Simplygourmetbistroandcatering’s Blog

Swan Melons to sheet pans
January 23, 2009, 2:58 am
Filed under: Why I am where I am

So I got the job and man did I need it. I had yet to really feel passionate about anything in life and I was doing the stereotypical falling into depression cause I was unsure of direction and I am 22 routine. Little did  I know what it meant to start at the bottom of the proverbial barrel in food service. Clean the grease trap, clean these 300 sheetpans, roll 3000 scallops and bacon were but a few of the “wonderful” jobs I spent the first full wedding season doing. I did however seem to spark a kindred spirit type relationship with one of the owners and he really took me under his wing. I was taken to the hardest, most demanding, ridiculously difficult catering events I had ever seen, and I wouldn’t take it back for a minute, it is why I am where I am. It is why I can cook an entire meal with chaffing sterno and tinfoil if I need to. It is why I know better than most what mis en place means and how important it is in a makeshift kitchen where anything could go wrong. It is also why I quickly became more than a dishwasher, first lesson, cutting the perfect swan melon.

It had to be over 100 degrees in the back of the kitchen truck and at the time, lets just say, I was a BIG boy when my boss put a honeydew melon in front of me and said “I need you to make this a swan and we have no extra fruit and the bartender just dropped four racks of champagne glasses and I have to deal with that so do your best.” WHAT!!!! Well luckily for me(with my delusions of grandeur) I had done alot of studying on how to garnish and become a better caterer so I at least had seen pictures of it being done. Sweat pouring, brain pounding I set the knife to make the first cut knowing that if I did a good enough job my days of being just a dish boy might get alot easier. I spent 45 minutes trying to shape the wings when my boss popped his head in and said “I need that on a tray and garnished in five minutes” so I went into overdrive on the easiest thing to screw up, the head. But I tell ya I tried my damndest to make it look beautiful and set that tray up with fanned strawberries and anything else I could find. I walked down to the banquet hall, nervous and proud.

Well needless to say it didn’t come out all that well, I think my bosses exact words were “I asked for a swan not a handicapped turkey” (With no laughter involved) I was devastated, but driven so I let his comment pass. I bought 28 Honeydews that week and you know what I got it down and actually improved upon their “way” of cutting swans. About a month later, the handicapped turkey boss pulled me aside and said “I knew you were the right choice.” Made it all worth while.

In our next installment how I completely botched my first wedding and the importance of sharpies in the kitchen.


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