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Friday, June 29, 2012

You're Only as Good as Your Last Service

That's a saying among cooks but I hadn't heard it in ages until today. It came out of Gordon Ramsay. Gal Friday is a natural cook and I like talking food with her. It's a kick for me to pass on cooking tips, especially to bright and enthusiastic people who take what I give them and improve it. Which was one thing I loved about Aunt Nancy's Ashram, Phoebe Muffinpants lived there and she's a helluva talent. We had great times cooking meals for the crowd. (Sadly, Aunt Nancy is leaving the area and the Ashram is gone already. It was home to many over the years and will be missed.)

Gordon Ramsay isn't one of my favorite people. I find him abusive and mean and I really hope that's just for the show because if he's like that to his staff it's a wonder he has any. But Gal Friday likes the show and there's little else on in the afternoon so what the hell. Some of the places he goes to are amazingly bad and I get to say, "If I'd run things that way when I was in kitchens..." a lot. And over the last few Friday afternoons I've come to a grudging understanding of the Nastiest Cook on TV.

When he walked away from a place he'd "fixed" on today's program he uttered the famous ego-deflating punchline above and it reminded me of the unspoken cooks' code. You may win stars and awards, you may get great reviews, you may be a renowned cook but it all comes down to your last service. The last thing you made says everything about your craft- dedication, passion and even your thrift. Last night I was up until 3 a.m. roasting a chicken because it's too hot to roast anything in the daytime. It was roast it or let it go in the trash and I can't afford to waste good food. It roasted while my eyes were trying to slam shut. Now there's yummy cold chicken for our dinner and for the weekend. Worth it, even if it meant losing a couple hours' sleep. I love ovens. They do the work, all you have to do is know how to use them.

The upcoming party has me picking and choosing how much I'll cook and how much I'll store-buy. I'll have to cook much of it, but things like potato salad and mac salad... I don't know. I can buy premade and doctor it or go through the prepping and boiling and dressing myself for what seems like no reason. I'm reasonably sure I can doctor a deli salad to make it good (there aren't any gooduns around here, at least to my standards) but part of me hates the cop out. Still, I have enough to do with the prepping, munchies, beans and meats and desserts. I treat all meals like it's a service, so what people eat in my house matters a lot to me. I have a boatload of damning pride whether it's Lobster Newburgh or a hot dog. But at this point in life I need to adapt to what's doable. Which looks more and more like lowering standards across the board lately.

Then there's the risk that what's bought isn't correctable. That's a long shot but always possible. Since I don't do my shopping it's not like I can taste them before purchase. So it's a big leap of faith. I'll just hope that whoever makes those salads also believes they're only as good as their last service. 


Anonymous said...

I don't know girl...when you are feeding others it is dicey to buy premade...what if there is something wrong with it and someone gets sick. At least I know when I make it everything was clean and fresh and safe. I can't have my reputation go down the tubes over something premade.

Austan said...

Lawless- That's why you eat it before your guests do. And why I'd have to doctor them- I can't see serving things right from the store. The thought of boiling things in here is just unbearable.

CarrieBoo said...

Good job I'm not hosting. It would be beans on toast. Can't believe you cooked a chicken in the middle of the night! Zzzzzzzz...