Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wednesday Morning in the Kitchen at the RSFP

Today in the kitchen, Chef Caspar is in charge of the luncheon service. Hailing from London and stints at his parents' restaurant and the famed River Cafe, he's an easy man to like, always smiling but definitely in charge in the kitchen.  I look at these chefs as the conductor of the symphony, knowing when each part must be played to be able to put the food on the table at the right time. I elected to skip the early morning pastry making, but arrived about 8:15 in time for the morning huddle.  Today there would be about 20 visitors at lunch.  Generally lunch for the fellows is around 50 people, and today we'd be looking at 70+.

From left, Jeremy, Leah, and Chef Caspar

Front right, Clementine, my pastry shift person from yesterday
 The lunch today would be a pureed potato and green garlic soup, Pasta Bolognese, asparagus with fonduta (which is on the table in heaven) roasted carrots tossed with honey and cumin and roasted spring onions, white beans in purgatory (my dish), spring peas with caramelized red onion and sauteed frisee, and mixed salad with oak leaf lettuce and fennel.  At this meeting, dishes are described to the staff, as to how they should be prepared, then assigned.  I ended up with the white beans in purgatory, which I started, and then volunteered to shell peas, and peel carrots.  I'm trying very hard to stay out of the way, and hopefully help as much as I can, so washing and prepping vegetables, which are spectacular, is a good way to do that. 
There are 2 cases of these beautiful peas, and they turned into 

Not so much!  But enough when paired with some sauteed frisee
Potatoes for soup and for the Italian worker's lunch (they eat a different menu)

The beginnings of Bolognese---minced pork, beef, onion, carrot and celery

In the midst of the prep, a delivery---note the wild asparagus borrage flowers on the cart, from a small organic farm --Chef Chris Behr, the executive chef at the RSFP on the left. 
Chef Chris reorganizing the fridges with the new produce

Nothing is wasted in this kitchen, each vegetable gets used within a day or two, which is phenomenal, since you see it come in one day, and it may be seen at dinner that night, or at luncheon the next day.

Chef Leah pureeing the potato soup

Clementine readying the carrots for the oven--honey, salt, pepper and ground cumin

Clementine is working with Jeremy, who is helping to prep the spring onions (which made me cry---where are my onion goggles when I need them???)
A little olive oil, salt, pepper, and we are ready to roll

Red and green oak leaf lettuce from the Academy garden readied for the salad, it is washed 3 times, then dried

Peas with the sauteed frisee
 I am learning new things every day; I never thought to saute frisee, but it is a delicious compliment to the sweet peas. 
This is a HUGE vat of white beans.  
Blanched asparagus

Fonduta sauce (I'll put the recipe at the end)
Perfect Bolognese

Chef Caspar is in charge of the Bolognese, with help from Jeremy

Tossing the pasta with the sauce and pasta water

A hit of sauce on the top and then grated cheese---ready to serve once the plate is cleaned up

Roasted carrots and spring onions

peas with caramelized red onion and sauteed frisee

mixed green salad with shaved fennel 
White beans, with a drizzle of sage and rosemary oil

Once the rush is over, it's time to clean.  The staff doesn't eat till 2:30 in the afternoon.  
 I am so grateful for this opportunity to work alongside this staff; they are all professionals, with a great vibe working as a team.  I am kind of the odd spoke in the wheel, and they have all been extremely generous when I've had questions or needed help.  The fonduta sauce over the asparagus is my new favorite thing, and although it takes a while to make, it's amazing.  (I'm printing metric and US measurements)  Ciao for now. 

Fonduta Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
 This was Chef Caspar's inspiration for the asparagus, and I'm sold! I'm of the mind you can never have enough cheese, and this sauce is cheesy, and decadently delicious.
8 egg yolks
1/2 liter (2 1/8 cups) heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (.35 kg) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl over simmering water, whisk together the yolks, and cream, and stir until the mixture becomes thickened, this will take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted, and the sauce is smooth.  Keep warm over the simmering water.  If the sauce becomes a bit too thick, whisk in hot water a few tablespoons at a time.  Stir in freshly ground black pepper and serve over vegetables, pasta, or grilled seafood.   

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