I’m Lucie Fink, I’m a video producer at Refinery29, but every so often, I like to try other people’s jobs. Today, I’m in Greenwich Village at Nix, to see if I have what it takes to be a Michelin star chef. This is When my viewers first asked me to try becoming a chef for the day, I knew that to really make things interesting, I needed to go above and beyond. So, why learn how to become a chef just anywhere, when I could instead get myself into the kitchen of Michelin star restaurant and learn from the best. Receiving a Michelin star is an honor. It’s a stamp of fine dining quality and exceptional cuisine. I visited Nix, a vegetarian restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village that, believe it or not, is the only veggie restaurant in the US with a Michelin star. I met with the sous chef, Jamie, to learn more about the restaurant’s philosophy, and also, the career path to becoming a chef. The fact that we’re vegetable-driven is very exciting, because we can buy and highlight what’s in season. You don’t need to have fancy wagyu beef, or caviar, all of these things that people associate with fine dining, like, you don’t need that. You can cook vegetables, and you can cook them super well, and still give the guests an awesome experience. As a sous chef, you can expect to make, salary-wise, anywhere from $35,000 to maybe $50,000, but that’s on the higher end. Lot of work for a little bit of money, but if it’s your passion, you just do it. My first challenge of the day was learning. Before I could even set foot in the kitchen, I needed a quick crash course in produce. Jamie and I took a quick walk to the Union Square Green Market, the year-round outdoor market where she and her fellow chefs often come to support local farms. This time of year is the best time to come to the market. Everything’s fresh, everything’s seasonal. Corn is in season, we use corn in our one kale salad. We have a cold melon soup on the lunch menu. Spring/summer, you start getting a lot of leafy green vegetables. How do you tell if a tomato is good? Firm skin, firm flesh, but not too firm. Flavor-wise, whenever we create something we try and hit all of those notes on your tongue, so we’re looking for salty, we’re looking for sweet, we’re looking for sour, we’re looking for, essentially, umami, all of those different flavors at once. My second challenge was prep work. Jamie gave me a chef’s apron of my own. And just like that, I was part of the kitchen crew. Is this the kind of place where I have to say, “Yes, Chef!” Yes. Okay. An order came in from the dining room. Ribbons of jicama, eggplant dip, and tandoor bread. We washed our hands and began the prepping process. So we’ll grab a cutting board and we’ll get to work. The ribbons of jicama dish is mostly raw with the exception of some fried shallots. We have our heat element, we have the sweet element, we have acid. And keeping these veggies raw are gonna give a nice texture. Jamie taught me some expert knife work. That is a big knife. Ahh! You’re holding your knife wrong. Oh, gosh! It’s more of, like, a slicing motion that you’re pulling the knife towards you. Yes, beautiful. And we’re creating flags, if you will. How are my flags? Perfect. You’re hired. I got the job. You want to be fast and efficient, but you also want to maintain your knife cuts and make sure that everything is nice and consistent as well. We then sliced the Fresno peppers. You did great on this challenge, look at these. Perfect. Chopped the red onion. My little guys! And supremed the blood oranges. We remove the flesh, and then we’re just taking out each individual segment of the orange. Look! That’s my cut. Then, it was on to the jicama. And this is one of those vegetables that I was unfamiliar with until I started working here. Yeah. Kind of opened my eyes to a lot of veggies I’ve never experienced before. Jicama is a root vegetable that Jamie described as a cross between an apple and a water chestnut. We cleaned up the outside, and then using a ribboning machine, created long, fresh ribbons. And crank it! Oh no! Jicama down! There we go. Now she’s got it. Okay. Now she lost it. But we did get some beautiful ribbons. Nice! The eggplant dip prep involved stabbing the eggplant to prep it for the blitzing process. So we do this so that when it’s on the oven, it doesn’t explode. It gives the steam a chance to escape. That’s it for the prep work, and now it’s time to do some cooking and assemble our final products here. My third challenge was cooking. One of the most important characteristics to have, personality-wise, working in a kitchen, is being resilient. You work with a lot of different personalities, you’re constantly under high stress, and it’s a very fast-paced environment. Thankfully, Jamie was very kind to me, and I wasn’t yelled at on the line, but I did realize how quickly things need to move in the kitchen in order to keep things flowing. This is like, as real as it gets, like, everything’s happening at once. For the ribbons of jicama dish, all that needed to be cooked were the shallots. Light dusting in the flour, and then we’ll go right into the fryer. Jamie taught me how to fry them. Any time we work with a fryer, it’s hot. You want to go away from your body, just in case if it happens to splatter. And then left me on my own to fry the second batch. Away from your body, into the oil. There was a little bit of a plop. And if I