Monday, August 31, 2015

A Muddy Walk

I really didn’t feel I needed another day off after having just had two off and only working one day, but you take days off when you can get them and I will be working Wednesday through Sunday and probably more. I took a long walk exploring a different part of the forest on the estate – the part where horseback riding is common and the part closer to the road and the part I knew much better.

This part of the forest was really interesting – I found a hidden bridge and a shooting range and a cool clearing. I felt like I was a million miles from anywhere, totally peaceful and tranquil, yet I could just hear the faint hum of a lawnmower in the distance. I either stayed close to the road, which was just past the rock wall surrounding the estate, or the river, that way I knew where I was going. I could see many hoofprints and footprints where I was walking, and lots of nettles too but I was careful to avoid those. It rained a bit, but the good thing about walking in the forest with some rain is that the trees mostly provide cover. The bad thing about walking in the forest with some rain is that it can get pretty muddy. My biggest fear during my walk was not getting lost or meeting some wild animal, but rather getting my shoes stuck in the mud and having to walk home in my sock feet. Seriously, it happened to a few friends of mine before. But I was about as happy as a pig in mud. As I was coming out of the forest path and back into the wetlands, I met a couple out for a walk. The woman was wearing a short dress and flimsy flats and the man was wearing a dress shirt and dress shoes, a common site on the castle grounds. They were headed my way, so I kindly warned them that it was quite muddy up that path, and they seemed appreciative of the warning. A beautiful stroll – but you have to be dressed appropriately for it!
As a chef you can't be afraid to get dirty - inside the kitchen or out! 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

One Long Work Day

This morning I got to work before 11:00a.m., knowing Sundays are busy. My schedule said ‘restaurant/bar’ so I wasn’t entirely sure where I was working. The starter cook told me I was in the bar and the other intern was in the restaurant, but I’m not sure if that’s what he truly thought or just what he wanted to happen. So I immediately began making up the welcome basket, then setting up the pastry section. When the head chef came in, he told me I was in the restaurant and the other intern was in the bar, and that I would be working with the other head chef on starters. Since he wasn’t in yet, I stayed in the bar and offered to do some jobs – and was put to work cutting up sandwiches for a function. Then I went upstairs to pastry, as the pastry cook wanted to explain some things to me (so I would know when I had to do them), and the head chef came up and demanded to know why two people were working on pastry today because he needed more help. I said I was going to help him, but it turned out he didn’t even have that much to do.

On the starter section, I was put to work making citrus cream, sweet white port and onion soup, brioche, soups discs, pear and lime chutney, and ratatouille chutney. This was already more than the original job he had given me, and he was in good shape now so I asked the mains cook if he needed any help, though I knew he would give me a mindless chopping job which I really did not want to do. Indeed, he got me to finely dice five red and five yellow peppers for ratatouille again, during which the head chef had to tell me I was chopping them wrong, even though when he demoed the ‘proper’ way, it was literally the exact same thing I had been doing.
Exotic fruit flowers - garnish for the crème brulée
Next I did go to help the pastry cook since there was nothing else to do and he was really hungover from last night’s village music festival and acting a bit loopy (singing Christmas songs in August???). I made fruit flowers and cut passionfruit and finished the petit fours, then I set up the section for service since that would be my job – it’s easier for me to do pastry service since I know it best, and for him to help with starters, appetizers and veg during service. Service went well, we had about seventy people in tonight, up from the fifty we had been expecting. The only tricky part was when I got five orders in at once, and one was a table of ten people but I managed just fine and it made service go by way faster. The head chef gave out to the pastry cook for not staying until pastry service was done, since he had been on pastry all day, but I didn’t see the point in both of us sticking around to finish service, and he left. I finished service before 11:00p.m., but stayed late to make sure the pastry section was cleaned down very well, as the head chef made a comment earlier to the pastry cook about it not being cleaned properly. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Internship Portfolio

Today I tried to be very productive on my day off by working on my internship portfolio. For my program at school, completing a 600 hour internship simply isn’t enough – we need a portfolio to go along with it to document our journey. I have been keeping up with this by writing these journal entries every day. However, there are other components as well – some I could have done earlier, some I can work on now, and some that will need to be completed at the end of my internship. Here are the required components:
Component One – Getting To Know The Site
o Choice of site
o Professional/personal internship goals
o Media articles/guest comments
Component Two – Researching The Operations of the Site
o Kitchen floor plan and efficiency evaluation
o List of brigade and job descriptions
o My job description
o Biography of the chef
Component Three – Looking At The Menu
o Menus
o My opinion of the menus
o Plate presentations
Component Four – Professional/Personal Journal
o Weekly journals
o Journal summary
Component Five – Logging Hours
o Authorized hours
o Chef’s commentary
It seems quite extensive and time-consuming, but once it is done it will be a very nice keepsake to have. It’s just a lot of work on top of the grueling hours in the kitchen, which is why I am trying to chip away at it during my time off. It’s partly my fault for choosing this particular site (no regrets though), but I made it difficult for myself. For example, since I work in several different kitchens (castle, bar, restaurant, marquee, prep), I need to draw not only one kitchen floor plan, but five. Also the brigade list will be tough to do since not everyone has a set job title, they shuffle around a lot as I do. This also means several different menus, some of which are long or change often, and lots and lots and lots of photos. Now, I take a lot of photos, especially food photos, and I don’t even have photos of half the dishes! Even on days off I don’t really get a break…!
Oh, come on, let's be serious here! I need this photo for my internship portfolio.
No more photobombs please!!!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Over The Lake And Through The Forest?

Today I was grateful for a day off after so many long working days, and the fact I was getting a busy Friday off was an added bonus! I had a lot of things I wanted to accomplish today, which included unpacking from my trip, getting caught up on my journals, organizing more photos, sending some mail, cleaning my room, doing yoga, chatting with people back home, doing some research, etc.
View of the castle from the other side of the lake
In the mid-afternoon, between the shower breaks, I decided to go for a long relaxing walk. I chose a path through the forest on the estate that I had noticed before, but never ventured onto. It was nice and calm at first, just a bit too muddy since it had been raining. But then the path seemed to drag on and on, and eventually led me to an unfamiliar location that I doubted many walkers ended up. I turned toward what I thought would lead me back to the lake I started at, but it seemed to be going uphill somewhere else. I could see the lake, problem was now I was unsure which of the three village lakes it was. Eventually I spotted buildings that looked like the village houses, so continued along that path, until I could spot the castle from across the lake. That’s a good sign. Getting back there would prove to be trickier though, since I ended up by a field of cows, a gate, and a sign that said 'beware of the bull'. I wasn’t wearing red, and adrenaline pushed me through and I ended up getting a real nice view of the castle from an angle I had only seen it through in photos. I walked back and felt I had a good hike for the day, then went to the chocolate shop for a treat!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wheat Allergy and Nut Allergy

This morning I didn’t wake up until 11:27a.m. – right before my alarm. I wasn’t actually expecting to sleep in that late, I was planning to head to work early anyway. But obviously I needed the sleep, so I then quickly headed in to work. First thing when I arrived, we had a wedding tasting in the restaurant tonight and I needed to prepare the three desserts, sorbets, breads, and petit fours. We keep individual portions of wedding desserts on hand in the freezer, but some have to be made fresh. Pavlovas for example, cannot be frozen, so I had to make the meringues straight away, then later whip fresh cream, pipe it on, and add the fresh fruit – one slice each of eight different fruits, which is kind of annoying to cut. Vanilla crème brulée was also on the menu, and sometimes we have some of the mix frozen, but not this time. I made it as per the pastry cook’s recipe, but he failed to tell me I had to heat the cream first (which I should have figured) so I had to redo it. Luckily I could just take a brownie and the bread rolls from the freezer.

