Last weekend I did one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life - I spent 2 hours flipping burgers at a very busy beach cafeteria.
I know a lot about burgers. However, I don't know a lot about making burgers. Given the time and space I've been know to make a mean, tasty patty in my great-grandmother's 100 year-old skillet. Making burgers for waiting, hungry, PAYING, customers was an experience that was foreign to me, until last Sunday.
The beach club on Long Island, NY that I've been going to since I was born has a very efficient short-order kitchen that can serve over 400 lunches a day, mostly hot dogs, fries, sandwiches, and burgers. The burgers on the menu are frozen so I agreed to a lunchtime shift on the griddle making burgers from fresh-ground 80/20 chuck. Mostly I wanted to see if the patrons at the beach could tell the difference between frozen and fresh. I chose the scoop-and-smash method popular at most burger spots across America and threw in the onion-fried burger from Oklahoma for good measure.
For those that have run a short-order griddle I have all new respect. My hamburger heroes across America that spend hours, day after day, year after year, doing what I did for 2 hours are true martyrs. It's hot, loud (exaust fan), and greasy. At one point I was behind by 27 burger orders but still moving as fast as I could. By the end of my shift I had sent 120 burgers out to waiting patrons that were thankfully impressed. I was wiped out.
Here's to my first and last trip to a working griddle. A lesson learned, not to be taken lightly.