Friday, February 24, 2012
No fame for dish washers
There are lots of celebrity chefs, stars, women with cleavage who make food, loud people with equally wild hair, fancy chefs and other glitterati of the foodie world. They're in the limelight, hamming it up for the camera, bestowing grins on their admirers and sometimes excoriating their detractors. In all those hours of watching these people perform on television, did you ever see the dishwasher?
Imagine these shining stars trying to impress with no clean dishes at hand. Ah, truffled venison with sauce grand veneur on an grimy plate coated with last night's bisque? Ick! Their Michelin stars would disappear like hot beurre blanc through their fingers.
There's no celebrity dishwasher. No televised dish washing competition.
I washed dishes this week, a zen experience of dishes in, dishes out. Everyone is chef on rotation, and one week's chef is always the next week's dishwasher.
Washing dishes at this level is quite different than the chore given by the typical parent to their children. Everything arrives: giant mixing bowls, full size baking sheets, tiny pastry tips, bowls coated in fluorescent buttercream, fondant, pastry bags, cutting boards and the occasional sharp object like a knife or a food processor blade.
It's kind of like playing Tetris. You have to try sorting everything so that you can create a smooth flow between the trash can, the counter on the left (dirty), the detergent sink, rinse sink, sanitizer sink and the counter on the right (clean). There's a bit of grouping for things stored together, too. Nest the bowls, place the measuring spoons inside, carry them to their rack. Back to the sink. Cutting boards next. Then baking sheets. On it goes.
The goal is to smoothly, dynamically and cleanly juggle everything so that you can create a smooth flow between the trash can, the counter on the left (dirty), the detergent sink, rinse sink, sanitizer sink and the counter on the right (clean).
There's a bit of grouping for things stored together, too. Nest the bowls, place the measuring spoons inside, carry them to their rack. Back to the sink. Cutting boards next. Then baking sheets. On it goes.
We're not even a restaurant. We're a classroom. Still, twenty people working frantically to create their masterpieces go through a lot of dishes. Since the number of dishes is limited, this means speed is of the essence. One huge mixer bowl came through the sink at least five times, along with its assorted paddle and dough hook, all covered in various species of sticky food. Someone is waiting for that mixer, you're holding them up! Bowl first, cutting boards later! Accelerate! Wash, scrub, rinse sanitize, dry - out go the mixer parts. The suds are gone! Refill the sink with clean detergent, check the sanitizer, warp speed!
Perhaps someday there will be an Iron Dishwasher program, where we can watch the best of the best compete. I imagine it like watching a pit crew service a Formula 1 race car. Quick, coordinated movements that waste no effort, transforming grunge into shine faster than the eye can follow.