Pork Chops, Grill Violence and Plotting

Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.  ~Margaret Lee Runbeck

Bitching post aside, sorry you had to hear all that, I was pretty angry.  I meant to make a post about Friday.  So here it is, a few days late but I hope it’s worth it.

I was given $300 by my boss to make a grill appear for a single cookout that we had at the account.  I promptly went online and started looking for the biggest baddest thing I could find.  The only stipulation was through the building that it couldn’t be propane (no problem), and that it had to be able to be cleaned, covered and locked up when not in use.  After much looking, I hopped in my truck and started over to Wal-Mart to get a good look at the grills they had on sale.

After much drooling and wishing that I was able to buy one for myself, I settled on a very sexy Kingsford.  It’s currently on sale here, and I highly recommend it.  I managed to flirt with the sales guy enough that he pushed it all the way to the register, rang me up, walked it out to my car and loaded it up for me, giving me his number in case I needed help unloading it.  And who says chivalry is dead?  I usually do.  But whatever, I managed to get it out of the car and find a spot to store it before I left for the night.  I also purchased a cover tarp thing, a scraper, a gallon of lighter fluid and 100 pounds of Kingsford Matchlight Charcoal.  I know, I probably sound like a commercial, but they really do it for me.

So I get this outdoor barbecue done, and the grill gets cleaned and covered and chained to the fence with a nifty new bike lock I had bought just for it.  And there it sits, cause the weather has been so crappy lately that there’s really nothing I can do with it.  So I’m making my menu for this week and I say hell with it, I’m going to pull this thing out on Fridays during the summer and grill away.  I love working outside when I can, and here’s this beautiful grill, sitting there, just waiting to be used.

I personally hate burgers.  I’m not a huge fan of ground beef.  Sorry, just a personal preference.  So I want to do something a little different from the usual barbecue.  I bought two pork loins, they were beautiful.  I pull them out Wednesday, smother them in oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and chopped onion.  I wrap them tight in plastic and set them in the fridge overnight to thaw.  Thursday, after I finish with my lunch rush, I pull the loins out and slice them, lining them in a pan with the same mixture of salt, pepper, oil, garlic, onion and this time just a splash of lemon juice on them.  Add a few sprigs of cilantro to be pulled out before grilling and I shoved them back in the fridge for another night of marinade.  Friday, I pull them out and get them ready to go.

Lighting this grill in the rain was the biggest pain in the ass ever.  I’m not really good at getting a grill going.  I know, everyone has their method, a pyramid, a scatter bomb, extra fluid.  I do a little of all of them, just trying to get the hot spots evened out.  Not going to lie, I really almost set myself on fire.  No joke.  But I was alone out there and no one saw it, so I threw away my singed gloves and pulled out new ones.  No big deal.  I let the grill get nice and hot and I rubbed oil over the grate and went to work.  I only had 84 servings, not a large amount since I had gotten word that most of the executives had taken the day off and the union folks were having a pizza party for something or other.  That’s cool though, I had pork gumbo on the menu, so it wasn’t going to go to waste.

Grilling takes the formality out of entertaining. Everyone wants to get involved.
Bobby Flay

I grilled them off, just enough to get a light brown on them, shingled them in a pan, added some pork stock and threw them in the convection oven just to get them to temp before they went out to serve.  I had no idea the onslaught of people who were going to skip their pizza party, or come down to lunch before they left for the day.  I ran out shortly before the lunch rush was over, and ended up switching the entrée to a honey glazed pork slice, not nearly as popular.  I had a record day in sales.  Being a subsidized account, I’m able to serve them good food for really cheap, and in addition to the pork chop, they got a handful of kettle chips, a scoop of homemade pasta salad and some seasoned mixed vegetables.  They also got a drink.  It seems like a lot of food, but as everything is homemade, it’s really not all that expensive.  And it’s tasty.

“Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach.”  -James Beard, ‘Beard on Food’ (1974)

So I think the grill out on Fridays is going to be a good thing.  I have leftover ice cream from an ice cream social, and I think we’re going to offer a small sundae for a dollar next Friday with it.  Now that the weather here is starting to heat up, I have a feeling that it’s going to be a good seller.

Now I just have to think of something to grill next week.  I would like to do a short rib, but I think cost may be an issue there.  Any other good ideas are more than welcomed.

Just as a good bitchfest is cathartic, so is talking about good food.  😀

Favorite Link of the DayTop 10 Commandments of Grilling – Seriously, a very cool and well-played slide show of everything you need to know about grilling.  Even though I’m mad at men right now, I totally give them props.  😉

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Take this job and shove it. And other things I wish I could say.

