Patrice Costa, part time guest blogger and full time foodie, here with some exciting news. I recently made a major life decision to figure out if my love of cooking was truly something I wanted to do when I grew up. I was optimistic that working in a restaurant kitchen would either cure me of this fantasy or create a new career. A very talented female chef, Hannah Hopkins, who has become my mentor and good friend, gave me the best advice to just find a “stage” position in a restaurant. Stagiaire is French for a culinary intern. To my surprise, formal training or experience was not a necessity. All that was required was the drive, passion and desire to learn. And, of course, I just had to have the confidence to ask . . .
So, that’s how I went from stagiaire to commis (more French for chef-in-training) for chef/owner Tom Costello at Thyme Restaurant in Yorktown Heights and his chef de cuisine, Laurent Ceron. It’s been an unbelievable experience where I’ve progressed from prepping veggies to making salads and desserts (garde manger or cold station) to working on the line in the open kitchen cooking sides and plating.
The most tedious task I’ve been assigned was definitely seeding pomegranates (while my fingers still had traces of red on them, I found out a week later the trick is to cut them in half on the equator and bang on the shell to release the seeds). You might think the best item in my culinary bag of tricks would be my knives or my whisk attachment on my hand blender, but it’s actually my contact lenses. I can stand side by side with the other chefs slicing onions and not shed a single tear!
With so much to be done every day to get ready for service, there’s not as much time as you would think to try out new recipes. But I had a precious few minutes and used some of our day-old rolls to create Chocolate Caramel Banana Bread Pudding (a cross between my Banana Upside Down Cake and Chocolate Bread Pudding). It was well received at family meal (dinner for staff before service). I brought some home for a sweet evening snack for my hubby, and we both agreed it was pretty darn good for my first attempt at developing a recipe.
Warm chocolately bread pudding which is then turned upside down to reveal gooey caramel and bananas.
The restaurant kitchen is an extremely fast paced environment where multitasking is not only essential, it’s an art. Because of my unique perspective, I’ve had the chance to learn exactly what goes on from behind the kitchen door. I’m excited to share a few of those interesting facts, and give you a glimpse of life in a restaurant kitchen in my next blog post.
Portrait photo above by Margaret Rizzuto Photography