Friday, February 3, 2012

Creativity Block & Healthy Food...Jazz Hands!

9:13 AM...having a morning on a Friday to myself for the next fifteen minutes is pretty rare these days.   I'm weeks into my corporate internship and quickly approaching that half way point.  I should be excited...should be...right?  Well, not really.

I feel like I've learned some stuff but not until recently.  It a bit depressing actually.  Until last night, I couldn't figure out what was the problem.  I LOVE the world of food and every part of it:  the aroma, the textures, interesting shapes, location, history and all in between but I kept it to myself for the last week or so that I am a bit disappointed.

I knew off the back that I wouldn't be building rocket ships with my food on the first day but damn, by my midpoint, I expected on learning something else aside from using a fucking can opener to pop open dented lids (to all of my food freaks, yes...please gasp at that...).  Just thought about it in my moment of not defined or diagnosed Food ADD but dented cans are dangerous.  For people who are not aware, please look up the term "botulism" as a homework assignment.  See how warm, fuzzy and mushy you get inside to the thought of botulism.  Let's even use it in a sentence:

"Hey botulism, I have this weird feeling every time I get around you.  First you love me up with all of your deliciousness and then, I'm overwhelmed by your intoxicating power to asphyxiate me.  Is this counted as an abusive relationship, botulism?"

Back at the ranch, I feel like I'm yearning for creativity and innovative plates.  I want to learn new cooking techniques.  Make some food that I would have never thought about making.  I want to try Chilean Sea Bass with a spicy marinade.  Sorry to be so snobbish but I am not turned on by MayPloy (bottled sweet chili sauce) when I can make it myself.  These days, I've been amusing myself by reading the back of the labels of the stuff that I make for food production.  For Christ Sake...I am baffled and disheartened by the preservatives.

Interestingly enough, I had a great conversation with two of my chef buddies of mine who must have schooled me about the wonderful dangers of fish and industry bullshit.  Let's say, I'm not thrilled about the wonders of tilapia, shrimp and the idea that my fish is taking in more caffeine than I ever desired to have.  I thought I was doing myself some justice to decline a cup of mojo every chance I get...suppose not.

Pan Seared Red Snapper
Some days, I enjoy eating and others...
Being on a diet doesn't help at all.  C'mon people...JAZZ HANDS.  It's fucking healthy food which means no chocolate, no cake, no cookies, eliminating most of my starches, wave bye bye to Monsieur Pork most days of the month and to hell with your chicken...better find her organic or there's going to be some trouble.  My body and mind is finding it extremely hard to stay away from the toxic shit.  At the very least, I hate most fast food places.  ((LEVEL UP))

I'm turning into a culinary prude by the day.  Cursed out my fish purveyor of over five years for selling me shit faced fish with greyish black eyes and a big ass exaggerated looking bubble masturbating my intellect out of its mouth...can't make this shit up.  Now, I am in a heavy pursuit of looking for new places to buy food...even if it means I have to go travel to effin Manhattan to do so.

We take advantage of simple shit on a daily basis yet I find it hard to get fresh, healthy food.  I've been polluted by so much junk food for 26 1/2 years that my body is having a bowel war.  Very TMI but I watched oil leave my ass...actual OIL.  Scared the living shit out of me.  Got extremely nauseaus and the next day, literally felt lighter and this was from one week of detoxing from practically everything.  If the saying, "you are what you eat" is really true then I'm truly full of shit.  Until culinary school, what I thought was healthy actually didn't mean shit.  I deserve much more than mediocrity...WE deserve much more than mediocrity.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kitchen Etiquette 101

I've been sick beyond insanity these days.  Managed to make it into work one day this week.  It blows...  I had a lot of fun for the one day of hacking my brains away while peeling for 5 hours straight.  My right hand has a mark in it from the repetitive motion of peeling yuca with a pairing knife and using my 12 inch chef blade to make them into batonnet.  Genuinely pray that those yuca frites were the best tasting things ever after doing it for hours.

