Friday, April 24, 2009

Ad Hoc

This blog has taken a back seat in my life for the past few months beacuse I feel like I have finally achieved my goal.

I finished my three months at The French Laundry on the last day of February, and on the first day of March, I started working at Ad Hoc. In some ways, ad hoc is exactly the same as The French Laundry. Every day we do a different menu. At ad hoc we have a set menu, but ours is four courses, whereas at The French Laundry the menu is anywhere from 9-20 courses. Ad hoc is different because everyone eats the same thing, which is so incredible. It's like home; we serve all four courses family style, so everyone at the table can serve each other. But we still put every bit of detail into producing the best tasting food that every chef at The French Laundry will put into their food.

I am so happy to be a part of ad hoc. On my first day, I was pushed harder than I ever was at The French Laundry. This was partly because I had more responsibilites at ad hoc, but this was also because I felt like I was part of something, finally.

I will continue to talk about this place over and over again (ad hoc) because it means so much to me. I am so incredibly happy that I work at this restaurant. We do such incredible things every day. We push ourselves harder than we did the day before, making every day the best ever. My chef has a phrase, "Be better than history today". It's simple, but it means so much.

When I decided I wanted to cook, I wanted to cook the best food possible; I wanted to create something incredible every day; something completely new and awesome yet completely approachable. I dreamed that I would someday be able to create history, and now i'm doing it, and i'm so happy because of it.

For the first month, I was in charge of plating the cheese course and the dessert course. This was really hard for me, I was not used to serving people wish such urgency, and I was not very good in the beginning. I knew I had to push myself really hard every day, but only in the last few weeks have I really understood what that meant. I'm starting to understand, and it's still really hard work, but so incredibly rewarding. To be able to say that I create something people can sit back and look at in awe is so incredible. I'm using the word 'incredible' so much because that's what it feels like to me.

Before we open the doors to let customers in, everyone in the kitchen makes a tester plate so the whole restaurant can taste the menu of the night. The whole kitchen staff and the whole dining room staff stand around and talk about the menu. We in the kitchen talk about why we made things the way we made them, and the dining room staff can ask any questions they want about the menu. We embrace it so the customers can feel how important everything is to everyone in the restaurant.

Today, for the first time ever, I was involved with the main course. I was given the chance to cook the steaks. Tonight we did a steakhouse theme. For the first course we did a baby iceberg and watercress salad with easter egg radishes sliced very thing, baby red beets, brioche crutons and bacon with a herb cream dressing on the side. A very simple, bright, sweet, crunchy salad. The main course was an 18oz bone-in ribeye steak. It was a beautiful piece of meat. When I served it, I told the chef that if my grandpa saw that steak he would be proud. The steak was served with sauteed red potatoes, oyster, beech and maitake mushrooms, and asparagus with an tomato confit vinaigrette. The cheese course was a tasting of three different cheeses; local camembert, as well as cow and sheep's milk cheese with a side of endive sald with pickled haricots verts and toasted almonds. The dessert was strawberry shortcake with local macerated straweberries and chantilly cream.

No one should leave ad hoc hungry, and this is for a lot of reasons. If a customer came in tonight and told us they didn't eat red meat, that wouldn't be a problem. We are here to serve you! No one should ever come to ad hoc and accomodate themself for us. It is my purpose to accomodate you! We had fresh ivory salmon cooked to perfection to order. Say you are vegetarian, or even vegan; we will accomodate you! We can give you a special plate just for you. We will even give you a substitute for the cheese and dessert. Ad hoc is more than just the food; it's an experience. We will do everything in our power to give you the best experience you will not forget. I mean it.

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