The tread on my Bistro Crocs was wearing thin, and I didn’t notice until we were cleaning the floors. I was sliding around more than normal, and started to calculate exactly how long it had been since I’d bought them. I got them when I was working at Biddy’s, so that’s at least ten years. Plus, I’d gotten them a size smaller on the advice that they would stretch out, which they did, but they are also scuffed where my big toes stuck out in accommodation. So, it was time for a new pair. I asked my bosses what the rules were for crazy pants/shoes in the kitchen, and they said go for it. We don’t care. I probably need another pair of pants, but those can wait. I have a dish washing shift coming up next Sunday, so shoes take precedence. Bet you didn’t know I could switch hit.
Some of my chefs would agree with you that I cannot. However, there are long stretches of radio silence in which to catch up on a Sunday, so I’m not worried. I’d do anything just to be there. Being in a professional kitchen is where I feel the most alive.
I really want to meet Anthony Bourdain now, because he said on No Reservations that he’d never seen a white person apply for a dishwasher position before. I didn’t apply for it, that’s just where they needed me, but it still counts, right? Right?
Keep in mind that I would not be going for the crazy pants/shoes look if I was doing fine dining. I work in a brewpub, where our basic uniforms are jeans or chef pants and company t-shirts…. and most of mine are black and red, the logo for Lowest Lord ESB. Well, technically the logo on the beer tap/can is orange, but the t-shirt made for it is black with white, yellow, red, and grey printing. Even my official logo shirts are black. I am so in style now… well, for the kitchen. It’s not like I’m going to wear these to the opera (wait… I can’t promise anything).
It’s not enough to dress the part, though. Getting new shoes and new chef pants is just an adornment on what is often technically difficult and demanding work. For instance, we have the same french fry cutter that In-N-Out Burger does, the one that slices the whole potato into strings at once.
You cannot imagine how difficult it is for someone of my stature and lack of strength to cut through a huge baking potato lengthwise by pulling a lever that tends to get stuck halfway through, or the potato bends, without an enormous amount of pressure. Part of it is that my upper body strength is weak. Part of it is the placement of the slicer on the wall. I have even less body strength when I have to reach that far up. I’m only 5’4, and I always feel like I’m trying to slice a potato on a professional height basketball goal. For most of the guys, the lever is at their waist. On the plus side, I now have a gym at my disposal. Pretty much anything in the walk-in weighs at least 40 lbs, and cardio is 20 tickets on the rail and 20-30 that won’t fit yet behind them. Also pretty sure I could use the potato slicer as a chin-up bar (that was like, half a joke).
The reward at the end of the night is always a shift beer, but I’ve only taken them up on it twice. This is because all I really want when I’m done is a large pitcher full of ice water and a straw. But both of the beers I’ve tried were wonderful. One was Georgia Avenue White Peach Weisse, and the other was Third Party Belgian Tripel. I can’t recommend one over the other, because that would be like comparing donuts to Chevrolets. They’re both amazing in their own ways.
In terms of after-work activities, I don’t have any. I’m too tired. I’ve been watching a little TV, starting Fargo from the beginning. I absolutely love it 20 minutes at a time…. which is about how much I watch before I fall asleep and have to rewind when I wake up.
Last night I was so exhausted I left both Rachel and her sheath at my workstation. It’s not like anyone will steal/destroy her, but I am so possessive that if the weather weren’t this horrible, I’d go get her just to make sure. In a professional kitchen, I don’t even care if she goes through the dish machine…. or as my old chef reminded me, Leslie… it’s a dish machine, not a dish washer. What, you think when you press the button little elves are going to jump out and wash your dishes? Professional dish machines are mostly for sanitation, getting the dishes hot enough for reuse. Not much washing is going to get done in a two minute cycle.
That’s why human dish washers are so important- all the food has to be off the dishes and the pots have to be scrubbed before you put them into the machine, where the water is hot enough to burn Satan’s asshole.
Oh, look. My kitchen vocabulary is coming back. My mother will be so proud.