While peeling, I had to distract myself a bit.  The guys and I talked shit about reality television shows and music. The sous chef and I tend to talk about different types of cuisines at time, which is a plus for a food freak like me. He even made a vegetable based risotto that inspired me to make it a day later.  Mine has wine...most of my food is cooked with wine and an assortment of booze but eh, whatever.  Around hour two, I heard at least four people speak to one of my coworkers about his ass crack, which leads me to the beautiful topic called kitchen etiquette 101.

If you are working or at least witnessed a chaotic morning/afternoon in a typical NYC kitchen, it's hostile.  The kitchen is small, tight and the constant rubbing/friction could be easily misinterpreted by HR as sexual harassment at its finest.  Thankfully, we have the official (and unofficial) kitchen etiquette to prevent these daily incidents and sightings from being taken to another level.  

We don't want to see your butt residue.

The gentleman in my kitchen, who I will name, Chef A/C (ass crack for the not so clever), doesn't understand the rules of the kitchen too well.  I try not to bust his chops too much but there are times where we politely bump heads in my short time there.  Chef A/C is a constant offender of ACD:  ass crack disease.  I remember being in school and watching others become a constant billboard of their assets.  Once in a blue, I blended in with this crowd and committed my share of kitchen crimes but I learned quickly once entering my male dominated kitchen.  Sir A/C shouldn't be an exception since he has over two years under his figurative belt.  I became a victim on Wednesday when I bent over to pick up some scrap to put into my compost and lifted my head to see his hairy monstrosity of an ass crack wiggling back and forth in my face.  Chef A/C is not a small boy at all.  If I was a sick individual, I could have blew some air in it because I was that close.  One of my coworkers had enough and yelled at Chef A/C to pull up his "mutha*uckin' pants."  In short, wear a longer shirt, get some chef pants that are loose enough to give you movement room but not enough to see your ass or at the very least, believe in the power of layering.  I practice layering before I go on the line.  

Maintain a clean station and know the power of kitchen manners for equipment.

He is also a chronic offender of keeping a messy station and grabbing items without asking.  Seriously, if I was actually working at this place on the books, I would be a bit more vocal about that.  I cannot stand buddying up with someone who cannot maintain cleanliness.  I don't want to eat anything that you have to make and when I have to clean up behind you because you fail to do it, takes time out of my busy schedule.  I have shit to do...just like you.  Just when you think he cannot possibly get any worse, he grabs your equipment off of your board without asking.  Really?!  Ask before taking.  What if I cut my finger with this blade and I left my station for a minute to clean up and sanitize.  You wouldn't know because you don't care enough to ask me for permission.  My job is just as important as yours.  C'mon man...ask for permission.  

Treat your dishwasher with respect.

Don't talk to this person like crap when you need something.  Empty out your garbage before leaving it at his or her station.  Don't think that this person is a friggin robot.  It's called respect asshole and the dishwasher deserves it.  While we're whipping up wonderful (or what we think is wonderful) dishes for the public, someone has to wash all of our dishes.  Treat this person with respect because he/she is the backbone of our operation.

Know when you cannot efficiently multitask.

Multitasking is a skill and a talent for some.  Some people think it's okay to pick up five things and can do it effectively.  For others, you may need some time.  Be smart about it.  Sure, you want to get out of work earlier but it's not going to happen if you just spilled the main course on a guest foot and the $50 bowl is now in pieces.  "Thanks Chef!  I really wanted to feed my feet today.  My blisters thank you for spilling piping hot 165 degree food on my foot and my $300 shoes thank you for the exquisite meal."  

Gain a sense of humor and borrow some balls when needed.

Everyone is emotional, sometimes irratic and at times, can be a clusterfuck of madness.  Know when to be light about things and when you should address certain things when they occur.  Be wise and respectful.  Please remember: Don't allow yourself to be a punching bag for too long.  Nobody should be a pushover.

Cut your own damn food.

