The third quarter at SCA is so different from the second quarter. We now get to serve our food to the public, and the public pays for the food!
Whereas second quarter emphasized quantity cooking, third quarter focuses on developing line cooking skills in different stations. In addition, we get to cook cuisines from around the world. I have really been looking forward to third quarter for various reasons, including the “real cooking” aspect of line cooking. I have also been anticipating studying under Chef Vicky McCaffree for two quarters, since the first day that she shadow-taught Chef Gregg Shiosaki’s first quarter class last Fall.
The contrast between Chef KG and Chef Vicky is almost comical. Chef KG is a more traditional Japanese chef who likes to see how we attempt a project and then floats around to correct us when we’re wrong. He was almost famous for saying “Why you do that?!” Sometimes, it was because I didn’t really know what I was doing, or because I was going rogue (anyone remember my pulled pork sandwiches?). Other times, I totally misunderstood what he was telling me. I enjoyed studying under him, but the preparation for each rotation was rather intense. I would Youtube cooking methods – especially the butchery station – because our demos were fast-paced and sometimes hard to track. I wrote time-sensitive checklists to make sure I wasn’t dragging behind. The sushi station was famously difficult, though I managed to get done on time.
Chef Vicky’s demos tend to be hands-on in an experimental way. When she was teaching us to make Paneer (Indian cheese), she distributed recipes to us and had volunteers cook the recipes and see how the product turned out. We then got to eat the experiments and see which method we preferred. Chef Vicky also jumps in and demonstrates how we should prepare or plate a dish as we’re doing it. We are also responsible for just 12 portions of a dish and usually have enough time to prep our own stations more easily. As far as falling behind schedule, there wasn’t much that we could actually be behind in – the restaurant opened at 11:15, and we sure-as-heck better have our dishes ready.
Another reason I really enjoy learning under Chef Vicky this quarter is that she doesn’t really bust me for messing up a dish. I didn’t fry my frites quite crispy enough, and she came over with the plate of soggy frites and said “let’s fry the next batch together.” It’s nice that she does it that way, because working the line can be intimidating and stressful enough. It’s much easier on the soul to have the chef collaborate rather than holler. (On a random side note, that’s why I enjoy working at Stopsky’s Delicatessen – the chefs and cooks there recognize that I’m new and are more than willing to show me and explain the “why” behind the cooking method)
So far, third quarter is going well. We’ve done some really interesting things. More to come!