I was slicing some gravlax one mid-summers evening in a busy restaurant, when a thought occurred to me.
Now, thoughts can be good and they can be bad when you’re working in a professional restaurant kitchen.
Good thoughts are things like “Ah, the Maitre d’ just called another salmon so I’ll keep slicing this now rather than wrapping it back up and putting it away immediately.”
Bad thoughts are things like “Ooh, Marilyn Monroe…” Distracting thoughts, in other words.
The thought that came to me that evening back in the middle of 2008 was, “Blimey. I can slice salmon. Properly. Like they do in restaurants.”
Well of course I could. By then I’d been working for the best part of five years in gastronomic restaurants and the homes of some of Europe’s wealthiest people. But still, it’s like the day when you realise you’re an adult now and no longer an adolescent – a bit of a shock, really.
I was using my Special Knife, the one proper cooks use to slice things like salmon, but it wasn’t really a knife porn moment. Proper tool for the job, especially as I was slicing through 10 kilos of salmon or more a day.
No, it was just that I had a momentary out of body experience, looking down on a Chef de Partie doing a good job, slicing the salmon thinly but not too thin, nice big pieces, covering the plate well. And it was me doing it.
Blimey. A transformation from keen amateur to cool professional overnight. With just several years of training and experience to get to that overnight transformation.