It is helpful when you are tight for time and there's someone that's not using their already chopped parsley but if I tell you that I'm using what I have, NO, go chop your own damn food.  Don't beg me to use stuff that I'm making for my dishes all of the time because you're lazy.  The time you spend Johnny Gilling and Keith Sweating me for some ingredients that are in the damn walk in, you could be doing the same thing yourself.  Don't interpret this statement and run to your sous or head chef and tell them "Hey idiot...I'm not making the side course for your main because you can do it for yourself."  No buddy...that will send you to the unemployment line.  What I suggest is for you to stop finding shortcuts every five minutes and do it yourself.  When you really need the help or an extra five minutes, your crew will know that it is not a cop out.

Practice kitchen manners and say it loud.

"Behind you" goes a long way.  Nobody wants to give you a lecture filled with excuse me when you're holding onto something heavy, hot and can scorch you with the wrong move.  Behind you is a nice way of asking you to clear the space.  Don't take it as a person trying to be rude...just move out of the way.  Offer some help if you can extend it and it's practical.  Scream out "sharp" when you have a sharp object.  I don't want to be on the ten o'clock news because I was stabbed in the face accidentally.  Plus, hold the items down when carrying these objects.  Hand over a sharp object with the handle facing me.  I need to effectively grab it.  

Well, I'm going back to sleep before I prep dinner for a few friends for tonight.  I need all of the rest that I can get.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What Is It Really Like Out "There"

The look of crap at 9AM.  
Woke up this morning at 4AM with a sore throat, can barely see straight and feeling like crap.  Typical people would have the sense to go back to bed.  I haven't been graced by this pleasurable luxury.  Instead, I hit snooze and made a pathetic attempt of starting my morning routine.  Yawn, eye crust, grumble grumble and stumble like a drunkard to the bathroom.  Surprisingly, I actually made it to the bathroom to take a shower.  Felt so good for all of the five minutes that I could stand to be in there.  Puked up a part of last night's internal debate of whether I was getting sick and threw myself back into bed.

Take two:  Tortured myself at 5:50 and said to myself that I'll pay off some bills and at the very least, I can muster up some strength to make it to work.  Sat at the computer and if I can imagine, probably looking pretty pathetic and came to a depressing conclusion that I will not be going in for my internship today.  Feel even more like shit since the last day I've been there was Thursday.  Oh joy.

Here's the reality of the culinary world and what it is like out "there":

Nobody truly cares how sick you are when you're in the industry.  Bring your sad, pathetic ass to work and let me actually send you home.  This way, I can see that you made an attempt.  In addition, we know you are not supposed to contaminate the food BUT if I need you to work, you're going to do it while carrying around a bottle of NyQuil, Benadryl, Motrin 600 and some Vicodin.  While heavy intoxicated by over the counter pharmaceuticals, you'll be lucky to start out in this industry at $13/ least in New York.  My inner psychic says you'll be making anywhere from minimum wage to eh...$10/hour, which you will be slaved for.  If you have a great hookup, then you are indeed fortunate, my dear.

This industry will drain you sometimes and if you're really committed to it, the rush will turn you on better than any estranged prostitute on a broken corner can ever do.  Just please don't be jaded by the idea that this is a bird course or easy.  Sure, there's nothing to cooking food once you've mastered the technique but try mastering that technique to a hungry crowd of 200 in three hours.  Can you really execute these dishes in complete harmony?  Will you tap into your inner Zen like cooking guru in the sky and feel at peace?  Probably not.  There will be loads of confusion, cross messages, "no, I really didn't ask for that", "I don't like my lettuce with any specks of brown..." and you will lose track of time at the drop of a hat.  This is what it is like out there.

Being sick is for people who have the time to sleep.  People who have the time to sleep are the ones who either paid their dues, still in school with no real obligations, hospitalized, have no job whatsoever and probably not making a decent attempt and should I get dramatic on saying the cliche thing of getting sleep when you're dead.  Another probability is quite possibly that there's someone that you're mooching off of and are a fortunate gold digger.  Hey, not knocking you at all if that's you.

In the meantime, this 26 year old Brooklynite have to do this internship while freelancing in culinary and photography while juggling a family life, praying that I will never be like some of my coworkers who laugh about their divorces and late night rendezvous with the alluring lady called the bar.  Not looking for any damaging vices where I'm smoking and snorting my life away on precious lines.  I just like to draw them on paper...not much interested in putting them in my nose.  They don't teach you that in kindergarten.

