Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In the trenches.


"Stay a line cook and train for as long as you can.", is a statement that a great chef said to me along my path as a professional cook working to become a chef.

This is something that I didn't really understand back then when I was working the line, but today I understand it more than ever. Being on the line is serving time in the trenches, in the heat of battle carrying out orders in an effort to win or achieve a common goal. Being on the line and working as a valued member of the team is a great feeling. There is nothing better than getting through a bone crushing busy night on the line, with the barrage of orders, verbal corrections, vulgarity, stress and pressure of professional cooking. Knowing that you pulled your own weight and handled your station well is a very rewarding experience that NOBODY can give to you, it is an experience that is earned through blood, sweat, tears and psychological strength and conditioning.

Line cooking is a critical part of the culinary development of an individual in a kitchen. Even if one does not want to become a "chef", in order to work in any kitchen and be worth the money paid, one must learn to work on the line, therefore spending time in the trenches is paramount. Line cooking builds character and increases one's pain and pressure threshold. The time spent line cooking is time devoted to fundamental culinary technique and understanding the behavior of food. It is an important time to learn proficiency with a knife, flame, communication, salt, pepper, butter and technique. I am proud to have come from the trenches. I have my scars some external and others internal, but the work ethic I value in myself and others could not have been built without spending more than ten years on the line in America and abroad.

Today the line cooks in our kitchen are working diligently and learning in the process. It is ironic that in my culinary travels in the world, I shared the culinary traditions of Native America, my home in Apacheria and Dinetah, now that I have returned home to work as the chef, I share the culinary traditions of the world with my crew. So we are in fact honoring the great culinary traditions of Eurasia as well as the age old culinary traditions of Native Peoples in America. It is this combination of culture and cuisine that makes what we do so exciting and rewarding.

 Pan Roasted Bay Scallops, Fresh Linguine, Tomato Confit and Butter.

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