Today was my first day at Dirt Candy. I get to work there every Thursday, helping to prep all the components of the dishes to be served that night. It’s a pretty small restaurant with an even smaller kitchen, which makes the quality and ingenuity of the food that comes out of it – not to mention the sheer deliciousness – just amazing. I got to interact with food all day, learning all the way along, and it made me happy to be working with my hands, tiring my body, and creating things for other people to enjoy.
Danielle, the Kitchen Manager, showed me how to do all the things on my list and was my mentor. She is awesome – focussed, patient, and easy to ask questions. This was my list of tasks for the day:
– slice portobello mushrooms into thin ribbon-like discs, to be sautéed and served with the portobello mousse
– remove gills from portobello mushroom and dice flesh for portobello mousse
– mince onions for the jalapeño hush puppies
– chop jalapeños for the hush puppies
– mandoline yellow carrots and cucumbers for salad to be served with carrot buns (à la pork buns but better – seriously, they’re amazing)
– juice yellow carrots for the bun dough
– form one tray of falafel balls, to be served with the zucchini pasta
– grate and strain zucchini, form into lacy discs and dehydrate for zucchini pasta garnish
– portion, label, and store carrot bun filling
– portion, label and store sweet pea ice cream base for sweet pea mint iced nanaimo bar (dear to my heart)
– cool peach-fennel-ginger compote, to be served with portobello mousse
and a couple other odds and ends. And I got to taste our work along the way.
At the end of the prep shift around 4, Danielle serves up ‘family’ each afternoon – a pre-opening dinner for all the staff to eat together. It’s always hectic, with tables being set up, reservations being confirmed, and servers prepping for the evening, but it was so nice to have a delicious meal to share. Tonight was a frittata with mushrooms and peas and a big salad with carrots, peppers, radishes, and cucumbers. I also saved the browned parts from the bottom of the pot the peach-fennel-ginger compote was cooking in, as they’re too bitter to mix in with the whole batch, and ate it with some crusty bread. It was sweet enough for me.