Sometimes, I'm a bit annoyed of how people watch reality shows like Top Chef and truly don't grasp the amount of time, energy and endurance that a person need to really make it on these shows.  It's a beautiful thing to be inspired and want to go into this industry because of it but I sincerely recommend for people to dig deeper than what's seen on television.  Start out working for someone for a month...better yet, go lower than that.  Host a party for 20.  Do all of the prep work, cooking, hosting and take orders while communicating with your guests.  Then go work for someone in their kitchen.  Identify all of the products that you need to use efficiently.  Watch them...almost like your life depended upon it.  Admire the speed of the person holding the blade.  Take in all of the wonderful aromas erupting from the kitchen.  Immerse yourself in the genuine smiles that come from the customers who are enjoying what's coming from you.  Now, take a moment and look at the aggravation on the dishwasher's face.  Watch all of the veins pop out of the Executive and Sous Chef's head for small things.  Count how many curse words fly out of people's mouths.  Take in every sexist, crude joke and multiply it times ten.  Sniff your arm pit after eight hours with barely any type of break.  Don't get too comfortable because it's not time for you to go home yet.  You've been there since 6AM?  My supervisor has been there since 5AM and he or she is not going to care.  They'll be here all day long and will rinse, wash and repeat this 6 days a week.  Cry silently about your bunions, your blistered hands and semi broken spirit.

After all has been done, please tell me how much you love this industry.  Tell me what it truly means to call in sick?  What it means to make a semi decent wage after you've slaughtered yourself, possibly lost part of your family, missed out on festivities and tuning in from a distance of how everyone is having fun without you and tell me how much you love this industry.  If you are able to balance your personal life with this industry, my kudos are to you.  If not, please evaluate if this is what you want.  Thankfully, I LOVE this industry because of the end result, making all of the chaotic stuff minuscule to me but can you truly say the same?  After you love it, ask yourself, what is my backup plan if this doesn't work in my favor in the future.

Welcome to my reality.  It's tough, trying and emotional but I love it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Where Art Thou Brisket

Waiting game is over.  I'm on my internship...yay!  Only 12 more weeks to go, :P

I kinda like the place that I'm working at.  At the moment, I am on the prep station.  I feel the pace is a bit slow but there are certain elements that I cannot fully assess it accurately:

1.  I started the week before Christmas
2.  My supervisor isn't there until next week
3.  It's only the beginning.

In short, Imma quit my bitchen.  Anywho, I did a photography gig over the weekend for Chef Joseph "J.J." Johnson.  Some may remember him as the contestant and winner of the first episode of Rocco's dinner party.  I posted a crap load of pictures...well, not 75 pics out of 300 shots.  No way I was editing that in 2 days and the night before finals.  At his event, he made this butternut squash soup...oh so divine and he put goat cheese in it.  I never thought I'd do or say this but:  "Goat cheese, I love you...I want to marry you and want your cream."

So, off of inspiration from a few chefs that I've encountered in this short 9 months, I made a braised brisket dish.  Enjoy!

Braised Brisket with Tomato & Onion Rice Pilaf in
Hongroise Reduction
Braised Brisket Recipe

Disclaimer:  I really don't use measurements that much and I don't provide a list of ingredients because I'm nuts like that.

Please don't murder me. :D


Preheat oven to 350 F.  Trim fat from your brisket.  I'm sure it has a decent amount on there.  I buy my brisket in huge chunks and when I weighed it out, it was 4 lbs.  This will comfortably feed 8 people.  I make enough for leftovers.  Season your meat with the following:  crushed pink peppercorns, crushed black peppercorns, crushed white peppers, kosher salt, light on the thyme, decent amount of rosemary and Hungarian sweet paprika (you can find this at a decent supermarket or somewhere like Trader's Joe, Garden of Eden...some place like that and it's about errr... 4.00).  Use sweet paprika in moderation because it goes a long way.  Your peppercorns can be semi crushed.  It has a beautiful texture...or at least that's just my personal preference.