Next, I moved on to the petit fours again – baking canelles, blueberry fananciers, and today madeleines for the wedding tasting. After some arguments as to what temperature, how long, and which fan setting to use for baking these between the three guys upstairs, the head chef settled it. I also cut up the white chocolate lime ganache, raspberry marshmallow, nougat, and lollipops. I also gathered the jelly, white chocolate cranberry fudge, and truffles for the wedding tasting petit fours. I prepped the sorbet for tonight – blueberry, and the sorbets for the tasting – mango passionfruit and celebration champagne. Then I moved on to my breads. I wanted to be creative and try some different flavors than the usual ones we do today, so I went with tomato fennel, orange raisin, and sesame, as well as the cranberry buns for the starter section. 

Things were going well, and I topped up the only things on my section that were slightly low – crisp mint leaves and chocolate slice, both really quick and easy jobs. I also made a fruit platter requested for the spa tomorrow. I was going to move on to some tasks that didn’t really need to be done for tonight, but could be, although the restaurant would be closed tomorrow, so it was either prep in advance or deep clean. I doubled-checked the wedding tasting function sheet, and saw that at the top it listed “Bride has a wheat allergy and groom has a nut allergy. Please ensure all dishes are suitable for both of them.” I’m glad I caught this when I did, as the other cooks hadn’t noticed it. Sure, these allergens are mostly an issue for pastry items, but still. I was wondering how, if it was only the bride and groom at the tasting tonight, either of them was planning to eat the chocolate walnut brownie?

Both the pavlova and crème brulée were fine, but I asked the head chef about the brownie. He seemed annoyed at first, as most chefs are with special dietary requests, but after a few minutes came upstairs with a recipe for me for gluten-free chocolate brownie, which I had just enough time to whip up before service began. I also had to get gluten-free bread from the freezer, remove all the rolls with nuts in them, and double-check the petit fours – the madeleines I had made had wheat in them, and the truffles may contain traces of nuts. Then I checked the ice creams and sorbets – most of which stated they may contain traces of nuts. So chef suggested serving them on the side and allowing the couple to choose if they wished to take the risk or not, and to offer an alternative sorbet – orange granite. 
The special dessert I made - mojito of lime confit with fresh fruit and chantilly cream
Once I had all that sorted out, I didn’t have to worry about being bored as I had just enough time to set up for service. Service was slow, but went well. Near the end of the night, the head server told me it was one of the waitress’s last days working here after two years, and asked if I would make a dessert for her. I asked which one she would like, and she said the lime mojito, so I made that up between orders, and made the plate special for her. She was delighted!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Alone On Pastry

This morning I got into work early and ready to go. I would be on pastry alone today – doing all the prep and the service, and I wanted to make sure I got everything done on time. If they were trusting me alone in pastry, I wanted to show I could handle it. We had only been expecting sixteen diners tonight, but that number almost doubled to thirty, which was still a fairly quiet night. I began with scaling the ingredients for the bread again, since that needed to be done and if I ran behind it would be all ready to go. I was waiting for breakfast service to finish in the big kitchen anyway. I also assembled some more delice desserts, and cut the chocolate topping for it. 

In mid-morning I got called to a staff photo, which has never happened before. All available staff from the kitchen, service, front desk, spa, accommodations, and gardens assembled outside the lodge for a photo for a magazine. That took up some of my time, but I was still in good shape overall.
Petit Fours from today (left to right) - lime white chocolate ganache, lollipops,
nougat, raspberry marshmallow, blueberry fanancier, canelles. 
Next I multitasked by making lime ganache, chocolate mousse, and fruit flowers at the same time. I then decided to make/cut the petit fours, as they need to be done every day. I cut up raspberry marshmallows, white chocolate lime ganache, nougat, and lollipops, and made canelles and blueberry fananciers. The problem was, I could not find the special silicone mold for the fananciers anywhere. It wasn’t right next to the canelle mold in pastry like it should be. Finally, the head chef managed to hunt it down for me. I made thirty-one more banana tarte tatins, as more bananas came in, although that was an optional task on my list. Then I finished my breads – parmesan, bacon, and onion, and the cranberry buns for the starter section, which I was reminded about twice, after I already had them done! I assembled some more fruit flowers, just to make sure I had enough, cleaned up, and set up for service. Service was slow and I still had a little time, so I also cut up some more cheese for the cheese board, and made the prep list for tomorrow. 

I felt I got a lot done today, and I enjoyed working alone in the quiet pastry section. The head chef checked in with me a few times, but other than that, no one really bothered me or questioned what I was doing – they trusted me to do my thing! During service, I even plated some of the starters and did the potatoes and veg. Early on in service, the head chef asked me to go downstairs and help out on pastry in the bar, as they got hit with a few orders – one with a group of twenty that had come in, which wouldn’t have been so bad but there were ten orders for kids’ ice cream and they were all different (one all chocolate, one two scoops vanilla and once scoop chocolate, etc.). Chef popped down during this and got mad at how messy the station was and how I should know better and should have gotten them to clean it down first. I’m sorry, but you asked me to help get orders out because it was busy, I don’t like to boss people around and tell them they are working too messily when they are evidently a little overwhelmed. 

Head chef told me to take a little rest and come in an hour later tomorrow, as there wasn’t a lot to do on pastry. I guess I deserve it from being so productive today!

On my way home from work I met the executive chef outside the bar, and he chatted with me about the things we needed to do in order to obtain all the necessary paperwork to complete my internship portfolio. He also told me I had to come in to breakfast some morning on him – as hard work deserves to be rewarded.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pleasing Pastry Prep

Bread rolls I made today, from left to right: tomato parsley, fennel, walnut
Today I was in by 11:00a.m. I had been told yesterday I would be working with the pastry cook in the restaurant doing prep, and I was very excited about this. He wasn’t there yet when I arrived, and although I know the pastry section pretty well by now, I didn’t want to start much without consulting with him. But bread rolls need to be made everyday, and there is no harm in prepping that early, so I weighed out the ingredients for four different kinds of bread. I was nearly finished when the pastry cook came in, impressed that I was already straight to work.

