Friday, December 10, 2010

Memories, Recollections and Foibles

At work the other day I was exchanging, for lack of a better word, war stories. I was kind of looking nostalgically back at the days when I would lock the restaurant doors, pour myself a 16 oz to go cup of margarita and finish cleaning the kitchen counters and putting the last of my line in the cooler. Whenever I do this I remember how much work but how much fun managing a restaurant can be. I block out the fact that I got home at 2:30 in the morning bone weary from standing for the last 12-14 hours trying to keep everything together for one more day. Then going to bed only to get up what seems like a few minutes later to start it all over.

Then I stared to think of the things that I have done that make me wonder how I am still alive. These short anecdotes are in no particular order neither timeline nor stupidity are taken into account.

One day I was cutting smoked chicken breast for the Southwest eggrolls that we made, the restaurant host Kelly and I began talking about the specials. I turned and looked at my friend and started to describe the Stuffed Rainbow Trout that I was making that Friday evening when with a quick slice I cut the end of my thumb off. Really only about a quarter of an inch but still...

This is something I learned in the week that followed, I hit the end of my left thumb on something about 697 times a day, normally it doesn’t make me see stars, every time this week it did.

I had been a part of a $600,000 renovation project at an account that my company had just acquired. My new regional Vice President was coming to look at our progress, I knew that he was going to visit so I was wearing my best suit (the only one that I have ever paid full price for) and instead of my usual slip resistant restaurant shoes I was wearing leather soled Oxfords, I really looked sharp. The RVP called and said that he was on his way into the parking lot so I made a quick run through the dining area then the kitchen to make sure that everything looked good. I picked up a dirty pan to take to the pot washer, when I went through the kitchen I stepped in a small patch of water and slipped. Now this wasn't just any old slip... my feet went into the air and I landed flat on my back in a puddle of water, my fancy shoes in the air, I was surrounded by leftover egg croissant sandwiches just as the person that I was trying to impress walked in the back door... “Hey Bryan, looks good!”

One evening Kris and I were having Lasagna for a casual dinner and I went to get us a couple of glasses of wine. I tilted the box of wine forward and a paring knife slipped off the top and fell strait down, right through my second toe and into our laminate floor. It looked like a cartoon, since I am one who often lets the colorful interjections fly over little things, this is the part of the story that no one believes... the words out of my mouth were “golly gee willikers that flippity flappin hurt!” Now you have learned two things about me

1. I drink wine from a box, hey don't knock it.

2. I am stupid enough to put my sharpest knife on a box I know I am going to move.

I was the chef/manager at a Southwest restaurant and like any self-respecting restaurant of it's kind in the mid 1990s we served Fajitas in a sizzlin' Iron skillet. When a ticket came in I would put a skillet in the stone oven above the salamander (restaurant word for broiler) then take it out at the last minute. They got pretty hot so I was usually pretty careful handling them. With one order I took the Iron skillet out and set it on the counter added the flank steak, onions, julienned peppers then the little splash of oil (that is what makes the steamy, smoky sizzle that you see then they go across the floor to the table). I slipped a little and very gently touched the edge of the handle and "SIZZLE!" Yeah, that was my thumb! Again, seeing stars, for a little burn, about the size of a dime, it was worse than any I have had before or since. After the colorful interjections were over and the ice and bandages had done most of their work I started to wonder how hot that frickin thing got so I put an oven thermometer in it. About an hour later, after the rush, I checked and it had melted into a gelatinous mass of broken glass and aluminum with spring like appendages at the bottom of my oven.

It was early morning when one of the cashiers that I worked with got her drawer out and went to open, she looked at her register then came to me and, with the most dire look said, "There is a mouse under my drawer." I looked under the register and there it was peeking out at me, I swear to you I could see it's little lip curled up with a defiant sneer. Oh yes, this little guy and I were about to throw down. I went back and got a broom that was about 3 feet long and used the handle to lift the edge of the drawer so I could smack it out with a newspaper, then I would show the little vermin what for. But the evil little thing had other ideas and went on the offensive. It shot at me like it had been fired from a cannon jumped onto my pants then ran down and away…

To say I screamed like a little girl would be an insult to all of my daughters, lets just say that once I slunk down from the counter everybody had figured out what just happened. It still amazes me that I have no trouble when small dogs, large dogs (Kris and I have a 120 pound Rottweiler) cats, bats, birds, really whatever animals are around me but a mouse can have me jumping on a table screaming like a housewife in a 1950's era cartoon.

Ok, I have to admit part of the reason that I put this post out is to use the Batman style expletives, but it is a little fun to reminisce.


  1. Well I'm glad that you survived all of these disasters! Bless your sweet heart. I'm such a wimp when it comes to blood, so when I hurt myself in the kitchen (or anywhere, for that matter) I turn into a huge baby! I can't even handle it when Ryan gets hurt. I hope that you continue to stay safe and healthy through the madness of the holidays, my friend!

  2. I love the batman stylings of this post! So funny. It's amazing all of the funny/good stories that a person collects through the years. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hey Batchef, this post rocked my world.

  4. Bat chef... I like that! Bryan is now shopping for a new Chef's coat now!

    Thanks guys, I am happy that you enjoy my dorkyness, this was kind of fun to write.

  5. War stories, indeed, Bryan! Last time I cut myself in the kitchen, I passed out.

    PS: The Boca weather report is a tad different today.

  6. Bryan, so sorry but I can hardly type for laughing! I see a movie in this post--one that satisfies us foodies with good food and lots of laughs. Now I shall show your post to my non-chef (but likes to cook) husband who recently pulled out the mandoline for the first time and didn't use the guard!!


  7. That was wonderful Bryan!
    You brought back so many memories for me too...however, my self mutilations from restaurant life don't sound anywhere near as comical as yours!