Las Vegas

The Fuzz

I got pulled over today. What a heart-stopping experience that is. Jen (who was in the car with me) keeps attempting to comfort me by recalling that it was an absolutely classic pull over.

So we were on our way home from outlet shopping in Primm (and though it wasn’t a very successful shopping experience, it was still good to get out). I’d never been on that road before, but it was just another of those endless, straight, in-the-middle-of-the-desert roads (or so I thought). No Nevadans ever obey the speed limit on those roads, which is usually 75 anyways, so when I got stuck behind this guy who was going wicked slow I (after shouting “Dude, why don’t you go a little slower!”) pulled into the other lane to pass him. A Beach Boys song comes on and I crank it up really loud as I look in my rearview mirror to see if I’m far enough ahead of Mr. Turtle to get back in the slow lane. There’s a pickup truck behind me with lights on it. I point this out to Jen and comment that maybe the copper is the reason why that guy was going so slowly, but think to myself it’s probably just a volunteer ambulance guy, because police cars are usually cars and not pickup trucks.

Then his lights go on. MAN. Isn’t that just THE worst feeling in the world?!!?!? (Okay, well I can think of a few other feelings that might be worse, but getting pulled over makes me feel totally ill inside).

So I pull over, planning out what I’ll say in my head and silently sending prayers heavenward (though why anyone up there would even listen to a heathen like me, I’m not sure). The officer asks the standard questions: do you know what the speed limit is blah blah blah. He asks how long I’ve been here; I lie and say one week. He asks if I’m working; I lie and say “oh, for a couple of days now”. He tells us he’s on his way home for a two week vacation and then adds up the tickets I deserve for all the violations I’m commiting: 20mph over the speed limit=$300 fine plus two points on the brand new Nevada license that I need to get (in my spare time between work and night drivers classes that I’ll need to take), and driving without a valid state license in an unregistered, uninsured car would earn another $100 in fines at least. Oh Billy. That’s all I need right now.

All I have to say is: Thank God he had some serious R&R lined up.

He didn’t give me any tickets, just a warning to be a good Nevadan citizen and get all that car stuff taken care of and slow down. What a relief (not that I wasn’t tremoring violently as he walked back to his truck).

But I have to ask: what state has police officers who drive pickups?! I think that’s kind of shady right there. And B, he totally peeled out of the shoulder and zoomed at least 80mph down the road after thouroughly reprimanding me for going too fast.

But I’m not complaining.

A Peek Inside Bouchon, and Some Tips for Survival

Pictures from Sean & Erica’s Wedding.

bouchon_napkin.jpgOur walk-in refrigerator is seriously impressive; a gleaming food library of shiny beveled steel and smart plastic containers. It surpasses by 200% every restaurant refrigeration system I’ve ever seen in terms of organization and cleanliness. There is a place for everything and everything MUST go in it’s proper place.

All products are stored in brand new plastic cambros with color coordinating lids or in deli containers–no other container is acceptable for storage. These storage containers must be properly labelled, dated and initialed with green tape, and this label placed approximately one inch from the top of the lid on the front side of the container.

We categorize the shelves, so there’s a shelf for herbs, a separate one for vegetables, yet another for lettuces, condiments, prepared foods, etc., and a separate walk-in entirely for seafood and meat, another for beverages, a third for dairy and one last for bakery products. Everything is alphabetized from top to bottom, left to right. Heaven forbid one of the upper-level chefs (in our complicated hierarchy of chefdom) should find your initials on an improperly stored product!! If you see something in the walk-in that has been improperly stored or that has not been consolidated, you fix it. Even if you’re not the one that screwed it up in the first place. It is the responsibility of each chef to take the walk-in’s sanitation personally.

