What’s your ‘Knockers’ story?

Knockers on 32 is my favorite story from my adventures in the kitchen.  I have so many others but this one stuck with me in the most vivid fashion.

What is your ‘knockers’ story? The one that is the first story you tell when you get around a group of chefs or restaurant people telling war stories?

Share it with us – we will be sure to give you credit (if you want it) and add it to our series. Just click “knockers on 32” on the header and you’ll find a submission form there 🙂

Or, just tag it #knockerson32 and add it to the collection!

Knockers on 32

From our sister-tumblr KitchenWisdom Knockers on 32

Someday I am going to write a book about all of the things I’ve seen happen over my career.  The name is going to be “Knockers on 32” because this story is always the first one I tell when someone asks me for a crazy kitchen story.

“I was working in a restaurant that had a semi-open kitchen.  By that I mean that you could see approximately one high top table in the bar if you were on the line, but you could see the whole bar from the expo station.  You also got to see all of the people traipsing up and down the stairs into the dining room.

One night, it was kind of slow, and one of our managers was on expo. This guy was always good for a laugh, and was super even tempered, so everyone relaxed when he was in the kitchen for the night.  We were just kind of hanging out, when he starts talking about the one table we could all see, table 32.

First thing he says is “have you washed your hands lately? I think you should wash your hands. There’s no soap back there, come over here.”

That’s code for, “if you don’t have a clear view of 32, come see.”

He proceeds to go on and on about this woman’s chest, how it is so big that they’re resting on the table and how the table must be getting tired from all of that weight, when one of the other managers, who had been downstairs doing some paperwork (and also happens to be this guy’s wife) comes up the stairs to hear the end of the description.  (Now, it should be noted, that she also has a great sense of humor, so no one was worried.)  She just comes up around the corner, takes a discreet glance into the diningroom like she does every night before leaving and turns her back to go out the back door.

When she hits the door, hand on the knob, she turns back to us all and just says, as if it was a daily thing, “right.  Knockers on 32, heard” and walked out the door.

I don’t think we stopped laughing until the ticket machine finally started grinding away.“

I’ll always remember that moment though.

Knockers on 32, heard.

Touch.

Chefs have a reputation for not having any feeling left in their fingers.

That’s not nearly accurate.

It’s true in a way: my temperature sensitivity is minimal.  Unless it’s REALLY HOT (or cold) I typically am not phased.

My sensitivity and awareness to/of other things, though, is probably much higher than you could imagine.  My fingers, they are full of feels.  In the literal and figurative senses of the word.  What my fingers feel is directly connected to what my heart feels.

Salt – this is the most distinct and intense of the spices for me.  Kosher salt, specifically.  The way the crystals stick in your fingerprint.  How gritty it feels.  The way it doesn’t slide but grinds across itself, sprinkles out of your fingertips at the edge of the pressure.  When you shake your wrist just so, and make your thumb do those little circles so that the coat is even on whatever you’re salting…  it’s the only crystalline thing in your seasoning setup and so it is completely unique. Identifiable with your eyes closed.  My heart skips every time I pick it up in my fingertips because I know it is the start of something new.  Something delicious.

Pepper is almost as distinct as salt.  Fresh… somewhere between cracked and ground.  Not powder.  Just a few remaining ‘big’ pieces… half peppercorns that snuck through the blades of the grinder between pulses.  Pepper is entirely different from salt.  Softer.  Round edges.  It’s not sticky like the salt.  You have to be more careful with it.  It will fall out of your fingertips in clumps if you try to hold too much at once.  I know it, but i know it like the voice of a highschool acquaintance.  Familiar, but I don’t really like it on it’s own.

When you mix the salt and pepper together you get this kind of heavenly concoction.  Like your best friends all in one room.  The perfect mix of sticky and slippery, loud and soft,  it has a little bit of float but doesn’t blow in the draft from the hoods like the solo pepper would.  It is easy to get a nice even coating.

Crushed pepper flakes, powdered spices, crushed pods and ground twig-like things, chopped herbs and whole spices.  Texture and consistency of sauces, a good stock from a weak one… These are all things my fingers can feel and distinguish from one another.  They all have specific qualities that make them identifiable without having to look at them.  All facilitated by my fingers.

So you see, my fingers, they have a lot of feeling.  They know a great many things.  They may not know heat or cold, but they know a great many things.