Sooo.

I love my job.  I really do.  But I want to take my career further than it’s going right now.  And I’m going to warn you that this post is going to sound whiny and bullshitty.  But I’m going to devote this whole post to bitching about it because I’m fucking fed up.

12 years in this industry, military training, and a huge decrease in food cost and increase in profit.  Not a thank you, great job, nothing.  And that’s not why I do it, but it would be nice.  I reworked the whole catering invoicing system and have consistently provided black tie catering with sometimes only a few hours notice while this system has time to take hold.

All this and they fired our Director.

That sucks, but it happens in this industry.  It wasn’t for anything related with what we’ve been working on, there was a whole different issue going on that none of us knew about.  But after she left, there was suddenly a LOT of ass kissing going on with the corporate guys that have been coming through.  I’ll say it now, I don’t kiss ass.

Chefs have an eerie sixth sense.  We know exactly what’s on any shelf of the cooler at any given time.  If there’s drama going on, we know about it.  If someone is secretly dating someone else at work, we can call it.  We know that exact moment when a cashier or server starts bitching that she’s either going on her monthly or she’s 3.5 weeks pregnant.  We can recite everything we put on the last order and can bitch out the driver if it’s not there after just seeing the pallet.  We also know when there’s a healthy dose of bullshit going on.

I’ve been interested in the director position for a while now.  I love cooking and doing everything that I do, but I want to do this as a career and I want to make it to that next level.  So, when all the garbage happened after our last director left, imagine my surprise when I was passed over for a promotion yet again with this company.  Again.

Instead they gave it to the catering manager.  A young kid, right out of fucking pastry school, 5 months on the job as of now.  But he’s young and dumb and can be fucked with and goes out of his way to make everyone happy.  Instead of doing the fucking job.  I’ve never had the urge to walk out of a job as much as I have with this one.

This is the same company that said they wouldn’t promote me or give me a review because I was facing going on orders in a few months.  When I called the manager out and told him that was illegal, he responded in turn by bashing my work and taking credit for the food I was putting out.  I wanted to slap the shit out of him.  When I told our “union” about it, I find out that he and this fucker are buddies, so it all got swept under the rug.  I eventually did walk out, for a variety of reasons.  And I come back and here we go.

So I’m pretty angry.  The kid is really sweet, and I do wish him well, but I fucking hate this treatment.  It seems like in this company, you have to have a penis to get anywhere, and I’m not the only one who has noticed this.  There’s one woman employed in the corporate office, and she’s only there to take care of the finances.  She’s consistently screwing accounts out of money and fails to pay invoices left and right.  Every account in this state is directed by a man, and I have talked to several female executive chefs only to find that they’re experiencing the same preferential treatment, and it fucking sucks.

I have a feeling that my rage is going to get the better of me and I’m going to find something else and leave this company.  I just feel bad that they treat people like shit.  I love my customers, I really do, they’re awesome.  And they all have put together what’s going on, and I know they want to say something.  Gossip is all they’ve got to make the day go by quicker, but that’s not what I want them to do.  Enjoy my food, have an excellent lunch and go back to work, that’s all they need to do.  As for me, I want to not give a fuck and clock in and out of work every day.  But I will continue to go above and beyond, and do what I have to do to make my work shine, because I put my name on everything I send out of the kitchen.  But I’m not there anymore, I’m just not all that into it anymore.

Fuck.

Favorite link of the day:

Men Not At Work – Can’t say I feel bad…

Posted in Assertive, Chef, discrimination, Dumbassery, Grr, haters, Stupid People, Thick Skin | Leave a comment

Punk Rock, Meatloaf and Chlorine Gas

I always like to start the day with music, it is cathartic and pretty much sets the tone and the pace for the day, much to my sous chef‘s dismay.  He and I have far different tastes, but we’re both well versed in compromise.  Today, after some elbowing and glaring, it was my iPhone that ended up stuck in the radio (sweet, cause it gets to charge too).  We spent most of the morning blasting out some Distillers, and it was a perfect set up for the day.

Like I said, I like my nights and weekends, and I currently run the kitchen for a large pharmaceutical company.  This poses a challenge because I have both Average Joes and Executives coming in for breakfast and lunch.  My averages are mostly union employees, they’re happy with the most basic stuff, nothing fancy, moderately healthy.  The executives are always looking for the new and flashy I have to offer, and I have to create menus that generally please both crowds.  Along with this, there are several catering events throughout the day that have to go out, board meetings, Continentals, black tie, on the fly and so on.  Today was a moderately slow day, and when making the menu last week, I planned on it and slated up meatloaf for the entree.