He showed me the prep list for the day, and we quickly worked side by side completing tasks, though any jobs he was doing he was sure to explain/show me them as well so I would learn. I made chocolate mousse, nougat, canelles, fananciers, passionfruit rolls, scooped sorbet, cut crème brulée, passionfruit emulsion, banana tarte tatin, lime ganache, and three types of bread – fennel, cranberry, walnut, and tomato parsley. I also got my prep list ready for tomorrow and made sure I knew what I was doing, asking questions on any uncertainties. I put in orders and cleaned up.

Service went well – I plated some apps but mostly did the pastry orders – fifty diners in tonight. The problem was, the orders came in groups of four instead of at a steady pace. At one point, the head chef complained I wasn’t wiping my plates, even though I was. I told him I didn’t think they were being cleaned properly in dish pit in the first place. It’s these little glass bowls that have lime foam in them for dessert that just doesn’t seem to want to come out that are the big problem. But if he’s complaining about the dishes and not my desserts, then I am happy – he’s just finding things to complain about now.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Gaining Responsibility

Today I was working in the bar, instead of the restaurant, since it was anticipated to be busy. I wasn’t very happy about that, but it turned out to be a good day (the cranky cook was off today, and I was working with the nicer cook all day today). It was one of those days where I had a mental list of things to do, and no time in between to be idle – just move on through all my tasks, and somethings have to get sidetracked to another task. I’ll give some examples.

I began by setting up the pastry section, then realized I needed to make apple crumble mix, so I quickly made that and put it into the oven. Then I put together the welcome baskets. I then did the mash, and moved on to work on the prep list from the mains course, only to discover no basil for my pesto until the order came in. Then a new cook showed up for work – his first day, and for some reason they got me to train him. So I set him up and showed him how to batter fish. Then I had to take care of a meat order. Then the veg order came in, so I had to take care of that too, and then I had basil to finally finish my pesto. But first we realized there was no veg of the day left, so I had to blanch them off as quickly as possible. Then I had to set up the new cook on how to make onion rings. Then I sliced some goat cheese. Then I had to show the new cook how to make crisps. Then I chopped a bunch of shallots. Then I had to take care of another order. Then I washed and cut some lettuce. Then I helped make staff meal. Then I put away the battered fish. All the while I would have to stop to fill pastry orders. Help with starter orders, and clean,clean, clean since the head chef is a stickler for that!

Exhausting-sounding day, but that isn’t even the half of it! I am not sure why they were getting me to show the new guy around, I mean, I’m only the intern but today I felt like I was second in charge in the kitchen. I don’t really like training people because I don’t think I tend to be great at explaining things, and since I am still fairly new I don’t know everything either, and I want them to be taught right the first time (unlike me). He was making onion rings when the starter cook told me to stop and show him how to make crisps since he needed crisps right away. I saw no real difference in the job, so I showed him. The starter cook came over and said he was doing it wrong. Then told me to show him the right way because he was busy. Well, I’ve never actually made crisps myself, so I wasn’t sure either. The starter cook was in quite the mood today – the head chef told him several times (and not only today) to clean his station as he goes. Even when it’s busy, you need to take thirty seconds to wipe down the table before continuing – you can’t work on a dirty station! 

Around 5:00p.m., the head chef told me I would be working in the restaurant tonight. I was surprised, as I knew the bar was expected to be busy, but the restaurant was too. 
Tonight's appetizer
I headed upstairs – were we were expecting seventy-one diners, and everyone was rushing around since we were short-staffed. I helped the pastry cook finish several jobs, then set up the station. Until pastry orders came in, I had to keep busier than last night. I plated appetizers, plated up the sides of veg and potatoes, read the starter orders and prepared components for them, cleaned, and just generally kept busy. I responded better to orders, as I am finally starting to better understand the mumbles of the chef. Before I knew it, pastry orders were flying in. I got hit pretty hard with pastry orders at the end of service after everyone had left (after being idle for a while). Then I was just waiting on one table for the longest time, as the two women had left and no one knew where, and the men didn’t know what they wanted. I couldn’t pack up and clean until their order came. Finally it did, and I finished up and cleaned up. Today was a whole lot better than yesterday - today I felt on top of my game and very productive – I accomplished a lot in the bar and did well at service in the restaurant. I think today was my longest day yet at 12.5 hours.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Busy In The Restaurant

Today was an interesting day. I figured if I was working in the restaurant, I would be put on pastry, but I was put to work with the head chef on starters and another cook on mains, whoever needed more help (even though pastry cook needed help too). That meant I had to wait to be told what to do, since I had no idea what needed doing. 

On starters I made citrus cream, segmented limes (which I was told were atrocious, and I’m not denying it. Segmenting fruit shouldn’t be that tricky but there is so much precision involved and no one had ever actually taught me how), made coriander lime dressing, made crêpes, made brioche and melba toast. Then I was sent over to mains, where I made mint yogurt spheres, picked and chopped herbs, made zucchini strands, concasséd tomatoes, finely diced a bunch of peppers for ratatouille, cut pork belly, and vacpaced stuff.
I made crêpes for the new crab crêpe starter dish
Once I was finished that, I decided to set up the pastry section for service, since I had nothing else to do and figured I would be doing pastry orders. I was right, and then I helped the pastry cook finish some last-minute jobs – as we had eighty diners in tonight and would need a lot of everything ready to go. We also had a wedding tasting for five people to prepare for as well; three warm brownies, and three Bailey’s cheesecakes. 

For some reason I was feeling, well, clumsy today. I did drop a plate when plating appetizers, but other than that, I just felt like I was going slower than I should, but trying to make sure all the plates were right as head chef was watching me like a hawk. He did say I was standing around too much at first, but the thing is they had all the other stations under control, and I just felt in the way. They stand around when they have a break. I was waiting for my pastry orders to come, and once they did, I felt more myself and in my zone. I was left alone at the end of the night, and finished service on a high note.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Don't Come To Work Sick

Today I worked in the bar all day and we did nearly 300 covers, which is extremely busy. My job was to handle the pastry section, help out with orders on the starter section, and do prep work. The biggest issue of the day was that the cook on starters was sick. He had not been feeling well yesterday with a cold, but today he seemed worse, likely because he had stayed late and come in early and spent all night packing for a move. So I wasn’t really feeling too sorry for him. Especially since he was taking it out on me.

I set up both the pastry section, and his section for him and put together welcome baskets. Then I began cleaning crevettes for him, but they seemed past their prime and I told him that and he still seemed to want to use them, even though he is usually one for “just throw it out.” I didn’t think it was a good idea, but he was telling me he needed them right away. I helped him with a bunch of orders because it was so busy, but I’m not sure if it was his cold or what, but I found him much harder to understand than usual. He must have been getting annoyed at my constant, “Pardons?” which really didn’t help half the time and I still wasn’t sure what he was asking of me. You could tell he felt miserable and couldn’t focus and was messing things up, and I tried to tell him to go take a break while I handled the section but he refused. He is stubborn and particular. So since he said he didn’t need anything from me, I went on to do a whole bunch of vacpacing for the mains cook.

