Food is messy. A few lines down on the job description of any food service professional (Chef, cook, grillardin, patissier, baker, etc,) is an item that is often overlooked; Create mountains of dirty pots and spills the size of the Deep Water Horizon oil disaster. Let’s use a story about eggs as an example. Why? Because most of us have probably fumbled one and seen it drop in agonizingly slow motion knowing that it was going to hit with a splat on the kitchen floor.
There once was a young man much like this writer only about 30 years younger. At the time the only thing he was sure of was that surfing was extremely important and if you worked in restaurants you could eat for free. He was employed in an Omelette house. coincidentally the same Omelette house his future wife worked in. But let’s stick to the egg story. With a tranquil and blissful demeanor caused by being submerged in seawater for hours along the California coast our cook would show up for work in the afternoon and put on an apron. Part of his job was to pre-crack the eggs for the next days business. Let’s get past the fact that someone is cracking raw eggs 18 hours before they will be cooked. This was 1975 and the institution in mind is long since bankrupt. Our food service professional obediently set up five cases of eggs on the floor next to him, each case containing 30 dozen of the little cackle-berries. He began cracking them and lining them up on trays in plastic cups. Each time a tray was full he would carefully pick it up and set it in a stack of egg-cup-trays on the floor of the walk-in refrigerator. He enjoyed the challenge of balancing the thin plastic tray on one hand while opening the heavy walk-in door with the other. Of course he fumbled a few eggs as he worked. Who wouldn’t while handling 1800 individual smooth, delicate objects. He kept a rag or two at his feet and nudged it with his dirty shoe over the broken shells and slime to try and contain spreading goo. Inevitably the floor became slippery. He found crossing the slick floor with a egg laden tray in one hand even more challenging. By and by he managed to get the entire five cases of pre-cracked eggs safely stacked on the floor of the walk-in. The stack was about waist high, a little taller than normal because the following morning was the busiest day of the year, mothers day. As he exited the cooler and let the door close he was proud of his job and considering his next task. Unfortunately as he lifted his leg out of the way of the spring loaded cooler door the toe of his left foot clipped one cup at the bottom of the stack of egg-cup-trays. Like a slow motion movie in which a parking garage is leveled by dynamite the tower of eggs began to fall. Quickly calculating that the liquid volume of eggs exceeded the capacity of the refrigerator floor he slammed the door shut. There was a brief moment where he felt obligated to begin a large scale clean-up operation, but it passed. He looked around the kitchen wondering if there was a witness then casually moved on to the next order of business, pre-cooking fifty pounds of slimy bacon.