My parents owned restaurants in California when I was a teen. Their first restaurant was Mr. Ed’s Coffee Shop, a franchise. It was open 24 hours a day and served breakfast anytime. The menu consisted of breakfast dishes, sandwiches and burgers, and some “hot plates”. The best item they had was the char grilled burgers. Char grilling was new in 1972 so their juicy, grilled burgers with special sauces were very popular. I never worked the grill but happily learned how to be a waitress for them. I wore a funky white zipped up nylon dress with an apron and the ugliest shoes you’ve ever seen, made a lot of tips, and hated the smell of maple syrup and grease in my hair after a day of work. I got tired of men telling me to “put your finger in my coffee to sweeten it up” and of the people who acted so superior. I recall my parents complaining about business problems all the time–employees quitting with no notice, food “walking out the back door”, and prices always going up. The restaurant business did not sound like fun to me. So I left to join the Air Force and see the world. Now years later I have actually contemplated having my own restaurant. We’ll see about that.
We had to learn about table settings and did a rather lame exercise in which we presented a virtual meal to Chef Kurima at the place setting we put together. I think it was a waste of time but at least it was easy. She had some other surprises in store for us later. To get us ready for finals next week she conducted a “rapid fire” appetizer drill. We had to make an appetizer in 20 minutes using items we had earlier “mised” along with anything in the par stock and our “secret ingredient”. Some of us got onions, some eggs. I got onion.
Someone had defrosted shrimp so I thought I’d make my shrimp hushpuppies. The time sped by and I had no time to prepare a sauce, however they tasted pretty good. We all sampled one another’s dishes and there was a good variety–some good, some a little strange. Deep fried puff pastry is not so good. We then had 20 minutes to make an appetizer using the other item–egg for me. I had cooked some sushi rice earlier so I made tamago yaki (egg cooked in layers and rolled) It suffered from a lack of pizzaz but at least it looked decent–not easy in 20 minutes.
I thought we were done but she threw in a final drill–make an appetizer in 10 minutes. I threw together a tortilla cooked with egg, onion, ham, and cheese. It was forgettable. But, on the positive side, I know I can put some food together fast! Hope I can do this for the final next week, but with better food. I’m not as nervous as I was for the first semester since I know I can do it now.