Touring Italy, eating pasta…. Old story; new recipe
I was installing a computerized ordering system in the old Nankin, downtown Minneapolis. (It’s no longer there, so I can name names….)
This was a classic Chinese restaurant: high vaulted ceilings; the walls a vivid red with gold trim; pagodas, gold lions, and dragons lurking everywhere. There was a balcony at one end with a wide staircase, wood banisters and railings.
And, at this time it was owned by a group of Jewish guys which I (and they) thought rather hilarious – much longer story.
I spent a lot of time there, just being ‘on call’ so I was given the cook’s tour. Underneath the restaurant was a cavernous maze of store rooms and prep rooms that covered at least a city block… much larger than the restaurant. There were rooms for growing mushrooms and rooms for chopping celery; rooms for cooking rice and rooms for butchering chickens. It was a dark, dank and scary place.
The restaurant sat well over 100 people and during the lunch hour, tables were ‘turned’ every 20 minutes, with 4 – 5 seatings per table. It was busier at night, well past the usual Minneapolis closing time of 10:00pm. There was a bar on one side that was equally popular.
In the kitchen was one long wall filled with huge woks over open flames; each with it’s own cook.
There was a head chef overseeing all.
It was at best controlled chaos with everyone shouting in English and Chinese; food being slammed on counters, flipped out of the woks; plates and people everywhere…. Also a scary place.
The system I installed had terminals at all of the server stations where orders were entered. The orders were printed out at the appropriate station in the kitchen. ( I know, they’re everywhere now, but this was one of the first) The servers’ union didn’t like the idea of “all this computer stuff”. Some of the people were convinced that the Nankin owners were trying to become more efficient (huh?) and, perhaps, eliminate some staff.
About 4 days into the installation, everything seemed to be going smoothly.
One of the owners and I stepped into the kitchen.
The head chef took one look at us, grabbed his cleaver and started running.
He ignored Joel; only had eyes for me; very scary, glassy eyes. I took off, wrongly thinking Joel would stop him.
He didn’t. (Surely he wasn’t standing there laughing….)
I ran through the restaurant, weaving between the tables; up and around the balcony; through the bar, shoving customers out of my way; back through the restaurant and, finally, out into the parking lot.
Right on my heels me was this angry, crazy guy waving his cleaver and cursing at me in Chinese.
Finally some of the staff realized that, just maybe, I could use some help, and tackled him.
Two of the servers had decided to sabotage the new system.
The most expensive item on the menu was Lobster Lo Mein. Every 15 minutes, one of them ordered it.
By the time we had, innocently, walked into the kitchen there were 9 Lobster Lo Mein’s sitting on the counter which no server would acknowledge.
The chef’s costs were going to hell in a hand basket and it HAD to be the computer’s fault; therefore, my fault because it was my computer.
I’ve always had great respect for cleavers.
And I still love Chinese food.
I miss the Nankin….
And Chinese Chicken Wings…. Really miss those.
This will do, however….
The recipe, Barbecued Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce, has been updated and re-posted here: Barbecued Chicken with Barbecue Sauce.
I love this barbecue sauce… but spice it up with hot sauce if you like more heat.