Sous Chefs

Five days after my last post – the mildly inappropriate tirade – Chef Patrick asked to speak to me after service. I was convinced it was to encourage me to calm down, take a moment to gain some perspective, and push myself to develop a higher degree of patience when it comes to training and managing the other cooks. And in part, we did discuss that. But we mainly discussed other issues:

I am the new sous chef of No 9 Park.

Surprise, excitement, pride, nervousness, humility all existed in that moment. But more than anything, I am overwhelmingly thankful to all those who first encouraged me to become a cook, and then those who trained me to become a chef. This was the single most successful moment of my professional career – of any career I’ve had so far. Becoming sous chef in under two years was well ahead of my goals, and I have several people to be grateful for, including my chefs Patrick, John, and Stef. While I am focused on growing into a great chef, I also hope to become as good a mentor as they are.

The new job has new responsibilities, and with those, required some time to adjust. Chef warned me that I would have less time to focus on the cutting board, and need to divide my time between cooking and managerial responsibilities. I’ve had the opportunity to expedite a few services, which is wildly fun, and has its own particular challenges, just like any station on the line. It is a rush to have all the orders coming in, grabbing plates, plating food, talking to servers, firing tickets, calling for runners, garnishing, sending out food, checking every plate to be sure it is perfect, watching every cook with one eye for excellence, and the other for mistakes. The pace feels different, the food can’t get into the window fast enough. I can’t push the food out, can’t grab pans from the cook next to me, fire the next pick to be ready for the come-back. I can only direct, request, order, beg, yell. But most important for the cooks, the expediter sets the tone. The expediter’s confidence becomes the cooks’ confidence, their calm calms the cooks, their excitement excites the cooks. It has a wonderful intensity.

In other news, my big sister, Rebecca, came in for dinner for the first time two nights ago with Benjamin. Always means a lot to have family in for dinner. Those of you who are around should come in soon for dinner. Fall has hit the menu hard, pumpkin, parsnips, elk, venison. The tasting menu this week is awesome. My favorite course: Duet of venison, grilled venison loin, venison jagerwurst (which is the most beautiful sausage I have ever made), chestnut puree, pickled cabbage and mustard seeds, and autumn berries.

Also, grab your mask and join No 9 Park for our Venetian Masquerade Ball on Monday, October 31. You already did the sexy kitten/nurse/pimp costume and drank gin out of the bottle with a straw, and got sick on Reese’s peanut butter cups. This year, try creative black tie, shellfish platters, milk-braised pork, and drink Italian wines out of real glasses.

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