December 2011 -

Just a place for my old thoughts

Im so full
Tuesday, 27 December 2011 6:36 am

It has been lovely having three days straight off work. Christmas morning we opened our presents with a few glasses of bubbles and then headed over to Majories for Christmas lunch. Roast pork with all the trimmings and then pudding and home made custard made it a pretty special day.

Monday was boxing day so we hosted another Christmas lunch here for Dad, JT & Jason and Majorie and Chris. Roast beef, chicken, vegies and all the bits and bobs made it a wonderful lunch. And I didnt destroy the kitchen too badly.

I do love having the Weber BBQ because all the hot cooking happens outside on the deck and not inside the house. Perfect.

We gave Dad the bottle of French Whiskey that we got for him while overseas. Given that we dragged it halfway around the world I do hope it is good.

Everyone seemed to have a fantastic time. We just ended up having a ham roll and watching Kung Fu Panda before I nearly fell asleep on the couch.

A lovely end to the two day.

New Adventures
Tuesday, 27 December 2011 6:23 am

Where do I start. From the beginning I guess. I finished up the Friday before last at PwC with a great lunch with a few of the guys and then drinks after work. By the time I made it up to Debś work to see her for kitchen drinks I was well and truly tanked so switched to water.

Saturday I headed into the restaurant at midday for my first look around and to start work. We spent most of it just putting chairs together and loading whatever supplies we had into the kitchen. That afternoon I picked Deb up and we went back for a few drinks and nibbles with the team. They really are a great crew.

Sunday was a day off for everyone with the promise of a full start on Monday.

Since then it has been 12-14 hour days. By Saturday I was physically shattered. After 20 years of sitting on my bum being on my feet for 14 hours a day was certainly a new adventure. I had a pair of steel capped boots that I had previously purchased that started to cripple me so by Thursday I was into a catering store to buy chefs clogs. Oh the difference they have made is outstanding...well, I can stand up which is an advantage.

The work is definitely challenging. Imagine yourself in an environment where everything is different, all the rules of how you do things are different. For instance, a glass was accidentally broken so I swept it up and put it in the bin. WRONG. The glass should never be put into a bin liner because of the chance of someone cutting themselves later. It always goes into a plastic dustbin and taken straight to the rubbish.

Having a brand new kitchen is also very cool. All new tools and appliances means everything is lovely and shiny. On the downside we have had some teething issues with the gas supply not being strong enough and equipment not being installed properly. But we are making it through. I do kick myself though if I produce something that I don believe is good enough. But when your trying to do all your deep frying from a pot of oil on the stove because the deep fryer is offline you just have to do your best.

I am in charge of the entree items from the menu so have to keep a steady supply of croquettes coming. They are fun to do and were really my first intro to kitchen methods. They turned out a treat so as long as I can get the deep fryer set to just the right temperature everything will be fine. At the moment I can roll about 50 in 25 minutes and crumb them in 15 minutes. Speed is the key really.

Damien, the chef and my boss, is fantastic. No matter how stressed he is he keeps is cool with me and takes time out to show me the correct way to do things. So far I have made a few little errors but nothing catastrophic...yet. I sure I will at some point but for the moment I am doing well.

During service I am using my phone to snap picks of the dishes that Damien prepares so that I can use them for reference.

In the kitchen is me, Damien and the second chef Tom. Heś 20 and fully qualified. He is also pretty fantastic in taking time to explain to me not only how the kitchen works but keeping me safe from politics and how to respond and act in the kitchen. So far he has probably saved my bacon a dozen times.

Tom had to head to a funeral last Friday and Saturday so it was just Damien and I in the kitchen. That was pretty nerve racking but now that I have been through it I understand what needs to happen.

I now need to work on my timing and speed so that I can be presenting dishes at the same time as others are ready. That is part of the art.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011 1:17 am

I'll have to get a note off to Damien to confirm how things are progressing at the restaurant. When I was there on Saturday I grabbed this snap of the sign in the window. It left me feeling really excited.

It's all happening now. Chris, Deb's brother, is flying in for Christmas this afternoon and Mum goes into hospital today for her last procedure.

JT and I are going to head down tomorrow night to visit her in hospital.

And, just to confirm that my change of career isn't related to body snatchers. I am hoping to pick-up my new mobile phone tomorrow. I have decided to stick with the latest and greatest Blackberry phone on the market. I cannot wait!!!

Monday, 12 December 2011 3:47 am

Check it new workplace! I went in on Saturday to meet Damien the head chef and Tom the Chef de Partie. We'll be it in the beginning so I see some very long days ahead of me.

