Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hot August Nights

The restaurant runs on a very seasonal schedule and that means August is a big month for us. People flock to the coast line of Oregon to escape the heat of the cities and to experience beach life for a day, or a week before kids head back to school and a sense of normalcy returns to most peoples routines. Our city streets become swollen with traffic, bicycles, and entitled pedestrians. The restaurant buzzes with more customers, and staff then any other time of year. The amounts of food I purchase, store, prep, and cook arrive to the back dock in what seems like a constant stream. Sometimes I feel like I am barely holding my head above water. While the capacity of holding food, and equipment to heat and cool food remains the same, the increase of needed things always presents some logistics issues. My walk-in is so full most days that you can hardly move inside it, and I am forced to schedule staff through the night to help keep the kitchen clean, and prepped. It is an easy time to allow our customer service and food quality to dip, and I fight everyday to preserve it. Corner cutting becomes the norm of some of my most seasoned staff, attitudes get negative, people get overwhelmed, and the kitchen gets hot. On Friday we received, then portioned 100#'s of halibut before it even made it to the walk-in, and bought and cut more on Saturday. Even with the amounts I purchase I still pay $14.99/# for it. Everyone is working hard, many of my cooks work multiple jobs, spending upwards of 15 hours a day on their feet over hot ovens, grills, dish machines and pans. I come home smelling like food, and nothing will take it off of my skin. The great news is that I have a strong staff, and while we get frustrated with each other, everyone is doing a stellar job and we will fight through it. Financially it is an extremely important time for us as we need this harvest to survive the upcoming slower months. September is always a fantastic month for us, assuming we can get some decent weather, and October is great as well. The pace becomes much more manageable but still sufficient, and without as many children it becomes more relaxed. Our guests are able to enjoy the experience we are struggling to offer, rather then just a meal for a hungry belly.

Last week, and again this week I have lost a few key members of my staff to different ventures for varying reasons. Both were huge assets to me, but one will be particularly missed for his wise opinions of almost any question, and his ability to be both stern but fair with his staff. His input, and always standing offer to hop in and help, as well as his funny demeanor will be a loss for our restaurant and my career. I wouldn't have what I have now without his guidance. This means we will be hiring staff, and I was able to interview a very qualified candidate just yesterday. It was nice to be able to fully disclose my goals as the Executive chef for the first time to someone I will work closely with, and to get some feedback that this gentlemen was looking towards working those same type of goals. A person who understands and appreciates the level of food and service we are trying to offer, and wants to be employed at a place that is striving to offer these things, rather then just saying they are working at it.

Melissa, Skyler, Abe and I are all moved into the new house, and while I feel like I haven't spent much time here I am so happy about it I could scream. I look forward to coming home and pulling in my own driveway, and walking into my own home. We have a few things we are working on around the house already, and struggling to make it a reflection of our identities. It is a bit late in the season to worry about a garden, but I have grass growing in the back yard and all winter to try to figure out a landscaping plan for the back. I love getting at in the kitchen, and we even scored a second full fridge for the garage. The appliances are all stainless, and the work surfaces are all granite and I couldn't ask for more. Two ovens, and a gas stove, and plenty of gorgeous cabinets. We are so fortunate. I still look around sometimes and think I might be dreaming. The colors and finishes that Melissa picked out fit perfectly, and while she wont be too quick to admit it, I know she loves arranging furniture, buying things, painting and staining old things, etc. Almost everyday I come home to something new she has moved, bought, or changed and I love it. I am so lucky to have her to support me.

We are getting down to crunch time with the James Beard Foundation dinner in New York on October 12th, and I am really looking forward to that trip. This is a link to our profile page with the foundation and the menu is listed on the right of the page if any of you are interested in the food we will be showcasing, as well as ticket information if any of you are interested in attending- . We will also be cooking a preview dinner of that exact same menu as a benefit for the Make a Wish Foundation on October 5th in Cannon Beach so I will keep you all posted on the details for that, if any of you are interested in attending.

I also recently was interviewed by the marketing person for Oregon Culinary Institute, and as a alumni of that fantastic program I was flattered to spend the afternoon talking about the restaurant, me as a chef, and my experiences at OCI with him. The video of the interview was recently posted-  and I am excited about a continued relationship working with them, as I truly believe they are doing the right things with their students, and I am proud of the time and effort I put in to be able to say I graduated from that school.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Josh! I love your perspective and insight. Would love to get you up here to cook for the o-line hoggies. I know, not quite as exciting as NYC...