The Sounds of A Restaurant Kitchen

I had an interesting experience yesterday. I was in the kitchen at Cafe Flora, pureeing the lentils, onions and pecans for our pate platter and feeling vaguely irritated with myself for choosing a messy way of dealing with the several batches that needed to go in the robocoupe (a big food processor). I was tired at the end of a long shift and ready to go home and catch a nap before Mini-Me was up and ready for an afternoon of fairy-fireman-spin-dancing. (You’d have to see it for yourself).

Anyhow, I turned off the robo, and suddenly I heard every sound in the kitchen at once. It was one of those strange moments of hyperawareness. Behind me to the left, in the dish pit, I could hear plates banging, the dishwasher running, and accordions on Spanish language radio. In front of me, the brunch crew was prepping for the weekend and the radio was playing the Decemberists on KEXP. From my right came the whing-whing-whing sound of the big Hobart mixer straining to grate parmesan cheese, while a few feet farther was the low whir of a KitchenAid mixer churning icing. And behind me on the right I could hear the crackle of sauteeing while the line cook called orders to the pizza station and passed plates to the intermittent stream of servers coming in and out.

The funny thing was that rather than making me grumpier, all the noise completely lifted my mood. I could feel the whole rhythm of the kitchen as we went about our various tasks, wrapping up lunch service and preparing to hand off to the dinner crew. I felt my sense of place in the larger organism that is the restaurant and it was comforting.

Isn’t it cool when those little spiritual moments sneak up on you from nowhere?

[where: 2901 E. Madison St, Seattle, WA, 98112]

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Saturday, December 29th, 2007 in Cooking Internship, Miscellany, Restaurants, Theory and Rants.

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