When cooking for such a diverse crowd of people, it seems like a cop out, and I really could have made it so.  But the sides I had were homemade mashed, gravy and corn.  I could make this shit in my sleep.  So I went all out and made it the way I like it, every little detail I pay attention to when I make it at home, went right there into it.  Slivers of fresh garlic, fresh basil, fresh tomatoes.  You get the idea.  It wasn’t mass produced crap that you see on many a steam table.  Though, it was on a steam table.  Shut up.

I ignored my catering manager as he went about making his trays of fruit and hors d’oeuvres,  I ignored my sous chef as he went about making his homemade pies.  It was that kind of day where we all just did our thing and stayed out of each other’s way.  And rocked the fuck out to some Coral Fang.

There’s a lot of chef’s out there that cook and call themselves chefs because we do lead a pretty badass lifestyle, I suppose.  There’s a lot of people who talk the talk and play the game.  But I don’t feel like a chef until I see people eating my food.  I can tell from the look on the first person’s face as they take the first bite if it’s going to be a hit or a miss.  It was a hit today, with all the stormy weather and petty bullshit that’s been going on, it was a comfort food that seemed to go over well with everyone ho came through the line today.  And THAT is why I stayed in this game for as long as I have.  Do you know what I mean?  Or am I senselessly babbling…

Anyway, closing up, there was a near miss with the chemicals and our catering manager sheepishly explained how we all avoided a cloud of chlorine gas by his hand.  Sometimes, I love my sous chef, who aptly tore him a new asshole.

As for Princess and the Poo.  She was not amused and I took it down after she did a top to bottom clean of the offending fridge.  😉

Favorite Link of the Day

Top Ten Eating Habits That Will Shock You – Eww.

Posted in Chef, Easy Day, Meatloaf, Punk, Slacker | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pet Peeves, Smartasses and Juicy Messes

So.  My biggest pet peeve of all time is general stupidity.  And I define that by the distinct lack of common sense.  And the biggest problem with it all, you can’t fix it, teach it, make a checklist, test for it.  And you could be a smart motherfucker; sometimes it just creeps up on you.  I’ll admit to it, here and there.

What brings on this tangent I’m steering us through right now is a simple conversation that was had in the midst of the kitchen.  Just a small casual conversation.  The back story is as follows:  I left work Friday to go to court for a stupid ass traffic ticket I got for expired plates.  I served breakfast, lunch, cleaned, and WASHED ALL THE DISHES.  It didn’t matter if they were mine or not, they were in the dish room, they got washed.  It’s fucking simple dish karma.  And we don’t have the luxury of having some poor fucker in there all day for the sole purpose of doing them all, so we all have to take a turn.  I digress.

After I had finished my dishes and left three perfect sinks for the next asshole who was going to get cornered in there for god knows how many hours scrubbing carbon off shitty pans, I took off for my court date.  The weekend passed, and here we are Monday morning.  Just a glimpse into my day, I like having nights and weekends off, and in return, I run a full service omelette station for breakfast and serve a solid 400 plates for lunch.  In addition to various catering events held in the facility throughout the day.  My head has a constant five menus going through it at all times.  I digress again.  Monday is here and all that, and I’ve got all 8 burners on, every oven and convection has a pan of something or other, the flat top is going with eggs, hash browns, french toast, waffles.  There are no timers in this kitchen, what the hell would be the use of them.  I’m not explaining all this to invoke pity or anything like that.  I’m telling you this so I can paint a picture of what my morning looked like when the new cashier came into the back and brought everything to a temporary standstill.

“Umm, I need these dishes washed like, right away, cause like, I’m not going to stay here and do them again tonight.  I washed every single dish in this place on Friday, and I ain’t doing it again.”

Yeah, I was maybe just a little baffled as to a few details.  The first was, what the fuck do I care of your perfect little manicure was stuck here doing dishes?  Shit, I run the place, maybe I should care about those things.  The second thing I was thinking about was my bacon, which I fancied I could hear sizzling from across the room.  I had to get it out of there, redoing it was going to set me back immensely.  But first, I really had to get this chick and the story that I didn’t give a fuck about out of my face before I started throwing things at her.

“That’s nice.”  I say, pirouetting around her to grab both bacon and a tray of almost forgotten biscuits out of the oven.  “Not really a good time to talk about it.”

