Well I am happy to announce that I have survived my first week as a culinary extern at an amazing little restaurant called Station 1, in Woodside, CA. If you don't know about Station 1, and you are in any way interested in food, you should get to know them. I hadn't heard about them until a former classmate told me that I should look at them for my externship, because he thought their food sounded like a good fit for me. They are all about operating sustainably, using only local organic ingredients, with a dynamic menu and a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Upon my first call to the restaurant, I was able to speak with head chef, Ryan Harris. He welcomed my call, and that is when I learned that he too is a graduate of CCA. Meant to be??? Maybe!! He invited me to the restaurant for a brief introduction, and after a quick tour of the kitchen and a nice chat with chef, I was immediately impressed with the kitchen and just simply had a good feeling about it. Chef Ryan invited me back to do a stage on the following Saturday night, which just happened to be their one year anniversary event.
I was definitely nervous about the idea of working in such a kitchen, but I was confident that once I got there, that all would be right with the world. And it was. Everyone there at Station I, from the owners, the chefs, and all the staff, are kind and welcoming, and almost always with a smile on their faces. People are happy to be there, and so was I.
It was a fun night, filled with all sorts of beautiful foods whizzing about, watching the wait staff flutter in and out of the kitchen and back out to the dining room, and watching the five amazing chefs produce some truly beautiful plates. Chef Ryan took the time to chat with me and help me to understand some of their ingredients, and some of their cooking processes. He offered that I taste many of the foods, which I was pretty excited about....even the sweetbreads. Which were absolutely delicious, btw! I was excitedly impressed with the use of modern techniques that chef Ryan is so excellent at. And it really shows in his food. Creative but not overdone.
After surviving my stage, I was welcomed back to the restaurant to extern for the next 6 weeks. Yay! I didn't totally make a fool of myself! Whew! I was relieved, excited, and then the nervous started to creep in....
But, again, it didn't last long. As soon as I got back into the kitchen, I felt, mostly, at ease. It is comforting to me that chef Ryan actually cares that I learn a lot during my time there. He takes the time to point things out to me, show me around, help me out. I don't feel like a burden hanging around the kitchen. And I was pleasantly surprised that chef had me plating at the garde manger station on my first night! And so it has been, each night this week, I get to assist with the prepping of foods, setting up for service, and plating at the garde manger station. And just tonight, I received a very nice compliment from one of the owners, in that my pear plate was "really nice". Awesome!
So in case you couldn't tell, I am very excited and feel very lucky to have been welcomed in to the kitchen there at Station 1. And I am looking forward to the next five weeks!