There is always some time period of adustment for any new job. I guessed it would take me 2-3 weeks at this one to really get in the groove and feel comfortable. Already now, I am finishing Week 8 and have accomplished several goals. Here's what I started with:
1. Be able to complete each day's prep checklist by myself by the end of my shift.
2. Memorize all basic formulas that I use on a day-to-day basis.
3. Make a contribution to a new menu item with Chef B (help with research and development from idea to product).
4. Learn how to use new ingredients/agents in different ways (mostly the molecular gastronomy stuff).
5. Work on the line plating desserts in a clean, quick and consistent manner.
Looking at these now, I see that already have completed goals 1, 2, and 5. #3 is coming up too! My main focus has been to work on my speed, consistency, and neatness. I can work both the morning and evening shifts flawlessly now and am totally comfortable making every product. Yay!
Goal #3 has actually been in progress for me since the first week. Chef B approached me and asked if I could help him recreate a mignardise that his last pastry chef had made. I came in on my day off and tooled around in the kitchen, making these:
Sweet little baked meringues! Chef B has a special flavor combo that he wants to infuse into the meringue, and now that he sees I can make these the way he wants, we are just waiting for something in his kitchen garden to grow so we can implement it! Right now at the end of the meal, our guests get a little dark chocolate truffle and peppermint marshmallow (both made by me!) so Chef B wants to switch it up a bit.
This morning, I'm doing my regular prep and Chef B comes in and starts talking to me in his weird eccentric way (he tells great stories). For the last two days, he has had Queen songs and vacation bible school songs from when he was a kid stuck in his head and he has been singing them out loud. Thanks. Weird combo. Usually, when he talks to me it is about nonsense, and I'm trying to do work so it's pretty distracting. Yesterday I was tuning him out and then noticed he had stopped talking. I looked at him and he said, "You're not even listening to me, are you?" Oops. Haha. That shut him up and he went off to go bother someone else. I know he has a favorable opinion of me so I wasn't too worried. I was just glad he got a clue. I'm here to produce, not socialize!
Back to this morning. Chef B tells me he has (FINALLY) created a new dessert menu item, and he wants to know if I can help put it together. YESSSSSS! One thing he wanted to know was if I could make an Italian Meringue that would be stable enough to last all throughout the dinner service so that we could use it in this certain dessert. It is one thing to come up with a new menu item, and another to put it into action. One must see if it will be feasible to keep all the components on hand and be able to pull it off.
I said I may have some extra time and I'd work on it. Amazingly, I managed to squeeze it in and made a Cassis flavored italian meringue as an experiment. This isn't going to be the real flavor, but I wanted it to have some flavor to it so I used cassis liqueur. I was hoping it'd be a lovely purple color but since I aerated it with the egg whites, it ended up being a weird grey. Ahh. I separated it into two bowls and put one in the fridge and one up on a shelf.
I checked and compared both every hour to see how the texture and body was to see if the product would hold up during the x-amount of hours it would have to undertake during the dinner service. After 5 hours, I showed Chef B and he was sooo pleased! Now the next step is to incorporate his flavor choice, assemble the dessert and get it on the menu! And I am going to pester him about it until he does! I am so excited that I will play a part in this new item, even if it is for something that I think is pretty easy. I just had to take the time to figure it out.