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

Friday, April 06, 2007

I hate cooking...

Last night you would think you were in St. Trop!
Well, some of you lot might be but up here, at the first sign of sunshine our friendly Northerners begin to strip to the waist and grab every available seat around the Marina.
At around 7pm I left the Pizzeria for the strenuous seven-minute walk to the Tapas Bar.
I snapped things as I went along, seagulls, yachts, clouds, water...
The outside seats, out for the first time this year, were all taken. I gathered that the restaurant would be busy.
After saying hello to the bar staff I went to the kitchen. A trio of headless chickens were running around as Adam, my son barked orders. Just then, I remembered that Kevin, the head chef was off for his grandmother's funeral.
When we opened the restaurant over 14 months ago, I worked in that kitchen for three weeks with Kevin until I felt he was ready to go it alone with his young team.
Last night I felt sorry for the young chefs on their first solo flight so I grabbed an apron and a T-shirt and dived in head first. Adam went back to the tables and I began unravelling the knots.
There were about nine orders on the go with at least a dozen tapas each. Gambas Pil-Pil, Chorizo al vino tinto, Patatas Bravas, etc...
I asked Philip, the young second chef to shout out the tapas. I did the hot ones, his helpers did the rest and between the four of us, we sent all the back orders within twenty minutes. And all that time the kitchen printer kept churning out more orders.
I helped for another half-hour, took off the apron and the dripping T-shirt and slumped in Adam's office for five minutes.
What I had just done was not cooking. I had hated every minute of it. Torture would have been more pleasurable.
Why? Why?
Don't get me wrong, I love cooking! I last worked full-time in my own kitchen over 11 years ago. Cooking then was a pleasure.
I got in at 9am at the latest, well before anyone else arrived. I knew exactly where everything was. My knives. My pans. My stocks. My sauces.
Last night, I felt I was lost on an alien planet.
"Where are the serving spoons?"
"Where is the f..... olive oil? The salt? The pepper?..."
"Never again!" I told Adam on my way out. "If I am ever to work in a kitchen again, it would have to be full-time. But as I have no inclination of doing that, I will never step into a working kitchen again."
I left the Tapas Bar and strolled to our third restaurant still steaming.

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Blogger Akelamalu said...

"Oh I like it hot, but not this hot!" (Peter Kay)

You're just out of practice with the cooking,you enjoyed it really!

6/4/07 1:22 PM  
Anonymous edvard moonke said...

ah I don't blame you, cream. I do most of the cooking at home, and my gf thinks it's funny putting things in different places (hiding them). I spend so long looking for everything, all my timing goes out of kilt.

6/4/07 7:17 PM  
Blogger LDahl said...

You hated feeling lost didn't you? Maybe you also hated going back in time. I do think we get to the point we are very bored with all we have done before, even if we are very good at it.

6/4/07 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

¿qué sobre toda la gente quiénes no tienen una voz, que se ocupará de ella?.

7/4/07 1:29 AM  
Blogger kj said...

what a great writeup of a kitchen, cream. i know what you are talking about. you can't go home again in some things. but if you were there night after night, and had your own knives, and pans, etc, you would get the rhythm back.

this is a hard exhilarating job! and a very interesting post.


7/4/07 2:44 AM  
Blogger Hayden said...

it's such HARD work, and to attempt it without the rhythm of having everything to hand......

it must be a ballet to be pleasurable. And that takes balance.

Sorry it was so miserable! Glad that it's not something you have to routinely do!

Next time they will have to rescue themselves.

7/4/07 4:07 AM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

3 restaurants! I'm surprised you don't end up cooking more often. Your staff must be very reliable. I think it might be time for you to retire to Cali and own a little hut on the beach where you can serve food and drink when yer in the mood, hehe.

7/4/07 6:58 AM  
Blogger Cream said...

Akelamalu, I really didn’t enjoy it. I hated the fact that I wasn’t able to do things the way I usually do them.

Marcos, I am glad you understand exactly where I come from.

