*Chef Felix is the Sous Chef at Alan Wong's Honolulu
This is Mac's reflection on his experiences in the kitchen at Alan Wong's Honolulu.
September 22, 2013
I’m adapting fairly well to my surroundings. I get this good rush of bliss when I’m told to grab something and I actually know where it is or when I really don’t know where something is, I ask people and they gladly help. I’m feeling more and more comfortable about what I’m doing. For the first few days I worked, I didn’t feel like I belonged simply because I was just this lost child in the kitchen. Yes, I’m new but in some moments, it felt like I just got in the way. There are so many things I still have to learn, to understand, and to adapt to when I walk into those kitchen doors and this week, I feel one step closer to everyone.
I’ve been spending my time analyzing my surroundings, trying to just remember where everything goes and where they are located. When it comes to putting something together, such as the tempura batter, I sometimes shake my head at the pace I’m at because I feel as though I’m taking way too long to get something so simple done. I do honestly want to blame my inability to locate all the necessary items within the kitchen, but mostly, it’s my lack of confidence to ask on the spot. I do hesitate to ask for things because everyone seems to be in their prime state, not allowing me to disturb their bubble. That’s just something I need to get over. To get things done, I do need to start sticking my head out more and just going for things I need. I still don’t want to get in their way but I may have to ask for a few seconds of their time to get something they have in their station that I need.
Once in a while I’ve been asked to help out a few stations during service. I remember staying on the wing station with Dusty, and getting his stuff together. He let me plate prep his dishes, letting me understand more about the build and helping me identify what is really on the menu. I still don’t know the actual names of the dishes but for some I know the breakdown of it. For example, the Clam dish has spinach, clams, mushrooms, salsa (I think), chicken broth, butter, and kalua pig, which is placed in a foil ‘bag’ with water to be made. From what I’ve been hearing, it is referred to as “bag” when ordered, if I’m not mistaken. I also know that the “chunky,” has fried wontons, ‘Asian’ guacamole, sambal olek, ahi poke, sambal olek aioli, and dots of thickened Shoyu wasabi. This is usually paired with that soup dish that has that awesome yin-yang design and kalua pig sandwich floating above it on that cheese cracker. I feel horrible describing what already has a name. I think it’s time for me to do some homework and research some of the dishes.
About an hour before my shift was done, Chef Felix approached me as I was peeling and de-germing garlic. He asked me “So how are you doing so far?” and I said “I’m going great chef, thank you.” He had an idea that I could have been lying so he said, “Look at me, and tell me that you are doing great”, so I looked at him, smiled, and said “I know I could be doing the most boring job in the world right now, but I’m doing it for Alan Wong’s. That, by itself, is still an honor for me to do. Just being here is already a blessing, so doing something like this, something that contributes to the business is all I can do for Chef. I really am having a great time here, Chef.” Chef Felix smiled, and did his thing. That minute interaction with Chef Felix made me feel really good about myself and where I stand today. It’s great to be here in Alan Wong’s Restaurant.