Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Portrait of a Line Cook, Franco Gonzalez

"My name is Fran." 

Franco didn't understand the male/female variation of his name translated into english. 

"Your name in english is Frank, Franco."

Head shaking no.

"No, my name is Fran."

Me shaking my head no.  This was a common discussion between the two of us while we worked together.  He was a helluva fish cook.  He also made a mean staff meal... always when staff meal had already been done with for hours.  Usually behind your back.  Sneaky, fast and proud, I always found Franco fun to work with (when we weren't tormenting the living beejeezus outta each other).

He was a native of Pueblo and his entire family worked at the factory in town, a factory which made parts for Volkswagen.  My old boss, James, sold him his old VW Golf, and even though Franco couldn't drive manual, happily stalled it to and fro, proud to be able to have a car his family may have well produced.  Almost every cook I've ever met from Pueblo has been a incredible cook.  They just get it.  They can wring flavor outta just about anything given a second to think about it.


Every once in a while Fran/Frank/Franco would show me some random kitchen catalogue and ask me if something was, "a good price".  He was piece-mealing his dream of opening a taquería back home, and small fryers, flat tops and butane stoves were his obsession at the time.  A good dream if you ask me, I still want my own place.  Heck, I wouldn't mind owning a taquería.  Mexican food kicks ass.

We had our differences at times and he was known for pulling the occasional prank.  I was butchering beef tenderloins for a party when he decided to drop a sixth pan of ice water down my back.

I hit him with a tenderloin.

Then I grabbed my own pan of water and chased him through the kitchen.  

He was too quick for the second part of my revenge.  Lucky for him.  I miss Fran.

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