L, you’ve got it. I hate going back in time. And sometimes when it happens and it’s out my hands, I resent it.

KJ, the rhythm was all out of sync. And I do not like leaving things to chance.

Hayden, it is really hard work when you’re not organised. It is about timing, concentration and passion. That night none of these were present. Last night, Adam went into the kitchen because Kevin was still off, and he managed very well.

Val, I love cooking really but one has to do it full time or not at all. I’d love to retire to your neck of the woods and cook only when I am in the mood!

7/4/07 10:36 AM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

Oh well, hopefully you won't have to do it too often, if at all. I understand all chefs organise their kitchens so everything is to hand - even me. :)

7/4/07 11:15 AM  
Blogger muddy red shoes said...

OMG! That sounds like Dantes inferno, poor you and there was I "camping" and BTW I did not set foot inside the house, weeed in the field and brewed up on me storm kettle like a real backwoods person. So you were all clashing pans and sizziling Gambas and I was star gazing and owl listening...poor Cream, you can always come and camp in my field when you need a break!

7/4/07 12:09 PM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

I hate it when I can't find the spices, etc. They must be just where I want them to be.

Would you have enjoyed it if you could find everything...even though you were just pitching in to help?

7/4/07 12:50 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

Akelamalu, I will not do it again if I can help it. Nightmare!

Sarah, you lucky thing! I believe you.
One day I'll land with my tent and camping gaz stove. I don't mind cooking "en plein air"!

7/4/07 12:57 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

Gigi, when I had MY own kitchen, I never needed to look for anything. It was always there at hand.
It is very hard to jump in right in the middle of busy shift. I would do it again but I would make sure to start before any of the staff arrives.

7/4/07 1:02 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

It was the same here yesterday: 22C and the whole world was suddenly out and about!

I understand your frustration. It was the same thing for me and teaching. Teaching one or two days a week I was always scrambling to try and keep up which sucked a lot of the joy I felt when I did it full-time and everything was running like a well-oiled machine. All or nothing.

7/4/07 3:33 PM  
Blogger apprentice said...

Sounds like really hard work, it's difficult to step into someone else's working environment. But you made me hungry with your descriptions of the food.

I love Patatas Bravas, it's simple but really good food.

7/4/07 5:56 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

Andrea, that's exactly it: All or nothing. There was no joy in what I did that night.

Welcome, Anna. Love your poem.
Potatoes, Potartoes, Patatas, go and get yourself a bag o' chips! ;o)

7/4/07 6:16 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

As someone who has been standing in my own kitchen for the last 8 hours...I feel ya! I dislike too much cooking.

7/4/07 9:50 PM  
Blogger Digital Scott's illustrationblog said...

I enjoyed reading your story!

7/4/07 11:19 PM  
Blogger Digital Scott's illustrationblog said...

I just planted some herbs and tomato plants, and can hardly wait till I can use them! Chicken, tomatos, tarragon, white wine, and sometimes cream! Oh, and garlic of course. A favorite of mine! Perfection.

7/4/07 11:21 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I spent a summer as a teenager helping my grandmother open her restaurant. What you just described is exactly what I went through for 2 months. I was a mess at the end of it. My relationship with my grandmother has never been the same.

9/4/07 3:11 PM  
Blogger anna said...

I'm so sorry you had a rotten day, but it's wonderful to hear you pitched in and did your part to help when help was needed.

10/4/07 3:33 AM  
Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

I was 17 the last time that I cooked and it was in a restaurant that serviced a cafeteria on one side and the Pub on the other...
I remember one night when I had a whacked out gang banger reach over the counter to try and grab a knife..
apparently he didn't like my 'attitude' and took exception to my description of the proper ingredients that go into a Reuben (what-ever!)...
luckily his screaming attracted the attention of the bouncers who quickly removed him from the Premises.
I'm pretty sure I quit the next day.

10/4/07 10:11 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

HE, sounds like the Ritz!

11/4/07 8:58 PM  

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