First-Person Shooter: A Fish-Filled Friday at Diner Restaurant in Brooklyn

For this week's installment of First-Person Shooter, we gave a camera to Jay Wolman, the lead line cook of Brooklyn's Diner and Marlow & Sons restaurants—two local favorites in South Williamsburg.

by Julian Master
Mar 19 2016, 1:00pm

Welcome back to First-Person Shooter, a photo series that offers a brief vantage into the world of compelling and strange individuals. Each Friday, we give two disposable cameras to one person to document a night of their life.

For this week's installment, we gave a camera to Jay Wolman, the lead line cook of Brooklyn's Diner and Marlow & Sons restaurants—two local favorites in South Williamsburg. Diner changes its course offerings every night and posts its current fare online each day via scans of the handwritten menus the staff makes. Recent dank eats include pork shoulder and squid carpaccio, though the burger they regularly serve is particularly orgasmic. After Jay burnt through two rolls of film, we followed up with him to discuss what went down on the Friday night he snapped photos.

VICE: Can you tell me about what your schedule's like on an average Friday at Diner?
Jay Wolman: Typical Friday shifts begin for me at 1 PM. I'm a person of routine. On my way to work, I generally walk from my apartment and people watch. In particular, I like to watch the fools that stand in long lines outside of the Bagel Shop on Bedford every day (as captured in the photos I took). Never understood that one, they are such mediocre bagels.

Work begins with a meeting between the cooking team to discuss the menu. Every day the cooking team makes a new menu, and we make adjustments and changes from the previous night. The cooks write down their own personal menus of what they'll be focusing on, and then set a list of to do's that are required from each of us to get stuff done. Then we roll from there.

From 2 to 5 PM, my time is spent preparing for the dishes I'll be cooking that evening. The time goes by quickly and you have to work with precision and purpose. Service begins at 6 and goes on until 1 AM. You never really know when it's gonna get crazy, but the restaurant is usually at its busiest on Fridays at 9.

Who do you work with on Fridays?
I work with the same few people essentially every day. It's like working with your siblings. You love them, but they also drive you fucking nuts. It's a unit and you have to work together. It gets hot, it gets busy, it gets ugly sometimes. I love what I do, though.

There are some dead fish in one of the photos. What did you use them for?
We sold black bass on the Friday night I took photos. I was cooking them whole, just with the heads removed. Sometimes we save the bones to make fish stocks. But this time around, the heads just ended up in a big bucket.

This ended up being a busy night for the pork chop. It was marinated in cider vinegar and hot sauce. It came with some nicely roasted sweet potatoes and a buttermilk dressing. Southern vibes.

How did you spend the night and following morning after work?
I don't go out after work that often, but this night I met up with a group of friends I've been close with for the last 15 years. It's special to have my middle school friends up here living near me, so we try to get together often. I met up with them at a local bar, and immediately wanted a change of scenery. So we went out for shitty Chinese food at 3 AM. The next morning is always considered an extension of the night and the same group of friends met up at our local Greek diner. The food sorta sucks, but we've made it our ritual. We like the omelettes.

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