This past summer, I worked at both the St Regis Café and at the Palm Restaurant here on campus. This meant that I had a very busy schedule, Thursday through Saturday.
On Thursday and Friday my day would usually start at 6:30am; I would wake up and get ready to go to breakfast by 7:20; that gave me just enough time to head over to class before 8:00. Then, from roughly 8:00 to 10:00, we would be prepping for the day and bringing items over to the St Regis Café. Once I got over to the St Regis Café, I had to set up my station with all of the proper utensils and the proper items. Around 10:55, if we were not running behind schedule, Chef McCarthy would allow all of us to head to lunch, but we had to be back at 11:15, since our first seating is at 11:30.
Once our last ticket for the last table had come in and all the food had come out of the kitchen, then it was clean-up time. Clean up includes, but is not limited to, writing what you need to make more of for tomorrow, making sure there is no food unwrapped in your fridge, ensuring that all of the tables and doors are wiped down and polished, and helping the dishwasher wash and put away dishes. The most important step in this process is to sweep and mop the floors, making sure to get underneath the tables.
Once either Chef McCarthy or his assistant has checked over the kitchen and says we can leave, it’s around 2:00pm. At that point, I would head back to my dorm room, drop off my chef coat, pick up a new chef coat and white t-shirt, and grab a granola bar for a quick snack. Then, I would head down to The Palm to make sure I had my entire mise en place ready for that night.
The head chef at The Palm this summer was Chef Vicky Breyette. She is an amazing chef, and taught me so much during the eight weeks I worked for her, and is a person that I truly look up to if I need any advice.
Around 4:00pm, I would start to set up my station – making sure I had all of my utensils and all of my do-ahead items done before 4:45. At 4:50ish, I would hop on dishes, if we did not have a dishwasher, and start finishing them before we made any more. What I did next depended on when our first table came in. I either got straight to work preparing all of the appetizers and bread, in the grade mange section, or I would keep on washing dishes until the first call for bread or the first order for appetizers came in.
The crazy thing was that for the first four weeks that the Palm Restaurant was open, I was a server rather than a cook. Being a server at The Palm and being a server at the St Regis Café was very interesting, and completely different, for me. In the St Regis Café everyone who walked in knew that they were going to be served by a student who goes to college here, because the St Regis Café is our classroom where we learn what it is like to work in an actual kitchen. But when I was serving in The Palm, nobody knew that I was a student here on campus, unless one of the other servers or I told them.
The experience of this summer, and what I learned, I will never forget. I hope that over the rest of my time here, I get the chance to work in The Palm again.