“Humor keeps us alive. Humor and food. Don't forget food. You can go a week without laughing.”
DEC. 21, 2015 - DEC 27, 2015
I used to make fun of couples who celebrated six month anniversaries – in the grand scheme of things, six months is hardly a long amount of time. I think the chef feels the same way, because when I excitedly told her this was my twenty sixth week working she laughed and asked if I was feeling alright. Six months is hardly special these days. But when it comes to working in a restaurant, I’m starting to think it’s approaching veteran status. I think I'm the longest employee in the back of the house so far, aside from Joey up front at the charcuterie bar who started the same time I did, all those weeks ago when I showed up in my orange v-neck and supremely uncomfortable suede shoes.
My anniversary gift to myself was a new knife. It seemed like I was the only one in the kitchen who didn’t have a personal one yet, and I was tired of using the crappy house ones that have deteriorated into blunt hatchets. Slicing red onions and mincing shallots becomes impossible when you’re blade crushes them into an eye watering paste. Don’t get me started on trying to slice heirloom tomatoes. I’ll be quite blunt (sorry, I had to throw that one in there) in that this knife is more of a security blanket than anything else – it only costed me forty dollars, but has the appearance of something much more expensive, if only to assuage any self doubts I have about being in the kitchen still. It’s not a Wusthof, a Shun, or even a Global knife, but it’s a knife I can tell people is mine. I’ve been putting it to good use lately too. Holiday season has descended upon us with countless private dinners, catering events, and company holiday parties. All of a sudden, leisurely Tuesdays have become as stressful as a good Saturday. It’s a bit lonely, cooking for people who are getting merry and drunk on a blissful Friday nights. Usually I’d be baking packaged sugar cookies and seeing Christmas concerts where everyone gets to sing "Baby It’s Cold Outside" together, and sip cider spiked with a little bit too much rum. I make due with pretending the restaurant’s kitchen is my apartment at home, and the various servers are like old college friends who’ve never left.
But I like how like a real home the restaurant nuzzles your nose with its own specific scent every time you walk through the front door. I mean, you end up spending as much time here as you do at home anyway, and just like home, it’s an individual smell impossible to describe … you have to take a deep sniff in the doorway to get the full experience. It’s as if cedarwood and warm toasted black pepper had the world’s gentlest baby who never cries, with his hair made up of tufts of beef fat merrily rendering and bubbling away on the stove. I don’t smoke, but I also relish the scent of burning tobacco lingering on the patio upstairs, mostly because it reminds me of my grandpa. Many a casual conversation, bitch fest, and confrontation has taken place on that deck in the presence of coddling, auburn secondhand smoke encircling your nose like the warmest of chocolate chip cookies in the oven. I dare not pick up cigarettes because I’m scared I’ll enjoy it too much.
To celebrate six months, I made pistachio macarons for the staff. I stayed up until 2 AM, piping and pressing cookies together until I had around five dozen: some filled with Callebaut chocolate ganache, and others with passionfruit curd (Side note: the chocolate ones were infinitely better). I needed to get my baking in somehow.