Tuesday, April 25, 2006

1 week and counting...

down to what will probably be a major disaster in the fine tradition of Larry, Moe, and Curly. In Dining Room class today, we discussed the set up for tableside cooking. Y'all may remember that I mentioned this concept when explaining why the heck our dining room class was running 4 days a week. Chef said that to accommodate all who needed the class, we could do it 4 days a week instead of the normal 2 and that on the days when there was no advanced cooking class opposite us, we would do the cooking.

So, that day is drawing nigh, and I'm just envisioning the largest cluster Stooge ever, as are some of my classmates. We set up a gueridon (which is French for a little cart you wheel around and cook before someone's eyes and hope you don't light their date's hair on fire...succinct, those French), with a rechaud (also French; the thing that lights someone's hair on fire and maybe cooks their food), and all the accoutrements needed to sling hash tableside. We only have one of these carts, and in the past classes, it was used to stage tea and water pitchers in the middle of the dining room on service days.

The scenario, as envisioned by our taskmasters, is that there will be a salad station, a dessert station, and the cooking cart. The menu will probably have a soup, a salad, an entree, and a dessert. Essentially, the set-up should be that as soon as the guest is seated, you get their drink order and then bring them the soup. (This is sort of a set meal--probably 1 soup, 1 salad, maybe 2 entrees, and 1 dessert; most of the people who dine at the Cafe have come here for several years and are used to the style of service).

While they are eating their soup, you head to the salad station and plate their salads. While they are eating their salads, you head to the cart of flaming death and prepare their entrees. As they finish up the entree, you head to the dessert station and plate up the dessert. So far, so good...until you realize that the Cafe can seat 42 people at a turn. And, you've got a group of folks of which 90% have never waited tables before who will be cooking and serving...you're getting the picture now, aren't you?

Not that I am Waitress Extraordinaire by any means, but I do realize my own limitations...what seems to flow steadily and smoothly through the brain doesn't necessarily translate to the appropriate synapse firing and motor coordination aspects, and I have a feeling that some of the other people might be in the same boat. We were practicing walking with a loaded tray of soup bowls filled with water, and Dimmer speaks up about how to pick up the tray and take it to a tray jack and server. I'm getting all wrinkly in the forehead, because I could have sworn she said she also works part-time at a restaurant as a server...where one would would think that she should have had some experience picking up a tray. I wonder if she just compartmentalizes things so much that when she's in class, she forgets to access the part of her brain that already has this experience from real life...heck, I feel that way most days in Principles of Cooking.

We talked with our instructor about possibly setting up the stations and having 1 person man each station and the others serve as waiters, taking turns either during the shift or each table cooking class day to make sure everyone gets the experience. He's kinda wishy-washy about that, because he thinks we (read: me, who brought this up) are trying to get out of cooking. Not so, I protested; I would gladly do all the cooking in one place for each table if I didn't have to worry about trying to serve it as well. I just think we are going to be confused enough without running all over each other at the flame wagon. He said he'd think about it...sounds just like a mom, doesn't it? Don't know about your mom's momspeak, but in my house growing up, that turn of phrase had a high NO probability factor.

We also pre-registered for next quarter's classes. According to the gameplan, there are only 2 classes I can take: Regional Cooking and Principles of Baking I. And, guess what? They would be back-to-back on Monday and Wednesday, from 7:10 am - 11:40 am, and 12:00 pm - 4:30 pm. Wonders never cease. I was querying a couple of guys in Dining Room about these classes--one of them is in the current Baking I class and the other has had Regional cooking--about the homework level, since I'd essentially have 24 hours between 2 classes to get everything done. The Regional guy said there wasn't a whole lot of homework; more class projects than anything. The Baking guy said there was lots of home work, including (a duh dunna of terror here!) baking math!

WTF is "baking math"? I assumed all I had to know math-wise was if I needed a dozen cookies, then I'd better make dough for two dozen to ensure that 1) I had cookie dough to eat, and 2) that I could account for shrinkage if The Man got into them.

Oh, I can hardly wait...

1 comment:

Belinda said...

Oh, tableside cooking makes me uncomfortable, even as a diner! I'm sitting there holding my breath for the poor sap who has to do it! Gak. Good luck on this one!!