Dessert of the day again - raspberry delice
In the evening, after making garlic potatoes and veg of the day (which I did wrong apparently, even though he had overcooked them), he yelled at me to make chicken mix because he had none left. I had asked him earlier if he needed anything, and after I quickly made it, during which he told me to sharpen my knife, even though that required me to take longer, I discovered he had not been completely out of it.

He got incredibly cranky in the evening, saying f-this and f-that and this is ridiculous and getting angry with the servers, dishwashers, and me. But yet he still asked me if I was ok, because I didn't seem myself today. He threw out a bunch of fish, saying the batter on it wasn’t right, even though they seemed fine to me and they had been freshly battered yesterday and he had said they were done right yesterday. He threw out way more than we could afford to lose. At the end of the night, the head chef just kind of said, “I told you so” saying he shouldn’t be in work, and now he may have to miss even more time. But he seems to insist he will still be in tomorrow, and extra early at that. I have learned a good lesson today, one I am glad I did not have to learn the hard way. It is important to take time for yourself. Never overwork yourself to the point of complete exhaustion. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by showing up to work when you aren’t at your best and doing only half decent jobs and being cranky with the world. Sometimes, you really do need to take that sick day, and that’s ok! You cannot work so many days in a row and expect to feel better.

After service and cleaning, I offered to help the mains cook from upstairs, who had a bunch of stuff to vacpac. He gladly accepted, although I should have realized, knowing him, that it meant getting me to do it all, not just helping. Oh well, I would appreciate the same thing done for me. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Back To The Grind

After a good 13.5 hour sleep (albeit slightly noisy with roommates coming and going) I felt refreshed for work this morning. Not too lonely either, but work would help keep my mind off things anyway. I worked in the bar all day doing prep. It wasn’t overly busy for a Friday, and fairly uneventful. Except for the head chef complaining about what the cooks made for staff meals – which was the same things every day in rotation (roast turkey, roast pork, fried fish, potatoes). He said, “I can order in anything at any price to make these staff happy. But you are too f-ing lazy and not imaginative enough and just make what you want!”

I mostly worked between the starter section prep list and prepping/doing orders for pastry. I made egg mix, salad mix, mashed potatoes, set up the section, put on a dessert of the day special of raspberry delice, crumble mix, strawberry compote, etc. I handled some orders for the starter section, and put together an afternoon tea that had to be held here as there was a wedding on at the castle. I was actually in a bit of a funny mood today. We served one celebrity and four of his guests (I made their chicken wings and salad!), but I didn’t recognize the name (Mark Moriarty). It is some huge chef with Michelin-star restaurants. 
Starter special/my supper - vegetable tartlet with crispy brie and cranberry relish

The cook on starters let me have a starter special of the day, a vegetable tart with crispy brie, because he knew I didn’t really like the staff meal of chicken and chips. That was very nice of him, but later in the evening he was not in a great mood. Little things set him off, like the chef at the castle refusing to send the afternoon tea treats over, etc. He was very upset with the condition of the starter section, as it had been the new cook handling it all week, and he was not organized at all. The cook was staying late to sort things out, and of course I stayed as well because I felt guilty leaving him. The others had already left, and he told me I should be going too, but I stayed and we got the job done faster.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Tough Good-Bye

This morning, my boyfriend and I woke up at 8:00, which gave us a few hours to explore a bit more of the city before taking the bus to the airport – where he would need to catch his flight back home and I would take a bus back to the county. The first thing we did was bypass the free hostel breakfast, and head across the bridge again to the cafés we had spotted on our way to the hostel, but were closed when we returned in the evening. Immediately we located a chocolate café and bar (why are chocolate cafés and chocolate bars not common sights back home???) that was already open. He found a giant berry Danish and some juice (he is a chocolate fan as well, but also loves berries, whereas I have more of a one-track mind) as I was studying the hot chocolate and milkshake selection – which were supposed to be award-winning. I also found a chocolate hazelnut cheesecake in the case that looked divine, so that along with a dark rum hot chocolate was my breakfast. Almost as good (or perhaps better) as breakfast in the castle yesterday. I also bought a box of cupcake-inspired chocolates to takehome. I think one day I may want to open a chocolate café, or at least live near one so I can be a regular customer.
breakfast - chocolate hazelnut cheesecake and rum dark hot chocolate
The other cakes shops and bake shops we (or at least I) had wanted to visit there didn’t open until 10:00a.m. Most things around were either open at 9:00 or 10:00a.m., but we had to leave the city by 11:00a.m. at the latest. We headed back over the bridge and explored that section of the city again, and I must have drove my boyfriend crazy insisting on stopping at every bakery/café/coffee shop I saw to at least have a look (and take pictures). He was still half asleep and kind of just went along with my plan. We did stop at some souvenir shops too, and visited the castle in the city, then headed to one more café to share a cherry cheesecake before collecting our belongings and heading to the airport.

We had forgotten check-out at the hostel was at 10:00a.m., and our keys no longer worked in our doors, but luckily they let us quickly go grab our bags (which were already packed) without charging us the late fee. We made it onto a double decker bus, giving us one last nice tour of the city. Airports are confusing to me. And we got off at the wrong terminal, but found the right gate, only to discover the flight was delayed to 15:15 instead of 14:35. So I decided to take the 13:20 bus back instead of the 12:50, giving us a little more time to grab a quick lunch, and my boyfriend was actually the one saying good-bye to me at the bus stop before he headed back to security. I hate good-byes. I’m no good with them at all. That’s why I am working on this now on the bus ride, to keep busy. It will be hard going back to life in my staff accommodations, after having roomed at a bed and breakfast with my boyfriend for over a month. But I only have about one month left until I return home, and I will get through it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Exploring The City

full vegetarian breakfast
This morning my boyfriend and I enjoyed breakfast at the castle. It was a real treat to be on the other side of the kitchen again. Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day, and I have always adored how breakfast is done at the castle. It is so special and so much care is put into it. I have tasted most of the elements on their own, but it is different to sit down as a guest and order what you want, and it made me realize why we hold an award for the best breakfast. Guests are offered tea and coffee on arrival, and are brought hot toast - white and multigrain. The tables are already set with sugar cubes, cream, butter, and marmalade. Guests can help themselves to the buffet set up in ceramic jars at the front of the impressive dining room. The buffet includes a minimum of five types of fruit salad (mixed fruit, apricots in vanilla syrup, prunes in port, pineapple in lime syrup, oranges in caramel, poached pears, grapefruit segments), several types of cereals (crisp rice, museli, cocoa puffs, wheat biscuits, cornflakes), several types of nuts and dried fruits (raisins, linseed, walnut halves, flaked almonds, pumpkin seeds), several types of juice (pineapple, grapefruit, cranberry, apple, orange), three types of homemade bread (brioche, wheaten, and banana), several types of jam, natural yogurt, several kinds of pastries, fresh fruit, and granola parfaits. Next they come to take your order for hot food from the menu, which includes full breakfasts and full vegetarian breakfast, omeletes, porridge, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, eggs Benedict, and kippers. My boyfriend ordered the full vegetarian breakfast and I ordered the buttermilk pancakes with seasonal berry compote. 

