Thursday, August 4, 2011

Opening night of Ludo Bites 007... Just Make Happen!

Chef:  You know what you're supposed to do?
Me: No, Chef - Elodie wasn't sure what to start me with.
Chef: Measure out the ingredients for the Creme Anglaise.
Me: Oui, Chef (not the eggs again, ugh).

Well, if you've been watching any of the episodes of Ludo Bites America on the Sundance Channel, you'll know by know he wants the prep station C L E A N ! ! ! !

So that's what I started doing - I cleaned up - then started measuring and grabbing all the necessary equipment.  It's my 3rd time doing this, I have the recipe memorized (or at least I have the ingredient list memorized).  But (un)fortunately, the eggs hadn't been delivered yet.  Just as I was about to start breaking into the brown eggs - which were a different size from the white eggs (he did that on purpose, so we would know which eggs to use for which recipe) - he stopped me. 

Chef: Ah no - put this aside - start juicing lemons for me - about half that crate. 
Me:  Yes Chef.

more cleaning.  wow - i go through those kitchen towels like mad!

Now what I should have asked:  how much juice did you want?
No - I just started juicing what looked like half the crate.

Me: Ok Chef - done.
Chef: how much is that?
(damnit - i should have expected this - note to self - get precise measurements!)
Me: 2 1/4 liters
Chef: I want 3 Liters!
Me: Yes Chef! (ugh - I'd just cleaned off my work area and put the juicer back up front... stupid me for not asking first)

Now everything that I'm working on is to meet a deadline of 6pm opening time.  I know that there is a full menu of other things that will be served.  Do I have any clue as to what is going on behind me?  I'm in a station facing the back wall most of the time.  I just hear some of the shouted-out instructions - but otherwise, my world strictly comprises of what I'm working on.

New task:
Dough for the onion tart appetizer.  I'd witnessed Elodie rolling it out last night, and I helped her assemble the finished product at service for the private party.  Now it was my task to learn how to make the dough. Triple the recipe, and 2 batches simultaneously and use 2 KitchenAid mixers. 2 times.
The first time, Elodie used one mixer - I used the second - and she demonstrated - I copied. Then we kneaded the dough, divided it up into quarters and then halved the quarters - in total, we needed 16 balls of dough.  After we set the balls to rest in the fridge...

Elodie:  now you do the next two batches - you saw me do it - you take care of it.  Call me if you need me.
Me: (gulp!) Ok. 
After I measured for the 2 batches, she joined to help rise the yeast and start one kitchen aid as I did the second one. But then she left to take care of the peach dessert.
 So I did need some more input and guidance as I don't quite know what the "failure" would look like - so I have no basis of comparison.  Chef walked by - had no comments - so that meant I was doing alright. 

When I thought I was done - he came by and asked "what is the most important thing you have to do next?"

pause... um...

Elodie tears a little piece off and hands it to me, as Chef takes a pinch off - "Taste it!"
Duh. of course I need to taste it... but I'm so focused on getting the work done, that I don't even stop to drink water even.

Start rolling out the dough.
All 32 balls.
This was a crazy tough task and a workout indeed!
It took over 3 minutes each... some taking longer than others... I did take a break at one point... but it took me about 2 hours to roll out that dough.  My arms are so tired right now, I have no idea how i'm typing this.  and my hands are gonna fall off. 
What kept me going?
Elodie told me from across the way that they were looking beautiful. 
And I can't quit - I gotta finish my task.

There's a photographer with the LA Weekly who is also taking photos for the Chef Ludo's website.  He was there yesterday and again today - taking pictures of us working in the kitchen.  I'm so camera shy that everytime he's near me, i'm looking down or away... I don't want to be photographed all covered in flour!

It's showtime!
Staff meal? hah!  no time to stop and eat!  I still had to make the creme melange to top the tarts. 
I was assisting Elodie on making the onion tarts.
Grab the dough
flour the pans
spread the creme melange, and then the onions that have been cooked down and strained.
What? we're running out of onions!  we'll barely have enough for the first seating and it takes 2 hours to cook those onions down. 
as the T-shirt says - Just Make Happen.
Joon, Elodie & Ryan start chopping onions that Joon then puts on the stove to cook - it should be done for the 8pm seatings.
As the evening progressed and the dessert orders started coming in - Elodie had to switch over to dessert.
Elodie: "your turn - you take over on the tarts - you know how to do it"
Chef was now at our station helping Elodie with the first plating of the dessert.
As I was figuring out how to balance the very-hot-just-out-of-the-oven baking sheet of tart in one hand while trying to lift it off onto the cutting board with the other hand (there was no more space to set the tray down now... Just Make Happen...
Chef observed me.  I made it happen.  And as I was adding the topping and then cutting up the tart...

Chef took a slice and gave me the thumbs up and said it was very good. 

Yay!  he was happy with my work. 

And then since I was the one in charge of the tarts now - I had to take them out to the front - and hand the board to either Krissy or Ludo to tell them which table they were for.  I saw the diners out there... They were all so happy to be there.  I'm so happy to be a part of this... This is what it's all about.  putting together a great menu, preparing food with love and care, serving it to an eager clientele who appreciates it... I get it.

I'm done.  totally fried.  I showed some of the other girls in the kitchen who started later and were staying longer how to do what I was doing... So I could go.

Ludo promised me I won't have to stay as late tomorrow.  Thank goodness!  And now that the laundry is done and my apron is clean and dry - I can turn in for the night. 

To be continued...

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