Friday, March 04, 2005

Life as a prep bitch, aka What rung IS this anyways?

So yeah, I'm dedicating this post to the noble activity of bitching about work. Where normally someone with my duties vs pay would rejoice in the daily grind of being alternately bored and worked to the bone, I find the idea of prepping for the sake of prepping the lowest form of kitchen work. Kind of like being a rocket scientist and being the guy they make screw together endless fusillades. Or being a security adviser/coordinator and being made to stand watch at the door yourself. Menial, mindless work where I have expertise to do something truly productive Anyway so I get scheduled to do chefs prep, which is actually a pretty cool job because you're all over the kitchen doing some interesting things and you're doing DIFFERENT things every 5-10 minutes. Which makes the day go by a Lot faster. But I show up, and they stick me in Bar Prep, which is in the furthest nether regions of the kitchen cut off from all human interaction standing at a table that no one else will see all day, completing really basic tasks on a list. Boring as all hell, beyond that I've never done bar prep b4 and they don't really seem to care about the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing.

Oh well I managed, scrounged around and found a recipe book and pestered co-workers to show me sample plates for the bar specials. In any case, I have no idea what a normal bar prep person does all day, I spent the last hour of my shift stirring crab dip in a vain attempt to appear busy because I had already finished my list and didn't know what else to do. And since I was out of the main stream sight of everyone no one noticed or cared. I always get nervous and anxious during times like this because I feel like I'm stealing.

Then there are days like last Friday, in which I was worked as if we had just lost every other employee in the hotel. I was in the Pantry, a line solely dedicated to the creation and distribution of salad and various and sundry fruit dishes, working by myself trying to catch up after a busy week. Then the chef decided I didn't have enough to do with the pantry line depleted and a 300 count dinner coming up, so he gives me a BEO *(banquet event order)* to complete that includes a number of things that are overpriced and they are all platters varying in size from 1 by 2 *(feet)* to 3 by 5. So while attempting to channel the glorious and venerated giant squid, frantically producing $250 crab dip platters and trying desperately to do things like shell/clean shrimp, my line gets hit with a constant stream of machine gun like chatter from the hated printer. Dinner Cometh.

I'm juggling 5 mixing bowls an indefinite amount of plates and various and sundry types of lettuce all the while literally sprinting across the half football sized kitchen dodging around the obstacle course of multiple stations and random people on break wandering through the kitchen area trying to make it to the coolers on the other side of the kitchen to beg borrow or steal stock for my line and other goodies to prep/make for the order. I get to the point where the one remaining item is shrimp that I need to run my line. Which means I need marinade. Then I run out of romaine lettuce because people are ordering Caesar salads like refills on water. So I go running across the kitchen again with a bowl of shrimp under one arm trying to shell on the way there. Make my way back defying gravity the whole way balancing the case of lettuce on my head with one arm curled around the bowl and the other warding off the many obstacles/people *(same thing a lot of the time)*, hurl the lettuce into the sink across the front of my line bounce and spin off the wall in front and skid onto my line sliding the bowl of shrimp to the far end next to the cutting board because, miraculously, I had managed to finish off the last of the shrimp on the trip.

I then spend about five minutes making some servers very angry and giving them a lot to do by putting every order from the last twenty minutes up all at the same time. Fuck them. Oh well. I then have time to do the lettuce and move on to the next stage of the shrimp, marinade and cook off. I clean them, butterfly them and skewer them in a process that should soon show up as an Olympic sport in as much as they were making it from one end of my line to the other as I was utilizing multiple blenders trying to make the marinade at the same time, and as I don't have room on my counter for all that AND the pan for the shrimp the shrimp were arcing a pretty parabola across the fifteen feet to the sink where the pan was. I spend a few minutes making a large mess with random herbs and oil, splattering over a good percentage of my prep area due to the fact that blenders may or may not be imbued with lids in this kitchen, and I may or may not have the time or patience to seek them out.

So that done the shrimp firmly plastered in marinade and then line thoroughly trashed, I endeavor to get the damned things cooked so I can actually USE them. First stop, the hot line with all manner of grill, broiler, oven, salamander, stove, fryer, and hot plate you could ever imagine arrayed in a nice hot and hazardous long line formation. Once I arrive, cradling my precious crustaceous cargo, I'm firmly rebuked by a sweaty collection of some of the most foul-mouthed and dirty minded people this side of a pirates bounty, Line Cooks. In full battle garb, filthy aprons and bar towels aplenty, and the ever present never wavering display of sharp/fiery implements of destruction. My approach sends them in a frenzy of arm waving and shouting telling me to find my cooking area elsewhere as they are in tactical retreat under a full fisted barrage from the front and taking heavy losses. In other words their printers had been puking out tickets by the dozens the whole evening and had no sign of slowing, and at the rate they were going we could probably make a card tower to reach the moon with the paper littering the line.

So, seeking alternative means with which to apply heat to the raw sea-life/finger food, I turn to the bake shop, and after being presented with a number of unpleasant gestures and heavy mixing objects as direct threats of bodily harm if I invade their territory I moved on to the only remaining alternative. I pulled out the old decrepit plug-in panini grill. Dragged it over to my station, and plugged it in to the only outlet available. This actually worked to cook of 4 orders of shrimp, good enough for now, but then the damned thing just up and stops working. At this point I've pretty much given up on the deal and moved on to cleaning up my area and dealing with what tickets they throw me.

About twenty minutes go by, and the night ends, in as much as the dining room is closed and now it's just a matter of waiting for room-service to end and put everything away. Then the chef walks by...and asks me why all the fridges on my line are off. (*$&%#@*&%) Yes, that's right, the bastard grill blew the circuit and the whole station was dead, chefs idea at this point is that I need to clear out all five double-door stand up refrigerators and move everything into the big walk-ins on the other side of the kitchen, because HE doesn't know where the circuit breakers are...:P So I spend all of 5 seconds staring off into space over his head, and then get to work.

I'm cussing throwing things and desperately emptying everything in sight in hopes of getting everything done and cleaned up in the half-hour I have left in my shift. I get about half-way done with all the crap, am running a cart overflowing with shit from my fridges across the kitchen, and the executive steward asks me what the hell I'm doing. I spend precious moments explaining while still running the shit towards the walk-ins. His response is, "Well why didn't you just turn the breaker back on?" At this point I nearly explode, but hold back long enough for him to walk me to the chefs office door and open a panel on the wall next to it. (flip) Back on. NOW I have to get everything BACK out of the FUCKING walk-ins, put it all BACK in the fridges, and STILL clean up and get the FUCK out in like ten minutes. PISSED.

But I got it done, thanks to LOTS of caffeine throughout the day and purist animosity towards the whole situation. So, that's a day in the life of a prep bitch. *(shrug)* I get paid all right, and usually my job is boring. Not much else to tell, life proceeds apace. Work, sleep, occasionally eat, and read a LOT. Hope everyone is well, and I promise I'll be blogging more in the near future...Thanx all for getting on my ass as usual...;)


At 12:32 AM, Blogger Leah said...

We wouldn't get on your arse as it were quite so much if your version of events wasn't so damn interestin! =)


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