Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Week Before Christmas

So it's started. The prep work for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Brunch, that is. I was so excited to go in today and have a slow day and watch the minutes tick away on the clock. James was in charge, as Joelle had another day off. And seriously, no matter what time of day or what time of year we're in, James is convinced that we're always in the weeds.

I walked in and first off, there was no prep list. He was still writing one up and when he looked up and saw me, he said,

"You won't believe it. We're already in the shitter."

"James. You say that all the time. How can we be in the shitter when there was one party for 12 at 7:30 this morning and one party for 12 tomorrow morning?"

"We just are," he responded.

I laughed and walked away to grab a cutting board and some nappy rags. It was a quiet day in the whole kitchen today; most people were off. I'm sure they were home either resting their feet and backs for the upcoming days or cramming in their holiday shopping because they couldn't get off time before.

When I returned to our kitchen, the prep list was done and I glanced over it quickly:
Chix Liver
Plated Salmon
Help James

"Gifts" refers to fruit plates or fruit bowls that VIPs receive in their room once they check in. They don't take much time so I got that out of the way pretty quickly. Today I only had four to do.

Next was Pico. I chopped up a case of Beefsteaks, tossed in some red onions, cilantro, jalenapenos, and lime juice. The Guac was even easier as I snagged some of the Pico and mixed it in with about half a case of mashed Haas Avocados.

Chicken Livers and Plated Salmon were already taken care of. I just had to check our walk in and make sure the Cafe line was fully stocked for the night. That meant at least 10 plates of smoked salmon had to be plated and ready for service as well as eight servings of chicken liver. The exact amount of each were in the walk-in so I moved on to the entertaining task of "Help James."

James is maybe in his late 40's or early 50's and is the type of guy who knows the most random information in the entire world. He is extremely knowledgeable about food and has a twisted sense of humor. He's been with the hotel for 19 years now. I cannot imagine.

Our first task was to prep the lettuce for the day. We took two large "trucks" and headed downstairs four flights to the receiving area. ("Trucks" are simply large four wheeled plastic dollies type things that we use to transport food and dirty dishes).

Downstairs, we washed three cases of romaine, one case of Boston Lettuce, and gathered six boxes of field greens, as well as one case of spinach. The main idea was to have enough lettuce upstairs for the day and maybe the day after, as well as enough back up downstairs incase extra is needed. Today it was a quick process.

Next, salmon. 70 sides of salmon. That's right. 70 sides! We teamed up and actually finished in around two hours. With fourteen of the sides, we prepare a molasses gravalax. This involved creating a tequila and lime mixture as well as a seasoned salt solution. Each side is trimmed of its fat and then its skin is scored. After soaking in the tequila-lime mixture, it is placed on a bed of the seasoned salt mixture as well as completely being covered in the same mixture. We placed two side in a hotel pan, stacked two hotel pans on each other, place a clean hotel pan on top, and then added weight onto that.

With another fourteen we did a standard gravalax. It was a similar process to the molasses cured salmon except we used a vodka-lemon solution, sweated the salmon with some salt after the fat was removed, and then rubbed some dried dill into each side. We placed each side on a bed of sugar and salt (equal parts by weight) and covered them completely with the same mixture. Same stacking and weight applied.

With the remaining sides, we prepared the salmon for smoking in a solution of salt, sugar, and oil. That is what we do every week. We usually do about 20-25 sides per week. But today it was 42.

By 1:30, we finished. We helped Ron garnish his tea sandwiches and headed down to break.

The rest of the afternoon was a breeze, but when I sat down on the train on my way home, I was beat.

I have work tomorrow and then Thursday off. My husband and I are headed to the Museum of Science and Industry and we're also hoping to drag our friends Golden Retriever to a park and run him wild. I'm really looking forward to that....

Still haven't snagged the menu for the weekend. Will keep my eye out.

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