April 18, 2017
Easter Onslaught Pushes 1O8
Hunger Games Begin at 1O8
It’s Easter week, which means a few things. First, my roommate, Kasper, left for Paris for the week with his girlfriend (nice, right?), so I had the apartment to myself, as the dogs stayed with their respective step-parents. I had asked Kasper if Easter week got crazy for restaurants, here. He told me that some of his friends in the industry had experienced incredibly slow weeks, while others had been bursting at the seams. I quietly prayed for an easy week, naïve as I was.
We were fully booked every day this week. And I mean, fully booked. With everyone in a chair, we have 75 seats. We were doing 160-170 covers a night.
Being this busy means we had to have a lot of product shipped in. Our walk-in refrigerators were filled to the ceiling, and so full you could hardly turn around in them. On top of that, because it was Easter week, our suppliers were closed for most of the week, so we had to get all our product in, at once, for the week. We processed 2,000 lbs. of short ribs and something like 300 live scallops (which we keep in a giant fish tank down the street at noma). Needless to say, it’s been an intense week.
Some good news, the ultra-tedious the razor clam dish changed (but, soon, we’ll be dealing with this gem). Kristian wasn’t satisfied with the consistency of the clams we were getting, so we changed the protein to blue mussels. The mussels come in fresh, every day, and we blanch and shuck them for service. I think I personally shucked around 2,000 mussels this week.
Jose, the sous chef, who runs most services and is in charge of most day-to-day operations, left on Saturday to visit his family in LA for three weeks. That means Kristian will be working every day for the next three weeks. Three weeks without a day off is not a picnic for anyone, especially when the pressure is as intense as it is here and the job is as insane as this one. These next three weeks, one of the chefs told me, will be like the hunger games.
I’ve been sick all week, as well. Not like, contagious sick, that would’ve been too easy. If I had a fever, I might have been able to stay home. No, I just felt tired and sore, with constant headaches, back pain, and a cough that made me feel like I couldn’t breathe. But the show goes on.
Something this place has taught me is to be a little less self-absorbed. It’s taught me to remember that everyone is dealing with their own personal problems. To work in a restaurant, I think you have to be a little unstable to begin with. You have to be a bit of a messed-up person, anyway. So, every time you want to yell at someone to work harder, work faster, or stop being a dumbass, every time someone is angry with you, or being a royal pain in the ass, remember, they’re going through some things, just like everyone else. Maybe their sister is sick, maybe they’re having trouble with their visa, maybe they’re sick, maybe they had a fight with their significant other, maybe they’re just having a bad day because they packed up their lives and moved across the world and haven’t seen their family in years, or their children in months. Remember that they’re dealing with problems that are, maybe, a little bit bigger than the watercress you’re cleaning. Kristian has told us we need to be patient with each other. It’s easier said than done, but I think we’re trying.
I worked on the cold section for most of this week. It was a nice change of pace, but likely one that won’t last. The dish I focused on this week was the scallop. We serve raw scallops with hip seed oil, kelp salt, bread miso, scallop roe, and sea truffle. This means we shuck live scallops every day, just minutes before service. It’s an activity I’ve come to find very soothing. There’s also something incredibly satisfying and beautiful about cutting into a live scallop and seeing all the muscles shimmer and ripple. Some people talk to their scallops while they shuck them. They’ll whisper “shhhhhh, it’s almost over,” as they slip the knife into the shell to pry it open, or they’ll growl something like “kom nu, just open up already,” (kom nu: Danish for, come on, and, perhaps, the most common phrase in our kitchen) or, “don’t you bite me.” No one likes to have a scallop snap shut on their fingers.
It’s snowing as I write this. It’s snowing hard. That’s Danish Spring for you. *rolls eyes* It’s also 40 degrees out, so I’m not really sure how this is working.
The progress team has been working on a lot of things, despite my distance. We’re acquiring, prepping, and preserving ingredients, already, for our pop-up at Urban Roots in June. Soon, very soon, we’ll be happy to start sharing some of those details with you.