Last Day at Dos Palillos – 5 weeks!

4 Jun

Although the lighting was terrible, these are the main cocineros outside of Dos Palillos after we finished Saturday night/Sunday a.m. From left to right, back row: Mario – all cold apps; Borja – grill and 3rd in command at the restaurant after Albert (owner) and Chef de Cuisine Takeshi; Rachel – pastry; Takeshi – Chef de Cuisine. Crouching: Antonio – wok.

I’m done. Saturday was my last day. As it turns out, it was the busiest day I’ve worked so far. Lunch didn’t end until 5:30 p.m. and I was responsible for making family meal for the cooks, to be served promptly at 6:30. AND, Takeshi asked me to do prep for the other cooks at that point. I said, “not if you want to eat anything before the next 7 hour service.” So, I basically just started cooking family meal and ignored the request to help other cooks prep for their stations. I mean, c’mon, we’d been there since 10:00 a.m., lunch service was from 1:30-5:30, and we weren’t going to get any breaks. Nor was I going to get to prep anything for my next service. Do they really expect me to be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat and have family meal for 10 people ready by 6:30 without giving me any time to do it? Wow.

Anyway, I pulled it off. I quickly marinated some flank steak in tequila, lime, garlic and chilies. I cut up a bunch of potatoes, carrots, onions, and red bell peppers; threw them in a pan with olive oil, garlic and salt; and then threw that pan in the convection oven as high as it would go to roast those suckers in 15-20 minutes. In 5 minutes, I minced fresh albahaca (basil), perejil (flat leaf parsley), and cilantro; minced some red onion; tossed in a couple of tablespoons of sherry vinegar, some salt and olive oil; et voila = a kind-of chimichurri. For the salad, I cut up 2 large avocados and some tomatoes, squeezed some fresh lime over them and threw a bit of maldon sea salt flakes on top. Dinner was served at 6:30 sharp. The co-owner of Dos Palillos, Tamae Imachi, who is also the wife of Albert Raurich and worked at El Bulli, loved it. Ahhh, smile.

Back to service at 7:30. The first patrons were a group of 12 from London. Dinner service was manageable. Maybe I was getting better/faster 😉 Then, at midnight, Takeshi told me to start tearing apart la pasteria – literally. Everything was off every shelf, everything was out of every drawer, and I was scrubbing every inch. Then, the fridges and freezer got emptied, the freezer drawers cleaned and all of the cold items moved to the larger refrigerator and freezers so the freezer could be shut off and defrosted.

Finally, at 1:15 a.m., the last customer left and at 1:30, my station was immaculate. I gave Takeshi the mis en place list of what he’d need to to do take over pastry on Tuesday and the list of what he needed to buy for Tuesday.

Then, it was beer and tequila time. Antonia had taken the bottle of tequila I bought for the steak marinade and chilled it earlier in the evening, so we were ready 😉 A good fairy bought all the of cocineros beers and we drank those. Thanks, good fairy! I stumbled back to the apartment about 2:45 a.m. feeling good about the way I left things. I had a good talk with Takeshi. Antonio toasted to me, his big sister as he’s now calling me, and even Mario drank a beer with us even though he said he had to go home. Mariella called me cariña, my new favorite word, which means “darling” in Spanish.

Here’s a better pic of the guys of the kitchen (minus Ifta and Moha, my Pakistani and Indian friends who left before the raucous started):

Thanks to Moha for making me a delicious 1:00 a.m. snack of all the steamed dumplings we make at the restaurant and for your kind words at departure. Thanks to Borja for making me the smoked and grilled bone marrow dish that Ferran Adria now loves. Props to you Borja, at such a young age, for impressing one of the world’s greatest chefs. Thanks to Takeshi for being so gracious at my departure.

Carnet and I recently spoke about how lucky I am to have had this great opportunity and all of these great experiences. Had I been in my 20s, I would have killed for the opportunity to work for free 70+ hours per week at Dos Palillos. Certainly, my time there was worth it. I learned so much that I can’t begin to process it all quite yet. I actually need time to sit and think when I’m not exhausted. Or, maybe I don’t need to think about it so much, as to just continue to use what I’ve learned. I have lots of notes if I need them at some point in the future.

Sunday, I pretty much slept all day, except for a brunch outing with Alan and Scott. Today, was more of the same with some semblance of normalcy thrown in. I did some food shopping, did some laundry, got a bang up good pedicure (followed these little old ladies into a manicure shop and it was a good choice as my feet were a total wreck), took a nap, had a nice dinner with the boys and now I’m going to bed.

Tomorrow, I start my 3rd stage at Osmosis. I’m not sure I’m quite ready. But, this time I’m setting the ground rules on hours and days I will work. Thanks to Marcos (from El Quim) for reminding me I can do this. It’s about my learning experience just as much as about how much free labor they are getting out of me. I work hard when I work, so hopefully Chef Frederik will understand that my health is my number 1 concern and this is a stage, not a paid gig. My plan is to give it a few days, see what his expectations are, see what work I’ll actually be doing, and then tell him what I’m willing to do.

Three departing pics of tonight’s dinner with Alan and Scott:

1) The brothers, looking mono (Spanish slang for “cute”) and happy:

2) A great bottle of cava:

3) A gorgeous office building entrance that we walked by on our way to find chocolate (which was an unsuccessful outing because I couldn’t find the chocolate shop, but a great find for the gorgeous architecture we saw):

Oooh, one quick update. I came upon some great, recent pics of Dos Palillos food and restaurant by another blogger. Check out her page: . You can see the bixcocho de almendra con yuzu mermelada (almond sponge cake with yuzu marmalade) that I was making and serving while the blogger visited Dos Palillos.

4 Responses to “Last Day at Dos Palillos – 5 weeks!”

  1. Bee Leng Chua June 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    You didn’t find the place with the chocolate although the ceiling of the office building looks like gourmet squares of chocolate! Just imagination. An incredible work experience made possible with sweat and tears – even though it is not a paid gig, it is REAL experience that you can claim it for yourself and shout to the world with pride and confidence that you have it. You’re building the foundation and walls for the restaurant you’re aspiring for. You’re inspiring me with the tenacity of your efforts to achieve this. Along the way – your joy and passion for all good to great food is still intact and making me hungry with the photos and description of how they are created.
    Looking forward to following you to the next gig. They are so lucky to have you!
    Bee Leng

    • GigiAbel June 5, 2012 at 5:49 am #

      Loved it all. Thanks so much for taking the time to share it all with us. I disagree a bit with Bee; maybe your restaurant aspirations—? xxooG

  2. suzi hauswald June 4, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    BRAVO!!! Rachel you are the bomb diggity. Any time you feel like a stress free pastry extravaganza….come play on the farm.

  3. Pete Maguire June 5, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    Awesome -what a great sense of accomplishment! Very proud of you, a lot of obstacles and you rose to meet every challenge, – Felizidades!

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