After breakfast we packed up and checked out of the castle, retrieved the remainder of our belongings from the B&B, and took a taxi into town. We then took a bus into the capital city. There was a bit of confusion with our bus tickets and which bus to get on, but we made it ok.

We arrived at the city bus station by 4:00p.m., which was a bit further from the hostel then we had intended to arrive, but still within walking distance. We grabbed a map from the bus station, and tried to find our way. I just wanted to check in at the hostel first because it was a bit annoying for my boyfriend to have to lug his huge suitcase around the city, and we both had backpacks as well. Problem is, both my boyfriend and I are bad with directions and I cannot read maps. After a few wrong turns, we found the hostel and the walk was not all bad as we found several interesting spots we decided to return to once we ditched our baggage. Plus the weather was great. We checked in to a hostel room with three sets of bunkbeds, no sign of our roommates, but the place seemed clean and comfortable enough, then headed back out into the city. We decided to just wander around, eventually heading back the way we had came, and trying to get to the few things I had on my list of things to do, but mostly just walking and stopping anywhere that caught our interest. 
Nutella waffle

One of our first stops was a chocolate café, where we shared an iced chocolate drink, an uncommon drink that we had last summer on our trip and absolutely love. It came with a truffle as well, and we chose a Bailey’s dark chocolate. Next we stumbled upon the crêpe shop I had wanted to go to, without even trying, so decided we may as well stop and eat a late lunch here. He had a Grand Marnier chocolate Nutella crêpe, and I had a Bailey’s Nutella Banana Ice Waffle. Both were made fresh to order right in front of us, were chocolaty, sweet, and absolutely divine. We moved on to some more city sights and exploring a shopping center, then eventually found the gelato place I had on my list, after a bit of trouble with locating the street. (Later we more easily stumbled upon two more of their locations). This place had tons of decadent gelato flavors, and crêpes as well. We discovered that a “take-home” container of gelato would be cheaper than us each getting two scoops, and the portion size turned out to be much bigger as well. The employee also let us choose four different flavors, so my boyfriend chose lemon sorbet and pineapple sorbet, and I chose Belgian chocolate gelato and Nutella gelato. I can never get enough Nutella. He gave us a ton of spoons, and we walked over to the park to sit, watch the ducks on the water, and eat gelato for supper. The fruit ones were refreshing, but of course I much preferred my chocolate gelatos. So very yummy! 

We started making our way back to the way we had came, only to discover a lot of things were closed by now, including the castle, wax museum, and the bakeries we had spotted on the way to the hostel. We figured we might as well turn in early, then wake up early when these places would hopefully be open again. We had been afraid less than twenty-four hours in this city would not be enough, but with just wandering around and not having any solid plans to visit museums or go on tours, wandering around allowed us to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time, pick and choose where we stopped, and was just plain fun! After discovering the wifi at the hostel was not working, we went to the city square to look up a few things and contact home. We didn’t visit any pubs or bars but enjoyed the warm city air. Back at the hostel, wifi was now working, so we watched another cooking show episode, though it was mostly my boyfriend interested this time as I was falling asleep. This hostel bunk was actually comfier than my bunk back in staff accommodations.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Typical Day, Special Evening

Today I was told I could come in to work for breakfast at 9:00a.m. instead of 8:00a.m. since I had worked late last night, but me being me I went in for 8:00a.m. anyway. I didn't want to stay late today. Breakfast shift was fine today, as I am beginning to become accustomed to how breakfast at the lodge works with this breakfast cook, and already know what tasks I need to complete. Right away I asked if I was to do the usual - traying pastry items and bacon. He said yes. I also had to take fish out of the freezer to defrost, as that would be my job in the bar later, and tend to the orders. There were a lot of orders coming in this morning, not huge ones but still orders did take up a lot of my time and I was glad I had decided to go in early. I made crepes again, then helped actually complete and plate the breakfast orders. See we had a pretty full house, but breakfast was slow because people would all come at once. So it would be quiet, then we have several tables come in and order at once. I am much more familiar with the breakfast menu now.

After breakfast and clean-up, I did the welcome baskets and mash in the bar. Then I had one of the most not fun and tedious (but necessary) tasks in the bar - battering. I had to first flour, batter, and fry a bunch on onion rings, then about fifty fillets of codfish. Battering needs to be done carefully and with care, and for that reason it takes awhile. Luckily the onions were already cut and the batter already made for me. Battered items need to be flash-fried, then spread on paper-lined trays in a single layer, blast-chilled, and packed away. We have four fryers, and generally in the afternoon during prep we try to use two for service and two for battering, but one of the service ones wasn't working, so half the time I only had one to work with. After battering and a good clean-up, I tended to more orders, cleaned out the walk-in fridge (yet again), and helped prepare staff meal. I left by 5:00p.m.
Belgian chocolate cake, red wine, chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate
To mark his last night here, my boyfriend and I prepared a special dinner of brie cheese, cranberry bread, chocolate cake, chocoholic ice cream, chocolates, and wine to enjoy together. Nothing fancy, but simple and so delicious.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Last Minute Shift Change

Today I went in for breakfast at 8:00a.m. It wasn’t too bad this morning – I was working with the first cook I worked with last week, and did many of the same tasks – traying scones, pastries, and bacon, sealing sausages, trimming mushrooms, putting away orders, helping plate items, cleaning up, changing labels. Today he showed me how to cook crepes, which I enjoyed doing.

After breakfast service was over, I headed down to the bar and set up the pastry section, put together three welcome baskets, and got the mashed potatoes ready. Then I went to work with helping out the starter section prep list – I decided to make all the sauces. I was just about finished the coriander and lime yogurt sauce, when the head chef approached me. He apologized several times, but informed me they could not get a hold of one of the cooks for the restaurant, who was a no-show today, and needed someone else in the restaurant during service tonight. He asked me if I could do a split shift, and return at 6:00p.m. to do pastry service. I didn’t really have much of a choice, but I didn’t really mind anyway, I like pastry service upstairs. The only downside would be working late tonight and early tomorrow, but at least I could go home to rest for a bit. It was already 12:30p.m., and split shifts end at 12:00p.m., so I cleaned up my station and left.
welcome basket
I got back around 5:00p.m. – early as we were short staffed, so I wanted to make sure everything needed would be ready for service, and see if the bar was really busy and needed any help. The first thing that happened immediately when I walked in was that I got an order. My boyfriend came in and ordered “Something special that Rebecca will make me.” I knew he wanted to try all the different kinds of sorbet we have on hand, so I quickly made him up a special plate of eight different sorbets (lime, raspberry, lemon, green apple, passionfruit, champagne, blackcurrent, blueberry) and some garnishes (heart wafer, chocolate stick, fruit, mint). I sent it with the server I know well, although unfortunately I forgot to snap a quick photo first. My boyfriend really enjoyed the sorbet selection, and later on the server gave him samples of all the beers we have here in the bar for free.

