I’ve decided to stay up late and watch one of my favorite shows, Perry Mason so I might as well write as I pass the time.
In the restaurant kitchen when the orders are rolling in there’s plenty to do. When the prep is done and the rush hasn’t hit, or when the rush is over, there’s still plenty to do. A good line cook knows this, and knows what to do when there are no orders. This is best illustrated by a story told to me by a Richard Smith who owned Dick Smith Sporting Goods in Downtown Albany many years ago. When I was on the cross country team at Siena we used to run from campus to his store to buy running shoes. Years later, after he had closed his store, and I was the footwear manager at Dick’s Sporting Goods at Crossgates Mall, he worked for me and would tell me many stories about local sports legends. One in particular has stuck with me because it can be applied to the kitchen. Richard explained to me that he was with legendary SUNY Albany basketball coach Doc Sauers at a high school game scouting players and Richard noticed that he seemed as though he wasn’t watching the action. He asked Coach Sauers about it and he replied “I know what a good player does when he has the ball, I want to see what he does when he doesn’t have the ball.”
This next story was told to me by a great chef, and great man. He was working in his kitchen when a customer popped his head in and said “Johnny (fake names used), that was a great meal. I ought to have you come over to the house and cook a meal.” Then, looking at the young dishwasher, he added “and you can come and do the dishes” Well, apparently the chef didn’t care much for this customer, and had a fatherly affection for the young employee replied “how about you do the dishes and Kevin here can come over and fuck your wife.”
Apparently, the same young man was involved in an altercation with some rival youth and was beaten with a baseball bat. The ambulance personnel declared him dead, informed his family who in turn informed the restaurant that he would not be in to work because he was dead. As the legend goes, he “came to” at the hospital, was treated for his injuries including a broken jaw and decided to leave and go to work that day for his scheduled shift. So, the next time you feel like calling in sick, remember, there was a young man who was declared dead and still went to work.
I have a lot of great stories, and when I retire from this business I’ll tell them all. For now, enjoy the ones I can tell.
Ok, one more. On a hot summer afternoon while working in the kitchen I had to go to the restaurant owner’s office to discuss something. I knocked on the closed door, heard a “come in” and walked in to a creepy man sitting at his desk in nothing but a pair of red bikini underwear. Like I said, It was a hot summer afternoon.