It’s all about the purees

No, this is not about purees. But we will go to that later. Yesterday was my first day of internship at The Grey Plume. I’ve staged there once during lunch time but dinner time is different than I thought. Chef Clayton said that I’m the first intern to work in dinner service, which makes me feel a little special. I didn’t even notice that I’m the only female cook in the kitchen, the rest are guys with laid back attitudes. I wasn’t even intimidated although their dishes were way over the top. It’s like the dishes that you see in cooking competition shows like Iron Chef America. Very detailed, unique and out of this world. Well, what should I expect in a fine dining restaurant? Chips and dip?

So my first day started. I wore my chef coat uniform and headed to the kitchen. It was weird wearing chef coat at work because I don’t normally wear chef coat at my current job. The heat of the kitchen welcomed me, literally. The dinner crews were there doing prep work. I helped one of the guys, his name is Peter. As I was helping him, I realized I didn’t have an apron. I think I should wear an apron first, I said. I felt very stupid, but I found out they don’t hand aprons to intern students or to anyone, which I thought was weird. They said that they gave aprons in the first day and they can keep it, and wash it. It’s like a personal belonging, like your knives. It makes sense though. They can save money by doing that.

They assigned me to the line station. I put purees into the deli container, sliced apples, smeared the the dough mix into a strainer where they fell into boiling water and formed a spaetzle. Spaetzle is a type of egg noodle or, as Pete said, a dumpling. It tastes like pasta. My job there was to slice 6 pieces of bread for charcuterie and bread for bread baskets. It’s pretty much a very simple job but at some point I messed it up. I burned the bread and had to grill it again. I felt bad but not because they made me feel that way. They moved on, I moved on and learned and I won’t do it again.

It was Thursday night, so I didn’t feel the rush in the kitchen. I noticed that one order goes through a long process before it is served and how plating can change everything. Just like one of the main plates they have that’s called Majinola Farm’s Wagyu Beef that consists of short ribs, oyster mushroom, potato, asparagus, radish, heart and tongue. Pete’s job is to cook the vegetables and Justin is the meat guy. And when they’re done they hand it to Chef Clayton, and he will plate it. The plating is very artistic and painstaking. Chef Clayton may be laid back but he knows his shit.

I didn’t quite get what the purees are all about when I put it in the container. But the purees are part of the dish, giving color, flavor and dimension of the dish. “It’s all about the purees”, I said. And Justin replied, “Now, you’re getting it”.

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