She (who will from here on out be referred to as Princess) shrugs and plants herself right next to my station and continues to bitch about how there was stuff stuck to all the pans and blah blah blah.  I think the death glare I gave her as I whisked the gravy was enough, she eventually sauntered away.

So I was out for my smoke after my breakfast/lunch mad scramble to get all the food made.  And that’s when I had time to sort of analyze what she had said to me.  I think she was telling me to do the dishes.  So, not wanting to be pissed off for the wrong reasons, I casually ask her as I’m getting my coffee.  “Did you tell me to do the dishes?”

“Yeah, I’m not staying around to do them again.  Besides, you get them all dirty, why should I do them?”

Not gonna lie, I sent her ass home.  Really?!  If there’s one thing I learned during this weird climb to where I’m at right now, it’s that you don’t ask someone to do something you’re  not willing to throw down and do yourself.  That includes dishes, cleaning the fryers, scrubbing the toilet, mopping the floor, dealing with irate customers, and so on.  And be visible about it.  I’ll clean the fryers when people are there, or they really think a little elf comes in and does it over the weekend so that their mozz sticks taste fresh.  No, I do it cause it’s dirty and I want it done the right way every time.  If you want to impress me, do it to my standards, not just half ass.

So after her tirade at me, and finding that she just half assed it the whole day, I sent her home.  I’m not going to be busting my ass along with everyone else, just for one person to have enough time to sneak into the hall and have an epic chat while I cover her shit.  Not going to happen.

It was after that my day really went to shit.  Nosed around in her cooler for a little bit, just to make sure there was nothing outdated in there, anything I could use for soup or whatever and I was slapped in the face by a suspicious puddle fo red at the bottom of the cooler.  There was a bag of bread partially covering it, and I could feel myself involuntarily convulse.  Yes, it was blood.  From an animal.  I don’t know where it came from.  But I spent the rest of my day tossing out anything that it might have touched, cleaning it, and putting together a fun little pamphlet on the joys of bacteria complete with pictures.  If I have to look at shit when I open your cooler, you’re going to literally look at shit when you open it, and I hope you think of me.

Princess is not going to be pleased.

Anyway, I hope everyone else’s Mondays were awesome.  Cause after all was said and done, it really was a good day.  😀

Posted in Chef, Court, Grr, monday, Slacker, Stupid People, Thick Skin | Leave a comment

First Post. Yeah.

“There’s a fine line between assertiveness and being a bitch.”  – My former contract purveyor.

I toe this line.  A lot.  At times, I dance on the other side of it.  Cooking is a man’s world, still is.  And before you start with the pffts and watevs, it’s true.  It goes along the same route as clothing design and hair.  We’re catching up.  Being a Sailor and a Chef are two jobs where I could yell when I needed to, make demands at the drop of a dime and fully expect shit to get done the way it’s supposed to.  In my defense, I’ve worked in offices, factories and all sort of other jobs, and there’s coddling and PC shit to think about when you talk, and I’m just not that person.

You have to have a thick skin when you work in any kitchen.  It’s fun, we’re all pervs and jokers and haze the hell out of the sorry fucker that walks in the door.  But as good as you’re going to give, you better get ready to take it.  If I’m going to be standing beside you sweating my tits off for upwards of 16 hours on a line, you better not get your feelings hurt easily, because it’s going to happen.  On that same note, after those 16 hours and endless line of plates go out, I’m going to be downright ready to take a bullet for you if the need ever arose.  Chefs have a camaraderie that doesn’t exist anywhere else in a professional field.  We talk shit, backstab, ploy for jobs, but when it comes down to it, when asked for help, you jump in the pot and cook with your comrades for better or worse.  Then you drink it all away to wake up and do it again the following morning.

I’m sure I come off as a bitch.  I know I do.  But you have to be when you have a task sheet that stretches 5 pages and likely to change at any time throughout the day, you kind of have to be.  I don’t call anyone out of their name, I just make sure things are done the way I expect them to be done.  And people who work for me know that.  If you’ve ever been in this field, you understand it and don’t take it personally.  Way back in the beginning, I didn’t get it, but being up here on this end, it makes sense.  If you’re not confident in what you ask for, you’re not likely to get it.

Anyway, welcome to my blog.  I’m sure later posts will make more sense when my hangover wears off, and I may actually get to talking about the food I put out.  Eventually.

Cheers.

Posted in Assertive, Chef, Introduction, Thick Skin | Leave a comment