At the moment I am both ridiculously excited and rather terrified at the unknown nature of things. I haven't seen a contract or the details of my apprenticeship. I haven't seen a salary rate and it looks like I'll almost certainly be doing split shifts. Holy Cow.

And of course the place still has a way to go until it if finished. The owner is pushing to have it opened on Friday and Damien is just looking to open when it is ready.

This is going to be one wild ride.

So Mum knows...
Tuesday, 6 December 2011 11:13 pm

It's not that I didn't want to tell Mum and Dad what I've been doing in terms of changing jobs. It's just that I hadn't get around to calling them yet. And JT did specifically ask to be there when Mum found out so who am I to stand in someone's way.

Anyway, when I got home last night the phone rang and it was Mum who had just read the blog. As I knew I had her support and understanding about the radical career change. So that is one down. Tonight I'll give Dad a call and give him the news.

It has been a bit like this at work as well. I have been fielding calls from all sorts of places as people find out that I am leaving.

It's nice to know that I will be missed.

And the cooking continues
Monday, 5 December 2011 1:36 am

Well, what can I saw about the weekend. It was pretty sweet to know that I will soon be working for a chef that I truly admire and am excited to be working with.

As a result of getting the job on Friday I didn't need to go into a kitchen trial for the other job. So I got my Friday back. I was sort of walking around in circles between calling people, writing resignation letters and generally being freaked out.

Friday night we caught up with JT and Jason in at Dragonfly for dumplings and drinks. The food was ok but I felt it was a bit over-priced for what it was.

Saturday we shopped and got ready to have Libbette and Jaron over for dinner. Steamboat was the order of the day with everyone throwing a little too much chilli in which made it sniffingly good.

Desert was all to Deb's credit and involved lime pana cotta with raspberry sauce (ok, I made the sauce). It turned out wonderfully given that the gelatin leaves that I found for setting the custard where entirely in German. Deb was sitting on her computer trying to translate the directions into english using google translate. Pretty funny actually.

Sunday we took a trip out to a butcher that JT had recommended to pick-up a Christmas ham. Oh, it is very very good and whips the stuff you get from the supermarket.

We also picked up some pork belly which I slow roasted for 3 hours and served with a sticky Asian sauce, water spinach and rice. Not bad at all if I do say so myself.

And now back in the office to finish up my last two weeks.


It's official...I've resigned
Friday, 2 December 2011 7:50 am

Right, finally...I can actually post and tell my story. I've been getting progressively more and more disenfranchised by my job over the last...God knows how long.

Everyone has ups and downs, that is to be expected. But over recent years my tolerance to the corporate...'message'...has been slipping. I used to sit in a room of people and sell this stuff. I used to believe it at my core that it was right and correct. But over time it has started to chafe, to be harder to sell the line. To speak with staff and not try to find justifications.

At the same time my love of cooking has just continued to grow. No matter how bad my day is I look forward to cooking each night. Hell, I sometimes ask Deb what she wants for dinner the next night while we're eating dinner.

So after our last holiday and with lots of discussion I decided to find an apprentice chef job and resign.

So over the last two months I've written a resume and started applying to various job ads looking for work. I have had three calls backs to about six applications so I actually consider myself pretty lucky.

The first one was with an Italian bistro that called me in for a trial. To be in a commercial kitchen, even just making bruschetta from stuff already prepared was a complete buzz. I could have stayed all night and would have happily stayed to clean. The Chef was apparently 'Old School' and seemed to use the 'C' word as a term of endearment.

Next try I got was with a very funky little place that is actually one of Deb and my favourites. Unfortunately due to a missed email I nearly turned up for a trial only to find that it was rescheduled to tonight.

Finally I got a call back for a new restaurant that is opening in Wilston soon. As I did my research I realised that the Chef is a bit of a rockstar in the industry and has worked at some of the best places in Australia. Seriously amazing experience here.

So we caught up today for an interview and just seemed to hit it off. I had been told some time ago that if you 'REALLY' want a job hit them with the question "What do I need to get this job?". So I did and he said that my maturity and outlook were what he was looking for. He asked if I had quit my current job yet, I said I would as soon as I had his commitment and he held out is hand and said "You have my commitment!".

Sweet! I have the job and came home to start the process of sending out resignation letters and writing to the other two restaurants to say I had taken another role.

As I keep thinking back over it I can't believe how lucky I am to have this opportunity. Don't get my wrong, I am going onto apprentice wages which are about 2/3rds of sweet FA.

But I am taking control of my life and doing something that I am completely absolutely and totally passionate about.

And that has never ever been a bad thing to do.