Monday, July 26, 2010

Raincity Grill

I just got a new job. I now work at Raincity Grill. It's right at English Bay, so it has a beautiful view, and it's a very busy part of the city. A and I have eaten there once before, and the food is really good. It's also the home of the first 100 mile menu, so everything is sourced locally.

I actually got the job through a chef at school. He asked me if I was looking for a job, and when I said yes, he connected me with a girl who works at Raincity who told me they were looking for a brunch cook. I was excited because I knew it was a good restaurant, and the schedule was perfect for me because I only want to work weekends. She told me to drop my resume off the next day, which I did. I met the sous chef, Matt, who told me he would contact me after the weekend. But he actually called back a couple of hours later. He asked me to come in for a stage the next weekend. I was actually in Red Lake, but he was ok with me coming in the following Saturday.

The stage did not get off to a great start because I went there on about three hours of sleep. The detour in Golden took a lot longer than we thought it would, so we got home at 3am. And I couldn't really sleep in the car because I had to keep talking to A so he wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel. So I was pretty tired, but somehow I did a good enough job that they wanted to hire me. Yesterday was my first official day.

The brunch menu is really nice, and so much better than at Glass City. We actually make hollandaise from scratch. So both days, Matt, who I'll be working with going forward, trained me. I start at 7am and basically do prep for my station for three hours before service starts at 10. Then it's just trying to keep up with orders until service ends at 2:30, or shortly thereafter. Once we clean up, we help with prep for the dinner cooks. It's a long day, but it goes by really fast.

There are two stations - one makes eggs and potatoes, and the other (mine) does mostly everything else. I'm on the grill, so I do toast, bacon, sausages, and French toast. I also do the cold breakfast, like yogurt, and all the salads. Raincity also offers a two-course prix fixe menu, so I got to learn how restaurants deal with more than one course.

The first two days were a little overwhelming - there's so much to learn. But I'm really happy.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Block 2: Week 4 - Cold Sandwiches

Cold sandwiches was a relatively easy week. We essentially had to make sixteen sandwiches each and have them out in the cafeteria before 11:30. The first day was the hardest because we didn't really know what we were doing, and chef kept asking me to do different things, like organize the fridge and make roast beef. But that roast beef was actually really tasty and made some excellent roast beef sandwiches with a horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, and red onions. Throughout the week, I also made a mexican wrap (with ground beef, rice, tomatoes, sour cream, lettuce, and cheddar cheese), a roasted tomato, basil, and bocconcini sandwich on foccacia (so delicious), an egg salad sandwich, and a ham and cheese sandwich.

I also figured out why the hot sandwiches week was so hard - my friends were on hot breakfast and I was on hot lunch, so we never saw each other. School just wasn't as much fun as it normally was.

Block 2 was a pretty busy month. Chef told us that breakfast and lunch actually used to be two separate blocks that were combined into one, so there was a lot to do in a short amount of time. I'm sad school is flying by so fast, but I'm kinda happy to be moving on to a new block.

We actually just had a week off from school. A and I went to Red Lake to visit family, and we drove home. Man, that's a long drive. It didn't help that there was an accident between Golden and Revelstoke, so we decided to take the long route home. But we had a nice stop in Banff, staying and eating at the Banff Springs Hotel. The pool was my favourite pool ever - an outdoor pool, but heated like a hot tub. It was amazing.

Tomorrow we start Block 3 - soups, stocks, sauces, and cold salads.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sushi Feast

Co made me and Nic the most amazing sushi dinner. Spicy salmon rolls, california rolls, hand rolls, nigiri, and sashimi. It was ridiculous, but so good. Thanks!

Block 2: Week 3 - Hot Sandwiches

This past week was probably the hardest week so far, but I'm not really sure why. The hot sandwich station itself wasn't too bad - we're basically short order cooks in the cafeteria. We make hamburgers, veggie burgers, steak sandwiches, monte cristos, clubhouses, and like on hot breakfast, we make a special each day. Maybe it was just the time pressure - we had to be ready for service at 11:30 no matter what. We start school at 7:30, so we have four hours to do everything because there is no time after service. School ends at 1:00, but by the time we cleaned up after service ends at 12:45, it was often 1:15, and then we would have to go back to class to discuss the next day's special with chef when all we really wanted to do is take off the uniform and relax outside. Also, with only four of us in the group, it was just that much more of a time crunch to have everything ready.

