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Is it HOT? Yes Chef, Are You Sure......

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ok here comes the hammer, brace yourself for this one.

Last night was wedding night again, this one was a small occasion less than half what our capacity can cope with. A nice buffet for the bride, groom and all there guests.

This time of year is generally quiet, and every business will agree that it is one of the toughest periods to get through.
Like many restaurants in our area we have been running on low numbers, saying that we can still expect to do a near full house on Saturday night.

The prep has been slow and I know that it is a time to be well on top of your game or you'll get caught out. With my experience and common sense approach to most things I manage to keep the kitchen in good order, but tonight was just the hammer.
The day was spent preparing like normal. Checking the produce and replenishing where needed. We have a prep list that is ongoing, that is we plan ahead, you write on what is needed maybe Friday or Tuesday according to business. This is major point in the process of having all products and dishes available for the service.

Today was a bit slack as we had little to do, saying that, I always find something, the hardest part is teaching the other chefs to see what I see. Anyway all is ready with plenty of time to 'take it easy' or bludge as the Aussie loves to call it.

When it comes to weddings I am hyper that I have enough and that everything is ready. Believe me there is nothing worse than forgetting something or worse still running out. Touch wood I have a good record and I do not wish to change. Tonight was a nightmare though.

The buffet is full and ready to go. I know that all is top quality as I can do it in my sleep, but what happened next I was not prepared for.

As always I make my presence at the buffet for the top table and the closest relations of the bride and groom. I wish them the pleasantries and make small talk with a few. I explain the buffet in general and then return to the kitchen.

As always I have my team that should be concentrating on the restaurant and back up for the wedding buffet.
I call in to the kitchen from the function room, 'make sure that the next fish, beef and lamb are on the way.'
Back out to great a few more people. Through the door I call for the fish first. A minute later I call for the lamb then the beef.

Out at the buffet, the bridal party have gone trough and we are on to the closest relatives. The chef brings out the fish. We exchange the tray. Then he brings out the lamb, I take one look and question the temperature, is it hot I ask, yes is the reply. I question it as it looked very pink and normally it has a more roast look to it. I ask again are you sure, yes is the comeback, we just need to pour over some more red wine jus.

At this point I return to the kitchen with the empty tray, only to see the apprentice with the tray of beef in his had ready to head for the buffet. I question him is it hot, yes is the reply, are you sure, he put his hand on it and replies yes it is hot, and inside I ask, the reply is, it's warm, WARM I shout. Is it HOT I ask again, yes its warm is the reply.

Now by this time I'm raging and I have a dummy spit WARM IS NOT FUCKING HOT, I put my hand into the centre of the tray of meat, it's FUCKING COLD, I slap a slice onto his inside for arm as he holds the 'hot' tray, there is no reaction because it's fucking cold. Get it in the oven.

Now in those few short seconds my chef that has just replenished the lamb, returns in with the full tray of meat. I bet that's cold too I shout, bring it here. Once again a slice meat is given to my apprentice again cold. What the fuck are you guys trying to do, give someone food poisoning. Why say it's hot when it's fucking not. Don't you test it?

Now I have two chefs that are feeling sorry for them selves, but that doesn't help me. I grab the trays and get the food hot ASAP, I step out to the buffet and apologise for the wait, back in the kitchen I let it rip. The apprentice doesn't know where to turn, my chef knuckles down to the incoming orders from the restaurant, even though we are not busy yet, what a blessing that was. I replenish the HOT food on the buffet and return to the service.

The first order for a soft shell crab comes on and the two chefs are searching for some Japanese bread crumbs to for the dish. 'Oh they should be there' looking in my fridge, that's the prep that I know is there what the fuck have you been doing or not checking.
I leave my post and get a bag of panko breadcrumbs and let it fly at the apprentice.

With the blood pumping through my veins I turn into the incredible hulk, just like him I don't like it but when it comes, you can't fight against it. The big boy apprentice now feels the wrath of the chef, not a pretty site having some one within centimetres from your face giving you shit. In that situation sometimes you find it hard to calm the fuck down. (Image of the hulk courtesy of eneas from Flicker.)

The orders roll in and I announce the dishes, we step up the pace and all I get is a whisper of 'yes chef'. The food leaves the kitchen and the customers are happy. Orders flow and we get a little bogged down, the young apprentice pulls his finger out and storms through the orders, a little behind but still comes up with the goods, I can take that as a good sign of hope, not to give up on him just yet. But for the love of 'whatever' why humans make such stupid mistake I don't know, maybe because we are only human after all.

End Note;
A great chef and I mean a GREAT chef, not a one hit wonder, once told me, after I overcooked all the eye fillet Mignon for the prestige function, that it's not you that they come for, it's me, my name, my food, my restaurant, I'm on show in front of my guests. You embarrass me and let me down when you make mistakes like that. From that day on I was always on my game. Many thanks to A.M a true chef.



Hellraiser said...

A fucking awesome post Ranting Chef. I was there..., I could feel the night just from reading the words, arghhh! Once again, our next generation of 'Young Guns', who want to be famous, rich, in the media and who generally consider themselves 'highly skilled', or want to write their own fucking menus then tell us how to cook it ;) still can't get the fucking basics correct. Getting something hot is the MOST basic of all tasks.

Yes, we're old farts, but we can and will, run rings round the 'Guns'. Why? Well for me, maybe it's because I spent the first 2 years of my apprenticeship in the basement prep kitchen peeling vegies, and my first job promotion was being allowed 'upstairs' to the live kitchen, but not until I could peel and chop 40kgs of carrots by hand, perfectly, in under an hour, or perfect tomato concasse for 800 Pommes Marquis, and so on and so on. This taught me speed, attention to detail and BASIC work ethics, before I was even allowed close to the piano!!!! If you can't master the basics, you'll never be any kind of Chef, in fact, they shouldn't even call themselves cooks.
On A.M., you know RC, that I had the chance to meet him 20 years ago, but was too scared to approach him. I felt that he wouldn't want to blow his nose on the whites of a scumbag apprentice like me. Then 18 years later, working for a Chef who had worked under him was one of the most nerve wracking moments of my career.
Read between the lines scumbags! Humility is always one of the most important skills you can learn.

ranting chef said...

I bet if you 'were'll there it would have been al smooth.

I can relate to those early days putting in the hard yards, but you know what, it's what makes the young guns wish they had the balls to do it, but they don't.
Pommes Marquis, they can't even make basic mash, unless you want glue.

I guess that in the presence of an 'almighty chef god' one would definitely feel a little humble and insignificant, believe me he can motivate you and yet cut you down with a couple of words.

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