I headed upstairs to set up the pastry section. Service went smoothly – fifty covers tonight. Again, I was not too busy at first, so I helped out with appetizers, starters, vegetables, and fetching items. I handled all the pastry orders by myself, including the special vegan request. The orders came mostly in groups of two, which I find quite convenient, even if you get a few in a row. Again, I had to stay to the end while the others left, and didn’t finish until about 11:00p.m.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Today was a day of planning – planning the last few days of my boyfriend’s visit, planning and talking about what I am going to do during the school year (job-wise), what I will do after the school year (another internship?), if I will go back to school again the next fall after graduating (or continue with internships), and what my ultimate career goal is. All very deep stuff, but I am a planner by nature, and a worrier, and an over-thinker, and a dreamer, and a reach-for-the-stars type of person. Did I come up with any solid answers? No, but I generated plenty of ideas and came up with lots of goals and hopes and dreams, and know whatever path I take, I can be successful, I just need to choose what will make me the happiest. 
ice cream from the village shop

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Uneventful Day Off

Finally, a day off! A much needed break, so of course I didn’t do much at all today. The usual sleep in, go for a short walk, catch up on laundry and other chores. I did watch some cooking shows with my boyfriend though – Cutthroat Kitchen and Hell’s Kitchen, and after working in different kitchens all summer, it was fun to compare the kitchens on the show to the kitchens I have worked in.
Some chocolaty treats my boyfriend brought back from the bakery in town

Friday, August 14, 2015

Back To Starter Section

Today I got into work for 11:00a.m. Since it is Friday, it would probably be fairly busy. The restaurant upstairs was closed today, so there were nine of us in total in the kitchen today, though not all of us were there for the entire day. I expected with so many chefs around that I would just be doing the prep work still needed for the rush of the weekend, and handling some dessert orders as well. And I was fine with this, as I didn’t really want all the pressure of handling the starter section on such a busy day. But when I got there, one of the chefs de parties decided she did not want to be on the line today, she wanted to do prep, leaving the other chef de partie on the mains section, and me on the starter section. Time to get my head in the game and prepare for service.

The new cook had been on the starter section all week, but was off today. As always, everyone in the kitchen has slightly different ways of doing things and organizing things, and I had to figure out what kind of shape he left the section in. I haven’t worked on this station in a while, so I didn’t know where everything was kept, how much back-up of everything we had, and what needed to be done. I looked for the prep list, but he hadn’t left one, and I heard chef getting after him for that just the other day. The fridge was a mess, and labels were missing or out of date. I had my work cut out for me today. Luckily, we weren’t in too bad of shape – the only items we needed immediately were battered onion rings and fish and salad mix, and other prep cooks were already on those jobs. Good thing, because it took me the hour before service began to organize the station, make my own prep list, and come up with a starter special of the day. 
Special duck terrine starter
It was fairly busy at first, but I handled the orders smoothly myself. Then it got really quiet in the middle of the afternoon – hardly any orders at all. I tried to get some prep done, but didn’t want to get too involved in any major tasks. I put some orders away and cleaned. I assigned the other intern jobs to complete. I think chef thought I was not doing very much or moving very fast today, but after not being on busy service for a while, I was just trying to ensure everything be done properly.

We were expecting three big groups today – a group of ten, a group of fourteen, and a group of thirty, all to order starters, mains, and desserts, but from a reduced menu. We knew what times they were coming too, so around those times we were crazy busy and chef said we had to buckle down and prepare for it (plates, garnishes, etc.) as much as possible beforehand. I did not handle many of the mains during the crazy rush of thirty, as the chefs de parties were cooking and head chef expediting, but I did most of the starter orders and a lot of the desserts.

Overall, working the line was not so bad today, and everyone else left early, leaving me (in charge) with the other intern to finish cleaning and closing up.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fine Dining

I was on breakfast again this morning. It seemed to be going well at first – the same cook as yesterday was on and seemed to be friendlier to me. But then I told her I was going downstairs to put the orders away. I was gone for a while because three orders came in and a bag of peas spilled all over the freezer floor, and I decided while I was down there I may as well tray up the scones, pastries, and bacon. She probably didn’t want me to do that during service but I knew she would get me to do it later, so why not get it done now while I was not busy? Service wasn’t that busy, she must be able to handle two orders at a time on her own. She seemed a little upset that I had been gone so long, and was mad that I came upstairs with mushrooms, tomatoes, and parsley because she hadn’t asked me to bring them. But she needed more of them prepped anyway, and I was just trying to be efficient. I helped her with more orders and prep tasks and then cleaned up after service.

Then I knew I was working in the bar until 4:00, so I asked the cook if there was going to be a dessert of the day special on. He gave me his base recipe for panna cotta and told me to go make it, to choose whatever flavor I wanted to add to it. I headed up to pastry and quickly whipped up a milk chocolate orange panna cotta. When I brought the mix downstairs, he seemed skeptical that I had been able to cool the cream mix so fast, but told me to make the mashed potatoes then pour the mixture into glasses and chill it to set. Since it would take a while to set, it would be the dessert of the day tomorrow when I would be in all day. Chef told me my jobs of the day would be to take care of any more orders that came in and to organize the spice rack.

This kind of seemed like a make-work project for me, except I knew it wasn’t because there was plenty of prep work to do. He just really wanted this shelf all organized and clean. I had to hunt down all the small square containers and empty any bagged spices into them, then create labels with them on the label maker along with their best before dates. I did all this, and even alphabetized the shelf. 
My beautiful organized spice rack
Next I decided to tidy out the big walk-in fridge, organize that and check dates and labels as technically that is part of my job with tending to orders as well. It took me awhile to go through it, but I did. Afterwards Chef asked if they had locked me in the fridge, and said it looked really good. I decided to stay until 5:00 and vacpac a bunch of soups I had found in the fridge.

At the start of the week I had decided to book a six course dinner for two in the fine dining restaurant I have been doing some pastry service in lately, to treat my boyfriend before he went back home. Tonight seemed like the best night, since I would be off early and wasn’t on breakfast the next morning, and the restaurant was open but not too busy today. The chefs were all aware I would be in, and would be sure our meal was perfect for us. They kept asking me what I would be ordering, or saying I should leave work early to get ready, and whatnot. 

