Family Dinner at Kitchen
Yesterday Chef Jordan Miller told Nate: I got a duck. This was in the morning; we only saw the duck at around 9:40pm, when Jordan began to prepare our first Kitchen family meal.
The family is getting bigger. This week, the talented Penn student Max Hass joined Kitchen as a line cook. To say the least, Jordan and Max work as a perfect team, and with the recent renovations at the kitchen, there are more hands and space to meet the rapidly increasing demand for food. And yet, despite these improvements (or perhaps because) we still managed to run out of most of our dishes last night, especially a few of the sides (mac & cheese, mashed potatoes). The innovative idea of the night was sweet potato tater tots. But the brilliant premise did not ensure success: the tots kept disintegrating whenever we tried to fry them. So no tots, and by 9pm, almost no mac and very little mash. We apologize if we weren’t able to give you your desired meal, and promise to return better prepared after break! Indeed, Kitchen will be closed for a short week during Penn’s Spring Break. I hope you weren’t discouraged or daunted by our meager menu last night, and encourage you to order again, with promise that we will have all ingredients according to the menu!
To return to Jordan’s duck. Jordan had planned an extravagant family dinner after service, with duck sushi and duck tacos. Because of a busy night, the duck preparation only began at 9:45pm, meaning that we had been nibbling on biscuits (our staple bread and water), or tasting Max’s freshly baked banana bread. We were famished. I watched Jordan press the duck on a pan and observed the fat sizzling. Jordan had already cooked the rice, and quickly made two sushi rolls with pickles in rice vinegar. Once the duck was ready, he thinly sliced the meat and spread it on top of the sushi. We added the Banh Mi sauce and picked away with our fingers. It was a feast. While we swallowed more than chewed – we were hungry and it was late – Jordan also made blue corn tacos with the extra duck. Thus began and ended the Family Dinner in true Kitchen spirit: in the midst of cleaning, with more savoring than mastication, Jordan’s whistling as the soundtrack, and Max grilling a leftover meatball. That night our brave delivery men tasted the Turkey Burger. If you haven’t tried it, you must. The three delivery men stood at the entrance eating in unison their steaming burgers, and of course, in silence – they were too busy with the task at hand.
The other day I asked Jordan to make me tuna, except I wanted it well done, not seared with the raw flesh in the middle. He stood shocked, unable to respond. What?! He finally exclaimed. You want my tuna well done? I think part of his surprise was that after witnessing my terrific apple-peeling skills he respects my culinary preferences. Also, my mother is Japanese, and the thought that I, the daughter of a Japanese woman, might dislike raw fish, is too troubling for Jordan. However he still made me my chewy tuna, and I ate it with great delight.
It was a long night, but every night is long and busy and exhausting at Kitchen. You don’t notice until the end of service when your legs are aching from standing since 5pm and your hair smells of food. By 10pm the only thing that matters is a hot shower and sleep. Except most of us are college students, so our night can’t — and doesn’t — end so early. Sometimes we go a little crazy after service. There’s some singing involved, a lot of laughing, occasional swearing… Yesterday Nate couldn’t find his car keys. We searched and ran in circles, until finally, after calling one of the delivery men who suggested Nate check his car door, Nate retrieved the key.