the restaurant.

All kinds of soft drinks are taken by yourself, and you can enjoy this 15-minute calm quietly. Everyone is there, there is no excuse for “work is not done.” According to Chef Ellsworth, who has been dedicated to Canlis for ten years, “If you can’t even get out for 15 minutes, then give you another 15 minutes, and you can’t finish your work.”

The contents of the employee’s meal are not fixed every day. At noon, the morning chefs will play their own, but in the evening, each stall must have 1 or 2 dishes. The cold dish stall is responsible for the salad, but the sauce flavor content needs to be different every day. The vegetables are served with vegetable side dishes and carbon water dishes, while the meat file is responsible for one or two protein-based staff dishes every day. The dessert stalls will not be idle, except for the daily fruit salad, the desserts will need to be updated every day.

Is such an extra-demand employee meal an extra burden for a chef who is afraid of being unable to guarantee the usual business?

On the contrary, the interest of the chefs is particularly high. On the day off, volunteers who come to the restaurant to make employee meals abound. BC Canlis, the owner of Canlis, once said to the chef: “Our staff must eat well! The cost of this is another!”

“kitchen” lasts forever
Whether it is in the school, “small fights”, or “real guns” in the official work, in the kitchen, I respect and fight alone can not win.

In the kitchen, the tattoos on the older Chef’s hands have a special meaning. If it is not so hot, it is best not to inquire. Therefore, the newcomers who are proud of their own, as long as they see the faded tattoos on the hands of the chefs, will still swallow the spirit, as Chef Kahlenburg famously said – Shut up and heads down (down and Mo Yan seriously).

Teaching kitchen at the American Culinary Institute

But to improve efficiency better, it is not just brute force. Working together to foster strengths and avoid weaknesses, the kitchen team can perform better. This is not lazy, the real kitchen is not an inspirational soap opera. Let the girl take a few steps of a few pounds of ingredients, it may consume 80% of her physical strength; similarly, let an old beauty who has never eaten a hairy crab from childhood to pick the meat, it is better to let him cut a few more parsley Come more refreshing.

The kitchen is not a contest, and the hero will not last long. In a straightforward environment where you can see the blood, it is most important to be honest and direct. After all, the goal of everyone is to let the guests eat the perfect meal. Individualism will not work.

As the restaurant becomes more transparent, the communication between the guest and the chef is more and more direct, and there are more and more central monitoring probes. The chefs in the kitchen are all young people who are hot and bloody. If there are contradictions during the business, how can we solve them?

It doesn’t matter, the door of the wind room will always be open for you.

If you don’t monitor it, the temperature is low. If you see two masters talking in the wind room alone, advise you to come back and get the things you need in a few minutes, so as not to ignite the upper body. The large-scale cold storage is a perfect place to solve the problem, and it can be smashed and smashed. The chillers in the wind room usually sound very loud, and they usually talk in the wind room. Moreover, the smoldering smoldering in the hot stalls is half cold in the moment of entering the wind room.

The depressed chef will come to the wind room to vent himself in the slightly idle space. There are mad milk, there are big oysters, and there are also sitting in the corner to let the tears mix with the water of the air conditioning… In short, the wind room is the last shelter for everyone. When you feel that you can’t hold it anymore, go to the wind room for a while, then come back and continue fighting.

After returning to China, I went to a senior Italian restaurant to be a foreman. When I was free, I translated some cooking-related books. Although still related to cooking, I am far from the kitchen.

Someone asked me, spending so much time studying but not being a chef, regret it?

Indeed, I sometimes feel guilty and feel betrayed my hands. But when I knocked on these words, I killed the bread and crab for the first time, dragged the floor of the restaurant for the first time, and drunk five shots for the first time, but I didn’t even have the next meal. I was promoted for the first time. On the other hand, the white boys who are higher than themselves are giving orders… Those scenes that have been struggling have come back again and again.

Although the chef’s knife may be temporarily put down, the “qi” of the kitchen will always enter my body. Every guest I am facing now, every dish I teach, every wine, every translation of the food, will be like a time machine, take me back to the days before. Those experiences are the precious treasures I have learned.

Cooking never stops, the knife will always need to be honed. The sharpening of the knife can be stone, or it can be a daily update.

A cook, a lifetime cook.