On the one hand, if every Saturday night were as fun as this one was, Saturday might become my new favorite day of the work week. And on the other hand, I suppose I ought to be relieved for the front of the house staff that we’re only doing OM Saturdays on the 2nd Saturday of each month.
I was wondering why they didn’t need me until 2pm; it turns out that we were participating in the Mt. Adams Art Walk, and all the men were already in the kitchen when I arrived.
me: Hi Chef!
Jason: Wait, Ais is here? Why is Ais here?
Chef: Oh, well, she works here.
Jason: Wait, no, really? Seriously, though.
me: I can leave if you want-
Jason: No! Please stay! Please stay so I don’t have to!
~ 10 minutes later, after I’ve changed ~
me: Really, though, I can leave now if you don’t need me.
Chef: Nope. Ais, you’re staying.
Jason: And I’m leaving.
Chef: No, you’re both staying.
Jason: Wait, are you serious?
So it happened that instead of just going home, for once, Jason actually had plans to go meet up with friends at either Hofbrauhaus or the Lager House. He was none the worse for our teasing and left at a decent hour, so there.
Prep was punctuated with just a couple of mid-afternoon-snack-ish orders, but we were in our t-shirts, as if we hadn’t any guests out in the dining room whose eyes were directed by the displayed art to gaze intensely in the same general direction as the kitchen.
I hate it when Jason and I geek out about something and then I completely forget the topic by the time I’m sitting down to blog about things. I do remember him asking about my wine paper for Tharpe and briefly quizzing me on the origin of esters and their connection to fermentation, but that conversation definitely took place downstairs, whereas I’m pretty sure the geeking out took place upstairs, because Matt and Chef were present and had no input. Meh.
Jason listens to a different radio station from the one we used to listen to [99.98% of the time] at Daveed’s, and Green Day’s Holiday came on while Jason was in the first walk-in and I was picking through arugula. I was singing along when he came around the corner, which surprised him. I guess he thinks Green Day’s too profane for me. Which it is, because I my sing-along version skips over those parts – “Aw, Ais. You didn’t say the bad word.” – but some lines from American Idiot and Minority just seem so terribly appropriate for this particular time in world history.
I had just decided that I had no objections to a radio station which played Green Day, Seether & Evanescence’s Broken, and Nickleback, when all of a sudden, the host made some lewd comment… “SHUT YOUR EARS, AIS.” “Oh geeze.” *radio show host goes on to tell of a new story coming out of someone… being… strange… with a dolphin* “JASON! Please can we change the station-” “Yes! I mean, you can, you’re closer, but yes! Change it! Do it!” *sigh* This is what happens when Sami isn’t around with her iPhone to play The Black Keys and not worry about weird infomercials/comments coming from Pandora. We ended up going back to the Daveed’s standard 92.5 as we finished slicing eggplant paper-thin without a mandoline. It’s dangerous to be released by both Matt and Chef and directed to ask what help Jason needs; the recurring theme seems to be very easily summed up as, Come Suffer With Me.
We had such a weird conversation that began with the whole arm-hair-being-burned-off-in-the-tandoor thing, and then Jason said something to the effect that if I made naan often enough, I wouldn’t have to shave my arms anymore, to which I retorted that I’d never done any such thing anyway, and that somehow led to his and his swim and water polo teammates’ high school shaving habits in anticipation of major meets, because apparently arm and leg hair can significantly negatively affect your speed in the water. Science? but *awkward*…
Assuming that Chef remembers, I think I’m getting a new chef’s coat. It was almost 5, and I had gone and changed for service. Jason inquired as to my lack of a black coat, informed me that I ought to have one, and directed me to ask Chef about it as soon as he came back through the kitchen. “No… I don’t want to…” “Ais, just tell him you need a coat. Just say-” “JASON, in case you haven’t noticed, you’re much freer with your superiors than I am-” “Fine, I’ll tell him-” “Yeah, you do that.” I honestly wasn’t expecting him to say anything at all, but as soon as Chef walked through, “Hey Chef, Ais needs a coat.” I did not apologize for initially being ever so slightly defensive. And anyway, he owed me for spilling my drink the night I staged and refusing to tell Josh to get me a new one [because I was too shy to ask myself (I just hate the idea of my very first words to any of the front of the house staff being a request for a might-not-be-time-friendly favor)].
