Internship: Day 1, 10/03/05

I’ve been staging at Quake since June, so I don’t know why I was so nervous about starting my internship, but I was. The staff all seemed to be in a good mood when I came in, though, and welcomed me back (I took a break for the week I was out of school). That made me feel more at ease.

It was, actually, an unusual day in the kitchen. One Sous Chef was on vacation, and the other had gone to the hospital that morning with some diabetic complications. K had been called in to take charge of the kitchen, and though I’m sure it was extremely stressful for her, she was amazingly calm.

My first task of the day was a Garlic Aioli. I’ve made mayonnaise a few times, and an aioli once. They’re basically the same thing, the difference being in the addition of garlic, but I hadn’t made either of them in a while. Of course it broke, which had never happened to me before. K showed me how to repair the emulsion by removing the broken aioli, putting a couple more egg yolks into the food processor and then streaming the broken aioli back in, just as you do with the original oil. The emulsion became a little thick about halfway through, so she instructed me to add a little water to thin it back out, and then to continue adding in the rest of the broken aioli. It worked!

A note on the definitions of mayonnaise and aioli from my Garde Manger textbook, Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen, 2nd Edition (because I wasn’t sure myself until I looked it up):

Aïoli (Fr.): Garlic mayonnaise, often based on olive oils.

Mayonnaise: A cold emulsion sauce made of oil, egg yolks, vinegar, mustard, and seasonings.

My second task, creating Bouillabaisse for the night’s service, was much more complicated than anything else I’ve ever done at Quake. I think K gave it to me partially because it kept me occupied for the entire day. I first created the fish fumet (fish broth) by sweating a white mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, and in this case, orange juice and fennel bulbs), adding in fish bones, then white wine, and covering it with water. I brought it to a low boil, turned off the heat, and let it sit while I prepared the remaining ingredients: more fennel and onions, red potatoes, garlic, canned Italian tomatoes, saffron, Pernod, sriracha, parsley, and thyme. The fennel, onions, potatoes, and garlic were sweated, and then the tomatoes and saffron were added and allowed to cook for about 5 minutes over low heat. The strained fumet went in and was again brought to a low boil. The remaining ingredients were added after we brought the pot down to cool in an ice bath.

The whole Bouillabaisse experience was stressful but exciting. The thing that I hate most about being at this beginning point in my career is that I always feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, and constantly have to ask questions. I vaguely remember that feeling as a designer, but often I was able to get answers on my own because I had internet access and books. In a kitchen I only have the knowledge that’s in my head, and often, even when I think I know the answer I second guess myself and ask to make sure. I feel like I must be driving everyone crazy, but what do you do?

My day ended earlier than expected as they had a stage in that was covering the amuse bouche station, and there wasn’t really much else for me to do. While I was concerned about getting enough hours to fill my internship requirements, I was also somewhat relieved because making bouillabaisse wore me out! There was a lot of running back and forth between the prep kitchen and the pastry kitchen on the third floor (I was using their stove), lugging huge stock pots and trays of ingredients, and just the general stress of doing something for the first time. It was fun, though, and made for an interesting first day.