Heat a rondeau (a big ass non reactive pan with a forged bottom for my non culinarians) until it's at smoking point (piping hot).  If you're fast enough, prep one to two onions.  I used a Spanish onion for a decent flavor and threw in a yellow pepper.  For Christ sake...remove the rib of the inside of the onion (just a pet peeve).  Julienne both onions and peppers and set aside.  Once your pan is piping hot, don't be alarmed by the smoke, add a bit of oil to the pan enough to coat.  Use an oil with a decent smoking point like veggie or canola oil.  Olive oil will crash, burn and for the money, is not worth doing it in this particular meal.  Sear all sides of your meat until you develop a beautiful brown.  Remove brisket and set to the side.  In the same pan, saute your onions and peppers until translucent/soft.  Add beef or veal stock (veal kicks ass) and red wine with a 2:1 ration respectively.  Side note:  Alcohol is in almost every one of my dishes.  Place brisket back into the pan.  Add a sprig of rosemary.  Liquid should only fill half way up to the meat.  Bring the liquid up to temperature.  When it becomes warm, place into your oven uncovered for one hour.  Wrap with aluminum foil or shatterproof lid and lower temperature to 300 degrees and keep in oven for two more hours.  Lower temperature to 250 for last hour, total of 4 hours.

Pull brisket from pan and set aside.  Strain liquid and set aside veggies.  Put liquid back in the pan and place rondeau on stove; reduce liquid (crank up the heat to the highest temperature and allow it to evaporate into a thick liquid).  Since there is beef/veal stock in your liquid, we will create a hongroise reduction.

Hongroise sauce is a baby sauce from the mother sauce, Veloute.  It is also listed under sauce Supreme because of the steps that I'll explain to you right now:

1.  While reducing your stock, add a light amount of heavy cream to the pan.  Et voila...sauce Supreme, but we will not stop there.
2.  Although this is not part of the original recipe, add a small amount of goat cheese to your mixture, enough to taste. Incorporate until it's a light brown shade resembling gravy.
3.  Another modification is that I didn't use white wine but red wine.  Ha, almost NOT a Hongroise sauce but rules are made to be broken.  Since the wine is already there, don't worry about it.
4.  Add your julienne onions back in the pan and sprinkle a bit of Hungarian Paprika.  NOTE:  If you cannot find Hungarian Paprika, this is fine but the taste will be slightly altered.
5.  Reduce until nappe (no, I'm not being just means that the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.)

Pour this sauce over your rested brisket.  Meant to add these important tidbits:

1.  Allow your brisket to rest (don't cut it) for at least 15 minutes to allow the juices to do it's magic).  Cutting into meat immediately will make the juices pour out.  The food may be out of the oven but it doesn't necessarily mean that the cooking process stopped.
2.  Slice your meat against the grain.  This determines if your meat will be tender.  It will be good but it'll be better if you slice it the right way.

Pair this meal with potato latkes to make it a Jewish meal or you can make a nice pilaf like I did.  Just in case you don't know, pilaf is very simple.  Chop up whatever veggies you would like to add such as a basic mirepoix (50 percent onion, 25 carrot and 25 celery) and saute in a pot with some sort of fat (I prefer butter because it's rich and creamy).  Add in rice and toast it.  Make sure fat is on the rice.  Toast it until you smell its aroma.  It should have a nutty smell.  Add stock into the pan.  Cook until done.

Hope you enjoy this recipe (and my erratic side notes).  I would love to hear what you think and how it turned out.  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tired but Thankful

My dear...I've been walking around with a big toenail with a split in it for a week.  I cannot remember my feet looking this terrible since I was pregnant and couldn't reach them.  

Time has been escaping me like you would not believe.  I've been out of my house from 8am and not seeing home until midnight.  Rinse, wash, repeat.  This is the life that I asked for in a sense.  Nothing comes easy and I didn't expect this profession of mine to come off gentle.  I have to pay my dues to this industry before I can really start reaping in the rewards.  

