Go time. Checks start coming in. Before you know it you are no longer joking around with your colleagues but working alongside, heads down, making sure that one herb is standing perfectly, that everything is in line, finishing seasoning that plate. More and more comes in, you keep pushing. Sometimes, unluckily, a stutter occurs. A server took that plate to a wrong table. Or this table has a nut allergy, as discussed before service, but you forgot to make that special. And because of those moments of stutter, or maybe due to the mind, the rest of the service just isn't as smooth, paced. But you keep pushing.
Or sometimes you can run a perfect service. Happy with all of the plates, the way the sauce is falling. A perfect pace, one that keeps your working and focused throughout, busy enough to keep you going but not overwhelming. The energy acquired from a well working kitchen with equally passionate colleagues during its height at night is astonishing. The air feels like gold, the energy overwhelming. Your feet and hands move faster than ever before, standing those 25 pieces of micro cress up on the chestnut domino like dish in a mere minute and a half, a feat you could never conceive.
And then there's the post service, often with high fives and smiles all around. You did it again. Even with the stutter and maybe the collapse during service, most of the time the mood is quite upbeat. You clean the station, and then begin more mise en place for the next day, the prep list, and ordering.
Before you know it you are unbuttoning your jacket, walking home in the utter cold, thinking about the day, what could be done better, quicker, more efficiently. Thinking about what went wrong, and why, or how well the day went. Often thoughts about how tired or hungry you may be find their way to the head also. But mostly thoughts of the day are running through the head on the now appreciated culmination of the day walk through København south en route to home.
Its addicting, the lifestyle, however intense it may be. There is something about working with such intensity day in and out, working the services and seeing happy faces in the dining rooms. The drive and dedication it takes, the friendships made, the touching of wonderful ingredients and produce, producing things that taste wonderful. I thought about these thoughts quite randomly yesterday, after waking up from sleeping nearly all day(until 8PM). I woke up, and thought about the tiring week, but was energized by the thought of the restaurant, and my heart warmed to the thought of cooking.
Hope the above thoughts weren't weird, just started writing! Here onto other thoughts
The past two weeks I have been in Toast University 101. The station that is responsible for the first 8 bites of the meal, labeled snacks. :
Moss and cep
Seabuck thorn leather and pickled rose hips
Cookie with lardo and currant
Fried leek and garlic
Rye bread, chicken skin, lovage, and smoked cheese
Pickled and smoked quails egg
Radish, turnip and carrot, soil and herbs
Toast, herbs, smoked cod roe and vinegar
The final snack, a crisp, wavy, toast made from a simple bread, dotted lavishly with a smoked cod roe emulsion, covered "forest-like" with a multifarious array of herbs including but not limited to: sorrel, lemon verbena and balm, chickweed, water cress, carrot tops, chervil, and dill, finished with shaken vinegar powder and a crisp duck "skin", made from the film that forms on top of duck stock.
The picture may or may not do justice, but each one of these can take up to four minutes time, depending on the herbs and skill of producer. This combined with the attention this one snack gets on its perfection from both chef de parties and expediters, about the mere length, amount of dots, size of herbs, and placement on plate, it becomes a real time consumer. During services, there are two full time cooks doing this all service long, with more hands coming in when needed. I got a "Herb toasts look good today" from Rene himself!
Snacks is a fun station to work, you are a part of service everyday, and there is always something to do. This week was beyond intense, as Rene was back for the first time in the new year. The mood was much more concentrated, serious, extreme. It was beyond stressful walking toasts up with the man of the restaurant there at the past, look with eagle eyes at his creation that you just created with the guidance from his workers. Interesting guy, perhaps I will tell more about him at a later date.
This coming week I will be plating:
And many of the other snacks, here and there.
The past weeks have been nice, the weather the past week was creeping on warm, with the sun out on most days! Nice! But this weekend coming into this week it is cold, and suppose to stay cold, with snow forecasted (for the first time in two weeks?) on Wednesday.
On Sunday, a large group, American and not, went to a local pub and watched the superbowl! Was a nice experience, many in the group had never seen a game before, didn't know the rules, etc. The place was packed, as were many of the other places with tv's around town. Many Americans were out, didn't know so many were in København! Also during the evening, my birthday hit!...
Monday was my birthday, which turned out to be a bit nicer than I had anticipated! Woke up late and relaxed, then made dinner for and with my roommates (French student and Ivorian mom). Got a present, to-go coffee mug! Had a cake, ate a nice large salad, Aglio olio e Pepperoncino, a beef and rice dish, grapes, and participated in "hygge" ! As defined by wikipedia: "One of the fundamental aspects of Danish culture is "hygge", which, although translated as "coziness" is more akin to "tranquility". Hygge is a complete absence of anything annoying, irritating, or emotionally overwhelming, and the presence of and pleasure from comforting, gentle, and soothing things. Hygge is often associated with family and close friends. Christmas time when loved ones sit close together with candles lit on a cold rainy night is "hygge", as is grilling a pølse (Danish sausage) on a long summer evening. These examples, although they do not precisely define "hygge", can give an English speaker an idea of a deeply valued traditional concept of Danish culture."
Was nice, sitting, talking for a long while around the table during and after a nice meal. Thank you everyone from the US who remembered and wished me a happy birthday! I expect presents and celebrations when I return! 20, not a good age, just doesn't sound as good as 19 and in Denmark cooking. 20 puts me with the rest, I have to act civilized now! ah!
I have found a few places that I really enjoy, including a nice vietnamese restaurant. Hip place, delicious food, and good for Copenhagen standerds service. (The service here is really, really horrible. Incredible that they are allowed to get by with it, really.)
Hit and reckoning with the one month homesickness, I miss all of my family and friends! No relationship can equate to those developed in Midlothian and Richmond.
Starting to hit anxiety about what is next, after Noma. May have an in with an incredible restaurant in Australia, but don't know yet. Had a talk with a few people at Noma on Saturday evening about being an American and trying to work in Europe, seems from their perspective harder than I had thought. We will see.
My best friend from the street I grew up on and lived at for my whole life, Emma is coming to Copenhagen on my last day of work for a week! She will try to eat at the restaurant, and we are planning what else to do whilst she is here! So utterly exciting, can't believe she is coming!
More than a month has already flown by here, quite incredible really how it is flying by. One month remaining! I will hope to blog more in the coming weeks, for sure.
Also, more pictures should be posted in the future, as my wonderful aunt from Washington has a camera En route for me! Incredible! I am in debt to you !
Thanks for reading, talk soon!