Sunday, May 16, 2010

Self- Control

Note: This story is not completely true. Certain details have been altered to better fit my purpose. Overall however, the story is an accurate depiction of certain experiences at Lacroix.

It was a while back but I still remember it vividly. I was young and new and na├»ve and didn’t know what I was doing. I was altogether too green to be working in a restaurant, that at the time seemed like the devil’s workshop: burning hot stoves ran from end to end, long sharp knives, cleavers, saws were in abundance, and multiple meat slicers stood ominously in the center. Yet viewed from a different angle the kitchen seemed like heaven: all the chefs wore white and there was food, an ungodly amount of food, an absolute abundance of food but not just any food. Oh no, Lacroix only put out only the most perfect pastries and proteins, the most sublime starches and salads, and there was plenty for the cooks.

But I guess I got a little too comfortable in this gourmand’s glory land. One day, only a month or so after I started working at Lacroix, I was put in charge of making foie gras ice cream sandwiches. I had to butter then toast then chill slices of brioche, after which I would spread an already-prepared foie gras ice cream base on one slice and top it with another. Then I would cut the sandwiches into individual triangles and put them back in the refrigerator to chill. Everything was going along fine. I sliced the brioche without a problem. I buttered then toasted the brioche without a problem. I even spread the foie gras ice cream on the brioche without a problem. But as I cut the sandwiches into triangles, I started to have a problem. I cut the sandwich, then plopped the first triangle into my mouth, just to taste. It was delicious, and there was never anything wrong with tasting what you were cooking, rather, you were supposed to taste as you prepared food to make sure that it was being done correctly. But then I plopped a second one in my mouth. The combination of fatty foie gras and rich, toasted brioche produced a double dose of richness. I ate a third. I was like a pregnant woman—utterly unable to control my cravings. I ate a fourth and a fifth and a sixth. I was thirteen and completely susceptible to impulse. I stopped at 12, then put the rest in the fridge to chill. My tummy full and the job done, I moved on to my next task.


A few hours later I was cleaning lettuce for the salad station, and I saw him coming. The kitchen turned back to hell and he, the then-sous chef, a slender man with bright red hair, pointed features, and a large chef’s knife in one hand, was walking, no storming towards me. He was fuming, and though accounts from chefs that were present deny this, I swear his hair was on fire. I squeezed myself closer to the sink in defense. My fear was palpable.

“DID YOU MAKE THE BLEEPIN FOIE SANDWICHES?” he screamed.
“yes” I mumbled.
“ WHAT THE BLEEP HAPPENED? WHERE THE BLEEP ARE THE REST.”
The rest of the kitchen was watching at this point.
“I, I, uh, I ate them.”
A few cooks snickered. This was great theatre to them.
“YOU WHAT. YOU BLEEPIN ATE THEM? THERE’S NOT BLEEPIN ENOUGH FOR BRUNCH TOMORROW.”
“It was dumb. I apologize.”
“THAT DOESN’T MEAN BLEEP. YOU GET THE BLEEP BACK OVER THERE AND BLEEPIN MAKE MORE.”

Needless to say, I did as I was told. My cheeks scarlet and my eyes watery, I made 12 more foie gras cream sandwich triangles, and now, my symptoms of pregnancy, my childish impulses, and my lack of self-control, are absolutely and positively, gone.

6 comments:

Mandoline said...

GREAT story! But you didn't really eat 12, did you? Can foie gras ice cream really be that good? Glad you're writing more frequently -- school must be over.

James said...

Ha ha.

Tags said...

Fear not, he was just an angry angel teaching you a great life lesson, and you learned it very well.

craigkite said...

There is a divine design behind everything. If the young of the species weren't cute, they would be killed and eaten by the elders for so many screw ups in their lives. Unfortunately, Nick, you have to start surviving on talent and chops. The cuteness of youth is fleeting...but you are getting closer to being able to enjoy a bottle of wine with the meal. Have fun with your "Last Summer" before the folks start renting out your room while you are in college.

Mike Ferguson said...

Great perspective, Nick. Loved your use of CAPITALS.

Wendi said...

Excellent! I, too, remember such teenage gluttony at my own family deli business spending many a lunch break in the back cooler with raw cookie dough, freshly made whipped cream and strawberries. Luckily we never ran out due to my noshings but tasting the product remains a necessity and pleasure!