Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An important day for the restaurant

New toys for the kitchen crew

Today marks a key milestone in the food-related social enterprise I'm volunteering my time at. Everyone worked real hard and in particular the past 24 hours to ensure the restaurant is ready to be inspected by the regulators and fire safety bureau. Well, the management team was delighted to receive the news today that all is well and it's all systems go from now. 

The kitchen crew got all excited and we unwrapped all equipment like we were opening Christmas presents. We lost no further time to start preparing our mise en place. The time it took me to julienne a carrot, the chef next to me finished 5! I'm one of the most inexperienced in the whole team, so everyone is kind and they try to encourage me. Every cook and chef has his own way of doing things and I got more than my fair share of advice. They work magic with the knives, these guys. In the past 10 days in the classroom training with them, they have been so unimpressive with pens and keyboards but now, the knives seem to be like their extended hands. It was truly impressive and a sight to behold. The chef giving me instructions didn't even know the word 'chiffonade' but his chiffonade cut was to textbook perfection. 

Conscious of my lack of knifing skills, I was careful not to cut myself. No, I didn't want to bleed - literally - for this cause, and I certainly didn't want to be the first. So, I cut real slow. But I did hurt myself today..

First injury. (No, I'm not counting.)
The butcher chopping board which weighs an elephant, measures 6-7 times the length and breath of the home version, and is sharp and slippery when wet. I'd never held one before and it slipped off my arm when I was trying to wash it causing a big bump on my left hand. I'm quite the 'gu-niang' type (meaning, cannot take the slightest cut or pain breed!) and so I decided it was TIME-OUT! I wandered off to the pastry side and sneaked around. 


The pastry chef and I got off on a good start and she has agreed for me to come over whenever I am free. Yippee!

It's full-on tomorrow with the entire crew on duty. It's not your Joel Robuchon restaurant, in fact, it's not even a restaurant, more like a cafeteria, or some people jokingly call it a "high class kopi-tiam" (coffeeshop).  It does not offer the culinary arts which is what I really wish to learn. But I am exactly where I need to be right now. I am so happy to be a part of this journey and will keep raising my hand to thank God for it. 


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