Good news: I didn't insult my new chef's intelligence by spurting some pseudo-English sentence like, "Me fine, do good" when greeted with his heavy Southern French accent. He's actually incredibly nice, and I spent the rest of the night peppering him (get it?) with questions about procedures, ingredients and dishes. I finally feel like I have a chef who's willing to teach and encourage, and it definitely helps that we have a lot of down time in Garde Manger. We were done with prep by 7:15pm again on Monday…and with only 40 customers total in the restaurant all night there were a lot of random yet engaging conversations amongst us – the Level 5 students who are preparing to become the Big (Wo)Men On Campus – and the Level 6 students – counting down the hours until they graduate. It was a great night, and things went incredibly smooth. We even bartered with the Level 6 students to trade a plate of Fluke Carpaccio with their Chicken and Beef Consommé…mmm.
We house the large walk-in refrigerator for the entire restaurant in our Garde Manger kitchen. Each group within each level stores their proteins and leftovers, clearly labeled and organized, in the walk-in refrigerator, which is usually kept at a degree in the low-40s. With the current heat wave, combined with the fact that the door is opened (and often not properly latched shut) hundreds of times per night, the temperature slowly rises and rises, bringing the food closer to the danger zone and threatening one large ticket from the Health Department and thousands of dollars in spoiled food. The temperature got so bad on Monday that the chefs had to do an emergency "evacuation" of the most important things – stocks, fresh fish and meat – into a nearby refrigerator for overnight storage. It was my job, naturally, to make sure the large metal door was closed and latched shut after each visitor, so I spent the night throwing my weight against the door and pushing hard…only to have it opened five minutes later. My backside is a little tender today, but public safety and proper food storage techniques are my number one priority (hi Health Department, thanks for reading my blog).
I've always known I have a rare social problem, I've just never been willing to admit it. Through countless awkward interactions, blank stares and watch-glances, I just continue on, oblivious and ignorant. My problem, that I now acknowledge, is only exacerbated by anxiousness, stress and heat. Here it is: I am an over-talker. I hate awkward silences, so I will find any reason, or any subject, to fill the gap. Junk mail, trees, pencils, nail polish – no subject is off limits. I often don't take my audience into consideration (strange, considering I was in public relations…) and will simply just chat into open air. I distinctly remember a peaceful elevator ride on the first night of school with two new classmates that was ruined by my nervous laughing and obsession over that fact that the other girl was named Jackie. "Ha…ha…hee…hee…Jackie and Jackie! What are the odds! Hee…Ha…wow…I mean, it's Jackie…and Jackie!" Let's put it this way – it took me a while to break down the barriers that I built that night with my own words and obnoxiousness.
There's one more thing I didn't mention. For whatever reason – whether it's because of the Powers Above or just my own lack of self awareness, I also do a lot of air quotes. I can't help it. I see myself doing it – raising one arm slowly, the other following just a second behind while the thumbs, ring fingers and pinkies curl toward my palms; the remaining pointer finger and middle finger join together to bob once…twice into a simulated double apostrophe. It happens, I know it happens yet I can't stop it from happening. I once counted, in a recent interview, four instances of air quotes. Four. That's probably four clear reasons why I didn't get the job…
I guess that's the beauty of having your own personal blog. I can ramble on and on in the form of the typed word, and no one can say a single darn thing. I can also edit myself after-the-fact…a pill I'm still hoping scientists will develop for the spoken word.