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Sunday, March 20, 2011




Chef Whites in public –
WAIT-STAFF - I was in Applebee’s after the gym one day just minding my own business ordering a burger when a waitress approached me and asked if I liked my classes.  You see, I was wearing my chef whites with my culinary school’s name (Ivy Tech.) embroidered on the chest.  She too was a student at the Ivy and wanted to get another perspective on the program.  

I told her I loved everything so far and she began to tell me about all the chef instructors and their idiosyncrasies.  I was very thankful that she lent me this very valuable piece of information.  She also gave me advice on how to complete a project for my Food Theory class and that morsel of data led to an “A”.  We had a nice conversation as the restaurant wasn’t very busy.  Her plans are to head to Polynesia and enter the fray as a personal chef to the wealthy.  I admire her ambition and her choice of locales to spend the rest of her life.

GUY IN A CAR - I was driving home from my baking class one beautiful Saturday with the window down and I hear some guy yelling at me from another car.  He was pointing to the shoulder pockets on my chef’s coat saying how he liked the pocket for my pens and markers.  “It looks cool man!”  -- “I said it LOOKS COOL MAN!!” -- “We can market that look for the business man” he exclaimed “we’ll be rich!!  Ha ha ha!!!”  He then drove off.

Dude, how am I going to get rich with you if you drive off?  At least give me your business card.  The thing is…he sounded very serious until he started laughing like a little school boy after passing gas in front of pretty girls at his first dance (yeah, this happened to me and I couldn’t stop laughing – nervously of course).

MARSH – I popped into the local Marsh after one of my cooking classes and was looking for some pastry flour.  I was going to make a fruit tart that I had just learned that morning when a trio of women asked me what would go better with a salmon – a chardonnay or Riesling?

I was a bit startled and wondered why I’m being singled out and realized I had my chef white’s on and shared with them that many Rieslings are sweet and chardonnays have some body with a hint of sweetness.  They chose the chardonnay.

Straight away a man overhearing our conversation wanted to know what to cook for his girlfriend of one year.  It was their anniversary that day and he wanted something special.  I asked him if he was adept at cooking and he exclaimed that he burns water.  I told him to take her to a nice restaurant downtown but first serve her champagne accompanied with a bouquet of flowers and Hors d’ oeuvres back at his place.  He realized that cooking something might be a bit too ambitious and liked the flower drinky thing – his words not mine.  My guess is that he’s a bit challenged when it comes to skills of romance.

Working the line –
Our breakfast and pantry class just came back from Spring Break and our team’s switched duties.  For the first 8 weeks my team helped set up for breakfast and then stayed in the kitchen helping create the lunch menu and daily specials.  These next 8 weeks my team will be in front cooking before the masses of people ordering their food.

The breakfast crew worked the line which consists of taking the orders or manning the griddle.  The “line” as they call it in the biz is the lifeblood of the kitchen.  It’s a line of chefs/cooks working side by side to expedite/cook orders of food.

My teammates each had a preference as to what they wanted to do which was quite interesting to me.  First Kay wanted nothing to do with cooking on the griddle.  She’d prefer to stay in front of the customer and take orders and interact with them as she’s very much a people person.  Her social skills and demeanor suit her for this position as well…it’s as if she was born for customer service (she is quite good at the face-to-face aspects of this business).

My other two cooking buddies Blake and Kevin wanted nothing to do with interfacing with the customer.  One of them mentioned that people suck and I don’t really like them that much.  I really can’t argue with him that much except that the sucky ones are few and far in between.  The other one heeded Chef Comstock’s call to keep an eye on the dishes in the back and would disappear from time to time to satisfy this requirement.

I thought this to be a fascinating dynamic that the boys didn’t like dealing with customers (their bread and butter so-to-speak) and our lone female representative wanted to ONLY deal with the customers.  What does this say about the differences between the sexes?  I’m not sure and don’t care to argue the point here but was very surprised to learn this socio-paradigm existed within our group.

Meanwhile, I’m having a blast talking to folks, cooking for folks and shooting the bull with my classmates.  This is one of the best parts about this class.  I’m really going to enjoy the next 8-7 weeks as I find that I enjoy both aspects of this switch.  I guess that I am a people person (hate that phrase) that likes to cook.

Next week I’m going to include a new recipe each blog at the urging of some of my friends and possibly add some sanitation/cooking/baking advice and/or tips and facts.

Have a great day and never give up!

Mark (Sparky)

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