Oh yeah baby, I’m working in the Salon this week. Talk about sunshine after a long week of running fish back and forth, popping oysters open and stabbing lobsters between the eyes.
The salon is a separate kitchen on the second floor that only caters to private events. And it is so much fun to work up there. Almost like a vacation without the fruity cocktails and hot pool boys (bien sûr).
Let’s call it an offsite. Isn’t that where corporate employees go to bond, learn new skills, and just enjoy each other?
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not easy – just a different change of pace and the opportunity to work with the executive chefs and sous chefs one on one and learn their individual styles without all the al a carte drama of the main kitchen.
And every once and awhile I get to actually cook something on the line – HALLELUJAH!!!!
Working the salon is an introduction to working downstairs on the main floor. It’s a chance to see all the dishes on the menu and become familiar with them. The stakes aren’t as high in the salon because the menu is set to begin with so there is less margin for error.
It’s also the chance to see the flow of service: when to flash dishes in the oven, when to start the pick-ups on the main courses, and how the servers handle different crowds.
There’s some drawbacks too. It can be painfully slow and then all of a sudden you have to dredge up endless energy to pump out a gazillion plates all at the same time. One hundred and eighty different canapes? No problem. Fifty tuna- kobe plates? No problem.
Are the mashed potatoes hot? Are they f’ing hot or not? Oven! Oven! Put the plates back in the oven now – all seventy of them!!!
(Oh my God) Yes! Chef!
Okay and there’s the horror part of working the salon. Like when there are two totally different parties side by side with different canapes, cold appetizers, and main courses and all of it must prepped beforehand and everything gets fired between ten minutes of the other.
That is when working the salon is not like an offsite. That is like one huge panic attack with an added acid flashback for icing.
That’s when I’m running back and forth to our taped up menu sheets double checking the different canapes for each party to make sure we don’t pass the wrong hors d’oeuvres to the wrong group.
That’s when the downstairs line cooks rush upstairs from the main kitchen to help fire off all the fish dishes to the different parties.
That’s when I’m just putting my head down and finishing plates with the garnishes and passing them off to the executive chef for one last final inspection before the servers carry them away on silver trays.
And honestly, that’s fun too.