Kitchen safety

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In my second career I’m learning a whole whack of new skills and I’m also getting a really good insight into how a REAL restaurant kitchen is operated. I kind of had an idea from all The Food Network shows I’ve watched over the years but nothing prepared me for the hustle and bustle of what really goes on behind the scenes.

Usually what one see’s in a restaurant is the host or hostess, the servers and the cooks if you happen to be in a place that has an open concept kitchen so you usually don’t think beyond that to the dishwashers or the prep guys. At least I didn’t until I started to work behind the scenes and boy am I glad I spent so much time in my kitchen here at home and have the kitchen gadgets that I do. Prep work is fast and furious and you need to know what you are doing.

Which brings me to the point of this particular post…. Safety in the kitchen.

One of the leading causes of injuries in a kitchen, whether it be a home kitchen or a restaurant kitchen is poor knife skills and although they do say that practice makes perfect, practicing poor knife skills will inevitably lead to perfect poor knife skills and more and more cuts. One of the people I work with is constantly cutting themselves due to poor knife skills and the sad part is that they don’t seem to retain the information on how to correct the problem. They seem to be destined to lose a digit at some point….. I just hope it’s not on my shift.

If you look at my hands, ESPECIALLY THE LEFT ONE, you will see how the fingers are curled back towards my thumb and if you look close enough you will see that the knuckles on my left hand are acting like a guide for the knife blade. Holding your product (whatever it is you are chopping) in this manner ensures that you WILL NOT cut yourself and with practice you can actually be looking at someone while chopping and still not cut yourself. This is called “cat hand” because it, well, resembles a cats hand when the claws are out.

The other thing you need to be comfortable with is the knife you are using. It doesn’t matter if it is a Paring knife, Boning knife or Chef’s knife if you are not comfortable with it or just plain scared of it you will cut yourself. You need to, literally, shake hands with your knife in a firm but relaxed manner and in doing this you will be in control of the blade at all times and if you practice the proper techniques your knife skills will become very good in no time at all.

So the thing to remember when you are creating “simple but tasty recipes for the grilling season and beyond” is to always practice kitchen safety.

Until next time………

            BON APPETIT

The Saga continues Part II

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In my last post on this topic I alluded to the fact that I really, really figured my age and lack of real kitchen experience would leave me out in the cold as far as my Second Choice Career was concerned (working in a real restaurant kitchen) and that as a result I would have to wind up doing something drastic like ——– sell my house.

For someone like me who suffers Depression this type of realization is one that can and does send me into a real deep funk because the main feeling that comes to the surface is one of complete and utter failure…. failure to my family and failure to me…. mainly failure to my family.

Well every once in a while the Stars align and they say “Today we like you” and that day for me was yesterday. I awoke with the same nagging doubt that no one will ever EVER hire me and as a result my taking early retirement has wound up selling my families future down the river.

I am here to tell you that, as Heath Ledger said in A Knights Tale—–“A MAN CAN CHANGE HIS STARS”, if you keep plugging away things will eventually come your way because as of yesterday I had not one BUT two jobs and they are both in the restaurant industry. The first is with a small chain that mainly does Chicken Wings while the second is the Prep Cook job I had applied for approximately 10 days ago and had pretty much ruled out of getting. I took the Prep Cook job.

To say that this happenstance sent my ego into orbit would be an understatement especially when it was on the verge of shattering and if it had, coupled with depression, I’m not sure it would have recovered.

My biggest challenge now, besides proving to the General Manager of the establishment that he made the right choice in hiring me, is to recognize that any misgivings or self-doubt I have is simply my inexperience talking and not depression raising it’s ugly head and besides……. It’s really tough to be depressed when TWO establishments want to take you on.

So until next time keep your chin up and keep smiling—– it could be worse.

                 Bon Appetit

A new beginning

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I retired from my job with the Federal Government after 35 years of service. What the job was is of no importance. What is however, is the fact that I survived 35 years of political bureaucracy with my sanity intact.

When I retired I thought “this is pretty sweet I don’t have to get up early and I can do what I want.” Well 1 ½ years later and I am getting pretty antsy to do something other than sitting around and mucking about on my computer.

So what do you do when you need to find work, so you can salvage what sanity you have left, and there simply is nothing in the field you spent 35 years in? You look for something you can do and in my case……. that’s cooking.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been sending out my Culinary Resume to any and all Restaurants, Cafes or Delis who are looking to hire kitchen help and who are not necessarily looking for someone who has professional restaurant kitchen experience.

Now anyone who has ever looked for a job can relate to the depressing feeling you get when you send out a whole whack of resumes and get no replies but when you happen to be a 57 year old who has no professional experience that feeling deepens a bit.

Well “lo and behold” didn’t one of the places I sent my resume to call me for an interview for the job of Kitchen Prep. This particular restaurant is a chain but it is a chain with a difference…… they do things FRESH and they actually care about the customer experience. It also helps that I have eaten in this establishment and I LOVE IT.

My interview, the first in 35 years, went very well and although the G.M. said that he had two other candidates to interview I feel very good about the whole experience and I think I have a better than average chance, even at my age, to get a second chance at another career that I know I will just love and one that will allow me to eventually produce “simple but tasty” dishes for the paying public.

I would also like to point out that the absolute stunning photo attached to this post is the work of the VERY talented photographer Suzanne Witkin of Los Angeles. Kudos for the picture oh and….. I will keep you up to date on my progress in my new career.

 Bon Appetit