Many of you tell me how much fun it is to watch the kitchen as you enjoy the fruits of their labor, your meals. Sharon and I are the “head hancho” chefs of the bistro. The buck stops with us. Ultimately, good or bad, we’re responsible for it. So we work closely together on menus and operations. She and sous chef, Greg Brown, handle the day-to-day running of a very busy kitchen. Sous chef is an old French term meaning second to the chef. Then there are the grill, sauté and pantry cooks who work the “line.” With an open kitchen, such as ours, they become actors on a stage. The stage, their stations, must be stocked to the max before the curtain is raised. The line takes hours to get ready for business and is continually re-stocked during the course of a day.
The pantry is where the salads, appetizers and sandwiches and desserts are made. This station is tiny and organization is imperative. Next to pantry is the sauté section. Hot entrees are prepared here. The word sauté means to cook quickly in a shallow handled pan with the appropriate cooking medium, which may be clarified butter, olive oil, wine or stock. Sauté has always been my favorite because it requires precise plate presentation which I love. You can’t just plop food on a plate. There is a bit of artist in all of our cooks. From the grill area come burgers, hot sandwiches, and fried items. This is not an easy spot to work. The grill is big enough for 30 burgers and buns. It is always full and, since we cook our burgers “to order” the person in this spot may have five or six different temperatures to determine at any given time. i.e. well, medium well, medium, medium rare, etc. And, then there are the two fryers that are full of fries, wings, calamari and fish and chips and a char-grill for the steaks and chops that he or she is responsible for too.
Before any stations can be stocked the food must be prepped. Each item has it’s beginnings in the “back” kitchen. For example the Caesar salad requires the following: order all ingredients, wash and cut romaine, grate fresh parmesan, make the Caesar dressing (an original recipe from 7 mile), cut and bake croutons, and finally, stock the pantry station with all of the above. This process is followed for everything on our menu including the Chalk Board Features everyday. Speaking of which, starting tonight we’re featuring Linguine & Clams: Locally made Mamma Mucci Pasta tossed with Little Neck Clams, White Wine and Garlic; Dijon and Pretzel coated Artic Char presented with Buttery Spaetzle and Roasted Brussels Sprouts; Duroc (Breed of Porker) Shank Braised in Michigan Lager served with White Cheddar Grits and Collard Greens and Tempura Fried Walleye accompanied with Almond Basmati, Asian Veggie Stir-Fry Wasabi Aioli and Ginger Ponzu Dipping Sauce. YUM!!!
On top of all this preparatory work are the plethora of pots, pans, dishes and utensils that come with it. Our dishwashers are the best and a most important part of the operation.
The next time you’re watching the line cooks know that each of them is adept at every station. They are all “rounds men” meaning that their trained to work anywhere they are needed that particular shift. Their job requires that they’re agile, can “dance” around each other and are able to keep their cool during some very intense times. What a great profession! Sharon and I count our blessing to have such a great staff – front and back. Thanks for making us look good one and all!
Enjoy the show!
And, remember, in the words of Shorty, “It’s a Million Dollar Day.”
See you at the Bistro! xxoo, Mary
Wings and Pistons Too!!