Under Fire: Sugar and spice

Our former Cafe Society intern just decided to chuck college in favor of a real education: as a sous chef. In Under Fire, he chronicles his daily trials and tribulations in the kitchen.

Stir the sugar. There's the secret key to making caramel. That's it. No advanced degree in rocket science necessary: Just stir it. This reaffirms how simple most issues surrounding cooking can be. And how much of an idiot you can feel like in the kitchen.

It was a good thing I'd finally conquered caramel, because last night my chef was out and the guy who can run saute like a monster wasn't there, either, so I was the only person on the premises who could handle saute. And that, combined with the fact that our dishwasher was giving it a first go at pantry (and hadn't even seen all the plates yet) meant that I would really need to focus.

We were slower but not dead, and even so, we managed to put out great food. At least, nothing was sent back -- although this was not necessarily a seal of approval, since I know that 80 percent of the people who don't like their food won't send it back, anyway: They just won't come back to the restaurant. This makes discerning the success of a night very tricky. Having confidence in your skills is the only real solution. But acquiring those skills, and that confidence, takes serious time.

Confidence comes with completely learning the dance, and I still need to work on that. The only way I will truly understand the station is if I get a strong rush, get really buried, get super-weeded. Only when my pants are around my ankles and I'm left a shattered shell of my former self will I feel confident as a line cook.

Still, after last night, I feel like I'm on my way.

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Tyler Nemkov
Contact: Tyler Nemkov