Thursday, July 12, 2012


Back when was just a baby chef and just started working for Hyatt, I went through a bit of a rough patch.

I started out in the Crystal Cactus, the fine dining restaurant at the hotel. But after hosing down a gay waiter with a fire extinguisher on New Years Eve, and spending a 3 day suspension at home, I was recast as a banquet cook.
I had a few problems there too, though not connected with fire extinguishers or gay waiters.

I had problems with counts on occasion. The counts are important.  We would be plating a party of 500 with Prime Ribs and Yorkshire pudding, and somehow we would come up short about 10 Yorkshire Puddings. Chef Felenczak would look at me, and I would tell him I was sure that I had made enough.

But you cant argue with the fact that you are 10 short, all you can do is stand there holding your dick, and start scrambling around for more Yorkshire pudding, which can be prepared on the fly all right, but you can’t just pull it out of your ass either.

In the meantime, you look like completely incompetent.

Finally, one night when we were short again, and I was almost in tears maintaining I had prepared the proper amount, the Chef looked at me and said:
“I’d like to believe you Bulletholes, but your record ain’t that great”
He said it in all kindness, and from that point on I never came up short again.

But I had a bad spell for a couple months on something else as well.
I just couldn’t seem to keep from overcooking the broccoli for these big parties.
I would take 100 bunches of Broccoli, portion it into 750 portions, put it in the steamer to blanch, and proceed to overcook the crap out of it. It would be mush, without a trace of green. It was the color of a WWII Tank and looked as though it had melted into the pan.. Ugly, flavorless, and beyond repair, I would have to go to the storeroom and hope they had 5 more cases down there for me to fuck up again.

It had gotten to the point where I would have to stand next to the steamer and constantly check it, and even then the odds were I would botch it. In the kitchen they call a guy like that a "shoemaker".

Then one night, as we were plating up some broccoli that was just barely edible, I made a passing comment to the chef.
“Chef, I’m sorry that your broccoli is a little overcooked again tonight.”
The chef looked at me, took a handful of broccoli and threw it in the trash can and said:
“This isn’t MY broccoli, Bulletholes”
It worked. I never destroyed the broccoli again.

I did a post a while back about the Four Good Words I‘ve learned to say that help me through times when I used to get otherwise unwound:
“Youre right”
“I’m sorry”
And “So What?”

The broccoli story comes in handy for me too.
It’s amazing how much broccoli people will try to bring you that is not your broccoli.
And likewise, how often I try to take on something that has nothing to do with me.
Not my broccoli.


soubriquet said...

Good story, Bulletholes. Better than good. I was wondering what the kick in the tail would be, as I so often do when you're leading me through a complex story.

"Not MY broccoli"
I'll be using that, I think, regularly. I currently have a newish underling at work. His quality ethic is often a little flawed. We're working in industrial land, so, he thinks, 'Who cares if I don't measure it right, get it level, sand it smooth, etc?'. I care. I care because I'm working in a place where victorians took pride in their work, and I feel cheap if I skimp, or am asked to skimp on doing it right. Next time he presents me with a crummy bit of work, I'll pin him to the wall. Not MY broccoli.

Oh. And I love proper broccoli, and hate and despise that tank coloured sludge. I can't imagine how you can cook 750 portions and get them all right, I'm so easily distracted, i can get ONE portion wrong.

bulletholes said...

You give me a lump in the throat imagining what its like working around all that history, around all that posterity, around all that England.

red dirt girl said...

Oh I love this, cowboy!! I'm ALWAYS taking on someone else's broccoli, especially at work. Ohhhh, how I wish I could say .... Not my broccoli to a dissatisfied customer.

thanks for making my day!

Kristi said...

Great post...and wonderful words of wisdom. BTW, every time I see your broccoli title, I think of this:

Kristi said...

Maybe this'll work better: