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The Thrill of Working a Line

Many of you know that before coming to NECI my kitchen training was from Outback Steakhouse, and because of this I call my self a line jockey. As of Tuesday I started the class that I have been looking forward to all year, Intro to A La Carte Cooking: Lunch, aka lunch line. The line is everything I had hoped it would be. It’s an intense adventure that is high pressure and truly tests your skills. You are moving so fast that you don’t have time to really think about what you are doing, and have to know what you are doing inside and out. The atmosphere of a line that is working in harmony is a thing of beauty.

I also really enjoy the class because of the way it is set up for how the rotations work. We are at stations for 3 days and then move on to the next station, just enough time to get good before we have to take all the skills and apply them to a new station with new items to make. On top of all this we have to be good or the plate will not go out, because we are serving paying customers who expect it.

I’m not going to sit here and claim that I don’t have things I have to work on because I know that I do, but for the most part I am very happy to be back on the line. It’s the little tricks you learn that can save you so often, for example when you oil a grill pull the towel or in our case onion, towards you so that if it flares up you don’t burn yourself. Oh and I don’t care what you are doing you will lose some hair on your for arms, but that is the fun of it.

I can’t express how thrilling it is to be behind the line and working at 150% of everything you have. I have worked days when it is chaos and it doesn’t matter if you are not the one in the chaos, the whole line is a living breathing organism that needs each other station to work in harmony. If part of the line is stressed the whole line feels it and is right there with that person. However on the flip side a line that is in sync is a dance that is fascinating to watch. You will see people working like crazy with fire, hot pans, knives, and plates moving around all over the place in a language that unless you have worked in a kitchen is almost foreign. The words are all the same but the way they are said and how they are said in order make all the difference in the world.

There is a phrase that has been said “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” and this is very fitting because the line is a hot fast paced place where only the people who are passionate and really love what they are doing can stand the heat. I for one have been happier this last week then I have been in a very long time, and even though I might be missing some arm hair you couldn’t stop me from going back.

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2 Comments on “The Thrill of Working a Line”

  1. leaf52 November 20, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    I can vouch for what you say since I was lucky enough to receive a phone call from you the first day of line. You said you were so happy and had a grin so big that you could hardly talk. What a gift to have that much joy for your work!! NECI and Main Street Grill are fortunate to have someone with your passion for cooking.

    As an aside, what is an “onion” as an alternative to a towel??

    • Grant Klover November 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

      If you use a towel to clean and oil your grill you ruin the towel and run a fire risk if it should catch fire. An onion on the other had you don’t really have to worry about it catching fire.

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