Post 18 – Day 1 – 4 (of 22): Yes chef!

No time to write anything in these four days, because I’ve just worked. 43 hours in 4 days.

After my last day of the internship I waited until the next Wednesday, when I went for a bike ride and I stopped at the restaurant. The head chef was there, sitting outside with the other chefs during the afternoon break. I asked him: “Hi chef, do you have any news for me?”. He told me: “Yes, I spoke with my boss and he offered  you a part time job as apprentice 4 days a week, starting from next Tuesday”. “Good chef, I’m very happy so see you next week!”. I was also happy because I would have a party on that evening and I didn’t want to go to work the next day. 😀

Therefore he spoke about at part time job: “30-35 hours a week”. In 4 days. Tuesday Wednesday from 5 pm, Thursday Friday from 9am to finish (about 10-10.30 pm). Ehm… pretty strange to me, since I come from the 9 to 5 work in the office, 40 hours a week for me is a full time job. But in the restaurant industry it’s more than 50…

Anyway, before starting the “official” job I wanted to buy the most important tool for a chef: the chef’s knife!
After 3 days of research, reading reviews, visiting 7-8 shops of the city in order to grip the knives with my hands I opted for the Messermeister San Moritz Elite. I’ll write a post about it tomorrow.

December 3rd 2013, 5 pm: first day as apprentice at Le Bistro des Artistes. The chefs were happy to see my face again (or maybe they were just polite :D). They assigned me to the larder section where I prepared the usual 2 cold entrees (terrine board and beef carpaccio), served amuse bouche soups, prepared mise en place for the day after. It was a relatively busy night during which many orders arrived in the same time. I didn’t organized myself properly and I messed up an order. Instead of finish plating some entrees I started to prepared 15 amuse bouche soups when the chef called: “2 carpaccios and 1 terrine boards on the pass!”. Shit. I was half way of the plating. “30 seconds chef!”. He yelled: “You’re too slow mate!!!”. Shit (again).

The day after same story, except that in the morning I have to go to the office to work from 11 am before going to the restaurant for the evening service. The second day was fine. I went to sleep around 1.30 am.

Nevertheless the day after was on of the most shitty work day in the restaurant (maybe in my work life). I suppose to be ready at 9 am but I was there at 8.30.  After 10 minutes one of the owner, the pastry chef E., arrived. I changed and waited for one of my colleague for job assignment (I already had to finished 15 tomatoes concasse). Chef K. arrived and asked me to bring in the deliveries from the back door. I placed the milk on the cold room, that is located in the pastry section. Therefore where chef E. was working.

He asked me (with his “lovely” French accent): “Did you put the new deliveries on the back and the old one on the front? Did you also put the new fruits on the bottom box and the new on the top?.
Me: “Ehm, I don’t think so, chef K. did…”.
Chef E.: “Ok, you have to put them on the bottom, do you understand?
Me: “Yes, ok”.
Me with a Gomer Pyle’s styling-smile : “Ok… ops, yes chef!”. 😀
Then I thought it will be better to remove the smile from my face and appear sad in order to keep him happy.
Chef K. whispered me: “Welcome to the real world.”
*! Well start for the first full day…

Then he started complaining about the dirty windows and ordered us to clean them before starting any jobs. Then we started working and when I was catching some stuff from the ground he asked to one of the other chefs: “What’s his name?” (referring to me)
Chef A: “Nico”.
Chef E. “Nico, can you please put your pants on because I don’t want to see you FU**** ASS AGAIN!!!”.
Me: “Yes chef, sorry chef”. F*** ***.

The service lunch was tough. A lot of prep for the mise en place, all the chefs running despite being asleep knowing that there would had been a lot of guests for lunch. I did many jobs:

  • tomato concasse
  • potato salad (dice and cook potatoes in salty water, then mix with cornichons, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives)
  • hard boiled 20 eggs (8′-10′, cool in ice bath)
  • learned how to make nicoise salad (leaves of salad, dressing, potato salad, chives, peas, shallots, salt pepper, oil, tomatoes, olives, soft egg cut in 4, rocket, tuna, anchovies, crouton, flake salt, olive oil)
  • made nicoise salad
  • other jobs

At 5 pm we had a break of 45 minutes while we ate the staff lunch and had a rest. At 5.45 pm ready to go with the dinner service. I worked on the garnish section where I already know what to do. I just fucked up about 4 kg of potatoes that supposed to be mashed. I was too slow with the food mill and the potatoes released the starch and became gummy. I try to stir them as fast as possible on the big pot on the stove when a blister on my hand decided to came out. Fuck me. Chef Y. had to fix it. I apologized for that and he smiled at me: “That’s ok, it’s hard at the beginning, you have to be faster”.
Easier than lunch. They taught me how to vacuum seal salmon, duck legs and ratatuille.

At 10.50 I cycled home. At 12.15 I was in bed.

Friday was better. I worked on the garnish section with chef K. that gave me a job list:

  • prepared salads for lunch service (rocket, spinach, etc.)
  • separate white from egg yolk of hard boiled eggs
  • chopping parsley
  • chopping shallots
  • sliced avocados
  • sliced fennel with the mandolin (I did them too thick, fuck me)
  • plate prawns entree (puff pastry, 3 prawns, cocktail sauce, puff pastry, avocado, lemon dressing, puff pastry, lettuce, chives, orange powder, lemon dressing)
    plate egg mimosa (lettuce, white egg, filling, mayonnaise, capers, egg yolk, chives)
  • slice carpaccio and serrano ham (I did that at the end of lunch service before the break and in the rush I throw away the leftover piece of ham that I suppose to keep; chef K. noticed that since he taught me before to keep it and he was pissed of about that)

We had a break at 5 pm. No food. 5.45 pm ready for the dinner service in the garnish section. Easy service, even if with a lot of covers. I did the same jobs (while having 3 forks of pasta from the staff meal that chef Y. gave me):

  • serving amouse-bouche soups
  • plated tomato tart entree
  • diced onions
  • brunoise carrots

Even if I made mistakes before, chef K. joked with me. The other chefs were also in good mood. Nice finish of the week, after all. They also told me that the head chef L. and chef Y. will quit next month and another French chef will arrived. New menu and new kitchen settings and positions.

Let’s see what will happen next week. I will keep track how many time chef E. will yell at me. 😀


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