thought that process was dangerous, I had no idea what was coming for me. We placed the eggplants on a rack above the 700-degree tandoor oven, and let them blitz. Keep rotating, and we’re looking until they get soft. Once they were done, we quickly removed them. Eggplant down. It’s okay. I’m so sorry. Let them cool, and scraped them. So now we’ll do that about 200 more times. Afterwards, we went downstairs to make the dip. Moving around in an active kitchen can be very dangerous. I learned that you need to shout when you’re coming around a corner, or going up and down the stairs, to announce yourself. Corner. Going up. Corner. Going down! Down! With the giant mixing machine, we mixed our charred eggplant with all the veggies we chopped, some roasted pine nuts, Looks a little like cake batter. raisins, and more. Red wine vinegar, add some salt, and we’ll just let that go until everything is incorporated. And then it was time for the real test. The most dangerous part of the day: making bread in the tandoor oven. I have to say, I’m really nervous for this
part. The kitchen can be a remarkably threatening place. If you’re not careful, or you don’t follow proper directions, you can get seriously injured. So I have some pretty gnarly scars here, these are some battle wounds. These are from the tandoor oven. The oven runs about 700-800 degrees, so pretty hot. Pretty intense. The first time I ever worked that station, I singed my eyebrows off. The top is hot, inside is hot, just be very… The air is hot. Jamie’s colleagues had already prepped the dough for us, so we began by activating it. We turned it upside down onto a little pillow, spritzed it with water so that it would stick to the oven. And we’re ready to go into the oven. And then she showed me the technique for reaching your arm into the 700-degree oven and sticking the bread to the outside wall. I’m absolutely terrified of what you just did. I believe in you. I had never been more nervous to do anything on a Lucie for Hire episode before. I’ve now put my hand just above it, and it is threatening. I thought I would burn my arm, lose my eyebrows, you name it. Gotta conquer your fear, you just gotta go for it. Okay. But I removed my rings, took a deep breath… In and out, in and out, real quick. One, two… And just went for it. Okay, almost. Kinda got it. Okay, so my technique needed some work, but with a little follow up push from Jamie, my bread stuck to the wall and cooked nicely. So now, you’re gonna remove it, so you’re gonna take… This is the easy part, the hardest part is putting the bread in. Okay. Using a hook and scraper, I went in to remove my bread, but of course, had a minor mishap and a brief moment of panic. Got it! You caught it? Wait, I need you to take this! I got it. And I put it on a plate. There you go, you did it. Oh, my gosh. But when all was said and done, my tandoor bread came out beautifully. Still got your arm hairs, still got your eyebrows. Yeah, got all hair, right? Good, good! Woo! My final challenge was plating. When I think about Michelin star restaurants, the first thing that comes to my mind is the plating. That beautiful, artistic arrangement of food that really sets one restaurant apart from another. We plated up the bread and eggplant dip, and then moved on to the big ticket item: the ribbons of jicama. This dish is magnificently arranged in such a way that the jicama stands upright. And the whole key here is, we want it to stand up, to look beautiful, and this is like, the tedious part. Creating these beautiful ribboned walls on the plate. The additional items are then slowly, one at a time, very deliberately placed on the plate. And that’s it, that’s our ribbons of jicama plated up. The edge of the dish is wiped off for an impeccable presentation, and then, the dish is served. Order up. Kitchens used to be very intense in that sense where it was like, a male-driven, like, bro club, but I think finally the industry has progressed forward from that, where now you’re realizing that, hey, it’s nice to be nice. You can accomplish the same results, not necessarily screaming at someone the whole time. Okay, so we were actually the ones who put in this food order, but now, it was time to eat it. It’ll taste even better, because you made it. I know! We sat down together, and enjoyed the fruits, and vegetables of our labor. Can I double dip? Go right ahead. We’re friends now. We are. Overall, for your first time, great. Your knife skills are there, just a little bit more practice, just a little improvement on the bread, honestly. But again, that takes practice, and just conquering your fear of sticking your arm in a hot-ass oven, you know? This was a long, hot, fast-paced, and slightly dangerous day for me. But by the end, I felt accomplished, and very proud of the work we’d done. This is really amazing. Delicious. At the end of the day, a Michelin star chef is doing a job pretty similar to mine as a video producer. They’re making art, creating something visual that’s going to draw people in. The major difference is that this working environment is a little more chaotic than mine. Let me know what jobs you want to see me try next time, and we’ll see you then, on Lucie for Hire. Hey, YouTube! Thanks for watching this video. Click here to watch another video on Refinery29’s YouTube channel, here to subscribe to us and join our family, and here for my personal YouTube channel. See ya!