Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shallot Sometimes

A quiet Monday night in the restaurant, only about 50 covers for the evening as I recall. Looking at the prep work ahead of me I knew we must make smoky shallot sauce again since the recipe only makes enough for an evening of service plus a little extra. I like to use that little bit to reinforce the new sauce to give it a deeper flavor profile.

Going to work on the shallot sauce I take my time with it to make it perfect. It is really easy to burn the shallots if you’re not paying attention, they should cook slowly on a low heat to really caramelize. At the point I was ready to puree the shallot sauce I took it off the stove to cool slightly.

I searched for the Vita-prep blender and found the base and pitcher but no top cover. Often the equipment in the kitchen goes missing, students don’t return things to where they belong or the item sits in a sink somewhere waiting to get washed.

With service time quickly approaching I had to purée the sauce immediately. I poured the still very hot unfinished sauce into the blender and placed a kitchen towel over the top. Carefully checking to make sure the dials were on low I proceeded to turn it on, in the instant that switch flipped I found myself and almost everything around me covered with hot sauce. In disbelief with burning sauce on my arms I was in shock about the explosion of sauce from the Vita-prep. Not only did I burn myself but I wasted more than half my sauce.

Luckily, Chef did not see the accident and I asked Spencer to help me quickly wipe down the station and just brush the mess into the sink. My chef-whites were brown and I looked a mess. Once the area was clear I went to task cleaning myself up.

In the men’s room I rinsed parts of my jacket and scrubbed the stains with soap. Scraping bits of shallot off myself, I turned my apron around to hide stains. I reversed the placard on my chef jacket to cover some of the mess and returned to the kitchen to salvage what I could of the shallot sauce. I added the cold sauce from the night before and stretched out that mxiture with reduced veal stock as best I could since there was no time to make more. With only 50 covers that night we had just enough sauce to finish the night.

What happened? Well, there’s a button on the Vita-prep that I never noticed before and it was turned up to top velocity hence the shower of shallots. As I’ve said before, the kitchen is a dangerous place for the uninitiated and even the most experienced. I fall somewhere in the middle of that range with a notch closer to experienced based on that foolish mistake.

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