Sunday, October 18, 2009


So things have gone from good to better, and I have kicked some serious ass this weekend.

We had another wedding yesterday, so that meant basically no break, again. Not even enough time to go home this time, so a few of us spent it on the back steps of the restaurant. Nevertheless, dinner rush arrived, and it was one of the busiest since I've been here. At the beginning of the shift, Sany calls me over and tells me, "I'm putting you in charge of the oyster dish tonight. Do a good job, and if you make even a single mistake, I'm pulling you off and putting you back on salads." No pressure, right? This is the dish that, last week, I applied about a thimble too much of sauce, and was called and idiot and sent back to salads. Salads means I spend my time placing individual microgreens and flower petals, whereas oysters involves plating a la minute and being in charge of a dish by myself; more responsibility, less mundane minutia, etc. In short: Oysters, good; salad, bad.

So with a steady hand a heightened pulse, I took the reins of oysters. And I knocked the shit out of the PARK. Granted, we're not talking about a dish that requires much culinary skill: drop an oyster on the plate, apply some sauce, gelee, garnish. But the point is that I was able to do it so flawlessly that even Sany had to give me kudos at the end of the nite. As you may have gathered at this point, Sany's standards leave no room for error. None. So to pass in her eyes means you did it perfectly. I was even able to follow the soccer game being played on the flatscreen in the main part of the kitchen and still be on top of my game. Service went off like French butter and we were out of there before 1 am.

Today was no different: she kept me on oysters and I kept on top of my game. She even gave me a shout out during our team huddle at closing, using me as an example of someone who has come a long way and grown a lot in the last week. Gravy, right? And my Spanish has gotten good enough that I can finally be funny in the kitchen! My linguistics have caught up with my wit, so that the clever quips and one liners that have previously gotten tangled up between my head and my mouth are now actually making Sany LAUGH! Good gracious, who knew? So I think I have officially gotten my footing here at the restaurant, and while I still have plenty I can learn, I am no longer the bitch, the fish, the green-as-grass, wet-behind-the-ears new guy.

In part, this is true because there's a new New Guy. Igor arrived Thursday and he was added to our apartment. I know what you're thinking, but he's not some hunchbacked, lazy-eyed, lab coat clad halfling; he's actually Brazilian and arrived here after fresh off a stage at 3 Michelin star restaurant in Florence. Chill dude and a nice addition to the apartment and restaurant alike... and he has officially taken my position at the bottom of the ladder as far as Sany is concerned. I feel bad for the guy, because I see him going through exactly the same things I did when I arrived. Sany lays into him left and right and breaks him down the same way she did me. And being at this point now, I can look back with 20/20 hindsight and I try to make him see that it will get better, but just like I didn't believe the others, he doesn't believe me. C'est la vie; he's just gonna have to tough it out.

All in all, I am pretty pleased with myself. I was given more lemons than even the folks at Minute Maid could handle, and I think I made some pretty damn good lemonade. And if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere. Wait, no, that's New York... well, you know what I mean. Now it's the weekend, my roommate is making duck tonite, and it's off to Bilabo tomorrow to see the Guggenheim and find some serious tapas. And, just 2 weeks till I see Julia in Barcelona. I dare say, life is good.

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