March 2012 -

Just a place for my old thoughts

The burns and cuts are healing nicely thankyou
Monday, 26 March 2012 1:42 pm

Another week down and a day off. My sleep patterns are a complete mess and something that I really should be working to fix. I treasure a 30 minute break at work because I rush out to my car, which I strategically park under a tree, and get a 20 minute power nap in, setting my watch to wake me up.

I'm not sure if that is a result of just being old but it helps me to get through the 14hr days without too many adverse effects.

I feel like I am hitting a rhythm at work which is working for me pretty well. The Sous chef is pretty happy with my performance and things are starting to feel more routine. The issue at the moment is my hours. Which is good and bad. I am the only one in the kitchen on an hourly rate. So the more I am there the more it costs. The head chef, Sous, and Commis are all on fixed salary so they can spend upwards of 80hrs a week without much fuss. But they have been trying to keep my hours down to 45 which means that Wednesday and Thursday, our biggest prep days, I do 30 hours and then they struggle to assign the last 15 hours over the next three days.

On the upside the last week was a bit of a bumper thanks to a promotion that we ran and Wednesday through Sunday were all pretty good business, if that keeps up then my hours could be extended.

The issue is that when my hours are shortened I find I spend most of my time in the sink doing dishes rather than prepping food. Also the chefs are supposed to assign time to teach me as an apprentice but we're so busy that they really only have time to bark commands as we push for service. Is that normal or not? I have no idea. It definitely feels like a Sushi Chef documentary I saw years ago in which the apprentice is only allowed to watch the masters for 5 years before being handed a knife and being allowed to cut fish. Hell knows where they get a chance to practice.

For me Monday and Tuesday are practice. Tonight I did a simple roast chicken with a sage and onion stuffing, green vegetables and a green goddess dressing. I was rather honoured when Deb said that my cooking is definitely reaching a new level. It wasn't a technically complex dish but it did have some wonderful flavours that really worked well together. I just have to learn how to plate food so that it looks more like a restaurant than a home plate.

On the study front I have completed all of my online exams and now just have to finish a couple of practical modules before finishing this first segment. I can then book into the July-August session for practical training which will finish the first years formal training.

Overall things are going pretty well although with my reduction in hours we are finding the budget pretty tight. I desperately don't want to have to modify our lifestyle too aggressively so keeping inside the budget is really important. That isn't helped by rising petrol costs and incidentals like my new tooth crown. I think our next car might be even more practical than the x-trail and a smaller engine.

I had a list of things to do today and spent most of it reading a book. I keep telling myself that tomorrow will be my big day of action. Let's all hope that is the case.

Good night...

Long time no post
Thursday, 15 March 2012 12:24 am

Finally having some time to sit down and write a post is a good thing. I have been working 60-70 hours a week for the last three months so don't have much time to 'wile away the hours'.

The apprenticeship has obviously been my main focus and I really feel that I'm getting on top of the process and the methods. The commis chef, Max, and I have both been improving to the point that we are generally left to run service on the quieter nights while the Sous chef supervises and works on the next days orders and prep lists.

Now being three months in I am also through the probation period, which was never really in question, but it's still a milestone. I've also enrolled at technical college and am working through the training modules in the first part of the course. (I should probably be working on them now as well, but then you wouldn't get a post)

Deb and I are starting to find a routine but I do find that I am absolutely missing all the time we used to spend together. And it is hard because I come home at midnight and disturb her sleep which is also having an impact.

On the upside the budget is holding up to some extent thanks to the rather massive hours that I have been doing. On the downside it is a new restaurant and they are still finding their feet so my hours are getting cut back to reduce costs. The annoying thing is that this will reduce the amount of preparation that I get to do which is the whole point of being an apprentice. Arriving at 3pm to find all the mise en place complete won't help me develop my experience and skills. Hopefully though this is a short term situation and won't last more than a few months.

So, how am I going. Well effectively most 1st year apprentices spend their time picking herbs, peeling vegetables and cleaning things. Because of the small crew I am still doing that work but I am also getting to prepare deserts, plate dishes and even cook during service. And I still love service. When you have your station all setup and the orders come pouring in it is an amazing buzz. Cleaning the kitchen afterwards is less amazing but that is part of the package.

On the home front things have been pretty stable. The cats are both well although Raffi seems to have developed a skill for digging and tunnelling out of the backyard. Furg, who is now 9, is settling into his 'old man cat' routine and spends his days sleeping on the deck.

Deb's work seems pretty chaotic at times as the project lurches around poor code, weird procedures and team members who don't seem to get it. Her contract has been extended again which gives us some security but I am wondering if the place is going to drive her nuts. Deb is off to Aria Brisbane for drinks tonight with the PwC alumni. We both went to last years at Sake last year which was great fun so I am a little jealous of her.

The home cooking front is going well although I have been warned from cooking multiple courses because Deb is blaming me for messing with her figure. Monday I made a simple crumbed veal with a zucchini ratatouille. When Deb came home and I announced dinner she said 'What, one course only, no entre or desert?' I think she was surprised that I actually listened to her.

For the next few weeks I'll be on 3-4pm starts which I can't say I am that upset about. I am pretty exhausted and frankly could use the downtime. Considering that I started the job weighing 100kg and weigh 80kg today I think I have given my all. This also gives me some time to focus on my study and spend some time just thinking about different dishes that I could prepare. And that could only be made better if Deb was able to stay home with me.

The Apprentice meets The Biggest Loser
Monday, 5 March 2012 11:46 am

Tuesday, 6 March 2012 9:04 am

Well done mate :) Got some weight loss stats for us?

Thursday, 15 March 2012 12:35 am

I have dropped 20kg in 12 weeks.