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Mama Deb
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Knives and Fire Internship Day 1



Day 1

Friday morning, I got to the café at 7:45. It turns out it's a 45 min train ride from my house, taking three trains. This puts me a block away.

And I should have gotten there later. :) Two hours later. But that was fine, because J, who was setting the place up for lunch after over a week off (right after Passover), seemed to want the help. Not that he couldn't have done it alone, but an extra pair of hands never hurts. We cleared up the kitchen behind the counter, checked inventory for the menu (we went through the lunch menu dish by dish to make sure we had things prepared), made note of what we needed, got more stuff and began heating up the soup and the water for the hot chocolate. And that took 2 hours, and next thing I knew, I was walking with the dishwasher across the street and up 16 floors to the prep kitchen.

Chef, A (the sous chef) and M (who does the prep and clean up) were there. They handed me an apron (to wear over my school whites - they require whites, but don't supply them. I have three chef's jackets from school, so that's just fine by me - I get to actually use them. Since most professional cooking schools do provide jackets, it makes sense.) I didn't need to wear a cap because I was wearing a pre-tied bandanna - I'd purchased three of those in white for school.

Then I started peeling potatoes. 25 russet potatoes to scrub, peel and rough chop for boiling. Just as I do at home, I added the chopped potato to a pot half-full of water. (I did that very thing, except I used redskin potatoes, Tuesday afternoon. And I did 5lbs of them.) Then I hulled and quartered 10 pounds of strawberries. Then I sliced red cabbage for "red slaw". I got to use a SLICING MACHINE because A wanted the cabbage almost paper thin. It was fun, even if it was a pain to clean up.

Then I got to make the dressing for the slaw - I chopped up two bunches of parsley until it was mush. Then we (because A did the ingredient adding but I watched and helped. No, NOTHING was measured) took a tall metal bowl and put in several serving spoonfuls of Dijon mustard, a lot of white wine vinegar, a lot of a mix of canola and olive oil, a handful of parsley, salt, and three shallots I peeled and cut in half. This I "burred" with a stick blender and tasted. It was very acidy, so we added a lot of sugar to balance it. It came out creamy and stable because mustard has a lot of lecithin in it, which is an emulsifier that enables the oil and vinegar to combine and stay that way. Using gloved hands, I mixed the dressing with the cabbage (three heads of cabbage.) We ended up with about 2 gallon containers of slaw plus two quarts of dressing.

This was at 2:30. A said I could go, so I did, going back to the café to get my purse and sweater, and also to get a bite to eat (a bagel and cream cheese and a coffee) and to SIT DOWN. Because. I hadn't until then.

The day went by so very fast. I think this might work out. I do need to get used to wearing gloves and to work a lot neater - I'm very messy.

Comments

the red slaw sounds yummy. did you get to taste anything besides the dressing? and why was the prep kitchen so far away?

I tasted some peanut butter that was going into chocolate cupcakes - A doesn't like pb and I do, so she had me taste to check the salt content.

There isn't space for a real kitchen in the cafe. It's a toaster, a panini press, an oven and two single burner induction stoves. This kitchen was available.

Didn't you wear gloves in cook school? That's the one area where I'd have an advantage -- I've been wearing thin, disposable gloves in the kitchen for decades, to prevent skin problems (soap is the great villain). If the gloves are the right size, they don't interfere with knife work -- and they enormously reduce the number of cuts and burns you get, mostly because of the extra split second of reaction time. I got a bad steam burn from checking the matzo balls at Pesach because I didn't happen to have a glove on.

I do have to replace them frequently -- I go through a pair every half hour or so if I'm working intensively.

I should have worn gloves, yes, and we did in cooking school.

Problem was, the gloves were large and I need to wear small ones, or I can't use a knife effectively. We did find small eventually.

I order mine from Sam's Club, in huge boxes. That's the only way I can be certain to have the right size/powder combination when I need it.

Yay for your first day!

If you're going to wear gloves a lot, my dentist swears by this hand lotion:

http://oxyfresh.com/personal/skinbarrier.asp

I use it when I'm going to do dishes or other housework because I hate to wear gloves. It's pricey, but a little dab'll do ya, so it lasts a long time.

I love reading about this. It sounds like you're going to learn a lot here!

I hope so. :)

i seriously think this is some of the most interesting things I have read on any of my friends pages. I am glad you are enjoying and it looks like I am glad I signed on when I did!

Slicing machines are both awesome to use and a PITA to clean ;). If I live to be 100, I will never forget standing next to one while onions sliced away. Cried for nearly 20 minutes.

Oh, yeah. I can see that.

I don't normally cry when I slice onions (trick - *sharp* knife), but I diced about seven onions last Tuesday and I had to wash my face afterwards.

Can you remove the blade? One of the more careful jobs when pot-washing in the college cafeteria was to clean the blade from the meat-slicer. Which unscrewed, and could thus be brought into the pot-washing room. That makes cleaning the whole thing a lot easier.

Sounds like a good start.

I've never used a slicer for anything but meat. How well did that work for the cabbage, with all the layered leaves? Does it work if it's fast enough, or does it spill out all over the place?

It spilled all over the place, but there was a nice pile for each quarter cabbage.

Will you be doing regular updates on this? It is an interesting peek into thr topic.

I hope to do this every day, although it could get rather boring.

Not possible for it to be boring. No Way.

Endless posts about washing, peeling and chopping veggies?

yay on new job! Keep posting these updates!

I plan to! Thank you!

I hope it's everything you hope for and more. Hard, busy work is no hardship when it's work you love.

You're completely right.

And as staying home doing nothing is very bad for me, this is wonderful.

I so hear you on that. Our agency closes over Christmas and I turned into a LUMP.

I want to read more!

There is more. :)