At closing staff meal Tuesday, I can say that the red glow in my cheeks is no longer solely due to the wine I've imbibed. (I'm on my second excellent glass, thanks to Chris and his ever-growing sommelier skills.) I can say, even with my sore neck and slightly irritated hands, that I have finally rocked a dinner at the Inn. My breakfast this morning was a heralding of the good day to come--I poached one of my farm fresh eggs and set it atop a salad of fresh tomatoes and croutons (made from the stale bread of the kitchen.) A perfect way to start what turned out to be a surprisingly triumphant day.
I then team up with Geddes in layering each ingredient for the crab salads into metal rounds, so they can be quickly unmolded and plated with little mess. First, a layer of diced avocado, then a layer of tomato, then a layer of cucumber, and finally a layer of shredded crab meat. We transport all of this to the reception hall prep room next door, with a little mobile station set up to finish our plating. It's an ad hoc cold station, but it works for this size dinner.
And finally, dessert comes around. Annie has whipped up glorious little rhubarb tarts topped with meringue, and we lay them out on plates around the room, ready for a dash of citrusy-herbal emulsion and a scattering of cookie crumbs. Annie hands me the scoop and a bucket of lemon ice cream...I'm put to the test, and the ice cream is melting fast, but I'm whipping it up against the sides of the container into neat, creamy egg-shaped scoops, and we plate about 50 desserts in 5 minutes. Despite having a large dollop of meringue on my shoulder, I'm feeling wildly accomplished.
Things feel like they're starting to fall into place--even if Annie chides me for moving to prepare a few plates too early, it's done with more jest and more knowing humor than last week. As we're wrapping up for the night, Wally hands me a few containers of leftover tomato and cucumber to make something for family meal...a huge honor and challenge all at once. I reach for the grab-bag of compost-rescued produce in the walk-in, and for the Tabasco sauce and red wine vinegar, and whip up a quick batch of gazpacho. The waitstaff and chefs ladle it onto their plates and devour it--even after feeding 50+ people tonight, the greatest validation is seeing my fellow kitchen mates eating my food with gusto.