I have worked a few shifts now and have finally gotten into a bit of a routine. I get to work and quickly change into the uniform I have stashed in my locker. My second day of work, there were no uniforms left, so I had to wear my jeans all day in the kitchen, which was embarrassing to say the least, and quickly taught me to pick out the next day's uniform at the end of my shift.
My uniform consists of a white chef's coat with the two rows of buttons down the center, and black and white checkered pants, which say "small" on the tag, but actually puff out like crazy around the thighs and are way too short for me (think MC Hammer pants). I head to the kitchen carrying my knives in a ridiculous Tupperware-like container (one day someone asked me what I brought in, like I had baked goods in there to share with everyone), then I sign in and grab a white paper chef's hat, an apron, and some dish towels to wear in my apron before heading over to my work area.
I work in Cold Catering. We make all the salads and sandwiches for the team, the wives, the media, and a couple of the suites. Once I get settled in, I take a look at what we are making that day. Up on the wall are about 10 pieces of paper with all the day's menus. The salads and sandwiches are highlighted, so we go through and add up how many of each type of salad or sandwich we need to make. And then we get to work.
Some days are prep days, so the day before a game, we will come in for a shorter shift and just get everything ready for the game day. Some of the things I've done on prep days include cutting, baking, and make individual packages of croutons for caesar salad, roasting vegetables, chiffonading basil, and chopping various things like onions, tomatoes, or bocconcini cheese. Over the course of the prep days, I've learned how to use the steamer for things like potatoes and beets, the oven for all the roasted vegetables and the croutons, and the meat slicer to prep all the deli meat for the sandwiches. I kind of love the prep days because at the end of the day, our fridge is filled with trays of neatly arranged meat and vegetables, and the super-organized part of me is so happy when the mise en place is done and everything is ready to go.
Game days are a little bit crazier. Plating everything isn't so bad, but the problem is when our counts get changed in the middle of the day, which seems to happen a lot. But it's lots of fun making the salads and sandwiches and making sure everything looks nice and trying to find space in the cooler (walk-in fridge) for it all.
I've already learned so much in my first few days. Cold Catering is definitely not my dream culinary career or anything, but it's an amazing opportunity to learn how things work in such a large-scale kitchen. Yesterday, I worked my first shift out of Cold Catering. It was during the game and I actually got to work in a brand new kitchen. It was my best day yet by far. All the details to come in the next post.