I had been trying to surprise my boyfriend, but since we are in a small village and I had told him to make sure his dress shirt was ready to wear and not to eat a big lunch, he kind of figured it out. Oh well, it was still a nice treat for him. We really enjoyed our meal, we went right when the restaurant opened at 6:00 and I recognized all of our servers of course. I didn’t really care what I had to eat, since I have tasted most it it all already, so I asked my boyfriend what he wanted to try most, so we could share things. 
gravalax starter

Our menu was as follows:
Bread, Me: Parmesan
Him: Tomato Basil
Appetizer, Me: Salmon Gravalax with cucumber salad, orange beetroot puree and dill crème fraiche
Him: Guacamole in Red Pepper Jelly (vegetarian option)
Starter, Me: Sweet Port and White Onion cream soup with gubbeen cheese crouton
Him: Tomato Tasting Plate with pressed tomato and basil terrine, tomato sorbet with basil, tomato sorbet with parmesan foam, tomato essence tagiatelle and gazpacho jelly
Soup/Sorbet, Me: Parsnip Soup with hazelnut oil
Him: Mango Sorbet
Main Course, Me: Fish of the Day, Pan-fried Halibut with French-style peas and onions soubise
tomato starter

Him: Provençale Vegetable Gateau, courgette and tomato with red onion compote topped with crisp aubergine, red and yellow peppr, honey dressing
Vegetables and Potato Side Dish To Share, honey-glazed parsnip chips, tomato confit, champ mashed potatoes
Dessert, Me: Hot Chocolate Mousse Soufflé, vanilla ice cream
Him: Mojito of Lime Confit, mint and white chocolate ganache, dark rum crumble, lemon sorbet foam
Petit Fours To Share, lollipop, mango marshmallow, blueberry financier, vanilla canelle
Drinks, we both had sparkling water, a glass of Snapper Rock Sauvignon Blanc, and with petit fours he had a Bailey’s coffee. 
fish of the day

It was much more relaxing for me to be on the other side of the kitchen – you can take the chef out of the kitchen, but you can’t take the kitchen out of the chef. We chose such a table that gave me a view of the semi-open kitchen when the swinging doors were opened, and I could clearly make out the voices of all my coworkers. I could also see them working at times, and heard our orders being called out. I easily made out the sound of the oven buzzing and the blender whirring. I heard the starter cook ask chef what I had for my main course. My boyfriend could hear these things when I pointed them out to him, but otherwise didn’t really notice them. Our food was amazing, as usual in this award-winning restaurant, and the evening was lovely – someone played piano in the restaurant and afterwards we sat out on the patio overlooking the stables since it was a warm and pleasant evening.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Split Shift

Freshly baked breakfast pastries

This morning I arrived to work the breakfast shift with a different breakfast cook. I thought she would be a lot nicer and more patient than the breakfast chef I had been working with. Boy was I wrong! I’ve worked around her (but not directly with her) many times before and she was always kind to me. But today I found her mumbling, and very difficult to understand with her thick accent (I didn’t foresee much of a language barrier travelling to another English-speaking country, but I did not realize a good half of my coworkers would be from away). She was not patient with me at all, although I had only ever worked two breakfast shifts before, and still did not have a clue what I was doing or how the entire process worked. To complicate matters further, she did a lot of things the exact opposite way of how I was taught yesterday, and kept telling me I was doing things wrong. I started with sealing sausages and putting orders away again. She told me I was sealing sausages wrong, that they weren’t cooked or something even though they aren’t supposed to be fully cooked, as they are then baked. She also didn’t understand why I had disappeared, though I had to deal with the orders. I did some other basic tasks, and asked if I should tray bacon and scones and pastries, or make a batch of scones or shortbread like the past two days, but she said, no, not until later.

So I was trying to make the best of the time and do as much as I could to help (the things I knew how to do). Unfortunately, to make matters worse, the power randomly went out three times this morning. This seems to happen way more often than it should around here. It was only for a few seconds, but that is enough to turn all the gas off so we have to relight everything. I am not really familiar with the switchbox that controls all this and how to operate it, so I left that to the cook. She couldn’t get it back on, and we had three big orders in. She just kept saying to the servers, “No gas! I have no gas! Can’t cook!” like they could do anything about it, and were supposed to tell all our diners, “Sorry but we can’t make your breakfast because our gas won’t turn on.” Finally, the head server came to tell us she had called maintenance who would come right away, but the cook just kept repeating about having no gas and was not listening at all. Eventually it came back on, and then luckily I was able to help her with the orders that we needed to catch up on. Service was nearing an end and I was trying to start cleaning up, but she kept getting mad at me for taking away dishes and whatnot, and I just wanted to give up. She got mad at me for throwing out a handful of leftover baked beans, even though they had been sitting there all service and I was told yesterday to throw them out, because she wanted to use them for staff. So, did you want me to save this old oatmeal too? 

Once service finally did end and I was cleaning down the kitchen, she told me to tray up the scones, pastries, bacon, and pick parsley. These are all jobs I offered to do during service when I had nothing else to do, and now she’s making me take time to do them. I told her I was working upstairs now (as I honestly thought I was), and she said, “No, you’re working with me until 12:00.” So I went to the pastry cook to see if I was indeed working with him now, and he told me I better check with the head chef. So I went down to do that, and he had to look at the schedule, and as usual, didn’t seem to know where I was working. His rambling went on something like this: “Oh, you worked breakfast this morning. So you’re here until 4:00. Yeah, I think you should work in the restaurant. Oh wait, who is on in the bar. Hmm, no we need you in the bar. Actually, most of the prep is done. But this isn’t a full shift, so you can’t work in the restaurant. Yeah, work in the bar. Unless, you could do a split shift. Then you could work in the restaurant. There is no point in helping out with prep but you could do service tonight. I’ll leave it up to you. You can work in the bar until 4:00. Or you can work until 12:00 and then come back at 6:00 for a split shift.” I thought about this. I really wanted more experience in the restaurant, as I asked chef and he said several chefs were leaving and the pastry cook would be changing sections and they needed someone to cover pastry, and I definitely could. I said I would be up to that, but I definitely needed more training. I have to work 8-4 tomorrow and the restaurant is closed Friday, then I am off Saturday and Sunday, so I will have to wait until next week for more training. But at this point, I really didn’t feel like doing bar prep work again today, I could tell everyone else in the bar was in a bad mood, and I was tired and not feeling great and not feeling great about my work that morning, so I decided I could benefit from a break, going home and resting. Although it would be a late night and I am working breakfast again tomorrow, I wanted the experience in pastry service in the restaurant. I told chef I would work the split shift, which I’ve never done before, and he said that was a ‘bold move’. I hadn’t thought so, honestly I thought I was taking the easy way out.  

I made it back in by 5:30, early but I wanted to make sure everything was set up before service began at 6:00. I trusted the pastry cook would have all the prep done, but it would be my job to set up the station. I set up and got all ready for service and familiarized myself with the appetizer, potato, and veg of the day. We were in service and things were going well, not too busy but steadily putting out orders. Head chef was wandering between up and downstairs to supervise, as there were plenty of us working. At one point, he came up and said the bar was very busy and one of us needed to go down to give them a hand for fifteen minutes. I’m not sure if it was because I was the most familiar with the bar of the group, or because I was the least busy at the time since no pastry orders had come in yet, or because I was the most reliable, or because they liked to take advantage of the intern, but I was nominated. Of course I obliged.

Downstairs the bar was, well excuse my language, but it was a shitshow. It was the usual cook on mains, the brand new cook on starters and the other intern switching between starters and pastry. I told them I was here to help, and the cook in charge told me to work the pass. This meant standing with them, shouting out the orders, what I needed on the pass and when, what sides I needed to go with what mains, etc. Again, it was a mess of starters, mains, desserts, and kids meals, and I have no experience whatsoever working the pass. But they needed someone to coach them through the mass of orders accumulating, and I was best to do it in the situation. I did my best, and the main chef was very patient with me, but totally losing his patience with the other two. He seemed grateful I was there to help.

