What’s it like working in a kitchen? Especially when it isn’t your ordinary place of regulations fostered by the job, but the secondary set of rules brought to you by ‘Local 6’.
Short answer, it’s rough, rigorous, and incredibly rewarding.
I’ve worked in the Flatotel, which was located on the west side of Manhattan, specifically, on 52nd street, for 5 years(2007-2012). Where we used to have celebrities, and catered to the business clientele. Today I’m currently working for the Hilton Manhattan East, on 42nd Street, where we cater to the United Nations, celebrities, business clientele, and families. I also worked at the London Hotel NYC Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant, West 54 street, and the Benjamin hotels The NTL restaurant, East 50th street, where these properties, using fine dining, attract stars, and big business from all over the world. Being a chef at these properties isn’t easy, and requires your entire being.
As I enter work, I make sure that all my stations are up to par. Anything not meeting my personal par levels, are immediately replenished and rotated via the F.I.F.O. method. If there is anything that needs time to be prepped, I make sure I get them done. Usually I’m doing about 5-7 things going at the same time; ie. prepping mashed potatoes, cooking pasta(Linguine and Penne), par baking Kobe meatballs, marinating chicken for service, slicing cheeses, grilling proteins, and doing orders on the line as they come in from room service, dining room, and bar. I work all the stations in the kitchen alone, per shift.
I essentially am the everything chef at work, or ‘Tournant’ as is my job title. I do the butchering, soups, stocks, sauces, salad station, grilling, baking, and etc.
I have a super flexible schedule, which means, I work morning, noon, nights, and overnights. I have done breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have cooked for the Missions Ambassador’s, Honorable’s, Prime Minister’s, Minister’s, and President’s from Micronesia to Czech Republic. I take pride in knowing that I have put my all into my work. From the flavor profile to the presentation of my food, everything must be on point, and following the Hilton, Gordon Ramsay, The NTL, and others top standards.
After a long days work, it is now time to close up shop, and head home. I make sure that I go through every part of my kitchen to now wrap up, change containers, and date everything made that day, or make sure I have the items with the appropriate dates they were prepared. I lock up, clock out, and await patiently for another productive day at work.
Working in the Hospitality Industry is not easy, and is definitely not for everyone. It’s tough long flexible 14-20hours of non stop on your feet work, using all of your mental and physical capacities, lack of sleep, clashing of tempers, lots of little tedious details, and a ton of more hurdles to go through. At the end of each day, there are accomplishments, the guests are happy, I feel fulfilled with my work, and I am happy doing what I do!