Thursday, December 11, 2008

More Fiction

I'm taking another whack at the fiction writing. -HR

As Alexis stood underneath the bright lights in front of a mirror she quickly brushed her thick black curls back and gathered them at the back of her head. After a few more swipes with the brush, her hands expertly moved in concert to assemble the hair into a tight ponytail with the assistance of a small elastic band. She checked herself one last time in the mirror as she slipped the brush into her purse and brushed a strand of hair away from her white shirt, perfectly knotted tie, and neatly pressed apron.

The silence of the bathroom was shattered by the boisterous sounds of a restaurant kitchen making last minute preparations for the Thursday evening dinner service as soon as Alexis opened the door and stuffed her purse in the bank of lockers that lined the wall next to the bathroom.

As she made her way through the kitchen she took in the sights, sounds, and smells of 40 different dishes in various states of readiness. Cocky young cooks bumped into each other and gave her wolfish smiles that she returned with a shy wave. Saute' pans sizzled red hot with thick slabs of meat and the air was filled with the aromas of boiling pots of stocks that had been simmering gently for hours and hours and a garden full of chopped herbs.

She poked her head out into the bright dining room and saw that the rest of the front of the house staff was seated and ready for their pre-shift meeting. Alexis stepped back to where Chef was standing, told her everyone was ready, and slipped out to join her co-workers.

When Alexis sat down her friend Kim elbowed her in the ribs and wondered aloud, "If you love the kitchen so much, why don't you go join the heathens in the back of the house and cook?" Alexis gave her a sour look and stuck out her tongue as a reply as Chef strode up to the table and gave her staff a warm smile and asked, "Are there any questions about tonight's menu?"

The assembled waiters, food runners, and bartenders looked down at the index cards in their hands and scanned the evening's selections. A couple of hands went into the air and for the next few minutes Chef patiently and expertly gave a discourse on everything from where the evening's poached lobsters came from to how much longer they could expect they could expect pears to be in season.

Chef's generous nature and lack of histrionics permeated the whole restaurant. There was a low hum of jokes being exchanged and quiet laughs as the meeting broke up and people filtered throughout the restaurant to their various workstations. Chef motioned for Alexis to follow her back to the kitchen and inquired,"Did you try the new appetizer yet?" Alexis shook her head and Chef said, "Go back there and fire one for us," pointing to the line and handing Alexis a chef's jacket.

Alexis stepped up to the massive range and, with speed and skill that never ceased to amaze the cooks, began to sear a hunk of foie gras. She quickly moved around the station gathering plates, garnishes, and sauces. Alternating between being a blur of motion and impatiently looking at the pan waiting for the goose liver to cook. In four minutes she had assembled a beautiful plate that she took with her back to Chef's cramped but meticulously neat office with a couple of forks.


virginia said...

you've worked in a restaurant kitchen?

i was a waitress who begged to help/learn. one afternoon, the chef let me slice onions...

great are a writer.

worst experience: the cooks worked shirtless, and one evening i watched hushpuppies being dumped into the warmer as the sweat dripped off the fry cook's arms.

Knockout Ed said...

cooks worked shirtless? that's definitely a health code violation anywhere in this country.

as a guy who's worked boh & foh, that is pretty fucking good. great visuals.

virginia said...

yep, and they scrambled to dress as the inspectors made their way to the kitchen.

i worked at several restaurants, including fast food and french...what an education. the owner has to be involved, or shirtless happens.

it does read true; that's why i asked.

Hill Rat said...

I haven't worked in a restaurant in almost 15 years, but two of my closest buddies in DC are bartenders so at least occasionally I still get to traipse through a restaurant kitchen.

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