Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Count Your Happiness - and Your Desserts

Yesterday has been a great day for me- full of productive activities.

Looking at my calendar, my schedule is full until October and there's still a lot of cooking to do. It means I have to spend more time literally in the kitchen, and, I do admit that I need a little help around here. I cannot tell you that I could do all of these alone...so...so I have to drag my sous chef along at the kitchen stadium . Sorry. I only have two hands and one stomach and I have to cook a freakin' 100++ dishes to perfect them for the menu pictorial.

Ten in the morning after meeting in a cafe, I divided the grocery list in two and gave the other half to my assistant.

"Do your own shopping, push your own cart and meet me at the counter."

Somehere in the shopping crowd he waved back at me, fifteen minutes later-

"Is this chicken thigh fillet correct?"

"No, no, no...find one with a skin."

"But there isn't..."

"Then you have to fillet it yourself."

You have to be as professional as possible- specially if your sous chef blushes with infatuation whenever you come close. Perfect that poker face.

And remember, you are here to work on a project, not goof around.

Yesterday was just a day- come true for me. I have long planned to perfect the recipes I created but I just didn't know how to get started, and I recall how many times I've looked for an assistant with a Japanese background and has never been very lucky finding one. Then from out of the blue came Pablo, holding a plateful of desserts in a desperate offering.

"I really want to work with you."

"Tell me what's on that plate."

"Err, chef... it's poached pears, awayuki kan, crepe cake, kasutera..."

"You don't put anything on the rim of the plate..."

"But do you like it?"

"I'll let you know."


When you work with a cook who wants more of you than mere cooking, you must learn to draw the line between professionalism and your humanism. It isn't that easy. Chefs have their own share of bloated egos, and I should tell you straight on the face, chefs are a different breed of lovers. No, no, no... you can't find in any other profession the amorousness so innate in a cook from all the line up of human professions. Sometimes you want to let lose and react- and feel silly. Once when we were eating at a Japanese cafe and he commented on chicken teriyaki-

"I can do better than this."

"Yeah right, " I thought, rolling my eyes.

And also importantly, chefs rise into high ranks, perfect their craft over time, but an important rule is to never underestimate the skills of those below you.

Up in the kitchen, I observed Pablo making a brunoise of onions for the Japanese vinaigrette while half expecting that he slices across the globe (which I never do). He didn't slice across the globe.

We can cook together around here, I thought.

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