Well the time has come, I got my first job on the LINE. A grill cook. At a chain restaurant. Oh whoa a chain you ask?? Listen here, and you listen good. A chain line at a high volume place is where the fainthearted fall apart faster than hollandaise in a warmer. There has only been two times my adrenaline has come close to that in my life. That’s exiting an aircraft while in flight and combat. Exaggerating? for the average cook maybe. When this is your DREAM, your passion, this is what you gave everything up for, it’s the most exhilarating time of your life. We ain’t in culinary school tonight, toto.
Let me educate all you folks who think being a culinary student gives you confidence in the kitchen. It makes you even more nervous. You know, that THEY know, you’re a fancy pantsy culinary student and expected you to bring your cute little chefs roll. In the kitchen, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I kept my eyes open and my mouth shut. It’s gametime.
Now granted this weekend was a “training” weekend but let’s just say it was a crash course in ass whippings. Ok cool , I think I’m getting it, this plates with that, this dish gets the cheese this one doesn’t. Pssshh what was I nervous about I’m a BEAST!! Uh-oh… what was that beep….why was it so long. And I turn around.
“First Push walkin IN!” Some kitchen jargon for you folks, First push means “the first wave of big amounts of orders of the dinner service. “walkin in” means “incoming”. Hearing that down the line and the amped up hollars of the culinary manager screaming “lets rock this bit&* woooooooo!!!!” is quite similiar to Mel Gibson’s inspiring charge in Braveheart. Yeah , it’s like that cause you know for a fact, some of you may go down. Hell, I was dyin 5 minutes in haha. Right as I’m a fast furious confused like a rabbit in a trap, a party of 40 folks come strollin in.
I know if I don’t clear that board by time that party seats, I’m screwed. It’s a race against time banging out chicken, salmon, and steak as fast and best quality as my fumbling green hands could handle. I was defusing a time bomb. Finally I cleared the last ticket and BOOM, two pages instantaneously slam my screen.
I would love to say I immediately went beast mode and crushed it. However, for about 30 seconds I stared at that thing like standing on the train tracks with the 5:00 barreling down. My trainer jumps in. Hip to hip, doing what looked like an octopus kung fu movie impression. The best thing I heard that night was “go ahead and bump that last ticket” and the board was finally clear. We survived and I got a little respect that day. A small little war ribbon sayin I at least dont turn my tail and run.
I’m learning the line is a beautiful dangerous place for a green culinary student, but it’s not about what you know, but what you DO. If one station goes down, you ALL go down. No one expects you to be a master especially the first day, it’s about is there some fight in you when the horde comes? Do you dig your heels in and charge back? I can hold my head a little higher knowing I walked the line.