Sunday, October 08, 2006

Pineapple, and a lesson.

Is it crazy of me to do this to my pineapple....




I guess old habits die hard. I worked for a catering company while I was in college, called "Gourmet Greens". It was located in the kitchen of a fine restaurant named "Zoom" in downtown Toronto. You may have heard of the Rubino Brothers, Michael and Guy. They are Toronto restauranteurs and currently own the restaurant Rain. They also star-in and produce the Food Network Canada show "Made to Order". Well, they were the owners of Zoom and Gourmet Greens. In addition to being minor celebrities, they are also known within the restaurant community for big egos and the sort of staff treatment that generally goes along with that.

I'm not trying to make any allegations here, because other than being generally rude to me, I wasn't mistreated by either of them. I worked in their catering business for 6-8 months and neither of them bothered to learn my name. This is the kind of employer they are. There was a definite "You are so lucky to be working for me" attitude. I have heard stories of cooks working 13+ hour days on salary wages and even sleeping in the kitchen after closing the restaurant because they had to be there at the crack of dawn the next day. This could be only gossip, but it is not far from things I personlly witnessed at other top restaurants. There is a mentality amoung some cooks that abuses of power like these are worth it just to learn from the chefs. I have worked for ego-driven chefs, and I believe that they will treat you like garbage only if you let them. You must assert yourself!

But I digress. While I was working at Gourmet Greens, we prepared breakfasts and lunches for Bay St. Executives. Sandwiches, salads, fruit platters and desserts. I thought I wasn't learning anything. I begged the restaurant chef, Lorenzo Loseto (currently of George), to move me up to the hot line. I know that he thought I couldn't handle it. I'm not sure he realized that prior to working there, I had 3 years experience on a hot line serving 200+ people per night. After many failed promises, I quit. I remember Lorenzo telling me "You think you haven't learned anything, but you'll look back and realize that what you have learned is invaluable. Every chef needs to know how to make these simple products." Later on I realize that he was right. I know how to make the best sandwiches and composite salads due to that job. I can make a simple arrangement of fruit look stunning. I can clean a pineapple to look like a winding path up the side of a mountain. Although I wish I could have had the opportunity to prove that I was a capable cook, I'm glad I worked there and also glad I got out of it when I did. I moved on to job on the line in a restaurant and lounge in Toronto's Entertainment district.

4 comments:

Artemisia said...

Interesting-looking pineapple... Could you pass along the secret as to what you did to get it to look like that? Any how would one eat it? Cut off strips? I'd really like to know.

Sarah and Tiggy said...

I will do my best to describe it- it is very simple actually. 1. Cut the top and bottom off to make it level. 2. Stand the pineapple on it' level bottom and using a sharp knife, cut away the skin in small strips from the top to bottom. Try to cut the least amount, removing only the skin. 3. Once that is done, you should see a lot of circular, inedibal bits embeded in the yellow flesh. 4. Lie the pineapple down on your cutting board. If you look at these circular things, you will see that they naturally make a number of paths diagonally down the sides of the pineapple. 5. Simply cut the circular bits away, using a thin sharp knife (I like a boning knife) and angleing the cuts toward one another. If you step back and look at the pineapple, you will see the winding pattern. It takes some patience and practice. Once that is done, a nice way to serve it is to first cut it quarters down the center (the long way), then cut away the tough core. Then slice each quarter into slices and fan out on a platter. Another idea is to use it as a centerpiece and makes fruit kabobs with grapes, pieces of pineapple, etc, then stick them into the decorative whole pinapple, so the guests can serve themselves from it. In that case, it is good to keep the top of the pineapple and place it back on top for decoration.

Anonymous said...

I have tried to cut pineapple like that many times. A method that was past along from my grandmother, a very common way the asian fruit markets do. But one problem about this method is that the pineapple looses a lot of juice during the cutting process. Unless you are really into its look otherwise, I don't find it very practical. And about the Rubino Bros. Micheal claims as a executive chef but he has never attended any culinary school or professional training. I see these bros. as self promonters rather than anyting.

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