Every restaurant has two kitchens. Desserts come from the cold side, where the pace is fast and stress is at it’s peak. A cold side chef must be constantly aware of his movements, unless he wants to be met with disaster when the oven opens an hour later. Cold side chefs are quick-witted, excessively clean, slightly-obsessive monitoring machines that run on a limited intake of sugar and caffeine.
Usually, diners think of the hot side when they picture a kitchen. The hot side is a place where corrections can be made on the fly. Food moves at a mind-boggling pace. Tickets line up and chefs race against the laws of physics to battle the onslaught of service. Hot cooks are quick with jokes and smiles, have usually traveled the world and have eaten every possible thing they could during their journeys. A great line cook maintains the flow of the entire restaurant with an arsenal of pans and spoons.
I haven’t ever shied away from savory food, but my passion was pastry; until now. I am officially a hot side chef, and am working to master techniques that will make every customer’s meal an experience from the ameuse-bouche to the petit fours. So far, I’ve learned that on the hot side there is no time to hesitate and no room for ego; there is only the push. I’m learning butchery and classic charcuterie. Instead of smelling like chocolate and yeast I smell like salmon, pork, and smoke (my dogs aren’t complaining).
People love food; that is why being a chef has become a very well-respected profession. Not many diners realize that their chef put in twenty hours that day just to serve them the best meal they’ve ever eaten. We do it because we are passionate about giving diners a remarkable experience.
This blog is likely to evolve with the new range of techniques I am learning. I will always be Joe the Baker (it is my given name, after all), but there is a hot side to conquer!