Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Kitchen wounds I've suffered so far include:
• Deep knife cuts through the nail and into the soft flesh beneath
• Vegetable peeler cuts
• Mandoline nicks (very much like paper cuts, but 5 times worse - small, but painful)
• Microplane-grated knuckles
• Burns (luckily small and scar-free)

And this just in from last night's duty:
• Carrot blisters

The carrot blister sits above the very first crease of my right index finger. It developed last night while cutting 2 quarts of carrots into cubes. The cubes were neither small nor large, so I was a bit confounded as to which knife technique to use. Shamefully, it took me almost an hour to achieve 2 quarts. Half way there, I developed this blister, and it now accompanies the 2 microplane nicks I acquired on Saturday. It's by far the weirdest kitchen wound yet. My right hand feels as though it should look like a cartoon finger that swells up cherry red and throbs like an elephant's heart. At least I'm not in Adam's shoes. He lopped off about half of his thumbnail with a peeler last week. Or Ben, who had a nasty burn that re-opened last night.

Strangely, I don't mind this part of kitchen work, and maybe even a bit fascinated by it. Perhaps I developed a hyper-high tolerance for pain at an early age when I fell into a big pot of scalding water and received permanent second degree wounds on both my arms. Maybe because of this, perhaps in my subconscious, I believe scars and wounds come with a story. And as with all kitchen tales, I'm mighty interested.

The rest of the night was pretty low-key. I gave props to Chiquito, who usually prepares those carrot cubes every day (but in 20 minutes). And I helped Adam put together some mise en place for ChefX's upcoming cooking demonstration at Degustibus.

First up was an orange powder. Zest 20 oranges, cook them in boiling sugar water for 20 minutes, spread them out on a baking sheet, pat dry with paper towel, and slowly dry them in oven for 3-4 hours at 200 degrees. When they're completely dry, but with original color intact, grind them to a powder in a a coffee/spice grinder and set aside at room temperature. According to David Bouley, citrus powder not only adds flavor to meats, poultry and fish, but it helps them to caramelize when baking or sautéing. Next, bring 2 cups of rice vinegar with 1 cup of water to a boil. Throw in a cup of coriander seeds and boil for 5 minutes. Let cool and store in fridge. ChefX will be using both these components in a yellowtail dish.

In between tasks, I observed plating, tasted a fois gras terrine (I don't get what the fuss is all about), and chatted with the wait and kitchen staff. Even after experiencing 2 quarts of oddly-sized carrot cubes, the bane of my life, I long to be back in the kitchen of RestoX, where it's beginning to feel like home.