There are blue aprons and there are white aprons at Bouchon (I’m a blue apron). A white apron means that that particular chef is an intern or recent hire on a probationary period. And though you treat everyone with the utmost respect, blue always outweighs white. It is important to make the rounds every morning when you arrive and every evening before you leave. This involves saying hello/goodnight and shaking hands (when possible) with everyone (from dishwashers to Executive Chef) in the kitchen, and thanking them for their help at the end of the day. Always address everyone as Chef (Insert First Name Here), or you are in breach of the Bouchon Code of Inter-Personal Communications (read: not giving your co-workers the Respect they deserve as employees of this fine establishment).

Question yourself endlessly. Consider why everything is where it is. Does it belong there? Is there a better home for it? Fix it. Clean it. Do it the Right Way.

Never have idle hands; there’s always something else that needs to be done. When in doubt, clean, organize, consolidate.

Bouchon is an upscale French bistro, but it still amazes me how many people speak French in the kitchen! On the line during service if something goes especially well, one of the chefs will exclaim “Viva la France!” and the rest of us enthusiastically echo it down the line. If a Chef asks you to do something, most often the response is “Oui, Chef.” Several of the waitstaff communicate in French and a few of the chefs regularly thank me (“Merci, mon cher”) in that musical language (I envy their beautifully perfect accents).

On a slow morning we serve breakfast to about 180 people, on a busy day up to 300. At dinner they do about 220 on a regular night, so all in all, we’re doing at least 400 covers a day–that’s where all of this militant organization comes in handy! Even though it may sound like kitchen bootcamp, everyone is extremely friendly and the kitchen emanates a positive, upbeat aura of success; it’s not quite as intimidating as it sounds!

In other news, the weather man changed his mind about it only being 98 degrees on Thursday. That’s right folks, triple digits all week long. Yippee! I can’t wait until monsoon season starts.

New Gallery

New to Hotshots: pictures from Phoebe’s Wedding.

Dude, I hate to complain, but here goes. This weather is killing me. Seriously. My hair is falling out, bloody noses every other day, chapped lips, parched lungs, dry eyes: my body can’t handle it!!

Cristina (my new friend!) and I were discussing the weather (we’re looking forward to Thursday, when it’s only supposed to reach ninety-eight degrees, a welcome change from the 105+ we’ve been experiencing lately: wahoo!!) on the maze out of work today. Commuting in Las Vegas hotels is ridiculous. Read on the maze: here’s how we get out of work everyday: down two flights of stairs into a hallway, make hairpin turns among large pipes to the locker room. Then go down another hallway and take an industrial elevator up one flight (no stairs in this area). This brings you to a hallway inside the hotel where the guest suites are. Next we walk down another corridor and take another, fancier elevator to the parking garage, cut through the garage to a back construction alley and take another flight of stairs down to the shuttle loading dock, where the shuttle picks us up and ferries us to our cars in a random open lot three blocks away.

In the car today I was absolutely dehydrated: so thirsty. I grab for the first bottle of water I see (habitually filled before leaving work in order to survive the hot and heinous car ride home) and accidentally grabbed an older bottle of water that I must have left in there yesterday. The water was so hot, I burnt all the tastebuds in my mouth!!! HELLOW. So not cool. 🙂

Tomorrow marks the dawn of my Explore Las Vegas Campaign. Cristina and I are going to the Guggenheim museum inside our hotel. (INSIDE our hotel: ha!). Wednesday I think I’m going to check out Caesar’s. Thursday and Friday are my days off this week and Jen and I have a date on Thursday night: outlet shopping in Primm (a wannabe Las Vegas town 15 minutes North of Henderson), and then dessert at Aureole. Talk about your social butterfly.

But really, life is great here. I love having my own place, my own space, and a real career in a new city! That part is totally fun and fabulous. I just need to flesh out the rest, and we’ll be all good.

New Traffic Patterns

shira_red.jpgNevada is all about medians. I’ve been hating them in silence for the past three and a half weeks (I can’t believe I’ve been here for a whole month already!!), but after inadvertantly driving over one this morning, I decided it was time to share my aggravation with the world. MEDIANS ARE SO STUPID. They just prevent you from going where you need to go and waste precious time. What purpose do they serve?? Are they really necessary? I think not. If I was an urban planner, roadways would be vastly different. For now, I’m honing my U-turn-on-the-fly skills and getting very friendly with my Las Vegas city map.

