05:30h woke up after hitting the snooze button for the nth time. Body stiff from a cold night’s sleep, recuperating from the previous day’s activities. I drag my ass to the bathroom to tap a kidney, and a blast of cold shower to wake me up and wash way the sleep wrinkles on my skin
0545h Pulling over my favorite kitchen trousers, shirt, then downstairs for a quick brekkie of cheddar cheese with wild raspberry jam on toast. Grab the keys and head out the door. The sun has yet to reveal its glory, so it is a pleasant bluish grey dawn. A cool breeze greets me as I head on down the street to catch a jeepney
0600h Caught the bus, left standing on the aisle. Seems to be a busy day for many as there is no seat available. Us standing grabbing onto the hang rails, each thinking of the day to come. Prep lists run through my head. Croissants, have they been delivered? The GM likes his croissants, three at a time. And being a Frenchman, he likes this particular purveyor. Chef de partie should show up today, with a 92% occupancy at the hotel, as it’s going to be busy. I watch the world go by as the bus lurches from stop to stop. On board TV mentions another bomb threat, this time at a prominent catholic school. Classes suspended. I gaze into the distance while the tabloid quality announcer drones on to the next story. After 10 minutes, bus is packed to full capacity. No need to hang onto the rails anymore. We are so squeezed together, balance is not a problem. I can relax my arm now. Most mornings it tells me how sardines feel like. I remember I have to call someone about silencing the exhaust from the kitchen hood. It’s deafening as of late.
0630h Took the first step off the bus and onto the pavement for the 20 minute trek to work. I didn’t mind the distance. I don’t often mind when I get to pass through one of the few greeneries of the commercial business district. Jovanotti now crooning in my head, the noise cancellation headphones making mincemeat of the rising traffic. Gives me time to focus on other things, like that couple who jogs. One can sync his watch by these two, as they round the same corner at exactly 0642h. No fail. Health buffs. OC health buffs. Both with matching cross trainers and ipods strapped to their shoulders. Makes me wonder: do joggers at this time of the day eat breakfast first before sweating it out? Or do they eat later? I personally know some joggers who go for the obligatory frappucino at the nearby coffee house after a run. Why bother?
0655h Don my whites and head into the kitchen and straight for the turnover log book. Busy night they had. No functions today, but occupancy has risen to 96%, and additional 36 people to feed between now and 1030h. I check in with the dining manager. GM has already went through his croissants, satisfied with the consistency. Breakfast buffet layout is ok, no delay in setting it up earlier. A couple are eating their meusli, newspapers between them, silently perusing the previous day’s events. James Cullum through the piped in music, and the sun has already extended its tendrils on the crisp white table cloths. This is where it gets surreal. A Kodak moment at the Brasserie.
0900h Second wave of diners have come in for breakfast. The tickets are fluttering on the pass, the kitchen now in fourth gear. 4 benedicts, 2 frenchies and a side order of baked beans I call out, getting the prompt ‘copy’ from my chef de partie. Ah, he is here today, but with a telling bruise just below his left eye. Domestic life is unbearable for some people, especially if you have a wife that beats you senseless often. Another story of woe, but our kitchen has a lot of stories. Culinary school graduate that fits the mold of spoiled brat is fiddling around his iphone while tossing some shallots. Did the course because dad did not want him to become a nurse. Fights have ensued because of this contradiction. High school undergrad who worked his way from dishwasher to line cook. Only breadwinner of the family. Steward recently had to scar off tattoo of his ex off his neck. Not a pretty sight. And so on and so forth. Bourguignon stewing in the pot slowly in preparation for lunch.
1030h Breakfast service over, 86 covers served. Breakfast meez on kitchen tabletops quickly replenished and stowed away for the next day. From other refrigerated drawers comes the ammunition for lunch service: garnishes, sauces, pasta and the meats. The frenzy for 1130 seating has begun.
1230h restaurant fully occupied. What? A tout bus decided to dump their passengers all at one go? Tickets now two deep on the pass, a few in my frenetic hand, calling out orders. ‘one tuna, one salmon, one lamb ordering! Pickup on 12! Fire on the Seared tuna with risotto!’ Kitchen screams back ‘copy’, the beginnings of being in the weeds. Last minute meez check reveals braised pork down to last three, and we only just begun. Replaced belly with pork chop, and will have to check with evening shift on why the braised pork was not prepped.
1300h Wait staff has just fucked up the ordering sequence. Started grabbing the plates off the pass without a check on the tickets. Vegetarian curry comes back for the third time. Captain waiter says table 5 waiting 20 minutes, I muttered no one called it yet. Busser backs into the kitchen (always not a good idea), eventually dropping tray laden with soiled plates and glass on the floor. Steward like flies converge and clean up the mess, and lunch service moves on. ‘Pick up on 21, hold the rissoni!’
1330h Vegetable purveyor makes delivery. Evidently a few hour too late as every available piratical kitchen hand grabs the produce to complete their mise en place. I head down to stock room to replenish meats, dairies and some first aid kit, as the chef de partie has nicked his finger prepping sliced corned beef. Blood everywhere. Skin hanging by a thread. A sight to see. By this time service has slowed down.
1400h Coffee and a cig. For just a few minutes while the crew catch their breath. Have to consult with My chef on how to best tackle the Chinese special. Some supplies have not come in, as their are being held ransom by purveyors due to overdue accounts. So the Valentine’s menu will have to be debated upon tomorrow.
1500h Lunch of boiled chicken and steamed rice with a side of fish sauce. And a tall glass of lemonade. Here I can shift to lower gear, and catch up on the news. Scribbled turnover and preplist for evening shift. Mentioned that we need more ribeye and risotto. Braised Pork being thawed for prepping. Pantry girl called in sick, so someone has to cover.
1600h changed back into civvies, and head on home
1730h Painfully peeled off the grease smelling clothes and plopped onto the bed for a quick nap before dinner.
How was your day?