Woke up bright and early on the first day. I was nervous (had been for days) and really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I got ready and took the short walk to meet “my handler” at the Bouchon Bakery at 8:00. Just as I crossed the street my phone rang. Perfect timing! We grabbed something to eat and some coffee and then sat down at the famous zinc bar in the restaurant to talk about things. I have to say he immediately put me at ease as we discussed the schedule though now I wasn’t going to meet the chef until the end of the day so that was still hanging over my head.
He took me on a quick tour of the Bouchon kitchen explaining things as we went. I picked up my first cooking tip as I saw a cook using a nice squirt bottle to hit some mushrooms with some oil. Much better than what I usually do with my olive oil bottle! We stopped in cold storage which was a revelation. Everything arranged perfectly! I’d never seen chickens trussed like that before. All kinds of prep plus house made charcuteries aging in the back. Amazing! Then we had a quick tour through the bakery. The bakery had a much quieter vibe than in the Bouchon kitchen and that kitchen wasn’t even in full swing yet. We then wound our way up the street and went through the kitchen of TFL. We only buzzed through but it was clear that there was a very different system of garde management and then I saw a guy painstakingly trimming an oyster with a small pair of scissors. Wow! We spent a few minutes chatting with some of the chefs as they were tying up the foie torchons and I have to say everybody was extremely welcoming. Cool start to my kitchen experience.
Then we went out the side door and across the street to the garden. Now we do have a garden in our backyard and I do enjoy getting out there but I will admit I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of the garden experience. Boy was I wrong! We took a quick tour of the gardens and was happy I knew most of the plants (he seemed to be quizzing me 😉 ). I had seen the garden from the road before but seeing them up close was more than a bit interesting. Everything is perfect and incredibly regular. We went into the greenhouse and it was more of the same. Every flat that they had going was excessively consistent and thriving in a way I could only dream of. He then had me plant some trays for micro greens. I can’t believe how much I learned about how to prep the soil and plant the seeds. Next was some more detailed planting of lettuce and again I was amazed at how precise it all was. In the case of the lettuce pelleted seeds are used to ensure that only one seed is in each starter. I didn’t even know there was such a thing! Here’s some of my trays:
I got a ton of tips about soil management and where to get the best seeds. He even promised to give me a cutting of an edible succulent I was drooling over. We took a trip over to a local orchard that supplies some of the fruit they use, tasted some edible flowers including arugula(!) and then had a TFL staff lunch together outside with some of the gardeners. I couldn’t believe how welcoming and open he was with all he knew. He honestly wanted me to learn how to be a better gardener. I had a fantastic time and I hadn’t really even started in the kitchen yet!