I got my first paycheck today! Woohoo! �Qu� excitante! Can I tell you how much I love overtime? I was so excited my hair changed color–as visualized in this picture. HAHA! Just kidding, this is from one of my identity crisis phases in college. Unfortunately, it turns out I’m allergic to red dye, so for the two weeks following the color transformation my head was swollen and itchy and my face was all red. Really a great time. Just goes to show you the true face of vanity.

Kwahanamas 2002

OLLLLLLLLLLDDDD School. Kwahanamas: A multi-cultural celebration created at Binghamton University; Finally, pictures from the 2002 holiday festivities.

I’m debating between getting a second job and taking dance lessons or something like that. Starting to get bored already. Aie yie yie. I feel I may not really have time or energy for a second job. Maybe I need to really get adjusted to this new schedule before I decide for sure. But it’s been a week, so I should be pretty used to this 3am thing, and yet, my daily routine still involves a two-hour nap (even though I get 7 hours of sleep every night)! The nap is inevitable. I’ve tried to not take a nap, it just doesn’t work because I fall asleep while doing whatever else it is I do. I think it has something to do with the heat too. It was 100°F today. And it’s going to be 106°F on Saturday! Guys, do you understand how hot this is? I have a little heat rash on my hand just thinking about it!! We’re talking serious hotness here. Thank God I have three swimming suits and two pools (mwua hahahahaaaah!!).

Anyways, enough whining already. Life is good. I’m happy! Come visit!!


flintstones.jpgI’m living in Bedrock–Nevadians are all about the decorative front-lawn rocks– like the large red ones the Flintstones have in their front yard. Let me set the scene for you…on Saturday mornings our neighbors rake their rocks instead of mowing their lawns. We have washes (a.k.a. “This used to be a river, but now it’s a bed of rocks”) instead of rivers! It’s at least 92�F every day (usually by around 11AM) and there are frequent dust storms! I feel like I’m in a foreign country. Where are the lush green mountains and cool, deep lakes of my Upstate homeland?!?

I have a fabulous new job working as a pastry cook at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Las Vegas!!! Everything about it (except maybe the pay) is great! I’m on the early morning shift right now, so I go in at 5AM (which, because of the 20 min. commute, requires waking up at 3:15 AM. Oh, Billy. This world is determined to make me a morning person I feel.) and get out between 1:00PM and 3:00PM. It’s a pretty good schedule, because I’ve still got the afternoon to get things done before hitting the sack at 7:30PM. Plus, I love my job!! It’s TOTALLY fun and extremely low stress and I’ve already almost completely taken over the breakfast line, so I sort of get to be in charge–something I highly enjoy. After service, which starts at 6:30AM and ends around 11:30AM, I go into the bakeshop and bang out bread production, or depending on how busy we are, head over to the pasty department and help them out with plated desserts for dinner. There’s so much to learn!

Bouchon means “bistro” in French. I’m sure you’ve all got a general idea of what a bistro is–casual great food, European style–but did you know that the first bistros were coal distributors? In the Olden Days, a bistro was a comfortable, busy, community harbor where you went to get your coal for the week, have a glass of wine, and catch up on local gossip. Eventually the bistros started offering small food items too, and as more advanced forms of heating developed, the coal-selling died out. The origin of the bistro has a lot to do with the ambiance and architecture of these restaurants today. Most of them are loud, upbeat, cozy places where you can go and feel comfortable and casual and eat great food at the same time! Adam Tihany designed both of TK’s Bouchons, so you can get a feel for what they’re like inside (this link shows pictures of the Bouchon in Yountville, Bouchon Las Vegas has blue velvet seating and is five times larger…).

Well, it’s past my bedtime, so I’m signing out for the night. New on
Lifestyles of The Poor and Aspiring
A live guided tour of my new apartment.

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