December 12, 2002

Sous Chefs: You got my back

One of the great things about cooking for friends once or twice a year is the fact that I'm helped by a great set of workers. Because it's not every day, they work hard, creatively, and for them it's a fun time. This is why I refer to them as my "Sous Chefs" rather than a bunch of line cooks.

But the most amazing thing about cooking with a set of friends year after year is that we become something of a team. It lets me relax to know that I can trust them to handle anything if I'm not around or busy with something else. The recent phrase used has been "You got my back."

One story from 2002 might explain something of what this is like. I was prepping some sauce for reduction -- basically just measuring out some things into a sauce pan. I'd added the stock and a few other things into the pan and was turning around to get the red wine. There was William with a bottle of red wine elevated in his hand. He knew what I needed. I hadn't even said "I'm going to make the sauce now." He just knew.

Plating is another area where folks have become familiar with what I'm needing and wanting. I can tell any them what I'm looking for in general terms and they'll be able to handle it. I know that the platters will look great.

Someone also commented on how well we work together in the kitchen. There are 4 or 5 of us in there at any one time, and the kitchen is fairly small. But the flurry of activity seems smooth and unhurried -- even in the heat of service.

Because of all of the help -- and because the help is so reliable -- I can try things I'd never consider doing. As a result, the quality and scope of the dishes we do has become more complex over the years. I know I can push it and do more than I did at first.

Posted by dowdy at December 12, 2002 09:46 AM