As some of you can remember, in February, I joined restaurant Divinatio’s kitchen team for one day. This was the result of a price I won on the website of Special Bite; see the article published on their website (http://www.specialbite.com/blog/specialbite-keukenstage-divinatio).
Back then, I agreed with Erik van Dam, the chef, that if I wanted, I could join them again. So yesterday, I was asked to start at 2 pm. On saturday’s no lunch is served, so no need to start at 11 am. This saturday evening the restaurant was fully booked, which promised a lot of action!
When we just started out working on the mis-en-place, one of the cooks, had to leave as he was feeling really ill. That left the kitchen brigade with only 2 people, plus me… With 50 people in the restaurant that evening, it meant I would really need to join the team working hard… Secretly, I was quite happy with that! That meant I could really help and I like working hard, it’s so much better then standing around and being in the way!
For the mis-en-place I was asked to clean a large pile of baby artichokes. Even though this was an exam dish at Cordon Bleu, I now believe I am able to clean them in my sleep… At Cordon Bleu I was struggling with the artichoke, finding it hard to understand its anatomy. But after so many it becomes a lot easier.. Although at the end my hands were cramped and I had a cut in each of my thumbs..
Before the dinner service started, I ran around, picking things from the fridge, helped making tuilles (although I also screwed up a lot of them, not understanding how big they would become in the oven, so they all melted together, but hey), filled macaroons and of course cleaned and prepared the artichokes.. The artichokes had to be sautéed in some olive oil with onion, garlic and thyme. Then hot chicken stock was added. After a few minutes the artichokes were left to cool down in the liquid. And the result was really tasteful!
When the dinner service started, I had to assemble all the amuses. The amuse that night was a really cool mini steak tartare. Made from freshly ground meat, a poached quail egg (kwartel eitje) and some smoked mayonnaise.
Then I was also put in charge of the menu starters. The majority of the customers in the restaurant choose the menu, as it offers really good value for money, it’s 4 courses and the dishes are well balanced. Meaning I had to assemble about 40 starters. I really liked this particular starter. The chef made a guinea fowl rillette (parelhoen), which is almost like a sort of paté. The rillette was served with my perfectly braised artichokes, oven roasted cherry tomatoes and a fig vinaigrette. Very pretty looking and ever so tasteful!
I helped out where I could on the other dishes (bouillabaisse and entrecote on onion compote) and I also made a lot of the deserts (chocolate fondant with poached pear and yoghurt ice cream).
By midnight all dishes were served and I could sit down with a well deserved glass of white wine. My back was broken, but I so much enjoyed it. And according to the chef I did really well. He was really pleased I was there yesterday, as with 2 kitchen staff he would have had a hard time serving 50 people.. And I was really satisfied myself as well. It was fun, I learned a lot and I managed, despite the busy service. And I was really happy with the possibility to work along the team and get so much responsibility!
In two weeks time, I will join the team in restaurant de Kas for 3 days, I hope I will be just as good. But this was already really great!