Saturday, September 12, 2009

Yes, Chef!, and I Am Muffin Man!

Yes, Chef!

Yes, Chef!

Yes, Chef!

I don’t know how many times a day I say Yes, Chef! I would lose count ... hundreds? More? Instructions come thick and fast ... Chef and I are developing a strange working mixture of Italian, English, gestures and some creative muttering. It works. Yes, Chef! Sorry, Chef! Immediately, Chef! It is over there, Chef! What did you say, Chef? Yes, Chef!

Yesterday Chef had some friends come by for lunch at 1:45, and they left at 6. This was in addition to the other 11 customers we had. We had 1 hour to clean the place and turn the kitchen inside-out to get ready for a full dinner service for 14. My Chef from George Brown College called at half past 3 and was a bit surprised that we were still in service at that time ... I phoned him back between 6 and 7 for just a moment, and those were stolen minutes ... there is SO much to do, some days. Other days (today is one of them) there is little or no service ... customers do not come, so we can spend time doing, at a more leisurely pace, what needs to get done anyway but is often hurried.

Yes. Chef!

There is only one vision in the kitchen ... one ego, one idea, one way to do things ... Chef’s. A working kitchen is the furthest thing from a democracy. Yes, Chef! No, Chef! Sorry, Chef! And Chef is Chef, not buddy, not his or her name, never hey! It is Chef. Just Chef. Yes, Chef! Everything that goes out the door into the room has his name on it. La Trattoria all’Isola di Christian Zana (the Desert Island of Christian Zana). You get the hint from the name. Yes, Chef!

But ...

Chef’s girlfriend, Sylvia, once had a muffin. She instantly developed a liking for the things, and she spoke to Chef about muffins. Together, on the second day of my stage, they approached me and asked me to invent a tiny, filled muffin for their patisserie presentation. Neither of them knew how to make a muffin, so I explained the basics of muffinry to them. Mixture of Italian, English, gestures, waving equipment around, some muttering. Finally a decision came down from Chef ... invent a special muffin for me that will be a signature piece in my patisserie.

Yes, Chef!

See the photograph above ... the large muffin is for kitchen consumption only (Chef, Sylvia, Chef’s Mum and me). These and the little loaf muffins are my invention for presentation on the menu. They are filled with a variety of delicious jams and marmalades, sometimes with chopped raisins, and are now featured in the patisserie of the Trattoria. They go out on a lovely platter with several other tempting offerings, and our experience in the past week (since the first muffins went out) is that they are an overwhelming success. Customers have been asking for more. I will be working on a light sauce (a berry and amarone reduction comes to mind) to hop them up for the winter service.

Yes, Chef!


I Am Muffin Man!

Hear me bake.