Thursday, October 18, 2007

plating, deeper

Last night, we had just over fifty on the books so I made sure to have twenty at least of everything on hand...and, this is dumb, did not think to replenish the stock of defrosted chocolate goodness (that needs hours, if not overnight, to come to temperature) when I took the sheet tray of 21 to the station. Never making *that* mistake again because last night was one crazy Wednesday night.

For some reason everyone was VIP that night. From some magazine or friend of the chef or whatnot, do you need a reason? No, you don't. If they weren't VIP then it was their birthday and they needed happy birthday written on their plates and I'm still working on that skill set, so I had to go off and find a coworker who could do it with more finesse.

The window would be full of tickets, the oven a sea of bake to order desserts we were trying to get out efficiently and the chef would come over needing VIP items, so I'd drop the warm desserts for my coworker to plate, bust out the VIP items, and try to rejoin the fray. Where are we? What's been fired? What do we need? We get those in the oven yet? Meanwhile more tickets coming in, tables ordering the whole menu, the chef back sending out another special item to somebody, another birthday. The supply of chocolate desserts is trickling down. I pull some more from the freezer at some point, but it's sort of a lost cause. It should have been done the night before, or when I got to work, and we're running low on our other bake to order item, too, but the dining room is fairly empty it's jut that everyone's ordering massive amounts of dessert, and what's wrong with that? That's a victory for my kind.

All in all last night we had just over fifty percent dessert sales. All of that within about two hours. I didn't actually get on the station till 8 or so. I was in the back tinkering with things. I planned to work on my chocolate handwriting and plate things as they came in...but I got out one letter H and worked straight through the next two hours until around 10:15 the last table ordered desserts and then it was time to clean everything up. I guess it's moving in that direction of intensity...time to step things up, at least the stock of what we have on hand. Great to be so busy, definitely, but was I prepared for that kind of rush on a Wednesday? No.

There's a party tonight. Tonight is another night to try to factor the rhythm of last night into the learn as we go model. There are so many decisions to be made all the time and if you hesitate at all it's no good. Running around the restaurant in search of better handwriting than mine...I could have tried, yeah, but trying for five minutes when realistically it would not have been wonderfulness would have been a waste of time. The thing to do is practice, at home or on less busy nights. Time, the most crucial resource. If my nice warm dessert has ice cream melting away because I'm calling for a runner but no one's looking then what good is any of it? If I take the dessert out to defrost at nine, what good is it? How to manage it most effectively is what we're all looking for, how to make the right decision every time, how to have your quenelle perfectly ready to come off the spoon the first time, how to anticipate the needs you might have later. The needs of your coworker and your boss. How to remember to be nice to the servers, how to get them on your side. This is all part of the plating duty.

A couple hours sleep and go to FH and continue the discussion of the Thanksgiving pie factory...then roaming around Berkeley with much discussion of food and writing.

What I forgot to say is this: it was all really quite exhilarating. And moving toward a sense that all our hard work was bearing fruit. My team, my enormous team of coworkers...we're there all the time, giving everything we have and then some, ten hands in a pretty and well-stocked kitchen. I biked home last night and called a friend, sank onto the sofa in that muddled emotional state. happy+tired+adrenaline high+humbled by mistakes.

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