Photography by Ron Manville
Ever had one of those days in the kitchen where nothing seemed to go quite right? All odds were against you? No matter what you did to perservere the problems just kept piling and piling. Well, today was one of those days.
There I stood on a busy Friday night on expo station. It was roughly 7:00 pm and dinner rush had just began. Hungry patrons were flocking to our restaurant to try our new menu items. I was particularly excited about the Foie Gras French Toast amuse we were featuring on the menu. Apparently our diners tonight felt the same as we were nearly sold out in the first hour of service. Just as I noticed we were going to have to 86 the foie I yelled to my sous chef, Johnathon. “Find me some geese, I said!” What a disaster! To top it off we had a tip that one of the top michelin inspectors was sitting at table 50. I really wished I had known that he was going to be here tonight, and that he came just for the foie! So much for the communication. I thought to myself, “This is as worst as it can get.” Little did I know that this was only the beginning to the world’s most worst day in the kitchen.
Fortunately for us we were located in the Provence countryside and there happened to be a foie gras farm less than a mile from the restaurant. I yelled again to my sous chef to get off the line, go to the farm, and get me some foie! “If they’re not open, jump the fence and take one. We need one! Our reputation depends on it.” Not hesitating, he quickly shot out the back door and jumped onto his Vespa.
Just as Johnathon sped off the ticket came back for the foie gras french toast. I quickly ran to our maitre d’, Justhan, and let him know what was going on. Stall him I said! We need time. Take him a bottle of wine, I don’t care. Just do something! Justhan grabbed our most expensive bottle of wine, a 1945 Romanee, and began to walk out of the kitchen. Not that one I yelled! This one, a 1978 Montrachet. I can’t afford a 45,000 dollar fix for this one. Little did anyone know that I actually won the Montrachet in a card game a few weeks, so it wasn’t exatly a direct loss.
Justhan grabbed the Montrachet and headed to the dining room. Being the nosy Germany I am, I began peaking through the kitchen doors. Justhan was out there doing his magic, so I was a bit relieved that we had an additional 10 minutes of time. I kept glancing at the kitchen clock counting the seconds that passed by. Four minutes had passed and I began to grow frantic because no Johnathon. Just as I was cursing up a storm Johnathon came busting in the door with some foie gras. This brought much delight to my eyes. Not a minute later the michelin critic’s ticket came in on the pos system. Fire table 50 I yelled! I quickly jumped behind the line and began to fire the foie. I turned the valve on our stove top and there was a loud hiss from the gas pouring out. I tried the next burner and yet another loud hiss. I repeated this process with all the burners, but no luck! How are we going to cook! We now have less than 3 minutes to get the dish out or we could lose our michelin rating and be forced to close. I didn’t want this nor did my staff. I yelled out, “Someone find me a torch!” Johnathon grabbed one from the garde manger station and tossed it to me. I began to strike it but it wasn’t producing a flame. We quickly found out it was out of gas. I threw it across the kitchen. I did feel a little bad as it almost hit our dishwasher. We now had a little two minutes to get the foie seared. Out of nowhere our dishwasher said I want a raise. While grinning he was holding a lighter. I yelled to him, “Margins are tight right now.” He repeated himself. At this point I was beginning to lose my mind. Sweat was forming on my head. The ticking from the clock was a reminder that it was now or never. I needed to make a decision and fast. I took off running and dove at our dish, tackling him to the ground. We scuffled for a few seconds, but I managed to get the lighter from him. I quickly tossed it to Johnathon. Fire Table 50 I yelled! Just as I managed to get the last word out I was hit in the head with a copper sauce pot that came flying from across the room. I knew where it came from. I had just yelled at our saucier for tossing his sauce pots in the dish. He really had a tough time understanding me as he was from Hungary and didnt speak english well. I didn’t have time to stress so I just picked myself up from the ground and ran to the line. To my suprise Johnathon had the foie plated beautifully. I looked at the clock. I quickly realized that we had a few seconds to spare as out maitre d’ just entered the kitchen. We did it I yelled! We prevailed. Everyone was so relieved! Just as we thought this was the end to our crazy hectic day Justhan came walking back into the kitchen. Justhan said, “He isn’t a michelin inspector.” To be continued…………………………………………….This was literally the most worst day in the kitchen.
Hope you all enjoyed the little story. I want to hear from you! What was your worst day in the kitchen like?