:: Life on Planet Dan-E ::

Thoughts, observations, and introspections from an art student waiter/bartender in South Beach. Arcane humor ensues.
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:: Thursday, August 14, 2008 ::

:: Training Day(s) ::
I started my new job at The Steakhouse last Monday. I arrive and greet the Floor Manager. He hands me some paperwork I need to fill out, after which I meet some of my new co-workers. Everyone seems laid-back yet work very efficiently in setting up the restaurant. Just before we open, the FM discusses my training schedule. He offers me a day off on Thursday but I tell him I prefer to just work six days straight (because I'm crazy). No problem. My first three days are on the floor shadowing a waiter. Thursday, I'll be in the kitchen behind the line (Really? Sweet.), I'll be working the bar Friday night, and Saturday.. if I make that that far.. will be my last night and I'll be taking tables.

The first night is pretty easy. It's busy for the Monday but nothing too crazy. I follow my trainer, who's working a party of 27 people. We go over our opening spiel, procedures, service methods, and he shows me how to work the computer. Other than being a family-style restaurant, it's not too different from Swank since it's also semi-fine dining.

The party is easy and he asks me to see if I could sell any after dinner drinks. I think I raised my stock when I sold eighteen shots of Lemoncello at $10 each. This was in addiction to the three extra bottles of wine I sold during the meal.

Tuesday and Wednesday is more floor training though it's with a rather intense guy who's been working there for about five years. He's one of the head waiters so he's accustomed to taking charge and does so with a very straightforward manner. His demeanor is a very straightforward, no bullshit, type and I'll learn later that he's like that even when he's making fun of his co-workers. Otherwise, training is more of the same, and I break only one glass.

Thursday was spent in the kitchen learning the menu. I've spent a few training days in a kitchen but this was the first time I had to go behind the line and actually help cook. One of the line cooks was a former co-worker from Seafood Grille (when asked how we knew each other, I joked we met in prison and were cellmates) and I'd be helping him out in the grill and broiler section.

Now, I love cooking so I was really looking forward to this. The first hour was spent observing the grill, the pasta section, and the sauté area manned by the Head Chef (who does look like he might have been in prison). Then I started getting my hands dirty (um, so to speak) with actual cooking. Nothing too complicated at first but it got busy, so I ended up helped with grilling, slicing and even plating.

The last two hours I went from being a trainee to a cook. (Pete was impressed that I picked up the menu so quickly, to which I reply, "I know what I'm doing. I watch Food Network.") And let me tell you, it was a blast. It's one thing to cook on a stove in my tiny kitchen but to work the line during a rush, keeping track of everything, and properly plating the dishes (as opposed throwing it on a plastic dish like I do at home) is a whole different world and it was pretty cool. Especially since their knives are much better than mine.

Once it slowed, Pete took a break and left to man the grill while he went on a smoke break. I chatted with the Head Chef, asking many questions, which he answered patiently and thoroughly. As thanks for helping them out, he let me cook up the lamb dish for myself. It was a half rack of Australian Lamb with a fennel-orange marmalade, pine nut crusted goat cheese, and a mint-balsamic reduction. It was outstanding. I think the Chef wanted to hire me as a cook right there.

Friday was spent training behind the bar. Again, the first hour was just learning the procedures, the computer, and some of the house specialty drinks. It was relatively slow and the bar guys knew me somewhat by now so after a while they mostly left me alone at the service bar while they tended to the bar customers. I hadn't bartended in a few months but most of it came back pretty quickly. Luckily, I didn't have any orders for odd drinks (like say, a Bahama Mama or a Red-Headed Slut) even though I had my recipe book just in case. And I didn't break any glasses either (that the floor was lined with rubber mats helped).

Saturday would be my last night training and I had to pass the menu test. It's a relatively easy menu and seeing how the food was prepped, cooked, and plated was huge so I passed easily. I ran a small station on my own and did okay considering my first night started off with two high-maintenance, pain-in-the ass tables. My final test would be at the end of the night. The GM sat at one of the tables outside and I helped set up his table. Once that was done, he told me to pretend he was a customer and perform my opening waiter spiel. Oh, umm... shit.

"Good evening, welcome to Swanky Trendy... um... The Steakhouse."

Fortunately, he has a sense of humor and he's been drinking since 9:30 so he laughed and said he hoped I didn't do that to a table (I didn't). I started over went through my introduction. I did well except for the fact that he said I talk a little fast (not the first time I heard that). He shook my hand and said, "welcome aboard. You're going to do very well. Don't fuck up." (I may have made that last sentence up.)

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:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 10:33 PM [+] :: | 0 comments

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