Taste Testing

Posted by Avalon D
Feature image by LoboStudioHamburg

The Dream

Ever since I was little, I wanted to be an amazing chef who owned and managed a restaurant. My oldest cousin Jordan and his fiancé Jamie attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York City, and now own and operate their own restaurant called Deru Market in a small suburb of Seattle. Last winter, they convinced my parents into letting me fly to Seattle with Jordan’s Sister, Hannah, after school was out. They knew how much I enjoyed being in the kitchen so they invited me to spend a week with them cooking, baking, and learning the ropes of the culinary field. This seemed like a great opportunity to test out a possible profession that I may want to go into.

I couldn’t wait to be doing what I love in a real kitchen, truly learning from the best. Time seemed to drag on, but winter soon melted into spring and my excitement grew like the daffodils in our front yard.

Preparation

All winter I forced myself to babysit for families at my church whose kids made me want to pull my hair out and scream. It was torturous and almost not worth it for the amount of money I was making, but when I finally made enough for a round trip plane ticket, I suddenly found that I was much too busy to babysit annoying five year olds.

The night before our flight, I sat on Hannah’s bed watching her pack. Her suitcase was enormous as if she were going out of the country for weeks on end.

She began stuffing shoes in the already overflowing bag saying to herself, “You never know what you’re going to need,” giving a big shove with all her weight trying to push down the many garments. I was wondering why she packed heels when we would be working long hours on our feet, but I refrained.

The Airport

When the morning of our flight finally arrived, we woke up early to make it to the airport on time. It was loud, bustling, and crowded. People of all different nationalities young and old were wheeling suitcases, carrying backpacks, and sipping on Starbucks coffee running on little sleep. Once my dad dropped us off, I realized Hannah didn’t quite seem to know what she was doing. Clueless, but excited, we managed to make it on the plane with just minutes to spare.

When we landed at the Seattle airport, we quickly found our lugged and rounded the corner to see the chefs wearing big smiles and open arms.

Pike Place  Market

On the first day, we walked around the famous Pikes Market. The cool breeze off the bay smelled like the salty sea and the vibrant colors of fresh flowers and fruits were being sold and bought by the constant flow of people. Street musicians played happy, upbeat rhythms and drew crowds of impressed onlookers. Behind tables of highly packed ice, scruffy looking men shouted and sang while tossing huge, strange looking fish back and forth while they filled customers orders.

For lunch we sat on a hill overlooking the bay eating  freshly baked Italian bread, soft cheeses, juicy red raspberries and sparking water. By the end of the sightseeing day, I was totally exhausted but couldn’t wait to start work the following morning.

Deru

We arrived at Deru around 6:30 to prepare for the busy day ahead and suited up with chef coats, aprons, side towels and kitchen clogs. Making pizza dough was first on the agenda of many, so we washed up and started kneading while Jordan started the fire for the oven.

Hannah and I scooped and froze over a thousand cookies for the weeks ahead. My wrist ached with every scoop, chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal glaze, and white chocolate cranberry. On top of serving customers and preparing food for catering events, we baked fruit hand pies, cakes, breads, and scones, chopped vegetables, assemble salads, fillet salmon and the list goes on.

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Deru was always busy, the bell above the door sounded continuously. The heavenly scent of freshly baked bread, warm cookies, and sweet scones filled the air causing customers to leave with bags of goodies and big contagious smiles. While Jamie ran the cash register, orders stacked up on the side table. Jordan tossed up dough, quickly twirling it above his head, and minutes later it was in the wood fired oven with a dozen other pizzas and sandwiches almost ready to be delivered.

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Growing by the Minute

Deru is a local, all organic, neighborhood eatery that had only been open for a year but was already so successful. With only four employees they were able to run the Market Tuesday through Saturday and cater weddings and social gatherings.

The building consisted of a deli case with a cash register and glass doors leading into a big kitchen. Since then, Deru has grown in every aspect. A huge remodel was done that added a sitting area and a full bar to the restaurant. The team now consists of twenty-one talented staff members who do a great job in making Deru what it is today.

Work Work Work

By the time the week was over, Hannah had only worn one fourth of the clothes in the suitcase and one fifth of her shoes!

I learned so much from Jordan and Jamie while working in a real kitchen setting, getting a feel for what its like to be a chef.

One of the many things I have learned from them is that being an owner of a business is a lot of work and standing on your feet for fifteen hours a day does not feel good. But the only reason we do it is for pure passion, for the love of it and the joy it fill us with. It requires strength, determination, commitment, and little sleep.

My Career

Because of my experience at Deru, I was inspired to try out for the culinary team at the high school to hopefully further my skills in the cooking field. I made it on the team and have loved the challenges it continues to bring me.

I am still indecisive about what I want to do career wise, but I know that whatever I decide to pursue I will always have cooking to fall back on. Meanwhile, I found some nicer kids to babysit to earn money for next summer’s trip!

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