Food Woolf Posts

November 29 / Chef Advice

After getting over a bit of performance anxiety, I brought my butternut squash dish to work to be critiqued by the chefs at the restaurant I worked at.  I did my best to appear cool and calm and slid the plastic to-go container holding the contents of my labors to the chef.

“Here’s that butternut squash dish I’ve been obsessing over,” I said with studied nonchalance. “Heat it up whenever you think you have the time.”

I started to walk away. Chef Bryant stopped me as I turned to leave.

“Hold up. We’re gonna eat it now.”

I quickly gave him my re-heating instructions and disappeared around a corner. I was hoping to see if Nancy Silverton, my boss and my culinary hero, was somewhere nearby. I scanned the back kitchen.  The only people I could find were the dishwashers and some cooks prepping clams.

For a moment I considered slicing off a portion of sizzling butternut squash and bubbling Pecorino and bringing it to her, but changed my mind.  I feared I’d look foolish or inconsiderate forcing a nugget of orange squash on the city’s most celebrated bread bakers. With just minutes before service, surely someone in charge would kill me for distracting Nancy.

So instead, I busied myself with preparing a frothy cappuccino. Anything to keep my hands busy and my eyes off the mouths of the chefs that were most likely eating my dish by now. I downed my caffeinated drink and returned to the floor of the Pizzeria.

One of the chefs, Joe, stopped me as I passed by. “ Hey–it’s good,” he said.

I stopped in my tracks. I couldn’t stem the rising of octaves in my voice. I practically sang a high-soprano “Really?”

“It could use a little salt. But it’s good.” He smiled.

November 29 / Chef Technique