Food and Family

by Jordan Quidachay

I swear its pretty tough trying to get into the swing of things in the blogging world. I’ve been meaning to blog for the past week or so but with school and work its been kind of rough. But let’s get down to business!

What I’ve really been meaning to write about is my time at The Kitchen Denver thus far. This past weekend was my first look at food production from our menu. Due to a very unfortunate and hindering school schedule, I’ve missed the past two weeks of training and have only been able to muster up a total of two days of training before soft openings this weekend.

With that in mind, I walked in Friday morning eager to get things rolling. I was beyond excited to finally get my hands on some food in my new home away from home. So after gearing up for the day in the basement locker room (uniform consists of: clean and pressed white, short-sleeve chef coat, black skull cap, black pants and black non-slip shoes, and navy, striped apron) I headed up stairs, mind set on absorbing as much information as possible. First things first though, sharpen knives – 3 sided stone sharpener gets the task done. Then the briefing: Chefs Kyle, Eric, Gabe and Sous Chef Justin inform the kitchen staff of the day’s mission – 6 rounds of food service for the front-of-house staff to get a taste of certain items on the menu.

And just a quick word on our front-of-house family members. For the past 2+ weeks, they’ve been under intensive training. Wine director, Tim Wanner, leads lectures on in-house wines, spirits, and beers, Chefs bring in and show certain food products, so each member knows how everything looks and tastes, and other members of The Kitchen Community feed our FOH staff with an abundance of knowledge. I believe they’re even tested on these things! I’ve never witnessed training like this for a restaurant, but it truly emphasizes the idea of being passionate about what we do at The Kitchen Community thus providing a wonderful, memorable experience for the guest. Our FOH staff is top-notch, chock-full of knowledge, well-versed in all things ‘The Kitchen’ and beyond passionate.

But back to kitchen matters, because that’s were the real fun is 😉
My station today: pantry/garde manger. We have a few hours of mise en place before our first round of food is in the pass, but since I haven’t witnessed any sort of prep or production, I was a little uneasy. Everyone is tremendously accommodating though and with a couple dozen questions asked on my part, I easily get into the groove of things.

Every round we cook, food is in the pass, FOH staff takes a break from their studies to taste, then a flurry of ‘mmmms,’ ‘oooohs,’ and nods of approval follow their bites. Then we clean, prep, clean and do it all again. Of course, all the kinks are still being worked out with the Chefs – plating, portion control, seasoning, timing, etc. Things are constantly being changed, but this is nothing but an extraordinary thing. We care about our food, we care about the moments and memories that will be shared around these dishes, and truthfully, we just want our food to be the best damn thing you’ve ever eaten.

At the end of the day my notebook is filled with indispensable notes:

-toasted bread
-toasted cumin
-celery sprouts
-oval plate

-toasted almonds
-lemon vin
-fleur de sol
-lemon wedge

LARDO TOASTIE (amazing by the way)
-30 grams white spread
-rosemary, garlic, parm
-potato roll
-brush w/ EVOO

ESCAROLE (best salad that has ever graced my tastebuds)
-fine herbs
-Sherry/shallot vin
-bleu d’veregne

Just a few of the things we plated that day.

My second day of training was a replay of the first, except all staff got their hands on our salumi boards, delectable cheese boards of Ossau-Iraty (sheep’s milk), Bûcheron (goat’s milk), and Bleu d’ Avergne (cow’s milk), along with seafood platters of smoked salmon and mackerel, raw oysters and clams that were reminiscent of my days near an ocean, poached shrimp, crab legs, caviar, and dessert. A dang good way to spend any day if I must say so myself.

And At the end of the day, we deep clean, as we will do every single night. Everything is scrubbed then sanitized. Every nook and cranny is swept then washed. EVERYTHING GETS CLEANED. However tedious the cleaning may be, it bothers me not one bit nor anyone else. There’s a sense of pride and joy each member of our kitchen crew emanates whilst cleaning our kitchen. We have the privilege of cooking in a brand-new, shiny kitchen and we all make it a point that our kitchen stays that way. And as the cleaning came to a close, I found myself standing amongst such extraordinary individuals. Every member of the FOH thanked each of us for serving them food and the kitchen staff was all smiles, all day. As corny as it may be, the simplicity and sincerity that was found in each of those ‘Thank-yous’ allowed the idea of family at ‘The Kitchen Community’ to permanently settle in.

In Veritate Et Caritate