While I didn't learn anything about technique, I learned about speed and efficiency. I learned how to decode the various bits of information that you're receiving from the head chef, the kitchen instructor, the student chef, the sous chef and then from your own common sense (and they're all coming at you at the same time) and applying them all to your task at hand. After all, you have to make everyone happy. Combating with (which is really submitting to) a brilliant and temperamental Austrian pastry chef that lived through WWII and her equally temperamental 20-quart Hobart. I learned how to keep my temper under wraps when the servers fire their desserts three consecutive times, an hour before their entree even leaves the line. Only for them to come back to you and say, "they're not ready for their desserts." And it's ok to reply, "tough shit."
I learned that shit can hit the fan quickly and often, if you're not on your toes or can't think quickly on your feet. Always assume 'Plan A' will not go accordingly, especially when you need it desperately. "Thank you walk-in for going down during my final, I much appreciate it." I learned that if you create allies, they'll want you to succeed as much as you do. Even when you're yelling at each other. They'll also stress, put in as much thought, put in as much footwork and elbow grease as you do. Thank you Damien and Phil. And loan you money, thank you Santana.
And the things I already miss and will miss the most are: Temperamental Austrian pastry chefs and their temperamental Hobarts, the yelling and shouting, the extreme sport of multi-tasking like you've never multi-tasked before, the heat from the line, the marathon speed and efficiency, the marathon feeling of relief after it's over, the drinking, the making of eight bacon wrapped meatloaves that came to the kitchen instructor in a dream and...the camaraderie.
Here's to 2012 and 2013. In the words of me when I came into work at 7 am and before I had my coffee, "I hate all of you."