I remembered today why it was that I love this business and why I went to all the work and expense of starting my own place. It's to have my OWN KITCHEN where for better or for worse I get to set the tone. I really do love cooking, and I really do love kitchen work, but the craziness inherent in this industry and the crazy people that you end up spending so much time with on a day to day basis tends to sap all the joy out of the work itself.
Today was one of those grinder days where I had a lot planned to get done but then I took a serious look at the prep list and realized that I was a prep cook today and all that other [adult word] would have to wait. I started in at about 10:30 and just went straight through until dinner service was over at 9:30. Took a break to eat some spaghetti, but the rest of the day I had three projects at a time going plus a little knife work in between pulling something out of the oven or deglazing a pan. It was a wonderful day, exhausting, but very fulfilling.
There was a moment that stood out to me: Dinner service was about an hour away, I had just gotten through talking to my sous chef about the prep situation and was back in the mix banging out sauces, cutting proteins and other prep stuff when I caught myself and looked around. All the cooks were quietly bent over cutting boards or hauling product to the line, our three six burner stoves were overflowing with pots and pans of all shapes and sizes, and I was right in the middle of it with them. It was a group of disparate individuals from all walks of life coming together to try and put out a great meal for a bunch of strangers. There was no shouting, no drama, no messes, no confusion. Everyone knew what needed to be done and was doing it without being asked. The only talk was the occassional joke, query about prep or announcement about what project they were finishing and what they were starting on next. Sometimes people would sing along to the old Bon Jovi playing on the radio, and sometimes that person was me. There was a zen quality to the work, a confident calmness that I have only experienced in a couple of kitchens and desperately wanted to find again and it was there.
I was really tired, but when I looked around and realized where I was, what I was doing, and who I was doing it with, I figured out that no bad thing can come out of this honest work, this team work and this dedication. The calm busyness and the focused but relaxed energy was invigorating and made me for the feel so happy that I had made this decision to put so much into Sage. The chance to simply come to work and JUST DO THE WORK is so rare in this business, I had to buy my own kitchen just to find it again.
It's so satisfying to have engineered a kitchen where that kind of energy is evident again. I feel blessed and lucky to work side by side with our crew on a daily basis.