April 2012 - alvers.info

Just a place for my old thoughts

Home alone
Saturday, 28 April 2012 4:40 pm

Deb is away in Melbourne with JT for a girly weekend of cocktail bars and chocolate shops. That leaves me with the kitehs and too much time to myself.

Work has been tough for the last few weeks with big issues during major services that has seen the commis chef 'thrown' into the sink at least a half a dozen times. This cranks the tension in the kitchen up to 11 and leaves you feeling pretty stuffed by the end of the evening.

Add to this the fact they are trying to keep my hours below 40 when realistically they need me closer to 60 hours and you might not be surprised that I am pretty stressed during prep and service. I am responsible for leaving a prep list at the end of each service and when I arrive the next day I often find that some of the more important stuff hasn't been done yet. CRAP! That means I need to do that plus my normal prep. So the stress of the whole process is starting to get to me. It has meant that I have started turning up 1-2 hours early (ie: For free) to try and get on top of my prep before service starts.

And then service has started turning into this battle field of the chefs yelling at the commis until they kick him into the sink or over to garnish. It means that the tension is already high when I ask a question and usually get howled back at. A tough working position.

For instance. We have started doing a steak tartare, great right? Except the chef showed me the plating, not how they made the F*%king tartare!!! So tonight I get an order and just fricking winged it. I tried to ask the chef how the actually tartare went but got my head bitten off so I'll have to find a chance to get the sous to show me how to mix it properly. That pisses me off you know. And it isn't my fault. The commis is a great guy but he shouldn't be working a fine dining line. Simple.

I have the next three days off which is pretty cool but also means that I am going to be on for at least 5-6 days including a Sunday which is when we do the deep clean on the kitchen. So the next week is going to suck.

You might have detected from this post that I am not enjoying the whole chef bit much. And that is the rub. I really don't like 85% of my day. But there is this window, in the middle of service, when the orders are coming in and you are rocking out the plates. That is what makes it all worth it.

Really I can't believe that I have only been doing this for 4 months. But I am so very looking forward to a few days off and Deb returning Monday night.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012 8:00 am

I have a question... What's your plan for after qualifying?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012 2:20 pm

HA...open our own place...

Friday, 20 April 2012 12:48 am

An interesting thing that I am learning at work is that chefs hate to do things that other chefs have done before. But how, with the millions of recipes out there, do you come up with an original idea. This is something that I am struggling with as I consider what the future for *"NOM NOM NOM" might look like.

Taking something that already exists and then 'deconstructing' it or changing up the parts seems to be a common approach. Say take black forest cake and serve it in an unusual way, as I did with dinner on Monday.

Well, I have come across a US camping snack/junkfood called s'mores. It is chocolate and marshmellow sandwiched between two 'graham crackers' and alternatively toasted over a fire.

I am not becoming mildly obsessed with how that could be turned into a desert of some type.

Watch this space.

* That is the working title for our restaurant.

Friday, 20 April 2012 5:50 am

Where on the planet have you been that you haven't heard of s'mores before?

Friday, 20 April 2012 5:51 am

There was nothing unusual about your black forest cake, was there? Apart from overwhelming chocolateyness

Friday, 20 April 2012 11:38 am

Must be an Alvers thing cause I haven't heard of s'mores before either...

Sunday, 22 April 2012 11:39 pm

I am with Jt I haven't either.

All's quite
Thursday, 19 April 2012 1:10 am

I know I should be posting more often but finding the drive to do so is lacking a bit at the moment.

Just prior to Easter I think I surprised Deb by TXT'ing her and asking if it was OK if I quit. What brought this about was the young sous chef had decided that the way to deal with staff was to be the biggest arsehole prick you possibly can. For a while I sort of put up with this but pretty quickly it just started to get to me and wear me down. Eventually I was snapping back at him and frankly dreading the thought of having to come to work.