There are some really trying days where my husband supports what I do and then there's moments where selfishly, we want nothing more than to feel each other's breath across each other's chest but...this career has its jealous streak.  Prep this, blanch that... Mise en place, mise en place, mise en place!  CLEAN AS YOU GO...behind you...HOT POT!  The scent from my Chef jacket is always entertaining.  Arroz con gandules and maybe a taste of Indian food.  Don't mind the stain on my pants...that's just pastry cream.  

My son loves what I do but I can tell that he misses me terribly.  One night, I was revising some resumes for over 15 students and while typing, I decided to phone home.  "Another talk to your son..." That would be the loving frustration from my husband.  He wants me...need for me to be home but he doesn't want me to stop doing what I love.  My bad boy of greatness answers the phone.  I can hear his smile and smell his excitement through my crappy MetroPCS phone.  Nothing but bright hellos and chattering away of how he behaved in school.  

One more week babe...I'll be on my externship.  Better hours in corporate dining.  Early riser mornings, social life at night and so family friendly for home.  I can divulge into the photography world and pump some art into my veins.  I can feel it now.  Babe, just one more week and I'll give you three months of nights together.  After that, the real world awaits me, taking on a career that will once again be jealous of our sleep and then I will be on another conquest to be alone with you.  Sleeping in our bed, under warm blankets with our hearts embraced.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Recipe Jotting at 2AM? Get a Life

Okay's 2AM on a now, Sunday morning.  

Why am I still up?  Out of all things, I'm looking up recipes that I can tweak to my own liking.  This is a fat girl, please pause moment.  I've been invited to do really cool 26 year old things like going outside and getting wasted at a dope party and if I played my cards right, guaranteed to go to someone's after party.  I was even supposed to do the intimate thing and have a date night with my husband.  One of my friends came in from the UK and I just saw and heard the message at the last minute to go to an open mic.  

Oh no...what do I do for pure entertainment?  Read articles on New York Times about guess what?  Food.  Use my handy dandy journal and write down what?  Recipes.  Geez, either I'm a nerd ahead of my time or I need a damn life.  

Well, no sense in complaining about it, right?  Read this article about Starbucks' employees locking down the bathrooms in desperation not to clean it.  Made me chuckle a bit.  At a time back in the land called 2005 and 2006, I used to work as a Barista.  In fact, I was such a workaholic, I took openings at several spots.  My home store was next door to Bad Boy and I'd be there before the crack of dawn to open.  Too bad there were countless psychopaths who loved talking with me.  This was pre-locs, pre-culinary school and pre-baby weight.  Geez, that's when I was warm, fuzzy and naive.  

Anyway, I remember my regulars:  a man who came in with a jogging suit and stand there at 5:55am for his Tall Skim Vanilla Latte with a Butter Croissant.  Dedication I tell you.  Then, it would follow up with another person who wanted this Tall Soy Peppermint Latte.  She ordered this every other day that it made me interested in trying the drink out.  Wasn't bad at all.  Unfortunately, around morning rush, I remember this one particular day, a homeless man came in with a stack of newspapers and had a cup of coffee.  He didn't come to my register nor did I make his drink.  Perhaps someone felt bad for him.  Besides, I was in the theater district in the heart of 54th and Broadway.  Tourists mostly have a conscious; typical NYers would give him some change or tell him to go look for a job.  It had to be close to two hours because I remember being told by my store manager to take a break.  I have this tendency to want to potty right during break but I was greeted to a nice red "Occupied" stamp on the door.  Someone's in the bathroom.

Just my luck, there's another Starbucks down the block.  Used it, enjoyed my ten minute break on my derriere and ran back to my store.  This guy was still on the toilet.  Really dude?  How much did Starbucks make you go?  Forty mins later, my supervisor demanded that this homeless guy leave the bathroom.  

We were whiplashed by this alarming funk.  Oh dear, it was horrific.  Smelled like a clusterfuck of a dog tag teaming dead chickens from behind while going through an R. Kelly moment.  Didn't get it?  Just think about it, smoke a cigarette and call me in the morning.  This guy had the audacity to forget where the toilet was and I spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out why would the toilet play Trick or Treat with this guy and fool him into thinking that toilet was on the wall and who really is going to clean this up.  For 9.00/hr plus tips.  I don't know man.  