But cooking on the line was fun. Like last week, we rotated stations each day. I started off as expeditor, so basically organize the plating of the food before it goes out to the customer. Our special on the first day was a turkey quesadilla, so I also put some of those together when we started running low.

The second day I was on the deep fryer. This is the easiest station because all you have to do is drop french fries and onion rings into the deep fryer, take them out, and season them. Since there were only four of us in the group, whoever was on the deep fryer also took orders from customers. That is also an easy job, and it's a lot of fun interacting with the people and telling them about the special, which that day was chicken teriyaki burgers with grilled pineapple. There were a couple of specials leftover after service, so I got to eat one, and it was really tasty, so it was my favourite special of the week.

Wednesday I was on the grill. Like at breakfast, grill is a busy station. Grill has to make all the burgers, steak sandwiches, and monte cristos. Our special was a beef dip that day.

Thursday was a busy day for me because I was on sandwiches. Usually the sandwich person deals with the special. That day, we made paninis with grilled vegetables, bocconcini cheese, and capicola. We pre-grilled them to get the grill marks, and then I warmed them up to order. The sandwich person also makes the clubhouse sandwiches.

The last day, I was expediting again. Our special was a pizza deluxe. We cut a hole in the top of a foccacia bun, filled it with mozzarella cheese, meatballs, tomato sauce, sauteed onions, and salami.

Next week - cold sandwiches.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Block 2: Week 2 - Hot Breakfast

I had the best week cooking breakfast in the cafeteria.

The first day, I was a little nervous, especially because the chef put me on the eggs station. I had been practicing my eggs over easy on the weekend and had been able to flip a couple without breaking the yolks, so I felt as ready as I was going to be. Usually, each group has five people, so two people are supposed to be on eggs, but since we only have four people, I was on eggs by myself. Chef showed us how to set everything up for breakfast service, and then off we went. He also picked a special for us, which ended up being a frittata, something to be made on my station. Yikes. Between 7:30 and 8:50, it was somewhat busy, but not too bad. When 8:50 hit, the students arrived for breakfast, and then it was madness. Everyone after Block 2 orders eggs over easy just for fun. So I had 2 or 3 pans of eggs going at a time. It was chaos, but organized chaos. After service, chef told us that we as a group did an outstanding job, which felt really good. He also told me specifically that he thought I had natural talent. He suggested that I work in a restaurant where I can work closely with the chef because he thinks I would do really well and learn a ton in that kind of environment. It really inspired me to start looking for a better job.

We rotate stations each day, and create a new special each day, so on Tuesday, I was on the toast station, which is the easiest station. Basically, I just make toast to order and then butter it. Not very hard. But because it's easy, I helped out with eggs when the egg guy got slammed with orders. One of the students who ordered breakfast on Monday was there again on Tuesday, and he told me that I did a great job on eggs by myself the day before. Our special was pancakes with raspberry sauce, which chef really did not like because it is so similar to the regular pancakes on the menu. So he made us add bananas and chocolate chips to the batter and then whip some cream to put on top of the pancakes before service, which was pretty stressful.

Wednesday, I was on omelette station. We make them very differently at school than I do at work, so I had a hard time with them. At work, I just let the egg mixture cook out in a circle, add the toppings over one half, and then fold the other half over the toppings so you end up with a semicircle omelette. At school, we are supposed to mix the egg around, kinda like scrambled eggs, then flatten them out to set slightly, add the toppings over the whole egg, and fold it into thirds. For some reason, mine tended to stick to the bottom of the pan. I figured out later, after service of course, that I just had the heat on too high. The special was probably our best one - Mexican breakfast bowl. It was a deep fried tortilla shaped into a cup, filled with refried beans, black beans, scrambled eggs, salsa, sour cream, and green onions. It was definitely the most unique and interesting looking dish we did all week.

Thursday was a holiday, so on Friday, I was on the last station - grill. Grill is a busy station - you have to cook the bacon in the oven, grill the sausages and the hash browns on the flat top, and also make the pancakes and french toast to order. Our special was a Scottish breakfast, which chef picked for us as he's from Scotland. It was eggs sunny side up with sausages, back bacon, hash browns, baked beans, and a fried tomato. A took the day off work and came by school for breakfast. He said the special was delicious.

Next week - hot sandwich station.