Friday, November 18, 2005

Death by 25

A morbid title, I know. Dramatic, who me?? And since I have (barely) passed the age by 25 you can rest at ease. The title plays on a previous post I wrote called "Death by Fat Duck" which toyed with the sheer exhaustion I felt after my 5th week of the rigorous schedule.

This time the cause of death is a promotion called "25 for 25." The exhaustion comes after 3 weeks of trying to keep up with 70 dessert orders a night.

After working through the first week of the promotion I arrived to work from weekend and realized that everything from the dessert menu was gone. EVERYTHING!!! There was hardly a scrap of dough, a lick of ice cream base, a crumb of cookie to start with. When I saw Amy I exclaimed, "They've eaten me out of house and home!!"

I began my day by writing the prep list, which was cause for laughter as it contained every step of every dessert on my menu. I titled it, "How to make everything from nothing.... in 6 hours."

Then the frenzy began.

It was all I could do to get things ready for service. At one point James encouraged diners to have the lemon tart thinking it would give me the most relief. He laughed when he saw me look at the ticket and run. I returned with the components to begin filling lemon tarts to order.

The rest of the week was spent sacrificing days off, prepping like mad, and finally giving in to the overwhelming insanity that is 25 for 25. Since then I haven't had time to blink, let alone blog, or develop new menu items properly. The bright side of this story (aside from it's time limit) is the refinement that can come with this kind of repetition.

December will bring the usual holiday rush to the restaurant, but will be nothing short of relief after this November.


Blogger Nico said...

Your story gives me a sudden feeling of utter admiration for the behind-the-scenes wonders that are being performed at the participating restaurants. During my 3-day visit to Seattle last week, I was fortunate enough to enjoy two great $25 prix-fixe menus at Cascadia and Fish Club, without being aware of what must have been the scene in the kitchen when I was chatting away and eagerly awaiting the food.

Thanks for clearing up some of those misteries ;)

Good luck with the rest of November. Next time I am in Seattle, I promise to visit Eva... or not :)


November 19, 2005 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there - I stumbled across your blog sometime last week, just before a trip to Eva. The lemon tart dessert was wonderful, and so was the rest of the meal! Thanks for allowing me a peek into the kitchen. :)

November 20, 2005 9:10 AM  
Blogger megwoo said...

Oh no! Sorry things have been so hectic for you.

Hey, I'm going to be coming in on Tuesday (for 25 for $25... sorry!) I'd love to say hi if you're working that night. It's Dana, right?


November 20, 2005 4:08 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Nico- I too have taken atvantage of other restaurants 25 for 25 menu's! Yarrow bay was great. So I have enjoyed the promotion too. I'll guess I'll see you at Eva, or not :)

Anonymous- Thanks for the compliment, I am glad you had a nice time. I too love the open kitchen at Eva. It gives the diners a glimpse of the kitchen, and gives the cooks a reminder that they are cooking for real people, not just filling orders on the tickets.

Megan- I saw your reservation! And yes, I'll be there plugging away. Come back and say hi! I grumble, but seriously I LOVE that so many people get to have dessert. (and yes, it's Dana)

November 20, 2005 6:14 PM  
Blogger megwoo said...

Cool. Can't wait to meet you!

November 21, 2005 1:19 PM  
Blogger cuisinier said...

Hi Dana, ( i think my first blog got swept into the darkness somewhere)- I can defintely relate to what you are saying although I am not currently a 25 4 25 provider. I know that it can be so very hectic only to succumb to the thought of the only reason we are doing this is for what...for those that will never again grace us with their presence? To work twice (or thrice) as hard only to obtain a few more, if any, bucks? But, I have heard so many chefs and cooks complain about the 25 4 25 biz but do they realize that this might be the one thing that keeps them afloat financially? That perhaps this gives them the ability to continue to create with the best of ingredients? Some would be so priviledged to be able to be involved, again, being sypathetic to the craziness. Is this not what we have our livelihood secure? Some could only be so fortunate, as they are now only a memory of "that was a good restaurant". As I said, I am not part of the frenzy so I can't really offer too much opinion without feeling too judgemental, but I do know that many of my colleagues and friends would have loved to opportunity to do more covers just to keep them afloat, because even with great, great cuisine, it wasn't enough! I wish all the best in this marketing magnet of what the public has come to know as a great deal, without always knowing and understanding that it is important to not only patronize when the value is plastered in front of us, but to look at supporting on an ongoing basis, because we need it. Hang in there!

November 26, 2005 1:37 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Cuisinier- Yes, the value of having more seats filled in a restaurant is undeniable. Next time I will be prepared for exactly what that means to my production schedule. The fragility of a restaurants survival is something everyone makes sacrifices for. I wasn't critisizing the promotion, only expressing the overwhelming wave of demand that I incurred, sitting on my heels so to speak.

November 27, 2005 9:01 PM  
Blogger megwoo said...

Hey Dana,
Just wanted to say we had a fabulous meal the other week--and the desserts were amazing. My mom said "that girl really knows what she's doing!" Hee hee.


December 01, 2005 12:13 PM  
Blogger cuisinier said...

Hi Dana, thanks for the reply! I know you were not complaining or critisizing, although that is quite fine as well. It is always beneficial to plan on the busy side than not! I always tell our team to plan on a very busy service therefore, if we are not quite to that level, then we are ahead, if we are at or above, then we are ready for battle! You can't really accomplosh mise en place while in the shits! Those times are horrible. One can only learn from the past, which nurtures us into whom we become, all with more experience and intuition as tyo what is to come before us. Best of times for the holidays. cuisinier

December 04, 2005 7:18 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Cuisinier- I always tell my team to prepare for the potential of the evening rather than the numbers in the reservation book. Prepping something in the middle of a busy service is a nightmare and the quality suffers. It took a month to get the hang of the 25 for 25, so next time I'll be prepared. Hopefully.

Happy holidays!

December 04, 2005 7:47 PM  

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