Okay, Chef said something to Matt while I was frying off onions and potatoes and veg potli, and for the life of me, I cannot now recall what it was, but he followed up his comment to Matt with, “Ais, be quiet.” “Whaaat?! I didn’t say anything!!!” “You didn’t need to.” “Wha-” “You speak with your eyes, my dear.” Sometime later, I said something to the effect that Chef’s so good at saying something which could be incredibly insulting, and then following it up with something perfectly engineered to pacify. Matt elaborated on what he termed the “compliment sandwich.” Lol.
FLASHBACK. On the night of my stage, Jason and I were talking about Ricky Bobby and I said something like, “… it feels like every other sentence out of his mouth is engineered to make me feel stupid. And I’m not saying I’m smart…” “Ais. You just used ‘engineered’ in a sentence, that sounds pretty smart to me.”
Muaha, Jason jokingly accused Chef of being racist, to which Chef replied, “I hired you, didn’t I?” and pointed out that he was the darkest person in the kitchen and totally the minority. For kicks, I held my arm next to Chef’s and commented that I was almost there. Not quite, but very close.
Service was, in short, insane, beautiful, and the ultimate God-sent affirmation. By 22:30, we’d done 102 covers, and by the time it was all said and done, 130, coupled with fist bumps and handshakes from Chef. It wasn’t without its rough spots, but I can honestly say that I never felt truly frustrated at any point. Chef somehow keeps me and Matt balanced. He calls the tickets, keeps us on our toes, gives us each our respective all-day every few tickets, makes sure that we’re serious when we need to be and yet encourages as much laughter as possible, checks our work and gives us advice or admonishment as needed, switches stations with Matt when he starts to get too frustrated and meanwhile checks in on me and tag-teams if he thinks I need it… Simply put, Chef’s great.
Apparently, however, even with me suffering with Jason, we did not slice enough eggplant for service.
Matt: Chef, 86 imli.
Lou: So cut it to order.
Matt: Dude! No one can f*cking cut imli that fast.
Lou: Chef can!
Chef: I can. I’ll make it work, son, don’t you worry.
Matt: Ok, Chef, I’m not worried.
Chef: *pause* 86 imli, heard!
Oh, what a lolfest.
The kitchen officially closed at midnight, but I wasn’t tired. How could I be? The music was up and awesome, and I couldn’t help singing and dancing, to the amusement of my kitchen-mates. While cleaning [and singing and dancing], my Sunday commitment to HomeLIFE came up. Later, Josh cut himself on broken glass, and he and Matt and Ray were all downstairs rummaging through the first aid kit and epically failing to find a bandage. I still had stuff in my knife kit from Michigan, and ended up fixing Josh up with a knuckle band-aid and a finger cot.
Josh: What is that??
me: This? A finger cot?
Josh: I’ve never seen that before-
me: Really? It’s only been in every kitchen I’ve worked in previously-
Josh: What are you, a nurse??
Matt: Dude, she’s a great cook, she’s a two-time finalist of American Idol, she mentors troubled boys, and she’s a nurse practitioner!
me: They’re not troubled-
Josh: This is so weird. *in reference to the finger cot*
Yes, Ray was there. I’m not sure what brought him in, but it was so nice to be able to catch up. Matt and I had gone to sit at the outdoor bar, which had officially been closed to the guests at that point, to go over the prep list while enjoying some Cava – mine – and Corona – Matt’s. Ray joined us, and with some of the front of the house occasionally popping in, we just talked about everything and everyone connected to Daveed’s, mostly about how I missed them all and wondered constantly how everyone was doing. Ray’s seen everyone much more often than I have since it all ended, and it was nice to get some news. And then of course I could talk to Ray about how much Jason has changed, because he knows and remembers and understands exactly what I mean.
