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Old 01-03-2007, 09:51 PM   #1
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Who needs a stove, anyway??

I'm one of three executive chefs at one of New York's largest universities. There are three campuses, each of us ruling one. I am the prettiest, naturally, and quite possibly the most outspoken. That doesn't come without it's own set of setbacks, but that is quite the other topic, indeed.

For the amount of students, faculty and staff I serve, I have the largest kitchen. I have the most work space, and the most square footage of refrigeration, freezing, and storage space. I cannot understand the language of easily half my staff, but that, too, is quite the other topic. I've even got a working bakery down in the basement with a oven that is larger than my home kitchen, with seven shelves that rotate like a ferris wheel from a Hansel and Gretel nightmare. I've got a double level steamer, 2 30 gallon kettles, a swiss braiser, an impinger, 2 flat top grills, 2 fryers, a double oven and 2 free standing mixers. What I don't have is a stove. Well, I have a stove, but not in the conventional sense that you turn on the gas and then you proceed to cook on it.

No, my 6-burner stove looks like giant Tinker Toys now. Please permit me to paint a better picture. Last week, between christmas and new year, it's typically slow. Good time for kitchen work. On Thursday, the facilities engineer, the fire code dude, and assorted sundry worker types came to upgrade my fire prevention system. It's got whistles, bells, blinking lights and a funky white liquid that comes showering down in the event of a fire. (I thought I actually encouraged the fire, since I cook with it....). Then they all take a look at my stove/oven. Yes, it has an oven beneath the stove, but again, not in the convention sense that I can light it and bake a cake in it. Instead, we store a few pans in there that we like to keep warm for service. The oven hasn't worked since the same year Michael J. Fox's clocktower was stopped by lightening. It might actually have been the same strike that killed the little oven that could.... Anyway, it can't, any longer, and there really is no hope for resusitation.

Back to the stove top. Of the 6 burners, only two pilots light when you turn the knob. The other 4 will light, but only after you rub two sticks over it. (I should mention that while all the fire equipment work was being done, one of my cooks completely dismantled the stove for serious cleaning of individual pieces, hence the Tinker Toy observation) Only the shell was left. Now, the biggest problem with the stove/oven isn't so much that 80 per cent of it doesn't work or leaks gas, no, that doesn't seem to concern anyone other than myself. No, their problem is the small backwall and shelf that comes over half the stove top. It acts like an umbrella, preventing the funky white cancerous material from putting out any flames...(again, don't I want flames?????)

So, this circle of worker men and everyone else jockeying for position start rubbing their chins and scratching their heads, all saying the same thing. "That stove has to go". Oddly, I'd been saying the same thing since I got on that campus a year ago. Since all this is happening during a holiday, more or less, there really was no one above me to further this situation along. Yesterday was the first day someone could assess the situation. Naturally, I did my own assessing....the oven was last used by Martha Washington, normally you take your life into your own hands when you use the stove top, and currently, it was doing it's best impersonation of a pile of junk on the floor. That pretty much summed it up. What does my boss do...? He calls his boss. Another execise in futility, if you ask me. Unfortunately, all that being outspoken I mentioned earlier keeps some people from actually asking me some things.

Now more people are thumping their chests and waving their arms around and the brilliant solution is to simply cut the metal top off, making it 'up to code' for the fire dude to sign off on it. Somehow, they believe that if they do this (and they did it today, by the way. It looked like a bone saw trying to get a body in half, head to groin. The guy slicing it had fancy ear plugs, too...all we had was reverberating sound that could be heard in Long Island from the beautiful Hudson Valley), everything will be fine.

I'm left with an oven that never ovs. A stove that just went through surgery and seriously needs the Nip/Tuck guys to fix all the sharp edges left behind, and the works left all over the floor, just beckoning me to make a ferris wheel out of them. I always like making that ferris wheel....

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Old 01-03-2007, 10:14 PM   #2
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So, Vera, how were your holidays?
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Old 01-03-2007, 10:39 PM   #3
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the average business manager has no clue what goes on in a kitchen, and you are the beneficiary of his wisdom! Gawd bless you.
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Old 01-03-2007, 10:43 PM   #4
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lol, Andy!

