A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Settling down to work...

A very nice day today. Sunny and warmish...11degrees!
Casa is settling into a good routine. So am I.
I get up at 7.30 am. Shower! Oh, tomorrow, I can use our new power-shower! Can't wait!
Breakfast. A massive mug of tea and something to eat.
By 8.30 I am at our Pizzeria. The espresso machine is switched on as soon as the alarm is switched off.
Computer on. I check last night's business. Espresso to get the neurones oiled up.
Staff begin arriving from 9.30am. Quick chat with manager.
By 10am everyone is in. "Good morning!" "Goodbye!" and I head for Casa.
Kevin loves HIS kitchen so he always gets there early. He even came in on Sunday while Karen and I were hanging more pictures and coat-hangers!
Keen or what?
Adam and his assistant, the cleaners, other members of staff are all in!
"Good morning!"
A few jokes after changing into my chef's things. I got us all some red t-shirts printed with Casa del Mar and a black bull underneath. So everyone in the kitchen matches, even the porters. Looks good.

A quick chat with Kevin and the shift starts with preparing food. At the moment I usually do those dishes that have to be ready ahead of service, such as Cordera con Salsa (Slow cooked minted lamb) , Paella, Cocido Madrileno, etc...
Kevin and his young chefs get on with preparing chickens, prawns, cleaning mussels, frying potatoes, Albondigas, sauces, etc...
We share most of the jobs throughout the day and during service, we tend to complement each other by doing specific tasks to ensure that all food is served hot and promptly.
We tend to tweak our performance as we go. "I think we should do this next time, what do you think?" I often sneakily prompt Kevin to suggest something so that he feels good about improving things.
I'm always joking, trying to sing and waffling while preparing food. This is my team-building style... They either like my Jacques Brel or they're sacked... Fair is fair!

But as soon as service starts, I insist on total silence broken only by words relating to service. This encourages concentration and prevents mistakes such as burnt dishes, forgotten items, etc...
Kevin seems to like the regime and I hope that when I am away in just over 10 days, he will be able to maintain it.
Going away worried me a little but with the addition of another of our young chefs from one of the other restaurants, I feel that by the end of next week, everyone will be able to put in a great performance. I will be missing two Saturday nights, the only shift that usually stretches most restaurants to the limit nowadays.
Adam said stoically that I will only be at the end of a phone line. He has just begun to realise that running restaurants is an 80-hour-a-week job. If you're organised...

...Notice that the camera hasn't been found yet and I am struggling with making the right purchase!


Blogger Christine said...

Sounds like everything is coming along smoothly. I see you have my luck with cameras. I hope you find it. It took me 3 weeks last time to find mine.

I'm happy everything is working out and that you can enjoy your vacation without worrying about Casa del Mar.

9/2/06 1:03 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

I enjoyed the glimpse of life as a restaurateur (and I spelled it right! :). Some people have a knack for making the routine entertaining. That's why I visit!

9/2/06 2:51 AM  
Blogger Brian the Mennonite said...

Thanks for letting us look at the routine. It gives a little more personality to an already full good impression of who you are.
Caffein in the morning...ja wohl.

9/2/06 3:11 AM  
Blogger Viking054 said...

I have no idea how restaurants do what they do... The logistics of it all makes my head spin! How do you organize who cooks what and when and how?

I think it's because I'm slooooooooow in the kitchen. I take 5 minutes just to chop a pepper!

9/2/06 6:10 AM  
Blogger annie said...

You make work sound fun. You sound like a nice boss to work for. Can I come and work for you? ;-)

9/2/06 7:22 AM  
Blogger cream said...

Penny, the camera must be somewhere! Where? is a conundrum!

Andrea, I hate it when people write restaraunt or restauranter... It would take a whole blog to write about one day in the life of a restaurant.

Brian, thanks! I am glad you read my blog! I read yours but am unable to comment.

Viking, I was like you before I began washing up in a pizzeria and then it all became clear. As far as being slow, practice is the answer! When you have to chop a case of peppers in 5-10 minutes, you need a sharp knife and a sure eye!

Thanks, Annie! I think I am a good boss and I love it! One lady has worked for me for the last 20 years! Another one, 15. Head-chefs, 10, 8 and 7 years! Manager, 10 years. Who says the catering industry is volatile? I must be very lucky!

9/2/06 8:27 AM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

I believe in routines when it comes to work, it is settling, your mind doesn't fly all over the place.

You have the right attitude, Cream, and you like people. No wonder you do so well.

You're a great example to follow, you are!

9/2/06 11:52 AM  
Blogger DCveR said...

You make it sound all too easy cream.

9/2/06 2:16 PM  
Blogger wandering-woman said...

OK, I´ve been gone awhile, maybe this is old news by now, but, cream, cream, I absolutely love the new design. The picture is just gorgeous...Gotta go catch up on all you've been up to now..

9/2/06 9:11 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Gigi, exactly my way! When it comes to work, I love to be organised but outside work, I play everything by ear.
I do like people and that brings out the best in them. As for example to follow, I am sure there are worthier folks.

DC, it's not all easy but I tend to look at the bright side of just about everything.

W.M, I hope you enjoyed your wandering and are back in Spain which I know you love a lot.
Thanks for the compliment.

9/2/06 9:18 PM  
Blogger Brian the Mennonite said...

Yeah...sorry about that comment problem on my blog. To remedy the problem, all you have to do is right click on comments instead of left, and then when the popup pops up, click on open.

9/2/06 11:01 PM  
Blogger Ale said...

'Le Grand Restaurant' with Louis de Funès -- old french movie i'm sure you've seen it-- haahaha is THAT how you treat your staff????

10/2/06 4:52 PM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

As long as an example has something positive, I listen, Cream. It's good to have lots of good examples :-D

11/2/06 1:40 AM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

so nice of you to describe everything! I love that about you!!! The menu sounds mouthwatering and I just woke up! It really is amazing how much work goes into a restaurant! Every once in a while John will say "Lets open a restaurant" because he loves to talk to people and eat, he has no idea how much work it is. I shoot him a look like "Are you insane?"
Don't worry about the Casa while you are away, enjoy yourself and bask in idleness...
I love the canon powershot! Good to hear about you Cream!

11/2/06 6:11 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Ale, I am sure I saw that film in its original version, a long time ago. I like de Funes very much. I'm quite soft with the staff, really.

Gigi, you're right. That's like market research and benchmarks really.

Val, I am glad you can talk John out of opening a restaurant. It looks easy from the other side. I wouldn't recommend it unless you were 100% committed.
So, looks like Cannon it will be! Thanks for the advice!

12/2/06 1:54 AM  

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