Thursday, 25 February 2010

A little confused and stressed

Its been a few weeks since my last post and a lot has happened during this time. One demi-chef de partie left on Tuesday and the other will be finishing tomorrow which means that all 3 "original" team members will be gone by the time I am working next......its been sad cos they were all great guys to work with and nice people as well :(

The last few weeks have been stressful for the following reasons:
  • The learning curve has been really steep and compounded by everyone leaving. 
  • There has been no routine to my weeks as I need to work as and when I need to, so at the moment a lot of double shifts (16 hour days) which is not easy. 
  • The fact that no replacements have been found for the leaving pastry team members potentially meaning an unbearable workload and schedule.
  • Finding myself "in the weeds" during service and having to call the pastry chef for help.
  • Being under a souffle curse where it burst and I had to make another one in the middle of a busy service - my confidence is still fragile from this.
I was also starting to notice things about the pastry chef which weren't all entirely positive. Even though we are desperately short staffed (to the point where some of the cuisiniers have been drafted in to help out), he does not seem to bothered and still waltzes around the kitchen, spending a lot of time in the office when I would've expected him to be more "hands on deck" and mucked in with the rest of us. I understand that he is the chef but at the same time, it does not exactly set a good example for others who were led to believe that we are in dire straits. Between this and the stress caused by the above, I found myself a little down over the last few weeks and started to question why I was even doing this and was it worthwhile? It all to came to a head when I was plating for a big table of desserts (and getting stressed!!) when the pastry chef came upstairs and at the time, made things worse for me. He got upset and said that he thought that I had no confidence in him. It was the wrong time to discuss this in the middle of service but I had to explain that it was not easy for me because:
  • The memories from being shouted at by the manager a few weeks back haunting me every service (despite the fact that he was wrong and is an asshole)
  • The last time the chef helped me out with a table, he left halfway through and left me in the weeds. 
I expect him as a chef to take charge of a situation and provide me with clarity (like the junior sous chef) rather than slouch around in the background not saying a word and fiddling with a few things with no conviction or communication. He later told me that he believed communication was very important to him and yet, he did not feel the need to tell me when he was going to change the desserts menu for the restaurant (he only decided to tell the demi chef de partie). He explained that it was the demi chef de partie's job to relay the news to me - understandable when the team is large but when there are only 4 people in the team, I find the hierarchy a little excessive and not exactly morale-boosting when he refuses to communicate important information directly to the only person who will be staying in the team.......ME!    

The good news is that I have just finished another 3 double shift marathon and things are looking up:
  • There are 2 new people joining the team on Monday meaning I only have 2 doubles, 1 day off and 3 doubles to endure before getting back some sort of routine in my life.
  • The changes to the menu have meant less mise-en-place and complicated plating which gives more time to breathe.
  • I am getting faster at my work as tasks start becoming more familiar.
  • My souffles are not bursting anymore but need to sort out the tilting.
  • The services are starting to feel calmer and I have not had to call the chef for help, even during a busy service like last night which was a good feeling.
  • After a phonecall to the chef at the previous restaurant that I worked at to chase on my P45, it really put things into perspective when I realised what a wanker he is and in comparison, my chef here is actually quite a nice guy despite some reservations on a  professional level.
Fingers crossed that I will be able to get through the next week or so, especially when the big man in charge comes to visit the resto at the beginning of next month!!

Finally, a few pics (apologies for crap quality) of some of the desserts I plate, bon app! :)
Pre-dessert: A "lollipop" containing banana caramel and mandarin sorbet, dipped in white chocolate

The beginning of the plating of tart selection - upstairs, we have the addition of a quenelle of ice cream :)

Chocolat tendance - a signature dessert of the restaurant consisting of dark chocolate cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, crispy rice pearls, chocolate mousse, dark chocolate sorbet, and oreo cookie crumbs.

Sometimes there are requests for "birthday plates", which means writing Happy Birthday with melted chocolate followed by a piece of tart on the plate. As you can see, my 1st 2 attempts were pretty shoddy so 3rd time lucky (2nd pic!!) The top one is done by the pastry chef, the bottom one is by moi!

  A nice perk from the kitchen - some excess burgers so I got to sample one. Really delish, not a fan of foie gras but it really added to the flavour! (One affluent customer last week ordered this burger with no meat and no foie gras which seemed a little crazy!!)

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