Under Fire: The Second Act

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Our former Cafe Society intern just decided to chuck college in favor of a real education: as a sous chef. In Under Fire, he chronicles his daily trials and tribulations in the kitchen.


A new computer, a healed finger (the cut was all flash and no substance -- the finger was working again after two days) and a new logo by graphic designer Taylor Marsh: It feels good to be back.

The most significant events occur when you're least expecting them. Last week, while taking a break from the blog, I got a text from Chef telling me to come in an hour early so we could sit down. Worried that she would find my stash of beer and lobster in the walk-in (kidding), I got there a little early -- and happened to spot a sheet on the top of her clipboard that included the word "progress" followed by the word "report."

The last time I had a progress report I was under five feet tall and it didn't go well.


Fortunately (in my eyes), this was a mostly positive meeting. While I concentrate on concrete improvements -- such as mastering grill or getting faster than the person next to me -- I sometimes miss out on the big picture. As it turns out, my biggest issue is focus and, and...uh...sorry I just noticed how silver my desk lamp really is. Anyway, focus and time management -- perfectly exemplified by this past Saturday, when I tried to knock out a pot pie for staff while there were shrimp waiting to be deveined -- are my main areas that need improvement.

She noted good qualities, too, including my food enthusiasm (I might call it obsession) and team-building efforts. For example, by far the most important decision of the past week was what Halloween costume to wear for our restaurant's party. I am going as a duo with previously mentioned badass worker Raul. He is a happily round, shorter Mexican with a mustache. I am a 6' 2", gangly, awkward and skinny white guy. Needless to say, we're going as Run DMC.

Here's what wasn't included in the progress report: I am now considering ten-hour workdays as partial days off, and dates are only numbers written on green painter's tape to label cauliflower, Camembert and crawfish. We are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the year (it's Parents Weekend at the nearby college), and I am about halfway through my predetermined apprenticing time.

Let the Second Act begin.

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