January 2012 - alvers.info

Just a place for my old thoughts

Ok, tonight rocked
Saturday, 21 January 2012 2:25 pm

Friday night was bad, very bad. I realised that I had run out of something just before service. And we got hammered, and the orders where wrong (not our fault), and generally it was a bad night.

Tom the sous chef gave me one of those, "Is this really what you want to do..." type talks and I went home feeling pretty low.

So today I started at 8:30am and I worked my tail off on all my prep. This was the message I was left with last night, you hammer through your prep, and get stressed and worked up, so that during service everyone is just focused on turning out what has to happen.

So I was prepped, I had a fridge full of items that I had triple checked a thousand times without being obvious. And then the orders starting coming in. And for three hours we hammered, with barely a hick-up or issue.

We had Max in how is going to be with us for the busy sessions. That will be good and helps to keep everyone focused and just get all the prep done that is needed.

So tonight, in the middle of service, with chef calling the orders I just listened for the bits that were mine, had chips ready, salads prepped, oysters shucked. It felt like this smooth machine turning out fantastic food.

So yeah, tonight rocked.

We're not in Kansas any more Toto...
Monday, 16 January 2012 2:43 am

Ok, one month down. I got my acknowledgement of my apprenticeship registration so all that is rolling along.

The last week has been a real eye opener for me. I think with the new restaurant and the 'family' feel of the team I had misjudged things rather badly. And this has lead me to make a quite a few mistakes.

Luckily I am working for a fantastic sous chef, an awesome head chef and a wonderful owner. The horror stories I hear about how things might have gone if I make mistakes under a different chef are not worth considering.

So next week marks the start of my second month and an elevented approach to discipline, rigor and the high art of fine dining cooking.

And remembering that, irrelevent of the fact that I am fourty, I am just a first year apprentice.

Lu Philp
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 5:39 am

I think you are doing fantastic and you are entertaining Celeste & I with your regular updates...ahhhh I soooo remember all of this !

keep up the good work

Tuesday, 17 January 2012 7:17 am

Love the updates as well Dan!... and although it might seem a bit confusing at the moment, that's what the apprenticeship is for. It will end up sinking in. And keep that positive attitude, it makes apprentices a lot easier to teach :)

Tonight was busy
Friday, 13 January 2012 2:16 pm

Into my fourth week as an apprentice and tonight was busy, really really busy. I had spent the last few days preparing all of my stuff but tonight we just got hammered. And we started running out of things, which is the worst thing that could happen.

After 3 weeks in a new restaurant I have no idea about stock levels but I so should have noticed that we were down to our last boxes of a few things. I could kick myself for letting it happen.

It was exciting, being up against the wire with orders pouring in but I felt responsible for letting the team down as well. So mixed feelings. Tomorrow I am in at 8:00am to try and rebuild my ingredients to a point that can withstand what should be a very busy Saturday.

Getting the hang of things
Thursday, 12 January 2012 11:30 pm

Finding myself in the kitchen over the last three weeks has been an exciting and nerve racking experience. Unlike domestic cooking, which involves quantities and measures commercial cooking is about taste and sight. We rarely weigh ingredients for standard things like purees, mashes and pickles. Only baking and deserts gets that type of attention which is where I feel a little bit more in my depth.

And the Chefs seem to have these superhuman memories for ingredients and processes that I am yet to crack. Instead I have had to resort to a detailed sheet that lists all the items I am responsible for. That way I can get my head around how to prepare and construct my dishes.

I did get to make a dip yesterday from my own recipe. As you would imagine this isn't really a ground breaking event for the chefs but for me it is the first thing I have prepared myself to my own design. Nice.

We also found out that we'll be getting a casual chef to help out and do weekend breakfasts. That should allow us to get our hours down to below 60 per week which won't make it feel quite like we're at the restaurant all the time.

I'm looking forward to today because it's Friday, which means it should be busy, and I'm getting my act together so it doesn't feel so alien.

Oh, and while I am thinking about it I sharpened my new knives last weekend but was worried that I might wreck the sharpness. No fear, they cut fingers just as well as they always have. That's a relief I suppose.

Nearly an apprentice chef
Saturday, 7 January 2012 2:27 pm

Work involves long hours. Really long hours. And cuts, and burns and scrapes. But I am having a ball and seem to have had the most awesome luck of signing on with a fantastic head chef, one of the most mature and constructive sous chefs and an owner that sees his team as an extension of his family.

The chef's Mum was in the other week and took a photo of the kitchen. I tried to jump out of the way but she insisted that I be in the picture.

So I present you this proof of the joy of a career change. I don't know if the grin is from happiness or manical tendencies.

Saturday, 7 January 2012 10:17 pm

You look really happy Dan... good on you.

Happy New Year!
Wednesday, 4 January 2012 2:13 pm

Now, because the server that hosts this site is located overseas the time when things are posted is never in the correct timezone for Brisbane. For that reason I'll tell you that it is midnight and I just got home from work. Today was 13.5 hours which looks around the average. Tomorrow I have a 10am start which will make it a 12 hour day. Oh, the distant memory of the 7.5 hour day. HA!

I'm starting to get into the swing of things and under stand the "Mise en Place" which is all the bits you'll need to construct the meal when an order comes in.

Unfortunately today the chef learnt that his Dad has just had a heart attack which obviously divided his attention. He's going to see him tomorrow so hopefully things will work out.

As a result of the wonderful New Years, for which I worked, we had three days off which were pretty sweet. We had Roger and Michelle over for dinner on the Sunday, and then Terry, Sam, Serena and the kids came over for lunch on Monday.

Tuesday Deb headed back to work but had arranged to take possession of our new car, a Puegeot 206 convertible. We need to take it in for service and all that fun type of stuff but it is great fun to drive. We had thought it would be best to have me drive it to the restaurant so that I can keep an eye on it but frankly I think it is best left here at home and drive by Deb. So back to the Xtrail for me.

I did get an opportunity to contact the Apprentice Centre so someone is coming out tomorrow to work to get the papers and stuff signed. The cool part is that the apprenticeship is competency based so as long as the chef things I am capable of a particular skill he can sign me off. This could mean that I get through the whole process faster. At the moment I am on $9.93 an hour which isn't really much to comment about. Then when you do a 70 hour week it actually works out pretty well.

So off to bed and another day tomorrow.