My supervisor walked past me and asked my coworker.  Bless his heart and his nose.  I would have puked and gave up my job that day. All I thought to myself way man.  No effin way am I cleaning that up.   I salute those brave Starbucks' employees that said hell to the nawl on cleaning up that slop.  The things that food service workers endure man...y'all just don't understand.  

Thank God I'm in the damn kitchen right now and I pray to the man above that don't get an irate supervisor who gets off on sending me in a garbage bin with rats to clean out.  Please flying cockaroaches and rats.  Please.  I'm a woman (the very few times I would pull out the W card).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Resident Fat Girl Checking In

Hi, I'm Latoya.  I'm 26, in culinary school and in a cyanide euphoric and slightly schizophrenic state of happiness.  

Just imagine.  I wake up every morning, five days a week, practically to the same schedule.  Alarm kicks in at 5:55am.  SMACK!  Buzzer kicks out for 10 minutes. SMACK! Just 10 more minutes baby.  SMACK! Gawdamnit, didn't I just say 10 more minutes and like an abusive relationship, I apologize, it cries and I fill it with empty promises that I will not do it again but we know that I'm going to do this until I get tired of the yelling.  What's a person to do when they're tired?  Get the hell up, wash your ass and carry on your day.  

So, that's what I do.  My day starts anywhere between 6:30 - 6:45am and if I'm a serious procrastinator, minutes to 8am where I'm going through the constant, "oh shit" moment.  Here's the ritual...stretch, scream, mutter in frustration, kiss my husband and possibly blocked because my son is the human alarm clock who lays over both of us.  He's the all knowing morning birth control.  As a young woman, I just want to roll over to my husband's freshly baked goods but my son makes sure that this doesn't happen.  Why?  Because he's 4 1/2, enjoys walking in on his parents during awkward moments and too young to understand that mommy's schedule is so chaotic that we crave intimacy at the wee hours of the morning.  Off to brushing my teeth with no breakfast in my system.  Pop 3 pills:  One multivitamin, one acidophillus tablet and one vitamin B levels have been horrific.

Since culinary school, I managed to get three cases of food poisoning, four viral infections, scarlet fever and five ER trips in nine months.  Can we say that my immunity sucks.  So again, no breakfast, already washed my booty but I have to think twice on whether I did it or not and in pursuit of finding mediocre to decent clothing to put on.  Hey, who cares...I'll be wearing my bright white chef jacket and checkered pants with the matching black non slip sneakers all day.  My puffy hat will lay over my heavy locks, which will one day become an inconvenience in a high speed kitchen and I will do a nail inspection, as I do every other morning.  Fresh white tall socks...can't get burned by hot water or some unforeseen but expected accident.  Check my knife kit, inspect my knives, pastry tips armed and loaded and my side towels are in the bag.  Backpack loaded and would make Dora the Explorer look for another job.  She knows nothing about my mission.  Dora and Sesame Street couldn't handle my pressure or have to deal with angry NYC commuters on a train.

7:55am:  Kiss my son, kiss my hubby for the fourth time, kiss my kid again.  Cry silently in my head and tell myself, "today's going to be a great day and I'll love it when I get there" but I miss my family.  I miss my social life but welcome to the real world big girl.  Big girls don't cry, especially in my industry.  I'm a chef in training.  Crying in the kitchen is weak.  Sure, we're emotional but it's accompanied with curse words, pounding knives, sharp objects, tortured meat and uptight patissiers in training who are determined to show you that baking isn't for pussies.  I'm out the door by 8:10.  Husband walked out at 8:05 so we can meet at our secret location:  the corner store.  If he's on time, I'll see him after I pick up my usual two bottles of water and banana.  These bottles will get me through two thirds of my day and I need to drink half of my body weight.  

