October 17, 2013
I decided to stop by on Friday to help prep for the Iolani event on Saturday. My tasks were simple: to take out the red onion butter from the freezer and de-vein all the lobsters. The dish of choice for the event was the Keahole Lobster with the Red Onion Sriracha Butter. As I was cleaning the lobster, I was supposed to count how many lobsters there were in that large bin. Counting, I learned or should have already known, is very important, not just for special events. It’s to have quantity control on the product being sold so that we know how much to prep and to see if we might need more, because back up is always good. Also when counting, I should have a system where when it’s time to re-count, I should organize it in the pan so that it’s easier to count than having to remove everything out and re-counting them again. I did have a system going, but then I realized later in the pan, I could fit one more piece of lobster, upping the count from 5 to 6, which in turn threw off my ability to re-count the whole pan. After re-counting the pan, I guess I began to feel a bit delirious because I had the most difficult time counting 50 pieces of lobster. My mind kept registering another 5 to every 5 lobsters I count, which made my count go to 100, even though it did not look like 100. Essentially, counting helps with the ability to know how much you are able to serve on any service days and/or events. It gives the kitchen an idea of how much can be sent out, how fast, and if we have to make more, then we can because we most likely have the essential ingredients to put another one together.
On the day of the event, we had to prepare a little over a thousand keahole lobster plates. The event was to celebrate Iolani’s 150 Years of continued education. James informed me that Sriracha got its name by where it was made, in Si Racha, Thailand. I enjoyed how we began plating the moment the people began walking towards our tent. The idea was to not compromise the dish, to have the customers enjoy something like it was made to order. Straight out of the oven and onto the plates and to the people is what should be served to our customers, not plates that have been sitting around a little too long. Before the service began, I had another lesson on counting again. I counted the bowls (or I think I did) for the VIP tables. I needed 90 and I really did count 90 bowls. I flipped over all the bowls that were part of the count. When chef Miya came back from picking up a few things from the restaurant, I was to re-count and after 5 re-counts, I realized that I missed 5 bowls. I was very confident that I counted 90, but 85 was the official count. We then pulled out 5 more plus 10 more bowls, just in case, leaving us with 100 total bowls. Lesson was to always re-count because what had just happened to me, could happen to anyone. Plating was another thing I had learned something about. We had only three components to the dish: bread, cooked lobster, and chives. There were 8 of us, 3 on the two stations, one operating the oven, and Chef Miya took care of the VIPs. My job was to place the bread at a certain angle on the plate and pass it down to the lobster station, where they place one piece of lobster on the bread and then drench it with the butter, and finally the chives, which gets a small pinch above the lobster. Having a system creates a smooth transition from one place to another, without having to stall, besides refilling the lobster and bread pans. We would then rotate positions just so we can get an idea of how it’s like to place the chives and put the lobster on the bread. We then gain different methods on doing things, like slightly dipping the bread into the butter then placing it on the plate.
This weekend has become more of a realization of my work ethics. I really need to get my game on and adapt to my surroundings better. I need to know where everything is and just be on my tasks. I need to know my way around the kitchen, have that sense of urgency, and be more self-directed. As I further my program with Alan Wong’s, the responsibilities also build up.
I did mention about having to know my way around the kitchen back in another reflection, but I guess I didn’t apply it that well. I now know where the freezer is, what the dessert and app carts are, meats, cheeses, produce, mushrooms, family prep, fish, etc. I have a good general understanding of where the products are in that walk in. I might still have to look, but at least I know where to look at unless there truly isn’t. Same goes for equipment in the kitchen: I should know where they all are as well.
The sense of urgency is so important in the kitchen, especially in this caliber. It is what keeps the system flowing and expedites the tasks for everyone. This was the motto for Intermediate Cookery back in KCC and I’ve done my best to stay ahead of everything. I feel like I should do things without asking, but I risk making that mistake of ‘jumping the gun’ and ruining what the product is suppose to be, which is my sense of urgency is hard to apply at times.
Being a self-directed learner, the first rule from the General Learner Outcomes (GLOs) has a connection with the sense of urgency and knowing my way around the kitchen. It’s self-explanatory because it simply means to teach myself, to be responsible for my education. With that said, I should have been investing my own time to learn the kitchen more and being more aware of the things I do.
Hawaii Island Goat Dairy
Located on the Big Island, this goat dairy farm began Back in January 2001 with owners Dick and Heather Threfall. They own 10 acres of retired macadamia nut land and own a goat-only automated pipeline milking system. The have goat breeds such as Toggenburgs, Nubians, Alpines, Saanens, and various other crossbreeds. They consume tropical vegetation like bamboo, ti, ginger, macadamia nut tree leaves, and grass. The baby goats are hand raised and bottle fed by Dick. He even has a radio on and lets them listen to music (such as jazz) as they are fed, just to provide that soothing environment for them. Dick also takes very good care of his equipment, keeping the running up to par all the time. Heather is a very dedicated veterinarian who does the milking and starting of the cheese making process. The cheese we use from them include tomme, bulgarian white cheese, colby, gavarti, gouda, feta (their most popular), and mozzarella.