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Greek Food! - Page 2

post #31 of 55
Thread Starter 
Welp, another Saturday evening service down. I didn't get nearly as much done as I had planed/wanted to because of all the other things I did to help out.

Was fun to see the line cooks trust me enough to help prepare intregal parts of their mis-en-place (sp?). I actually got to show off a small bit tonight with my knifework. I helped chop some onions very thinly. Working in a Japanese place did have it's advantage of giving me a solid foundation of good chopping/slicing skills.

It got kind of hectic tonight for me when the fry station was running out of prepared calamari and at the same time the Expo was running out of parsley. Had four things going at once and wanted to pull my hair out. But luckily I got it all done in time for everyone.

I realized tonight how well the kitchen is constructed. It's about a medium size kitchen I would guess, but everything is arranged so well it seems to be the prefect size. Two walk ins and lots of refrigiration at every station. A seperate expo for the Garde Manger, Hot App/Fry station and then a third for the Grill/saute station. It all works very well and the plates seem to be very well timed. About the only thing that throws the kitchen out of whack is when the Grill Assistant gets bogged down with too many fish to plate. The fish can be cooked much more quickly than the GA can cut/debone them. Plus the occasional extra large fish will slow it down as well. We had a 12 pounder come through this evening....those usually take about 40 to 45 minutes from start to finish...but they look just AMAZING once they are plated.

I found out that the Dolmadakia aren't served with a lemon sauce, though in my humble opinion their flavor stands very well on it's own. The combination of the flavors of the filling contrasted with the soury sweetness of the grape leaves is just great. It's on my list of dishes to make at home for sure.

I have a question for everyone though. As most of you probably all know I'm VERY much into food as well as doing a good job. I've been wanting to ask the Chef his honest opinion on how I've been doing but don't want to come off as pushy. Any suggestions as to if I should or shouldn't? I've worked here about two weeks so far.

One last thing was my discovery of our good olive oil. Stuff that they have specially imported from Greece. It is incredibly amazing and adds a certain special touch to everything it goes on. If I ever visit Greece or Italy I am going to make a point of going to an oil pressing factory and tasting fresh pressed olive oil. I'm going to have to find out if it is possible to get whatever brand of olive oil they are getting and using it at home. If anyone has any suggestions of their favorite olive oil I would love to hear that as well.

Matt

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post #32 of 55
My opinion on asking the Chef how you're doing - go for it! Phrasing might be the key - like saying, 'gee, I feel like I'm a little slow (or whatever) compared to the other guys - do you have any pointers that might help me out? That way, you've immediately addressed something, instead of putting him on the spot to say, well, you're this and that, and maybe putting you on the defensive.

He obviously knows your experience level, and I would think he'd be happy to give some guidance along the way. Although, some positive strokes are great, too! And can go a long way when you're in the weeds and it seems like you have four thumbs!!!

Re tastings of olive oil - I'm sure there are 'Fancy Food Shows' or 'Restaurant Shows' in Atlanta; the best way to taste is to get to one of the shows, where there are booths from Italy, Greece, Spain, the U.S., all with their oils showcased and open for sampling with a little bread. The first time I was at a show, I was totally blown away by the differences in all the tastes! Up until then, I had read about it, and from my own kitchen purchases had done a little comparing, but to have all those oils right there in front of you - amazing!!!
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post #33 of 55
Thread Starter 

Weeee

So, I thought I'd just check in, been a while since I posted or read the boards, I've just been busy busy busy.

Work is going along quite well, at least, it is in my opinion, of course I've allready found out that my view of "quite well" is a bit slanted compared to everyone elses.

I'm the kind of person that thrives on pressure. I like having so much to do that I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to get it all done. It's kind of an internal challenge I keep for myself to get it all done. So while the other cooks are like "dude, you're here all the time!" I'm like "I love this!"

I had an interesting conversation with one of the chefs two nights ago. Just discussed my plans, food, being a cook etc. One thing he said that I think will stick with me is "Remember, it is not a sprint, it is a marathon"

I found out tonight that the executive Chef used to work at the French Laundry. Something that put him in a whole new world of respect in my eyes. Actually, I allready had all the respect for him in the world, I would guess that now it has a tinge of awe.

I'm beginning to wonder when everyone will get tired of me asking questions. I'm constantly peaking over someones shoulder and asking "What is that" or "Why do you do it that way" I'm learning tons every day.

Welp, I'll be reading more of the boards and posting more soon. Hope all is well with everyone else.

Matt
post #34 of 55
Thread Starter 
<<Also you haven't truly prepared Greek food until you have prepared Magaritsa (gut soup) or Kokoretsi (Athenaeus help me with the spelling).>>

We made both of these this weekend for Greek Easter. Both were amazing...even though we did offer a version of the Magaritsa without the innards.

