Monday, 19 October 2009

3 weeks and counting.....

So after last week's debacle, I was back in work on Monday with the afternoon team. Working afternoon shift is a little odd as we work Monday to Friday, morning on Monday and then afternoons the rest of the other days. Monday turned out to be pretty good, I got involved with some production work again....making copious amounts of chantilly cafe for one thing and then helping out with weighing ingredients for Ispahan, joconde, etc.... The afternoon team is a lot smaller than the others....the chef, his seconde, another commis and an apprentis. I was mainly taking orders from the seconde, have only worked with her on a couple of other occasions and wasn't sure what to make of her but actually, she's pretty nice to work with and also speaks clearly and slowly which is a luxury! The chef and her took the flak when the pate de cocoa that I put on the stove for her burnt......somehow am not sure whether I would've been let off that lightly on any of the other shifts?!! Finished off the shift with shaping some meringue shells for "surprise" - originally, the seconde got another stagiaire and I to do this work. Then the 3rd stagiaire, lets call this guy Boris sees us doing this stuff and thinks its a cool thing to do so goes running off to the chef to ask whether he can join in as well and unfortunately, we get lumped with him also. Boris reminds me a lot of a guy who was on my course at school, whom we always suspected as maybe of having mild ADD and also having the same annoying habit of butting his nose into your work....he's been on the receiving end of a few stares and "quoi"? from me......I mean, who has the luxury to be swanning around in the lab anyway, bar the chef??    

At the end of the shift, I ask the chef if he knew what the planning for me was for the next few weeks. This was when I finally discovered that I was supposed to be working the morning shift this week after all....of course, my "grinning and bearing it" face was not up to scratch but the "for fuck's sake, you amateurs" face was firing on all cylinders!! I was also told that next week was also my last week and when I queried that, they eventually had to look up my convention for the specific dates. When they finally realised that I would be working until the end of the month, they put me down on afternoon shift for my last week. Am really surprised at how disorganised these guys are?? I mean, how hard is it to read dates from some contract, update a couple of spreadsheets and coordinating this simple info between 2 shops? Hardly rocket science but clearly in the realms comparable to quantum physics for others?

So it was back to morning shift for me on Tuesday....a little sad cos I did like working with the afternoon team, looking on the bright side, at least, I will be with them on my last week of work. "Formally nice guy" wasn't in work which meant another one of the guys being in sooner had I got into the lab (didn't even make it to "Bonjour" to everyone), he's already getting me to help him do stuff.....all hunkydory but now that we had established that I was working morning shift, I thought that I would be working in the "tour" as previously discussed?? When I finally brought up the subject, the guy in charge for the day didn't know and thought maybe I would be going there tomorrow......luckily, this was confirmed later by "formally arsey guy". Helped out with making pastry cream today as well building a shed-load of "plenitude" and doing some other odd-jobs, fairly eventless day and best of all, I missed out on most of the cleaning which was nice :)

So, Wednesday arrives and I finally make it to the "tour" - this is a section of the lab where a couple of guys are in charge of making all the raw pastry (mainly pate sucree) for all the tarts sold in the shops, as well as all the viennosserie in the shop (croissants, pain au choc, brioche, kouign-amann, bostok, kougelhopf, etc).....oh and a shed-load of feuilletage for millefeuille, etc....          

Last 3 days of the week were spent working in the "tour" and so far, I have to say its been pretty good and easily, the best place to work in the shop for me to date. Its not exactly been a walk in the woods; physically, its demanding as hell, not helped if you're female and short but I've seen and learnt a lot, got to do maybe double the amount of stuff that I would normally do in production and the guys have been pretty patient and "nice". My French isn't good enough for me to tell them how much I love working with dough/ sounds kinda weird telling people in English that I love the way dough feels so how on earth am I gonna make it sound not weird in a foreign tongue?? Best to leave these things unsaid, methinks....  

To date, I've helped make kouign-amann, brioche, creme d'amande (50 kilos, maybe? including a funny/not so funny episode of forgetting to put the rum into the mixture!!), pate sucree (70 kilos, baby!! more than my bodyweight!!), feuilletage inversee and galettes - its all about quantity (and not forgetting quality) in the tour :)

As I said before, a great learning experience but tiring....have started waking up in the middle of the night cos my arms have got pins and first, I thought maybe I just slept on them but a friend mentioned that it might be from all the pounding of dough in the "tour', she may have a point.....I just hope that I have the energy to work 5 days next week there.....after surviving the disease trap that was Bonaparte last week, the germs have migrated to the production lab here with a bunch of people being sick and I maybe finally succumbing to a bout of flu, char!! Hope a 3-day weekend will be enough of a remedy :)   

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