He meets me.  Kisses me passionately.  Walks to the train station talking about photography, my other mistress.  Wait, is my camera in my backpack?  Of course.  What can I build this crazy portfolio with?  On the train by 8:20.  8:25 train will get me fired by my work study job.  Ha, go figure.  Work study job at 26 years old but everyone starts from somewhere, even if you were making over 50K three years ago.  He leaves four stops later from the train.  iPod love:  Telepopmusik, No Doubt, Marilyn Manson...someone scream and sing to me while I'm molested and fondled by these nasty commuters.  They give me the same strange looks every morning.  Perhaps it's the checkered pants, locked hair, evil look of sleepiness and my chained bracelet with the spikes.  I'm a sore look.

Off at 14th Street.  It's 8:55.  If I am lucky, I can take the bus one stop.  If not, I'll walk like a mad woman through people to make it in two minutes to my job.  Whew...made it to the bus.  Ring the bell.  Off the bus.  At work.  My supervisor's a funny dude but like I've told many people:  You have to be slightly off to be in this career.  Perhaps, daddy issues?  Never accepted?  "My family is a bunch of Nazi chefs and I decided to follow...", "I wanna be a Betty Crocker kinda gal without the box" or the infamous, I saw too much Food Network and think that everything on television is acting and easy.  Newsflash.  IT'S HARD!  Exhausting and tiring and if this isn't your passion, walk the hell out of the kitchen and save yourself the aggravation.  Don't dare try to break the glass for oxygen.  That's my reserve.  Five and some hours of working.  Eight doors down is my school.  No breaks.  Five hours of being ripped a new one by my adoring but crazy chefs.  They've learned what they had to learn.  Still learn how some of us are morons and sometimes mystified by our lack of trying to give a damn.  

6:30pm...depending on the day, I'm on a trail.  Just a nice word for being an apprentice.  I'm a patissier in training...few doors away from my school and my job as a Soup Kitchen Chef.  If not, I'm home by 7:30.  Perhaps if I feel like being an adventurous adult, I'm looking for a cheap bar to score some shots with my classmates.  They share my love/hate relationship.  They understand that we have no life in this business and we've set ourselves up to this penitentiary but we frigging love it.  The smell of production.  The speed, the burn marks, the battle scars, the yelling...why do we do this to ourselves?  We LOVE it.  We live it.  It makes my nipples perk and don't you dare touch me when I'm close to erupting.  

Chix Milanese w/ Spring Salad & Penne
I'm home.  Turn off the kitchen talk.  Wait...I have to cook.  Hubby tells me not to worry bout it but I know he wants to eat and as tired as I am, I want to cook because I love this insanity.  The glimmer on his face.  The silence and erotic moans erupting from their mouths as they eat a piece of me.  It's my meal they're enjoying.  We may even have company over tonight.  Who knows?  But dinner is served baby.  I love to keep my family happy, even if it means that I'm going to crash before I take ten bites.  Sorry baby...not tonight.  I promised I'd stay up and watch a movie but I'm frigging exhausted.  I promise...tomorrow, I'll make a better attempt of staying up later.  Perhaps, I'll wake up in three hours like I tend to do when I realized that I broke yet another promise of movie night and I didn't help my son with his homework.  Just wait babe...this will all be worth it.  I'm done with the physical portion in four more weeks in school.  I can smell my externship approaching.  Corporate dining.  Stable hours.  Monday through Friday.  Maybe not as crazy as a restaurant but I still get to have my rendezvous with my cast iron, stroke my steel and make it beg for me and I still get to have my family.  Don't worry babe.  Four more weeks.  I'm drowning myself in food and photography for a bit longer for a gratifying end result.  Thank you for being patient.  Your understanding turns me on.  Your support makes me horny.  Babe, turn out the lights.  I want to make love to you under the dessert that I made for you.  It's know that we're going to be exhausted in a few hours. 

Upside down on life.
Don't worry...I'll beat the alarm clock and apologize for the assault and battery.  It's used to this by now.  Esthero, lull us to sleep.  Besides, we only have less than four hours to get up for work and do it all over again.  Thank God for weekends but that's another form of passion.  Photography finds a way to call me and stroke my legs gently.  She knows how to make my shutter flutter.

Welcome...and hi again.  Did I forget to mention that I am a chef and photographer in training?