Click here to see recipe listing or travel by country

Friday, June 1, 2012

My night with Casanova

In a word - AMAZING!!

I had such a great time there and got to do more than I really thought I would be able to do on my first night.  I started with Jaime, the baking cook, who has worked at Casanova for over 18 years.  He was getting ready for a special party that was coming in a little later and I helped him prep for that.  First, I plated all the spinach gnocchi and parmesan cheese sauce into serving dishes and minced the parsley that would garnish them.  I was able to taste the gnocchi and it was really delicious - the gnocchi was light and the parmesan cream sauce was heavenly.

Next, I prepped the shrimp amuse buche by arranging thinly sliced meyer lemons on a few serving plates, topping them with shrimp, cocktail sauce and micro celery greens. There were a couple of extra's and I gladly ate one, when Jaime offered it up.  Delicious!

Then it was time for employee meal which consisted of a nice, spicy chicken soup filled with veggies and topped with all the cilantro and onions you wanted.  It was really tasty and while eating in one of the many pretty courtyard areas, I was able to sit with Jaime and some of the other cooks and chat a bit.

After that, I was asked to work with James, the sous chef, who was prepping for a special event - a pop up supper- the following day.  I helped with the artichoke bisque by washing and adding herbs - tarragon, thyme to the already cooked soup then I pureed it and strained it and then watched as James added tons of delicious truffles to it.  After seasoning it with salt and pepper, we tasted it and it was wonderful!  It's not on the regular menu right now but I'm hoping that it will be when they change it in a couple of weeks (they regularly change the menu, leaving only a couple of the most popular dishes on it, and changing everything else to reflect the season and what the local farmers are producing) because I could have eaten the entire pot of it! Next it was time to clean and prep some veggies.  I first cleaned an entire pan full of morel mushrooms.  After that, I scrubbed and peeled some neat little purple carrots that had such a beautiful, vibrant purple color to them.  They got them from one of the local farmers they regularly interact with and said that only this batch of the carrots had the purple color all the way through them - the next batches only had purple around the tops  of the carrots.

After the carrots, I was asked to wrap baby artichokes in thin slices of speck ( a type of prosciutto).  The next day, they would be fried right before service.  Yum!!

Throughout and in between projects, I was also shown around a bit.  It is quite a layout and will take some time to master.  There are walk ins and pantry areas in several different locations.  There are two kitchens - one always open and one open only on weekends or for special parties (this is the one I worked in).  There are several small dining areas and courtyards for outdoor seating.  It is a truly beautiful restaurant and I can see why it's named 'most romantic' restaurant in Carmel.

I was able to sit down and talk with Chef John Cox within the first hour of my arrival.  I felt it necessary to remind him that I would only be there for 6 months because I didn't want to be dishonest about that fact.  He has taken on stages/interns for the last three years and really grooms them for long term stay in his kitchens.  He thanked me for my honesty and told me that with it being summer, it was going to be very busy and he could still use me, knowing I would be gone in six months.  He said the interns (he will take on two or three) will start out in stocking and eventually move up to prep and seafood station.  He said knowing that I'll be leaving, I may not have the opportunity to move up (which is sad but understandable).  He said he feels that a lot of folks straight out of culinary school really need that time in stocking to learn the product and know where to go to retrieve the items.  I am kind of worried that my best night might have been this first night - where I was in the kitchen actually getting to help out and see what was going on.  Either way, beggars can't' be choosers and I love this restaurant so I will do it, if offered. He said he had a few more folks coming in and would make his final decision by Wednesday.  I feel pretty confident that I'll be asked back but my time limit could be a hinderance.

At the end of the night, I thanked the Chef for allowing me the wonderful opportunity to work in his kitchen and told him that I loved every second of it.  He thanked me for helping out and told me I was welcome to take home a couple entres for me and my husband.  James walked me up and told me to order whatever I'd like, so I asked him what his favorites were and that's what I ordered - Diver Scallops and Lamb Chops.  Both were absolutely delicious!  I went to sleep dreaming of those scallops and when I could return to eat them again.

I had such a wonderful experience at Casanova - which was also my first time working in a professional kitchen.  I feel like I got so lucky to be able to work here and feel truly fortunate for the experience. I truly loved every second of it and hope to be able to do it for my short time here in Monterey.

No comments:

Post a Comment


All recipes are on Petitchef