Back in the kitchen after many years

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by nicko, Sep 29, 2014.

  1. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Well I did not want to post this in the pro forums as I no longer consider myself a pro but did want to share I am back in the kitchen again. My shooting club (trap,skeet, and sporting clays) has a kitchen that caterers to the club members (little over 600 members) for breakfast and lunch. They have a semi-retired woman who runs most of the catering operation but needed someone to cover two weekends a month. Wanting to get my senior membership which requires 60 hours worth of work in some capacity I offered my services for two weekends a month. So after many (many....) years I am back on the line cooking breakfast and serving up lunch.

    All I can say is wow, how you lose your rhythm behind the line. Just getting my mise-en-place I felt clueless. The one area I did well was I brought my own pans for the eggs and I kicked-butt on my eggs over easy (basted in the pan thank you very much). What is even funnier is how you get back into your old habits. Orders were slow yesterday so I tore everything out of the reach in cooler and re-organized. I always hated standing around waiting for orders I would rather clean and organize then stand around. So far I have not cut myself or burned myself and my hands still seem to be pretty tough. According to my working buddy in the kitchen I heat the dish and rinse water too hot for his hands and he says my hands are conditioned and his are not.

    Overall the members and the lady running the catering seem pleased and I am pretty happy to be working in the kitchen again in a semi-professional setting. One thing that really struck me is that I forgot what it feels like to do a hard days work and feel like you did a hard days work that you can look back on. So often in my desk job I get in the car drive home and wonder what the heck I did.

    Don't think I will be moving up to sous chef any time soon nor will I be making some crazy specials but I am having fun flipping eggs, cooking bacon and sausage again and serving up fresh coffee and toast with it all. 
     
    teamfat and eastshores like this.
  2. eastshores

    eastshores

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    That's pretty awesome Nicko. It brings up a question I've had over and over, because I have only ever worked a desk job. Don't get me wrong though I know what hard work is and I've done it but it's never been as an occupation. Besides the back breaking work in DIY home projects, I play in a band where we stand in insane heat and humidity and play for 3 hrs straight, it's not a great comparison I'm sure but my feet feel it and I sure as hell feel it.

    If I didn't find myself in software at 18, I hope I'd have ended up in food. I've thought about starting a thread on this a few times. What does someone like me need to do in order to fulfill that next level of cooking? I want to cook for 50 sets.. I want to have to think about a menu, the mise, the order things are done to execute. I want to try it and yet I know it is at best a hobby for me at the moment.

    Your post excites me.. because even though I've never stepped foot in a commercial kitchen, for the better part of 15 years, I've read and read and experimented. I want the opportunity to see if I could hang.. but by my own design. I'd love to take a church benefit dinner to the next level but they are all too satisfied with spaghetti.

    Your new gig sounds awesome.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  3. teamfat

    teamfat

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    Sounds like a deal. I worked in kitchens for maybe 5 - 6 years back in my early days, but the mountains had a greater pull for me than culinary arts.  I could go to the labor office, get a job as a hod carrier or lawn care guy, work for a week or two and make enough money to climb and ski for a while. Ah, young and irresponsible.

    Ended up in computers, and I know what you mean - hours and hours at the keyboard, but what did I really *do* - what changes are there to be seen, just different rearrangements of electrons in boxes. A nicely trimmed hedge, a perfect BLT sent out - those are things that are tangible.

    I'm 60, too old to rehire, too young to retire. I've applied for a couple of jobs at local markets in the meat and deli departments, thinking getting out of my office and interacting with customers, talking about food would be fun.  Computer consulting done in my basement catacombs doesn't involve much human, face to face interaction. I wonder if I even could get a job as a line cook now?

    mjb.
     
  4. durangojo

    durangojo

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    Cooking eggs perfectly time and time again is more than meets the eye...it takes a lot of precision and total focus....like steaks,people are very, very particular about their eggs..getting each table with multiple and different egg orders right and timing them all to come out at the same time hot and perfect should not be under appreciated nor should breakfast cooks. People are grumpy in the morning and they are usually in a hurry to get on with their day. Coffee,water,juice immediately. It is not like dinner where people tend to relax with a cocktail or two,an appetizer, wine with dinner and then just to linger. Dinner is a dining experience, breakfast is usually just filling up the gas tank to go meet the day. Breakfast can be hard. Kudos nicko and good luck! ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
  5. spoiledbroth

    spoiledbroth

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    Ahhh, breakfasts. The only thing I love about them is the promise of relatively regular socializing hours (4am-12pm as opposed to 5-2am). Glad to hear you're back in the fray!
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
  6. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    @teamfat  once I make sous chef you can come work for me. ha ha. 

    Thanks all for the kind words it is encouraging to be back behind the line (even if it is only for a small group of people) and the thrill of getting the order out on time.
     
  7. cookist

    cookist Banned

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    Cooking is an entertainment to me.
     
  8. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Congratulations on the new gig. Sounds like a lot of fun. Two weekends a month should keep it that way. Any playing with the menu? 

    I did breakfast for many years. Getting up early took some getting used to but having nights off was nice. 
     
  9. ordo

    ordo

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    That sounds like fun Nicko. Good luck.
     
  10. chicagoterry

    chicagoterry

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    It sounds like you are enjoying yourself, which is what really matters. Good luck to you!
     
  11. madewithnotepad

    madewithnotepad

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    I was out of the kitchen for only two months, and the first day back everything felt weird...I felt greasy, my hands felt weird holding a spatula, plates seemed hotter. I thought it was going to be a weird struggle. Then by the next day I was completely back in the groove and it was all normal again. Very weird.

    If I didn't find myself in food at 18, I hope I'd have ended up in software. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif  Seriously. I spent my entire glorious unemployment practicing my code and designing sites. Alas, we end up where we do and the grass is always greener.
     
  12. chefross

    chefross

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    I've always loved cooking breakfast. Nicko. glad you're back in the saddle again.
     
  13. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    Do they let you shoot for free for doing the cooking, Nicko?  If so I'd be all over that like a fat kid on cake!