I got to help prepare the Kokoretsi from start to finish. My only complaint was after rolling them all in the lamb casings my hands didn't smell too good for a while.

The most amusing thing was all the Greeks in the kitchen kept stopping by my station as I was rolling them and stealing a few bites of the filling. It's a good thing we ran out of casings before we ran out of filling.

Matt
post #35 of 55
I guess we have been doing the same things this week end Mathew ;)

In order to remove the odour from your hands, rub them with lemon peel and lemon juice :)
"Muabet de Turko,kama de Grego i komer de Djidio", old sefardic proverb ( Three things worth in life: the gossip of the Turk , the bed of the Greek and the food of the Jew)
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"Muabet de Turko,kama de Grego i komer de Djidio", old sefardic proverb ( Three things worth in life: the gossip of the Turk , the bed of the Greek and the food of the Jew)
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post #36 of 55
Hey Matt!

Really diggin' reading about your adventure - so glad it's going well for you and, most importantly, that you're enjoying it so much!

I would also love to find an olive oil tasting event. Never really appreciated the stuff til the last couple years.

My personal favorite is Sagra (or is it Sarga?). Give me a hunk of ciabatta and a dish of oil, and I'm in heaven! :D

Let us know the brand your place uses-
"One barrel of wine can work more miracles than a church full of saints." -
Italian proverb
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"One barrel of wine can work more miracles than a church full of saints." -
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post #37 of 55
Thread Starter 
<<Let us know the brand your place uses>>

That's the thing...I don't know if our best olive oil is even a brand. We actually use two or three branded olive oils and blended oils in the kitchen, but our best stuff is specially imported, comes in these five gallon non-descript containers and is simply amazing. It's not something you could buy unless you set up a special importing deal with a producer in Greece.

The other branded stuff really isn't anything to write home about...but it's all good quality...just not anything like our "good" stuff.

Heh, I almost forgot. Yesterday I actually had a day off, so, being a complete foodie I made reservations for me and my family at the restaurant I work at. Showed up, got one of the best tables in the house, ordered some Ouzo and a bottle of really great Greek White wine. Then our waitress came back and promptly informed us that she needed our menus because the Chef would be planning our meal for us.

My family was completely flabergasted, they had never had anything like that happen (neither had I but I suspected Chef was prone to do that since he did work at the French Laundry). What came next was a veritable laundry list of just about every thing we make. Dolmadakia, Spanocopitakia, Calamari, Octopus, Pan Fried Feta, Htipiti, Tzatziki, Taramasolata, a three pound lavraki and then four deserts, our fruit plate, Baklava, Ravini Me Santiyi, loukomades. I think I was the only one at the end that could still put anything in my mouth and swallow it, they were all stuffed and completely content. It was simply amazing, a food experience I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Matt
post #38 of 55

Great idea

Hey Mat it was a great idea to visit the restaurant with your family!!!

Greeks appreciate those things very much.
They are very flattered if you go to their place and let them feed you especially of you bring your family together. This means trust.
Key word in our culture :)

Do you know where the owner of the restaurant comes from. Which region of Greece I mean?
"Muabet de Turko,kama de Grego i komer de Djidio", old sefardic proverb ( Three things worth in life: the gossip of the Turk , the bed of the Greek and the food of the Jew)
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"Muabet de Turko,kama de Grego i komer de Djidio", old sefardic proverb ( Three things worth in life: the gossip of the Turk , the bed of the Greek and the food of the Jew)
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post #39 of 55
Hi, Matt -- a lot of good restaurants really want their staff to come in as customers. That way they get to see things from the customers' perspective -- it can make a big difference in the way they work afterwards. Some give gift certificates, some give discounts, some comp you, it varies from place to place. Some even ask you to fill out a report! It's all part of the education you get on-the-job.

As for the treatement you got: Hey, we take care of our own! Especially if they work as hard as you do. One of the great perks of the business.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #40 of 55
In another life, I was at a convention in Detroit. They have/had a reknowned Greektown. There were about 12 of us milling around trying to figure out which restaurant to patronize. We settled on the one with the longest line, figuring that it had to be THE place. Were were told that the weight was going to be at least 90 minutes. After a couple of minutes we noticed that one of us had disappeared, Nickos! 2 minutes later we see him up front talking to the captain and waving us up. We were ushered upstairs into a private room. We were not presented with menus but the food started to flow. I can't remember what we ate but it was great. We must have eaten for 2 hours! Now that's hospitality :)
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post #41 of 55
Thread Starter 
I found out today that I will be moving up to Garde Manger in a few weeks. Needless to say I'm very excited. I'll have three days of training and then after that I'm on my own. It is probably the most complex position as far as the variety of dishes that are served from that station. The only other station that would come close would be the saute. So I know I have a lot to learn and hopefully I can pick it up quickly enough. I've allready talked to the person that will be training to me and hopefully by the third day of training (which happens to be our busiest night) I will be able to run the station on my own.

