Culinary Arts Project

Restaurant Kitchen Lingo, and Some Incredible Tastes.


  • “Order” – you can start preparing the food, but don’t cook it.
  • “Fire” – ok, cook the food and plate it.
  • “All day” – how many orders+fires do we have of a particular dish.

It was my fourth day at JoJo today. I was helping Matt prep for, and then, help execute the Garde Manger station. This week is a slow week (until Valentines Day) so there weren’t that many “covers”. Covers are customers. Culinary school prepped me well for the lingo about utensils in the kitchen, as well as technical terms of preparation (e.g. concasser these tomatoes), but it doesn’t really teach you about the “execution lingo”. The main three terms I’m coming across so far are “order”, “fire”, and “all day”. For instance when I was working the meat station, an order would come in for “two veals”, this meant that a table had ordered them, but the expediter is saying “don’t start cooking them yet” because they are probably having a salad or soup. So I would take two veal cutlets out of the fridge, flour-egg-panko them getting them ready for cooking, start heating all the garnitures, but not actually cook the veal. Then when I hear “fire two veals”, I would start cooking the veal and plate them right away. It seems straight forward, but then when 3 more veals come in and two them are “fire”, it opens up the possibility for a mis-understanding (is that a new order that is “fire”, or is that firing up the old orders?). The term “all day” helps with this. “How many veals have we got all day” – this means the combined total of the two – i.e. how many veals outstanding are there in total? Because so much is new to me, I lose track pretty quickly, so I need a quick reset to make sure I’m on top of things and have the right number of dishes going.

The highlights of the day are definitely when I get to taste the food. Every so often Remi will bring over a sauce or a small dish of something and it’s always heaven. The lobster risotto, the champagne vinaigrette, the ginger coriander saffron chicken sauce, and the truffle creamed potatoes to mention just a few.

Because it was slow today, we had the unusual task of doing prep for tonight/tomorrow at the same time as manning the stations, so yes, I was cutting and peeling mushrooms, peeling potatoes, popping out endamame beans (see main pic for where those end up), peeling garlic. I had to remember to change my gloves when preparing a dessert dish (can’t have garlic smelling almond cakes!). One cool prep I did on the weekend was making ravioli courtesy of Remi’s instruction. This is an example of where simplicity makes a great dish. The raviolis are stuffed with just a small leaf of mint, a small leaf of basil, and ricotta. This tastes amazing when plated over a tomato sauce. The magic comes just before putting the ravioli on the plate. They are swirled in a high end olive oil and salt. Makes it all taste amazing. I’m definitely buying a pasta machine!

I have to admit that I liked the slower pace today, certainly after the craziness of the weekend. The learning curve is probably a tad slower, but the heart attacks are less frequent.

Culinary Arts Project

The Final Practical Exam is tomorrow, and three incredible days at JoJo – Day 78

Luis adding a little love to his plate
Luis adding a little love to his plate
Dalal and her two tarts. The first tart didn't make the grade.
Dalal and her two tarts. The first tart didn’t quite make the grade.

Tomorrow is the day that all of Level 4 has been leading up to. We start 30mins earlier (we all had to sign a sheet okaying this), walk in, pick a number out of a hat which will tell us what and when we’re going to be tested on.

If we pick “A” Garde Manger (salads & soups) + Saucier (meats) then we will have to cook on one of
1) Consomme Printanier
2) Poached Eggs
3) Salade Nicoise
plus one of
1) Pork Chops
2) Chicken Grand Mere
3) Beef Bourguignon

If we pick “B” Poissonier (fish) + Patissier (desserts) then we will have to cook on one of
1) Sautéed Skate Grenoble
2) Striped Bass Papillote
3) Grilled Salmon with White Wine Herb Sauce
plus one of
1) Apple Tart
2) Profiteroles
3) Lemon Tart

Emma and Erik discuss the weird goings on in the kitchen... missing pasta, plates getting moved, etc..
Emma and Erik discuss the weird goings on in the kitchen today… missing pasta, plates getting moved, tension, etc..

The easiest combo for me is definitely the skate + apple tart, but who knows what combo chef has in store for us. Time to start reviewing these recipes.

After school on Friday I had my “trail” at JoJo Restaurant, Jean-George’s first New York restaurant. It was totally trial by fire. I first did some prep, but then was quickly put on Linden and Genevieve’s garde-manger station, which meant we were putting together all the salads and the desserts. It was also the last day of “restaurant week”, where hundreds of restaurants have a special “discounted” menu. In Toronto we call the equivalent Winterlicious. What this meant was that JoJo was jam-packed and it was pure craziness in the very small “French style” kitchen, but it also meant that most people were ordering similar items, so for example once I got down the 13 steps required to assemble the carrot salad, I handled those when the orders came in. It was a great learning night, because I was able to add value very quickly. Nevertheless, it was mayhem. Near the end of the evening “Stewart, the chef wants to speak to you downstairs”, Uh oh. I had screwed a couple things up, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turns out that Chef Ron felt I was a good fit and offered me the externship which I accepted right away. He said that I could go home if I wanted, but I knew Linden was still under pressure so went straight back to the kitchen to finish the night. Right then a huge wave of orders hit, and so it was back into the mayhem till very very late. It was a very long day. When the last order was filled, the whole kitchen crew all high-fived, but really I was read to collapse……..but what I didn’t realize is that this was just the beginning.

Assembling a made to order eggs benedict crab cake at JoJo.
Assembling a made to order eggs benedict crab cake at JoJo.

I asked when I could work next…. “how about brunch tomorrow?” So for Saturday and Sunday I worked the full day shift manning the meat station. Saturday was a bit less stressful, because the guy doing the meat station was there showing me the ropes, but on Sunday it was just me on meat, reporting to Remi who was doing all the fish and the eggs and running the show (with mastery I might add). It was supposed to be slow day, but all of a sudden there were 40 more “covers” than expected and a wave of pure panic hit. Plus, there were orders for courses I hadn’t cooked yet just as Remi got swamped. The head chef had to step in and help out. I didn’t do a perfect job and screwed some things up, burnt myself several times, but got through it. It’s a tough place to be in when everything is new, you’re not in control, really under pressure, and making mistakes, but I actually started to gain a little confidence by the end of it. PLUS we were making some pretty fantastic tasting food (more on this to come).

I have my recipes to study for the exam tomorrow and then I’m going to collapse (apparently there’s a superbowl thingie going on today as well). It’s back to JoJo on Tuesday.