Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.
One of the oldest marriages in the kitchen was cultivated right on the line--sex and food. They've withstood the test of time through recessions, trends, competition, and untimely closings. Tantilizing flavors, unique and creative pairings, skill and technique served with a glass of wine equates one sensual experience. And that's just in the dining room, imagine what transpires behind the line forming these creations.
Recipe for kitchen romance: one part close quarters with two parts passion and drive add a shared affinity for your life's work. Watch as it comes to a simmer.
The alarm went off but it was still dark. I slowly made my way into the dark kitchen, a little frightful but energized for the big day. A wine dinner all my own! On the menu coffee braised short ribs with an olive oil thyme cake. Having beaten the delivery, I happily went to work on the cake.
The regular oil we used on the line would not do. The secret stash of gold from Italy was the only thing suitable for this moment. I cracked open the bottle and my senses danced from the fruity aroma. And as I poured the light colored richness a little drizzle graced my palm which I gladly brought up to the tip of my tongue. The pungent flavor jolted my mouth. Now I was awake. The woody flavor of thyme and brightness from fresh lemon zest beautifully lightened the rich cake. I savored my solitude as I dipped my pinky in the batter and brought the creamy thickness to my mouth, closing my eyes to take in the flavor.
As I ran my tongue along my lips for another taste of the sweet cream, my moment was interrupted by the delivery with Chef right behind it.
"Morning," with his eyes puffy and bed hair. I hadn't expected him so early.
"Morning," I suspiciously greeted him.
"Don't worry about the rest of the delivery just get to work on the dinner," he could've called or texted me that info. "What? I was up and kind of done being at home so I thought I'd come into help out," I guess he caught on to my suspicions.
Searching through all the boxes for the ribs, it felt like Christmas morning. Noticing the batter on the counter Chef didn't hesitate to dip his fingers in. No words, he raised an eyebrow and nodded. We freed ourselves of the cake and moved onto the main event.
Our excitement got the better of us and we ripped open the box throwing pieces of cardboard everywhere. Finally, the so deeply red it was almost brown colored flesh was in front of us. We both hesitated a moment...
Then continued the frenzy. The large, thick hunks of beef just needed a slight trimming. I picked up my knife.
"Wait, wait," Chef said,"I got what you need." He threw his bag on the counter but slowly unzipped it. He gently reached in and pulled out his 14 inch steel. Sharp, shiny, and long, he thrusted his tool into the flesh. It gave way as he carefully slid the knife thru. Hands covered with raw juice, we readied the meat for cooking.
Chef brought a rondeau to a smokey heat and seared the beef. He stepped back and let me domineer with my sauce that I had been teasing him with. Bacon, onions, chili sauce, coffee, jalapenos, apple juice, elements and flavors that made him twitch and wonder with every addition.
Later that evening...
He pulled the large pan out of the oven and ripped back the foil. On a clean cutting board, I rested a hot rib with its juices running. As Chef placed his knife on the meat, it crumbled under the knife's weight. He moaned at the sight and didn't hesitate any longer. After hours of anticipation we indulged. There were no words, it was exactly as I imagined. Sweet, spicy with a bold flavor and tender texture.
And now the climax of the day's event--feeding the masses. Cutting, plating, garnishing, then out the door. Cutting, plating, garnishing, out, cutting, plating, garnishing, out--quick, hard motions, in sync rhythm.
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Chef would normally leave me in the kitchen as he took his victory lap but not this time. We mingled and showed off his protege. Between the compliments and name dropping the room became hot and I escaped to the freezer for a breathe.
I sat on a cold shelf, sweat dripping down my body. The door suddenly opened. The dim light in the dark showed only Chef's figure. He grabbed me close and