Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Double shift challenge

After a bit of a stressful weekend of moving flat, it was back to work on Monday morning - despite having had a couple of days off and knowing that I would be off Tuesday and Wednesday also, it came as a bit of a surprise that I was flagging by the evening......a little worrying as I had 3 double shift awaiting me towards the end of the week.

My double shift challenge started on Thursday which wasn't too bad as I spent the whole day doing mise-en-place.....our demi chef de partie had come back early from holidays to help out so I did not have the pressure of service for the night. Friday and it was just me and the pastry chef at work - we had the help of a junior sous chef from the cuisine which provided some relief for us and she was also a big help to me when I was in the middle of service and everything seemed to pile up on me. Initially, the pastry chef had come up to help me with service and halfway through disappeared - at the time, I thought that maybe he had gone downstairs to get something but no, he had left me in the lurch! The junior sous chef arrived shortly after and with her help, we managed to get the place back in order and the desserts out OK. Its great to have someone working with you who commands respect with the waiters and has the ability to call them over for service - not an easy job as our station is a bit isolated in the corner of the dining room. If only every day was like this......

Saturday went OK in the morning as well since we had an extra pair of hands again for mise-en-place - the senior sous chef was helping us out and I was able to focus on what I will be needing for service. Later, the chef de partie who had left last week was called back in to give a helping hand for service - kinda tough for him as he had been out clubbing the previous night and didn't get home until 8am! The pastry chef is extremely lucky to have such a decent friend to rely on on tough times......especially when he has just quit as well!!

To say that service was shitty on Saturday night is a massive understatement - I guess it affected me badly as up until then, things had been going pretty well at the new job with no serious cock-ups. Well, that all changed when my first souffle of the night had a massive hole  in it and the waiter said that it was not possible to send it out. Unfortunately, the backup souffle was just as fucked so I would have start from scratch, meaning an extra delay for the guests. Eventually, with the help of the pastry chef, we managed to send a decent looking souffle out but the hole issue would haunt us all night and even now, I don't know what caused it?

So what else went wrong?

  • Got shit from one of the managers complaining that a particular table had been waiting 40 minutes for dessert. He confronted me and there was confusion at the time cos I was stressed out with another table ordering souffle, I thought he was talking about that? After he had a chat with the pastry chef, it turns out this asshole manager ( I say this on the basis on what other staff have said about him) was in the wrong anyway cos he had put the order in for dessert and it was for the tasting menu. The protocol for tasting menu desserts is that a ticket is issued at the time of ordering at the beginning of the menu and when it is time for service, it is the responsibility of the waiter to inform the pastry section that desserts can now go out. The confusion is the ground floor restaurant does not operate this way (which is where this manager normally works) and his reaction was to lay the blame fast and thick on yours truly. Not exactly what I needed in the middle of a shit service. He didn't learn from his mistakes either since he enquired about more tasting menu desserts at the end of service and when I asked for a ticket, he gave me a look that basically said that he had forgotten what the pastry chef had told him......again.
  • Chantilly cream that the senior sous chef had made for me was not whipped hard enough which resulted in creamy water oozing onto my dessert plate - not a big deal usually, but I was desperately short on plates and this was not the cockup I needed.
  • Bloody decor on the pre-dessert kept on falling off every time I went to serve them so had mashed up yellow chocolate flowers strewn across the floor of the station.
  • Chocolate sauce for the most popular desserts decided to stop working and block up in the bottle which really wasn't what I needed.
  • Not enough time to drain babas, which got a word from the pastry chef saying that the rum could not penetrate the pastry.
  • Running out of semi-sphere chocolate decor for choux dessert on the very last table of service!
  • Not enough plates.
  • Waiting staff being their usual un-cooperative selves.

A lot of negatives and as you can imagine, I was shattered come the end of Saturday night. However, there isn't any point on dwelling on all the shitty stuff so what has been going well?

  • I have been put in charge of service on my own (for the most part) for a 2-Michelin star restaurant desserts section after maybe 2 weeks in the job? Not bad for a novice in the industry!
  • I got a compliment for a perfect souffle the first night I made them (it might have been beginners luck but I have made a good souffle before and need to recapture that magic again, toute suite!!)
  • The pastry chef has told me that I am doing well and that he is happy with my work.....he even said service was brilliant last week and despite my shitty service on Saturday, he didn't think it was so bad......we have a good relationship and hopefully, this bodes well for me :)
So yes, I ended the week on a bad note but in the grand scheme of things, its not going so bad.......again, because of the hecticness, no photos of desserts......however, I leave you with a picture of "afternoon indulgence" - our resto's mini-version of afternoon tea served in the bar in the late afternoon/early evening - this tier of goodies, along with some tea and a glass of champers will set you back only 14 squid! Bon app!

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