Friday, March 27, 2009

boredom in the kitchen

I was talking to a fellow cook today about boredom. I kept checking facebook every five minutes. and twitter. I was so bored.

I'd had a pretty busy today at work before heading over to sweat a few more hours in someone else's kitchen, and a lot of orders to fill. Logically, there wasn't cause to be bored. Monday things are pretty slow, I can expect to have a short day, and since it's the end of my work week, I should expect that most things that need to happen that week have happened. I expect Mondays to be boring. But Friday...Friday would be my busiest day even if I didn't have somewhere else to be after work.

Part of it is being alone. No one to talk to. Part of it is the nature of the job.

A former line cook friend told me some time ago that if I was going to continue cooking, I needed to get used to boredom. I am sure this was in response to my complaints about having to work service during a slow night/month/season. I never liked working service (but that's another post), not least because--especially in an open kitchen, where you are constantly being watched--there is not a lot that you can do. Sure, you can start infusing that spice for an anglaise, but who is going to stand there and cook it for you if you get a ticket? Working service is, literally, waiting for the printer to spit out your tickets. Working in pastry, you are the wallflower of service, the last asked to dance.

I wanted to be busy all the time. Cakes in the oven, dough to sheet, chocolate melting over a double boiler and an infusion going. The kind of busy where you leave at the end of the day and realize that every single person eating dessert that night will be eating something that you made. You're exhausted and energized.

There'll be times when you're just chopping stuff for two hours, my friend said. Hulling strawberries. Because it needs to be done. You're going to be bored and that's part of the job.

pans by cseanburns

I shouldn't be surprised at boredom, but somehow I constantly am. Another cook once said to me that it's only after you pass through that phase {actually, in her words, it was only after you'd spent a year somewhere, but some places have steeper learning curves than others} that you begin to see under that layer to everything else going on, and you learn so much more. Take your pick of advice; get back
to me on it.

kumquats by orphanjones


MB said...

1. Love the photos.

2. There is so much boredom, everywhere/

J Kim said...

I used to think that, being a pastry lover, I'd be passionate 24/7 and constantly inspired on the job. I wouldn't say I'm no longer passionate, but once "inside" there's a bit of that magic of patisserie that fades a bit. Maybe it's not so much boredom as a routine that sets in, a sign of one's thorough knowledge of the daily mises to do. But wouldn't you prefer a routine and organized kitchen, rather than a chaotic one that constantly changes?

so much cake so little time said...

j kim...i like a bit of both. i prefer to be in a kitchen where the menu changes frequently, so there is always something new to test, and a sense of building on a foundation...there are so many wonderful things you can do to showcase the taste of a fruit, so why should you serve only one preparation for 4 months before changing menus? organization, though, is key to my happiness.

at the moment i'm in a very routine job. the challenge is not to my skills so much as my ability to develop a better system, a faster system, etc.