Tuesday, 26 July 2011

You Either Sink or Swim.....

-First hour into the Saturday service.  The first service on hot larder.

"It's ok big boy! Just keep moving!" My sous chef said. 

   He was on cold larder in case I sank. The head chef kept one eye on me while running the kitchen. The extruder fans meant nothing as my body heat was raising.

Don't forget to keep your burners down when your not using them. 

Ignore the burns on your arms from the oven door. 

It can hurt later. 

This is your time to shine. 

The front of house don't think you can handle it. 

Why the hell does the kitchen? 

Shit I burnt the scallops. 

      Four more scallops rested on the blue fish board, I seasoned them, oil in the pan, put them in. The scallops tensed as they touch the heat with a loud "Tsssssssssssssssss". 

That was a good sound. It is what they should sound like. 

One minute on each side. They need to be golden. 

Shit the soups about to boil, don't want to lose the flavour. 

Linguine is ready to come out. 

Don't over cook the prawns. 

The Camembert is almost ready in the over.

Damn it's hot...

Sweats dripping down my nose. Careful to wipe my face. Hygiene is at the top of the list. 

The scallops need butter. The pan sets on fire. 


"Take it off the fucking heat dickhead!" My Chef yells.

"Fuck me Charles! I told you to put them in the pan clockwise!" The Jr Sous screamed.

It was to  keep track of which scallop needed to be turned first. I was never a very methodical person. 

Still not.

Why the hell is it getting hotter?  

Mussels in the pot add the wine. Check them in one minute to see if they are open. If you over cook them they turn to rubber. 

"Check on Charlie boy! Two scallops, one mussels, linguine and the rest me!" My Sous chef yelled.

"Yes chef! More hot water please Eriks!" I acknowledged to the sous and called to the kitchen porter. A Latvian who could move like lighting on that pot wash. 

    How the hell am I going to get all this on the stove?  Six burners, one with boiling water.  Five burners available the oven and a salamander (Overhead grill, or a broiler for us yanks).  Five checks on similar to that one. 

Need to be organized. 

Use your head damn it.

"Get a bigger pan you stupid fat fucking American!" 

I don't know who yelled that one...

The first wave has settled.

I must have lost 10 lbs.

Time to clean. Drink some water.

Maybe five minutes till the next wave. Wipe down, get tidy, get organized. 

The second wave is only the eye of the storm. There's still two hours left of service. 

Focus and breathe...

     The night continued out this way.  Can't remember if anything was sent back. I do know I made it and was still alive. Hot larder was my new section. I was not amazing on hot larder, won't even go as far as to say I was good. For a person though, with little experience the hot larder section was some how managed and ran without a collapse. For me, for now that was good enough. I'm not a genius and or artistic.  However trying to learn how to cook and work in a kitchen was proving successful. When I get that down some day, that's when the journey as a real chef will begin.

     In Zen there is something called Daigaku, meaning "The great learning". Without me getting to philosophical it basically says, that you don't really begin to learn and create new things until you have learned how to learn, and understand what you have learned so much so it comes to you as easy as walking. If you think that's deep you should read how it is actually said! 

     The Daigaku is how I try to live my life. Unfortunately my self discipline is lacking there of.  This was the reason to join the military to begin with, but eventually the kitchen was destined for that purpose. So I can confidently say through food and the process of creating it, I am learning about myself and what I can achieve.
     The next step of my journey had begun. However I hadn't even walked past the gate of my metaphorical house to even get to the base of the mountain that needed to be climbed. Hell, I still haven't gotten to the base of the mountain even now. It was still, the next level. You may wonder why I haven't spoken to much about the food thus far.  All in due time. For you to understand the food you need to understand me, when we cook we do it as a reflection of ourselves.

You are what you eat as they say...

     A few months had passed and the summer of 2010 was drawing near. I began to date my current girlfriend, things were looking forward. The chef kept me on hot larder and even allowed me to run the pass on quiet days.

    My plan was to stay at this restaurant for one more year then move on to London. Opportunity had other plans and plans don't change, they just evolve.

   One of my tutors invited me to a fund raiser for leukemia held at the college. I could only get the morning off and was due to work that evening when the dinner would be held. I offered to spend my time prepping and try to learn as much as possible. The fundraiser meal was being done by the executive head chef and sous chef of a well known restaurant in London. I was able to pester them enough to notice me. In that time I spoke to the sous chef and asked if it would be possible to get a starge (work experience in the kitchen). The Sous chef said he would mention it and give me an answer after lunch. After speaking to his executive head he explained to me he felt I could better than some work experience.

He offered me a trial...

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