I was calling out orders, what needed to be on the pass asap, etc., while one of them was doing mains, one was doing starters, and the other doing the frying. I would call for something, and the two on starters wouldn’t answer me. Then the mains cook yelled at them for not answering. He yelled at them that dishes weren’t looking up to par. I was plating and yelling and organizing. The intern was slow, just kept telling me things were ‘cooking’ when they should have been cooked by now. I had to run to the fridge to restock their station, and do pastry orders since I was faster. I was doing a pastry order when the head server came over and asked me to please give that job to the other intern although she was slower, because I was better on the pass and the mains cook needed me. Then the kitchen started to get smokey and something smelled burnt, and we realized the intern was burning caramel, so then we had to get three servers to wave towels at smoke alarms to prevent them from going off and causing even more chaos. I was down in the bar getting them sorted out for about an hour, then finally got to go back upstairs and fulfill some pastry orders as that’s why I chose to do a split shift.

The pastry orders in the restaurant were a cakewalk compared to the bar, except for one diner who didn’t tell us in advance she couldn’t have dairy, eggs, gluten, or soy. And we had to be nice, as she was a journalist. Other than that, I was the last one in the kitchen at 11:15p.m., because desserts are the last thing to go out, and the others all abandoned me, which only just let me know that they fully trust me to do service alone my first time handling that section.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Kitchen Controversy

This morning I was on breakfast shift with the same chef again. Luckily when I got there I saw he was rerolling the shortbread and not making me do it. He got me to do the same jobs as yesterday, and I feel I put the orders away more quickly this time, although there were more of them. So I did a few more jobs for him as well. Then he showed me how to plate three items, saying I would be working with a different cook tomorrow and she might make me do the pass. I didn’t think this was a good idea since I have virtually no training on breakfast, and all my breakfast experience lies in the castle where things are done differently, but this is a different cook who may need more help under the pressure. Though his three quick explanations, all of which involved the phrase, “See? Easy peasy.” Aren’t really going to help much. He told me the cook would get mad at me for ‘just standing around’. I never just stand around, but I’m kind of scared to do anything without you telling me exactly what to do, since whenever I try you tell me it’s wrong. Like today when I was told to clean up, but not to clean up things until service was done. Does this make sense? No, it really doesn’t. Then he accused me of ‘playing’. I don’t play, either, though sometimes it is important to experiment and have fun in the kitchen. He asked me to tray up some more pastries, ensuring there were a few of each type. So I carefully put some of each on a tray, when he comes up and dumps the container (consisting on only one type) onto the tray and says, “I told you, there is no time for playing! It’s busy!” Yeah, that’s why you have tome to flirt with the servers. 

I was so excited to finish breakfast service and switch to pastry. I was working with another cook, as the one from yesterday had the day off. He seemed surprised I was working with him, and got me to make croutons to start. Then he came up and told me I had to go down to the bar and set up the pastry section, then make the puff pastry tartlets for the main course section. I was confused, I would never get around to training on this pastry section, and I was supposed to know it by the end of the week. Upset and frustrated, I went downstairs to find a prep list on pastry.
- Make chocolate sauce – we already had three bottles of it!
- Fill bottles – what bottles? What does that even mean?
- Make two tubs of apple crumble mix for the weekend – First of all, it’s Tuesday. Second of all, we already have three bags of it. Third of all, we have no raisins so I can’t.
- Fill cream canister. – It’s already full and that’s a two second jon that goes without saying.
- Cut peaches. – Well that was fun.
- Make berry compote. – It just simmers on the stove, the others in the bar can do that while they work.
- Ask pastry cook to make 3 kg crumble. – Well considering you wrote this list for me, I am assuming you will do that, thanks.
I finished these jobs and setting up the section, which wasn’t in great shape. But the best part was how I was greeted by the head chef in the bar today. “When you put away orders, you can’t just put things where you find an empty space. They have to be put away properly.” I was confused, as I knew I put away the orders properly, including freezing my butt off to put away the frozen bread order. I asked him what was not put away properly, and he named items I had not seen in the orders I received. I told him that it was not me who dealt with the order, and he said, “Who was it then? I’d like to speak to them.” I don’t know who it was, but that company did not arrive when I was around, although the breakfast cook then did try to tell chef it was me. Thanks for assuming I am to blame before asking me, I really appreciate it. Luckily I have the guts to stand up for myself. 
The dreaded puff pastry!
Then I moved on to the puff pastry job. This involves scoring and cutting large sheets of puff pastry into rectangles, brushing with egg wash, and baking them for our goat’s cheese tartlet menu item. I haven’t ever done them myself, though I’ve seen them done plenty of times. I’ve also seen them done differently and seen them argued about plenty of times. I asked the cook on mains, and first she told me ten per sheet, then twelve per sheet. You can’t trace already prepared ones because they shrink during baking, so they have to be made bigger. I scored them, then cut them two by six, when one head chef told me I was supposed to brush them with egg first, and the egg had to have milk in it too. Then the other chef told me they were all wrong, all the wrong size and not consistent, and where was my ruler, and didn’t we have a template for this, and why did the mains cook tell me to do it this way, etc. etc. I don’t know what happened to our template, a ruler would be great if anyone could tell me what size I am supposed to make them, and did you want me to throw these out, make forty more of them, or you the ones I have??? I went upstairs to check with the pastry cook, who was no help and instead made me wait for his crumble to finish baking just so I could carry it downstairs. Yeah, thanks, I’m busy too. The mains cook, who was just as annoyed at chef as I was, told me to try 7 by 18.5 centimeters. After cutting and baking four trays of them, she realized they actually shrunk too much, and had done the math wrong under the pressure of chef yelling at her, and now we would have to tell him they were too small and start all over again. Finally, I cut one 9x18 centimeters (larger than her next suggestion) and baked one as a test, and we decided that would do. It took me a lot longer to finish that job than anticipated, but the good news was I ran out of time to batter the fish and onion rings which would have been my next (crappy) job.

All day I listened to chef, who seemed to be in a very bad mood. He got mad at the new starter cook, who is expected to know everything by now after working for less than a week. He got mad at him for working too slowly and doing things wrong or not knowing how to do things, no his fault the pastry cook trained him and he doesn’t care much about the bar at all. But who he REALLY got mad at was the pastry cook. He had been working the bar yesterday, and apparently got NOTHING done. “You got absolutely NO prep done yesterday. How can that be? You weren’t doing orders, because the new guy was. So you were supervising him doing orders all day? And now we (the head chefs) have to do all your prep work? All of this should have been done yesterday. What are you getting paid for? And I like how you haven’t even apologized to us down here that now have to do your prep. You just amble on back upstairs and do your important jobs. And why is this batter lumpy? Oh, because you ‘forgot’ to pass it? I am going to have a talk with the executive chef to review your pay. You aren’t getting paid for getting nothing done!” 

I put away two new orders that arrived, then got the heck out of there!