On a somewhat related note if any of you are looking to pick up a new steel soon I highly recommend the oval shaped one from Chef's Choice. It works very well imho.

Matt
post #42 of 55
Congrats, Mathew! My first restaurant job was to be as prep cook; my first day when I walked in, the boss put me on garde manger!!!!!! I personally think it's a station that doesn't get the respect it deserves; we did all the aps and salads, and I believe the first impression a person has of the very first dish they're served is going to stay with them the entire meal.

I know you'll do well; what an incredible opportunity you've discovered - It's exciting to hear from you, and to watch you grow and develop your skills. Keep on keepin on!!!!
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post #43 of 55

Congratulations, Matt!

Marmalady is 100% right: garde manger is one of the most important jobs (after dishwasher), and never get credit. And she's also right about your ability to do it. (At least, as long as you've been telling us the truth.) ;)

You'll find that after you've done gm, any other line position will be like a walk in the park.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #44 of 55

Re: Congratulations, Matt!

I have a great deal of respect for G.M.

But a walk in the park Suzanne?

IMHO, I would have to disagree:p :D
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post #45 of 55

Here's why, CC:

When I did gm at Match Uptown, I had to do 9 or 10 platings, plus fry station and 6 or so desserts. Not including the prep for those items, as well the sauces that went with them and some sauces that other stations used. When I got moved to grill, I only had 3 plates, and the prep/sauces for them. To me, that was a LOT less work. On saute there and elsewhere I also had fewer plates and less prep.

Also, because gm provides most of the first courses the customer gets, the pressure to get it out FAST is greater. On entree stations the main pressure is in the coordination with the other people on the hot line.

Of course, I won't even talk about the place where I had to do the ENTIRE lunch menu (exc. desserts) on my own.

Anyway, that's just what I have experienced. It could certainly be different in other restaurants.

Hope that answers your question.
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post #46 of 55
Where I worked as GM, I did all aps (except for fried), all salads & their house-made dressings, all cold and hot sandwiches plus special sandwich spreads, pizza station (including making the pizza dough and focaccia we used for a sandwich, AND desserts, and all the prep for everything.
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post #47 of 55
When I did Garde Manger, I came in around noon to do prep work, including half of the saute station's prep. I was responsible for appetizers, salads, and desserts, so I also made the desserts, the dressings, the sauces, chopped/pitted/grated/whisked, etc everything that needed it. During dinner service, I also helped plate entrees when they were in a hurry, and at times did some of the grill work when needed.

We had three people in our kitchen at night- garde manger, saute, and grill, so everyone did a lot of work.

The most fun I ever had! And I can mince parsley finer than anyone else I know. (That's from having to do it over way too many times).

~~SHimmer~~
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post #48 of 55
Thread Starter 
<<The most fun I ever had! And I can mince parsley finer than anyone else I know.>>

So what was your solution when the parsley was too wet after mincing it? The tried and true wrap in a napkin and twist or something more elegant?

Chef likes our parsley to be an incredibly fine mince...almost dustlike but there is only one station that garnishes with it so I only have to dry the parsley for that station...kind of hard to sprinkle when it's clumping up on you.

On a mildly related note. Has anyone ever heard of Guenter Seeger? (I think that's his name). He was in to eat the other night and the sous chef made sure everything that went to his table was perfect.

Matt
post #49 of 55
I just read this whole thread for the first time and was thoroughly fascinated!
Good for you Matthew!-it sounds like you are doing a bang-up job and learning a lot as you go.
I've always believed that every chef should work in a Greek restaurant as part of his/her training for several reasons. 1) You learn one of the 3 cuisines upon which most western cuisine is based -Greece, Rome and China (unfortunately, most of indigenous American cooking technique is lost to history.) 2) You get a sense of the "familial" ethic upon which all food-service business was originally based (your experience when you brought your family in is a great example of this ethic-it's rare elsewhere.) 3) Greek resturants are usually so busy that everyone works in 5th gear all the time which teaches speed and organization.
I wish my experience in the world of Greek restaurants had been as supportive. It was 20 years ago and the chefs were still very doubtful and suspicious of a woman in the kitchen. But Man!, all those lessons still came through in spades! I still make avgolemono in the very same way that I learned back then, it's great!
Let me know if you get a good recipe for galatoboureko-I'm still looking for a good one.
Thank you for sharing your experiences and knock 'em dead, man!

One more note--watch out for fish poisoning when doing all that fish prep. A little of the fish bacteria in a small cut on your hand can make you very, very sick! Wear gloves whenever possible, and really scrub your hands (like a surgeon) with antibacterial soap after prepping it. Then slather on the hand cream-try udder cream-it works the best on sore fingers.
Good Luck!

