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Brix Externship Blog Week Two – July 10, 2011

We were really surprised to find that Chef Nate put us in front of the stove that very, very
first Wednesday night as line cooks to put out plates cooked to order for the guests.
Luckily John was there to do the real work on the front station that night. The front
station does the steaks and wok hot green beans and croquettes and crab cakes and
desserts. The back station, which was our domain that night, has to plate salads and make
cheese plates as well as cook pasta dishes. But to get up to speed and we mean that
literally with 10 different orders to bring to the pass (culinary term for window where
Chef inspects and then hands out our creations to the front of the house servers – that
very Wednesday night it was Amanda), was for us like starting a 10K race with no prior
training runs. Mind you we had started at 9am that morning and had all morning and
afternoon washed and chopped veggies, so our feet and backs were starting to complain.
We were lucky that there were not too many guests in the house that night. I came to love
doing dishes that night watching Sandee handling the burners, cooking orders with Chef
hovering from a distance watching and coaching her. The sounds of a restaurant dining
area from the kitchen is like a happy buzz of talking and clinking of glasses with voices
we recognize, such as Hunter’s distinctive laugh and Amanda’s “order in”. But when we
are hustling in the kitchen, those sounds are background noises. That night we earned our
first burn marks and blisters. Around ten pm Mitch came through the back door to collect
the compost bin (about that aspect of the kitchen read next week’s blog). As the guests
went to the dessert rounds, our station came to a halt with one cheese plate, that at long
last reached the pass amidst dessert plates. The cheese plate was ordered as an appetizer,
but in the confusion of all the other orders that night it never got delivered on time and as
such became a dessert plate. We retired to the bench in the back yard with a PBR (the
traditional reward for the staff during the mid afternoon lull times and at the end of the
shift). When the last guests leave, the kitchen comes to live again as we clean up our
stations and store the remaining food in the refrigerators, do the last dishes and send
clean glasses and silverware to the front of the house for polishing. It is during this end of
service time that Hunter comes alive with jokes and compliments about the quality of the
food orders Chef did not pass for delivery to guests, which he always consumes. A good
night of flawless dishes leaves him hungry and almost grumpy. It is also at this time that
we start cleaning. As with all cleaning jobs in any home we start from the top (only
unlike your home we do the following every day): shelf and surface wiping, stove top
cleaning, sink cleaning and dust bin emptying, after which floor sweeping can begin. Not
to go into too much detail: we are using food friendly chemicals to disinfect all areas in
the kitchen including an enzyme liquid to disinfect the floor which after sweeping get a
sturdy wet brushing. It is only then that the lowest workers on the totem pole, the two of
us – and on Wednesdays with extra input of John – can rest and join the bosses at the bar
for a last PBR (for those of you that tried to puzzle out what those letters mean a few
sentences above: Pabst Blue Ribbon), and have the recap of the day with input and advise
from Chef and Hunter before we leave for bed. Believe you me around 11pm 12 am
nobody is to be seen in downtown Lexington as we shuffle home downhill to the Dutch