So it all came to a head a couple of weeks ago when the commi chef and I had to open the restaurant early and get prepping while the chef and sous arrived in from an interstate trip. We were well underway when the sous walked in in a foul mood and just started to rip into us. Well I had had enough, snapped at him that I was considering quitting and that I wanted to talk to the head chef.

After a chat with the head chef things have calmed down a great deal and the sous has started to be much more constructive in his advise and discipline. It was also good that we had Easter coming up and I had been given the full four days off.

Easter was wonderful up the coast at Serena's. The weather was absolutely perfect so we just shopped, ate and hung out. We even made it down the beach one morning where I managed to get dumped in a wave and kink my neck a bit. Nothing a few Nurofen can't fix.

Then back to work were we have changed the opening hours to drop lunch Monday to Thursday. Frankly we weren't making any money and the hours were killing Tom and Max. Financially the restaurant is still just getting started so, as the only person on an hourly rate, I am working only 40 hours a week.

This is a good and a bad thing. It is good because I actually have a life at home. It is bad because I am not getting the type of contact that I would like during the times we prep food for dinner. But I am going to give it a few months and see how it pans out.

On the plus side I am getting home around midnight but not starting work until 3pm the next day. So I get basically a whole day to run errands, work on my TAFE stuff, clean the house and just generally lay about. It's actually pretty nice really. Although I have to say as 3pm approaches you definitely have the "I don't wanna go!" start happening.

The last two days have been the first without a lunch service and I have to say it feels a whole lot more confortable in the kitchen. Everyone isn't as stressed about getting all the mise en place done for both services so things are running pretty smooth.

The only downside. They have stopped bringing in the kitchen hand so yours truly is in the dish pit each night keeping the place clean. Swings and round abouts.

On the upside both Tom and Damien have been commenting on how good the plates are that I have been sending out, so that is a wonderful recognition and great feedback. I have also taken a huge chunk out of my TAFE work so I am hoping that by early next week I can submit my final portfolio and have the first online stage finished. Sweet.

And on the home front my cooking has been going well. Check out Monday nights dinner.

And Deb has also been cooking up a storm on her nights at home. I have to say it is lovely to come home and find a covered dish with my dinner in the fridge with a little note. It is always a very nice discovery.

Ah, my days off
Tuesday, 3 April 2012 12:46 am

I got home Sunday night about 12:30am pretty wired so sat up way too late drinking wine and surfing the web. Monday I went into the city for lunch with the PwC guys which was really nice. I have absolutely no desire to return to the corporate world but its great to hear about all the familiar projects and people. No gossip though, I thought Claire would have something good but alas.

I then popped myself in a lovely park with a view of the Story Bridge and read a book for an hour or so while waiting for Deb to finish. We then headed up the coast to the Boat House at Cotton Tree for a birthday dinner with Libbette and Jaron. We got there WAY early so sat under the huge tree on the deck of the restaurant having a drink and watching the light change as the sun set. Very very pleasant.

Libbette and Jaron arrive, good thing because we were starving, and we went into the restaurant for dinner. The food was lovely and really imaginative with lots of ingredients that all worked really well together. But alas we had to make the jump back to Brisbane so headed off about 8:30 for an uneventful drive home.

Today I managed to get the lawn mowed, the cars washed and am working my way through the washing. I have TAFE work sitting staring at me but frankly I can't be bothered so have resigned myself to take it away at Easter where I can continue to ignore it.

The weather at the moment is glorious which just adds a nice edge to my days off and as it is only 10:45 in the morning I still have plenty of my Tuesday to go dinner shopping, get clothes washed and then spend some quality time on the deck with a book and my Furrgus.

And the best part is that I have the whole of Easter on leave so I am only working Wednesday and Thursday next week and then I am off until the following Wednesday. How sweet will that be!!!

Oh, and if your interested here's a pick of dinner last week. I have heard of Green Goddess Dressing before but hadn't tried it yet. It's a herb'y, mayo'y, cream'y dressing that works on both hot and cold dishes. I am definitely glad that I tried it because it is simply brilliant.