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post #50 of 55

The Glorious Foods Of Greece

From reading this book it seems that the Greeks have a huge headstart on the technique of braising. Just an fyi and addendum to Kyle's previous post.

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post #51 of 55

Guenter Seeger

Won "Best Chef: Southeast" from James Beard Foundation in 1996, among other accolades.
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post #52 of 55
Matthew-

The only method I know is to wrap it in an absorbant towel, but not paper, more like cotton and squeeze and squish as much water out as possible.

I have been told that when the cutting board turns green, the parsley is fine enough.

That wasn't fine enough, where I worked.

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- Henry James
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post #53 of 55
Thread Starter 
Tonight was a fairly interesting and fun one. The day started just like every other friday, prepping like crazy to get everything in it's place...then about 4:30 we found out how many covers we had on the books. Suffice to say we were rather surprised with the small amount...is it that way with everyone else? We were actually just about as busy Wednesday night as we were tonight. I figure memorial day does strange things to the non-barbecue restaurants.

The interesting thing was how the news affected the kitchen as a whole. I think any of you that have worked in a restaurant know how the kitchen gets before a busy night...somewhat quiet, everyone moving quickly and efficiently..there is almost the feeling of a bow being drawn tight before it is fired. Well, as soon as we heard the number of covers that we had coming we all started joking around, a much more fun atmosphere. We hardly broke a sweat tonight. I would guess this is probably the first night that I really paid attention to the overall mood of the kitchen.

So...that meant that I was a good bit ahead on my prep work so I was all wrapped up rather early. So I wandered over to the GM and started taking notes, got to try my hand at tossing a few plates together etc. Which was great fun and I'm really looking forward to getting my hands dirty there. So, while I was standing around watching everything Chef is tossing together a menu for a special pair of guests that had come in. Doing things with his usual flair, plating our regular dishes and items in interesting and different ways. So as he is running around working his magic he suddenly says "Matt! Do you have some Spanokopita mix?" This of course caught me completely off guard. The first thing that popped into my paranoid head was "Heh, OF COURSE I've got Spanokopita mix, I know what you would do to me if I showed up tomorrow and didn't have it, what do you think I am, crazy?!?" I didn't actually say that, instead I said "Yes Chef." So he told me to go get it. I ran back to the walk in wondering what in the world he was going to do with my Spano Mix. (FYI: Our spano mix consists of leeks, scallions, dill, spinach, feta and some egg.). I come back out of the walk in and he is poking around in the Grill reach in looking at some of the lobster with a thoughtfull expression on his face. I stood there quietly for a few seconds just watching what he would do next. I guess he decided not to do whatever he was thinking of with the lobster because he put it away turned around took the Spano Mix and headed off in the direction of the Hot Apps station. I didn't want to get in the way so I headed back to the GM and worked there for a few minutes. After about five minutes I couldn't keep my curiosity at bay and I wandered over to Hot Apps and what I saw really amazed me. He had taken the spano mix and stuffed it inside two calamari, cooked them on the grill for a few minutes (the grill marks were really great looking), floured and fried the tentacles then he plated them like they were still alive. It really just blew me away that he could think of something so inventive and appealing off the top of his head. The funny thing was about fives minutes later I was thinking not about the visual affect but the actual flavors involved and how they really did go together quite well. It also made me wonder if culinary genius like that is a gift or something that will come with time and experience. To be honest with you I don't think I would have ever thought of something like that. It just went to show why Chef did quite well at the French Laundry

Welp, I gotta get to bed, tomorrow will probably be busier than tonight was.

Matt
post #54 of 55

Thanks, Matt!

Great story! Sounds like a terrific place to learn.
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post #55 of 55
Dear Mat

My husband who follows the forum occasionaly as visitor says that he enjoys extremely your stories :)

They remind him of a young boy who used to work in the kitchens of the Greek restaurants of NYC years ago trying to collect money for college :)

Without wanting to spoil the image you have for your chef, stuffed calamaris are very popular dishes in Greece :)

Usually they are stuffed with cheese pie filling or cous cous or what ever comes to your mind.I make them with shrimp saganaki for example. Try it ;)

BTW another popular dish is stuffed peppers you know which ones, the horn shaped green ones!! Ohhh What a dish this one.

I was surprised to read that you serve such dishes at your restaurant.

I wonder if the person who ate that stuff was american or Greek.
"Muabet de Turko,kama de Grego i komer de Djidio", old sefardic proverb ( Three things worth in life: the gossip of the Turk , the bed of the Greek and the food of the Jew)
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"Muabet de Turko,kama de Grego i komer de Djidio", old sefardic proverb ( Three things worth in life: the gossip of the Turk , the bed of the Greek and the food of the Jew)
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