Interview with a Professional Cook: As Told From A Home Kitchen Brunch

While making brunch. It’s Easter Sunday and my lady was inquisitive about my past life working the line during brunch service. While I’m scrambling away (eggs), she started this little interview.

Q: How many years did you work brunch and where?

GA: I worked brunch for 2 1/2 years at Broadway Cellars in Edgewater, Illinois which is a neighborhood of Chicago.

Q: What time did you have to get into work every morning to be able to start?

GA: 8 o’clock every Saturday and Sunday, which means there by 7:45.  Up by 7AM.  That’s rough. Especially if you’re trying to enjoy some kind of Friday and Saturday night out.

Q: What was the worst type of brunch order you had to make?

GA: Any off-menu items. I worked at a place that did not offer omelettes and yet for a variety of reasons, one of which included that our non-stick pans were crap, anytime somebody requested an omelette it was just annoying that the server would come back and ask.

Q: What is the most amount of guests you’ve cooked brunch for?

GA: 250 covers which was between 10:30 in the morning until 4 o’clock in the evening done by myself, three other guys on the hotline and one person on salads.

Q: Cooking brunch for 250 people (that’s a decent sized wedding!). That must involve a lot of eggs. How did you prep everything for that many people?

GA: We would pre-crack and scramble roughly 12-14 dozen eggs for service and also pre-crack and par-poach another 5 dozen for eggs Benedict. All orders of over easy, over hard, sunnyside –those were all cracked and cooked to order by hand. You get pretty good at cracking eggs with one hand and I think I saw a sous chef do two eggs in one hand, but he denied ever being able to do so.

Q: How many orders did you have to cook at one time?

GA: I only had three nonstick pans to work with so I could only have three orders at a time. But an order of scrambled eggs only takes 15 seconds to cook. Over easy’s only take 40 seconds so while I could only do three orders at a time, (worth noting an order of eggs was three) I could also put out close to 12 orders of eggs in the span of three or four minutes.  All the while, operating the oven and broiler.

Q: Wow. That’s fast. I should be asking you to make eggs more often. 😉 That would be challenging for anybody. In your opinion, what’s the hardest thing for you about cooking brunch?

GA: In the kitchen I was in, it was mostly about the heat. It varies from kitchen to kitchen but some professional kitchens get hotter than you would believe.

There were two different incidents where I just about passed out from heat exhaustion mid service. Most people don’t realize how rapid-fire brunch is (behind the line). Because everything is prepared to be cooked in five minutes or less and the orders come in so quickly. It’s so fast paced that if you fall behind by even one order you just start drowning immediately, so you’re constantly fighting against the clock and the ticket printer. (see post about standing the heat)

Q: Wow. That’s completely different from what the diners experience out front where they’re taking 2-3 hours for brunch drinking bottomless mimosas. You’re the ones back there making it all possible.

GA: And for the record, we didn’t get any mimosas. I want to go on record and talk about how bullshit that is because if anybody deserves mimosas it’s the guys cooking!

I agree! Well, your luck’s about to change; I’ll pour you one right now.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s