I learned a little more about Matt last night. I didn’t realize he was so young. What threw me off was when he told me the day we both staged that he had been in the industry for 10 years, and so mentally I supposed that he was closer to Bradley in age, but he’s actually 25, and he looks younger, though definitely older than Jason, but then Jason looks very young for his age as well. It was nice getting to see Matt’s off-the-line (funnily like off-the-record) side, because he can be so intense on the line, and how he is while sitting at the bar isn’t anything like I could have mentally attempted to construct based on just working with him. It was as profoundly surprising as my once-upon-a-time mental image of Marv the Youth & Young Adult Minister suddenly being shattered by the buying of a round of tequila shots for everyone [of age] at Lizzie’s 21st.
We didn’t get around to dancing, though. When I asked why we weren’t all inside dancing – and granted it was gorgeous out – Matt said he simply hadn’t had enough to drink yet. “Aw, shoo, c’mon. I can dance without being inebriated.” Somehow that statement from me led to, “Ais, you’re a good girl-” “She’s always been a good girl-” (<– Raymond) “-and you’re nice. How did you end up in this industry??” It always amuses me – and also saddens me somewhat – that people suppose my career choice strange simply because I am what they term ‘nice’ and ‘good.’ At least now, there no longer seems to be any question as to whether or not my ‘sweet’ temperament will actually allow for me to last in this industry.
And apparently I’m a ‘sweetheart’ merely for offering to wash dishes for which my co-workers have an immediate need. Also, I was told on Friday that I would surely make a good wife, and that whoever married me would be a lucky man. Yet all I was doing prior to that affirmation was portioning out jaggery… Finally, I’m not entirely sure what I walked in on, but there was a, “Oh, here she is, quiet,” and what they apparently took to be a nonverbal inquiry from moi – must’ve been the talking eyes thing again – elicited the brief explanation, “Nothing, we were just saying what a pretty girl you are and how you have a beautiful voice.” They may not have deserved the, “Liars,” that I shot at them – though I meant it in perfectly good humor – but who knows? *shrug* Whatever, they’re nice guys. And by the time I left, Matt was on his third Corona, the DJ was gone, everything was fairly quiet inside – in spite of there still being some 20-ish people sitting around – and we hadn’t gone in to join the dancing. He called himself out on it and saved me the trouble.
A couple of last-minute side notes:
- Nathan felt it necessary to officially introduce himself to me. Maybe that was my fault for not taking the initiative to address him by name once I did know it…
- What is it with boys and their fascination with ‘bad words’ in other languages? It’s like Gabe teaching classmates ‘bathroom-talk’ in Tagalog back in 4th grade. Jason was attempting to teach me curses in Hindi which I fortunately refused to repeat until somebody told me what they meant.
- Josh reminds me of Yards a lot – which makes me miss Yards even more than ever, if that’s at all still possible – but that cannot possibly be merely because Yards trained him. He’s more tense and annoying that Yards, though… and I mean that in good humor.
- Marv thinks my right arm is darker. As in, he made me come over to the light to confirm that it wasn’t just a shadow. Really??
- Jason likes to bark, “AIS!” the way Chief – or DC, as Jason now calls him – used to. He has also taken to saying, “Sorry, Jared,” in a very childish voice whenever he supposes that an apology from me is impending.
- I was not always apologizing in Michigan! but something about either being back in the same physical kitchen, or specifically being back in the same kitchen as Jason, has somehow caused my overly-apologetic self to resurface, and it’s driving me just as nuts as it’s driving Jason. “Ais. What did we talk about?” “What?” “We said you weren’t going to say sorry anymore!” “What?! No we didn’t!” “Yes we did!” “Oh. Sorry.” “AIS!”
Mother comments that from what I’ve told her, I really am happier now than I ever was at Daveed’s. I won’t deny it, but I do want to point out that Daveed’s couldn’t really have been that terrible in comparison, because the experience obviously solidified my love for this lifestyle that I’ve chosen, and led Scott to call me a workaholic and declare me addicted to kitchens. In the grand scheme of things, Daveed’s had its place, served its purpose, made me a better person, and secured me this past summer’s internship, next summer’s internship, and this current job. No, Daveed’s was a blessing, and I am fortunate to know it.
Looking forward to another great work week =) God is good.