First Week Staging with Chef John Tesar

my first burn at spoon
my first
burn at spoon
It’s necessary to cut to the chef shoe
chase. I’m almost positive chef John Tesar wears Prada chef shoes.
This is how I feel after spending three nights staging at Spoon Bar
& Kitchen this week. I thought about taking a muscle
relaxer the first day, but responsibly realized taking pills on the
job might be frowned upon. Instead, I ran four miles earlier that
day in order to relax before entering the kitchen of chef John
Tesar. I was told to wear jeans, my Le Cordon Bleu chef coat, and
to bring my knife bag. This wasn’t enough for me. I needed to know
whether to walk in through the front or the back door. This is a
big deal. What if the front door is locked? This instantly morphs
me into a dork because I will then have to smash my face against
the glass to see if there is anyone to see. If there isn’t, then I
will have to piddle around the back of the restaurant, like the
dork that I have just become, searching for a way to enter the
building. This is a potential tragedy for anyone arriving to work
for the first time. After reaching the nerve to ask the chef this
question, he had no choice but to tell me to— relax. It’s not
like he’s going to have me up in the club plating plates. Come on!
The job of a first day stager is to pay attention and become a
sponge. Stop sweating the small stuff, rookie. Aubrey is the first
person I met. He works in the back and has loads of responsibility.
The first time I cut myself, Aubrey was there for me. He even told
me where to find band-aids. After following every single safety and
sanitation rule learned at Le Cordon Bleu, I returned to my area.
This is when I decided that Aubrey is going to be the person I ask
dumb questions. For example, when John Tesar tells me to do
something, I will confirm with Aubrey that I am not a loser. When
someone tells me to go into the walk-in and grab something simple,
Aubrey will be there to make sure I grab it fast. When I cut apples
in a pathetically crooked batonnet way, Aubrey will tell me to get
it together. None of the front people cheffing will know. This is a
secret. Please do not tell anyone. On the way to Spoon the next
day, I began to daydream about where to park, which resulted in
rear ending another car on Preston Road. This is not recommended as
the best thing to do thirty minutes prior to the second day of
staging with John Tesar. It is not really all that relaxing to
wreck before work. After exchanging information with the innocent
victim of this mini car crash, I managed to make it to work on
time. vibrant After trying as
hard as a human could possibly try at any given task, all of the
sudden, it happened. John Tesar summoned me to the front. He
instructed me to find the vibrant pieces of a particular plant and
place each vibrant plant piece in iced water. He said vibrant. This
frightened me. How am I supposed to know John Tesar’s definition of
vibrant? This is a full blown chef interpretation nightmare. To
assume my definition of vibrant is the same as his is nothing more
than preposterous. Then, without warning, I decided to use common
sense. Last night was the best night ever. I actually worked in the
front of the kitchen. Chef de cuisine Bruce taught me the correct
way to create amuse bouche for the evening. Besides amuse bouche
duty, I was able to help out in many other ways while learning
during the process. I only burned myself a total of one time last
night and even had the luxury of cleaning bone marrow during prep.
Please do not be jealous. I’ve eaten at Spoon a few times and it’s
incredible how different the view is from the other side. Even more
incredible is the system John Tesar has in place, as well as the
kindness of the staff working in his kitchen. Every person in the
building went out of their way to force me not to feel like a
culinary student loser. The atmosphere is freaking me out with
happiness. I could stand in John Tesar’s kitchen forever.

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