Wednesday, March 11, 2020
The grill cook plated two orders of lamb chops. He wiped the plates with a damp towel and slid each plate down the line. Then, the saute chef ladled a Merlot reduction over each lamb chop before placing the dishes beneath the heat lamps. Meanwhile, the kitchen’s latest hire sauteed spinach and was adding salt when the expeditor called for a pickup.
“Waiting on the lamb for table seven,” said the expeditor.
Chef tapped his fingers on the stainless-steel table.
Rookie, or at least that’s what the kitchen crew has been calling him for the past week, lifted his pan off the stove, placing it on the cutting board. One cook shook his head and said something in Cantonese. Chef, of course, knew enough Cantonese to follow up with loud words of his own. Then, after collecting himself, he warned the rookie that if the lamb chops died on the pass, he should start looking for a new job tomorrow. Not a moment later, one of the Mott Street wizards moved toward the rookie with his tongs. Rookie panicked when Chef raised his voice again and tipped his hot pan too far, causing the steaming spinach to fall on the floor.
Chef tilted his head and for a moment you thought he’d break his neck. Luckily another one of the line cooks had the sense to fire a good amount of spinach earlier because he sensed the rush was coming. And before you knew it, the two orders of lamb chops were out the door and on their way to table seven.
For the next twenty minutes, the board filled with dupes. Chef ordered the rookie away from the line and relegated him to cutting sprigs of parsley. The rookie’s hands shook while working and he didn’t say a word or lift up his head.
When the rush finished, Chef asked for two pitchers of beer. He poured beer into plastic cups and passed them out to his crew. Rookie was the last to get a beer, which was Chef’s intention.
“You learn anything tonight?” Chef asked.
Rookie was about to say something when the restaurant’s owner came into the kitchen, which wasn’t a normal practice for him. He motioned for Chef to join him the dining room. The two of them sat at a booth not far from the kitchen.
Ten minutes later, Chef returned to the kitchen and poured himself a second beer.
“They’re saying the Governor is going to reduce restaurant capacity starting tomorrow, so you might want to check the schedule before going home.”
“But, didn’t the mayor say it was safe to continue eating out for healthy people?” Rookie asked.
Chef’s eyes narrowed.
“You’ve got a lot to learn,” Chef said finishing the rest of his beer.
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