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.