I am/was in the same pickle. When I started at the job I am at now, the kitchen, and equipment, were a scant 30 years old. Fortunately, Percy, my A.M. Chef, has been there since day 1, and from what he tells me, even then, some of the equipment was bought second hand!? The parts I wanted to fix it, and get it up to code, were a mere $870, mind you that is 4 of the 6 burners, and the radiants. And this is for a commissary sized 6 burner.
The owners wanted NOTHING to do with it. Now, I have an all but useless hunk of steel sitting there just getting in the way of where I could have a brand new steam jacketed kettle or an industrial steamer or even a new fryolator. I guess there is always '08 to fulfill the wish list...and this does not even get into my antique grill, of which the parts(radiants) need to be re- manufactured from 35 year old molds....and I closed this year(past year) at 1.3million dollars in revenue. So much for the, "gotta spend money, to make money" philosophy.

Perhaps this should be moved to the venting thread...
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Old 01-04-2007, 03:46 AM   #5
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Hi VeraBlue. Call whoever is responsible for health and safety at your place, ostensibly to ask their advice over what to do about the sharp edges that have been left, given that you can't simply sheathe them in some kind of wadding, this being a kitchen and all, and that would create a further fire hazard. Tell them you can't be held responsible in case of an accident. Better still, if you're unionised, discreetly encourage one of your staff to call their health and safety rep. Plus, once you've made and (I'm afraid) dismantled your ferris wheel, you will of course be needing expert advice on how to dispose of the potentially hazardous material used to build the oven, won't you?

One of the problems with large organisations is that everyone specialises in a single issue. So whoever's resolving the potential fire hazard doesn't think about other hazards he/she's creating.

I once worked in a kitchen where the manager suddenly took it into his head to mop the floor at lunchtime. No signs up to warn people, everyone rushing around at the busiest time of day, wet floor... One girl slipped while holding a milk bottle, nigh on sliced her hand off at the wrist. The manager lost his job and she got compensation, though not enough, doubtless, given that this was in the UK many years ago. But the organisation also got some bad publicity. Bad all round.
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Old 01-04-2007, 05:02 AM   #6
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And MY pressing question is ...

... what exactly does an impinger impinge?
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Old 01-04-2007, 05:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayrton
And MY pressing question is ...

... what exactly does an impinger impinge?
pizza, of course.
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Old 01-04-2007, 05:49 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
So, Vera, how were your holidays?
Thank you for asking, my holidays were wonderful! I hope you enjoyed yours as well.
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Old 01-04-2007, 05:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoop Puss
Hi VeraBlue. Call whoever is responsible for health and safety at your place, ostensibly to ask their advice over what to do about the sharp edges that have been left, given that you can't simply sheathe them in some kind of wadding, this being a kitchen and all, and that would create a further fire hazard. Tell them you can't be held responsible in case of an accident. Better still, if you're unionised, discreetly encourage one of your staff to call their health and safety rep. Plus, once you've made and (I'm afraid) dismantled your ferris wheel, you will of course be needing expert advice on how to dispose of the potentially hazardous material used to build the oven, won't you?

One of the problems with large organisations is that everyone specialises in a single issue. So whoever's resolving the potential fire hazard doesn't think about other hazards he/she's creating.

I once worked in a kitchen where the manager suddenly took it into his head to mop the floor at lunchtime. No signs up to warn people, everyone rushing around at the busiest time of day, wet floor... One girl slipped while holding a milk bottle, nigh on sliced her hand off at the wrist. The manager lost his job and she got compensation, though not enough, doubtless, given that this was in the UK many years ago. But the organisation also got some bad publicity. Bad all round.
One of the reasons it's not been reassambled yet is because of the sharp edges. I can't actually wrap it in anything because dirt and mold can get trapped beneath the wrapping, making it necessary to remove it every day to clean. My staff is in a union but that kind of business (using one of them to make a point) has a way of getting back to a person, plus it just seems unethical to me.
As far as saying "I won't be responsible", I do that all the time when I suggest what I know to be the correct way to do something, anything...and it's ignored or implemented incorrectly.
Thanks for your suggestions.
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Old 01-04-2007, 05:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VeraBlue
pizza, of course.
Sigh, color me either thick or just confused, whichever you wish, but I remain baffled:

im·pinge /ɪmˈpɪndʒ/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[im-pinj] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation verb, -pinged, -ping·ing. –verb (used without object) 1.to make an impression; have an effect or impact (usually fol. by on or upon): to impinge upon the imagination; social pressures that impinge upon one's daily life. 2.to encroach; infringe (usually fol. by on or upon): to impinge on another's rights. 3.to strike; dash; collide (usually fol. by on, upon, or against): rays of light impinging on the eye. –verb (used with object) 4.Obsolete. to come into violent contact with.

What exactly does this item DO to the pizza?!
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