This past weekend, our daughter Marina spent a day working a stage at Barbara Lynch‘s upscale restaurant, Menton. A “stage” is a French term for when a cook or chef works briefly, for free, in another chef’s kitchen to learn new techniques and cuisines. One of the benefits of being a photographer is that you get to see all kinds of work environments and experience many different professions, and in the past twenty years, I haven’t seen a more positive and productive atmosphere than I see inside each of the Gruppo kitchens when I visit them.
Since Marina was a young girl she has visited work places with her parents, first as a visitor and later sometimes doing little jobs here and there, but now she is at an age where thoughts of careers and work are becoming more real. I thought it would be great to have her experience one of the more amazing work environments I’ve seen, and because she is a baker at heart, with the help of Wyatt Maguire, Executive Sous Chef, and Colin Lynch, Executive Chef, I arranged for her to spend the day at Menton in pastry.
Marina was told to report to Menton at 1 PM, and after brief introductions she was whisked off for a quick tour and to change into a chef coat and apron. New employees get white aprons at Menton, and earn the right to wear a black apron only after showing the ability to fit into the kitchen. Marina was introduced to Bethany Hiltebeitel, pastry chef at Menton and got started making sesame seed tuile and almond sorbet.
Next on Marina’s to do list: making cookies for family meal. Chef Bethany found a recipe and changed it a bit, and then Marina went to work on the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Family meal doesn’t always come with a dessert, so the cookies that Marina made were well appreciated. “Everyone just kept coming up to me” said Marina, “and telling me the cookies were amazing.”
After family meal Marina helped prep the pantry station and the entire staff then met and went over reservations for the evening. Marina was impressed with the level of organization and attention to detail in all parts of the kitchen and she liked that each reservation came with their own set of particular notes, including special requests, food allergies and birthdays.
Marina’s night ended after eleven with a traditional post service review, minus the beer. “It’s a very smart thing to do every night,” said Marina, “that keeps them all on the same page, and shows the friendships they have. The way they called out those who did good things for each other,” she continued, “is nice and shows the teamwork they share.”
She had a great time and I don’t know if she’ll end up in the kitchen as a job, but I do know she will always remember her time behind the line, and we’ll continue to benefit from her love of baking.
Thanks for reading a long, and remember, F2%, Because Heavy Cream Is Always Better!