We are in the Bay Area to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family. Rich Table will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, and our family will take over the space. In the meantime, grandkids are out of school while their parents are working full-time, so I am baby-sitting in San Francisco and my wife is child-tending (The girls are too old to be baby-sat, they remind us!) in Silicon Valley.
Thus, I have spent some time at Rich Table during the past several days. It is always interesting to watch the rhythm of work in the kitchen during the day. Most of us don’t even think about all the preparation that is required for a busy evening in a restaurant, but the day starts before noon. All of the line cooks are there, and preparation is going full blast along with the music playing on Pandora.
Sarah and I are there to analyze a new dessert offering that has not yet made the menu because it is not quite right: too sweet, not enough tang, subtleties that evade my amateur palate.
The pastry crew has arrived even earlier, and loaves of the popular fennel-pollen-scented levain have already been baked and are sitting on the counter to cool.
Marrow bones have been roasted, and the unctuous marrow is being spooned out to make a puree for the yogurt and bone marrow dip that goes with beet chips and sorrel.
Today it is Stephen’s turn to make family meal, the early evening dinner that the whole crew – cooks and wait staff – share right before service. Family meal is a chance for each of the cooks to show his or her stuff and to share his real family’s favorite foods with co-workers. The meal also builds the camaraderie that is so important for a well-functioning kitchen.
Stephen has chosen to braise a pork shoulder and turn it into pulled pork, to be served with freshly baked home-style biscuits. The braise includes Stephen’s own flavorings, including whole mustard seeds. He has offered me a sample which, of course, I do not refuse. It is delicious, and I only wish I could join the crew for family meal.