Every chef would love to tell you that they’re a perfect machine and they’ve never seen “the weeds”. In the kitchen world, being in the weeds means you are overwhelmed with tickets and are behind on ticket times. This week was our last meal service of the semester which was bittersweet. There’s alot of things you learn in culinary school, but the intangibles are what you take with you long after the cap and gown.
The scenario was set, the odds were against us. There was a lot to prep, and our class had dwindled down to about 7-8 students to prep and serve a three course to roughly 80 covers that were being sat all at once. Now for you veterans it doesn’t sound that bad but for green rookies like us this was an ALL uphill fight.
The usual chatty good vibe kitchen was quiet as a church. Heads down, knives and hands flying, the only talk was about each stations checklist and their status. Silent professionals blazed through recipe cards, sauces simmering, fabricating meat, mise en place and time were sworn enemies. It is a fact, time is NOT your friend.
As the tables were sat, the anxiety goes away and the stadium lights kick on. This is where those passionate about being a chef and not just a cook thrive. The chaos that used to be the wrench in your skill machine is now somewhat of a comfy home where you nestle in and embrace it.
As service came to a close, we wiped our brows, and at first, happy it was over. We made it. Then that feeling every cook or chef knows all to well. It’s what I like to call “the crash”. The fading of the adrenaline, thinking about what you could have done better to help your team in the heat of battle. Glad it was over, but this closed another chapter in our culinary education that will surely be missed. Nothing forges bonds like being thrown in a fire together. We’ve learned so much together, shared butt kicking meal services together, and learned about more than just “cooking”. It’s all about teamwork. Like Sgt Barnes in Platoon said, “when the machine breaks down, WE break down”. One team, one fight.