Chef's Blog

Solage Calistoga's Executive Chef Brandon Sharp shares his passion for cooking, life and all things Napa Valley.

April 29, 2010

On a few recent nights we have had mistakes–unforced errors–in the kitchen during relatively slow services, and it’s conventional culinary wisdom that a lot of cooks work better when their backs are against the wall.  When the intensity diminishes and the cook has plenty of time to plate a medium-rare steak and a shortrib, the mind wanders, the rhythm is lost, the steak is suddenly overcooked, and the guest has to wait an extra fifteen minutes in a half-full dining room.  The application of pressure can help everyone in the kitchen to maintain focus.

The literal translation of “sous vide”, UNDER PRESSURE means a lot of different things in the professional kitchen.  The first definition I could find is

“the force applied to a unit area of surface”

Okay, correct for scientific apps and for sous vide cooking, but I had to scroll down to definition #6 to find

“urgent claim or demand”

which says pretty well what’s going on under the fluorescent kitchen lights, while the sun is shining on the patio or the wall-wash and votives are dim in the dining room.  There’s a sense of urgency in the kitchen that is mirrored in few other workplaces–I think of (movie versions, I admit, but hey) newsrooms, ORs (though food is of course not a matter of life and death, it’s more important than that–with apologies to Bill Shankly) and stock exchange floors (FCOJ anyone?).  Files cannot be saved nor computers put to sleep at 430 on a Friday in the kitchen.  It has to happen and it has to happen NOW, and it always does, one way or another, for better or worse.

I steal openly in this blog, and never more so than in today’s post.  A few more thoughts:

“Every morning that a gazelle wakes up, it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be lunch.  Every morning that a lion wakes up, it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a lion or a gazelle, but when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is ourselves

Under pressure

Example reading:  1 Pa = 1 N/m2  = 10−5 bar  = 10.197×10−6 at  = 9.8692×10−6 atm, etc.

“The difference between pressure and stress is preparation.” (att. Eric Ziebold)

Now please, hold your ears while I smash this soapbox to smithereens and get back to work.

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