Internship: Day 2, 10/05/05

So I came in on Day 2, and D, Sous Chef #1 and the one who arranged my internship, wasn’t in yet. I asked J, Sous Chef #2, what I should do and he gave me some huge slabs of frozen fatback to trim and cut into 1 lb. pieces. I was having a terrible time, and both K2 and S took pity on my struggles and helped me figure out the easiest and quickest way to trim the frozen fat. They also pointed out how dull my knife was. I’d had it sharpened a few weeks ago, but K2 recommended that I have it sharpened at least twice a week, and she also corrected my honing technique (my angle was a little wide), which seemed to help a little. D informed me later that there’s a stone I can use at Quake, and he’ll show me how to use it. I also have a stone at home—I brought my knife kit home with me so that I can sharpen up all my knives. I’ll double-check with him that I’m doing it correctly when I go back in on Monday.

D had come in during the fatback ordeal, and when I’d finished he let me know that he’d like me to make Bouillabaisse again, with a couple of changes. It would be for a special event rather than the main menu, so everything needed to be cut smaller. Also, I used the fennel tops as well as the bulbs, and lemon juice as well as orange juice in the fumet mirepoix. One of my biggest problems is lack of speed, and since I’d followed this recipe once already, I was hoping to do it in less time. However, while everything seemed to go more smoothly this time, I’m not sure that I was much faster.

Once I was done with the soup, D had me clean about four bags of mussels to be steamed the next day. This was during service, and I was in the prep kitchen while most everyone else was upstairs on the line. They had the Sox game on and it seemed to annoy everyone, including the Chef, that I never knew what the score was when they came in and asked. I really hate sports, and they all seemed bewildered by that. Once the mussels were done, I was finished and free to go. D and I discussed my schedule—I didn’t make my expected 20 hours this week, so I’m going to start coming in at 9am next Monday so that I can help with early prep work. That works out well, although I hate getting up early. I’m also going to be working the dinner line at some point, which should be sufficiently harrowing.

One of the things I’m going to have to work out is how to eat enough while I’m there. It seems like it should be easy, working in a restaurant and all, but I’m trying to take advantage of the fact that I don’t have any cooking classes this quarter and reign in my diet. The staff on the lunch line is generally willing to make you some food if you ask, but it’s usually something like fries with Béarnaise sauce. Really good, but not what I should be eating on a regular basis. This week I brought organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole grain bread (homemade!) with me, but I think the problem is that I’ve been waiting too long to eat. I’m usually woozy and exhausted by 6pm (start time 12pm), so I’m thinking I need to snack around 4pm to keep my energy up. Whatever—I’ll work it out. One of my goals as I learn to cook is to keep my diet healthy, even though I will be making and tasting a lot of rich food. I know it can be done—Chef Felsenthal, my teacher for all my cooking classes so far except Baking and Pastry, has an excellent diet. For me, it makes a big difference in how I feel and how much energy I have. Everything in moderation and I’m cool!