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1 post categorized "food"

March 29, 2008

Gastronomy

Today is D-day, not for me, but housemate. He is prepared to do a Gordon Ramsay at work, because he has a few important overseas delegates coming in and he wants everything to be perfect. They will be there to discuss a new restaurant overseas.
“What will you do if the chef fucks up?” I asked
“I’m going to fuck him, that’s what,” he replied, “I got everything ordered in fresh, everything is hanging on this one evening.”
“You’ll be in charge of it all, looking after the delegates?”
“Who else?”
Foodie And I have absolute faith about this. Housemate’s training didn’t start in a small diner, or a café. He entered the culinary world, or the world of five star service at the Dorchester Hotel more than two decades ago, where he saw rapid promotion - within two years. He’s served people like the Rat Pack, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Prince Charles, and the list goes on.  Time after time I’ve nagged him about it, told him that he should have a blog of his own but he poo-poos the idea, saying “I’m not a writer.” He has heaps of stories, and I can’t isolate my favorite. There is the story about him almost losing his job for replying to Sammy Davis Jr (back then, conversation between staff and guests wasn’t permitted in the restaurant), for Davis Jr to have a near tantrum when he returned to eat and didn’t see housemate there. Housemate was suspended, pending dismissal (for talking to the ‘guest’), and Davis Jr demanded he be reinstated. Then there is the moment he almost lost his composure (as a man) while serving Elizabeth Taylor more than three decades ago: “She was the most beautiful thing you could ever see. I stood there dumbstruck, trying to concentrate on my crepe Suzettes and when she requested things, I had difficulty speaking.” He has a lot of stories, such as the story about a certain royal family member: “Every time he was nervous or shy, he fiddled with his cuff links.”

He isn’t a pushover, and when I met him, more than ten years ago - before Gordon Ramsay’s TV shows began - he (to me) was very much like Ramsay in his approach. At the restaurant I worked at the time, he arrived to fill in as a manager. My friend (and owner of the restaurant) was overseas for a month, and when housemate arrived he almost doubled over when he entered the kitchen. At that point I was a mere kitchen hand to make extra money, and the chef/cook I worked with was a complete lazy arse. I couldn’t get him to shift his loins to clean, and he expected me to do all the work (because I was a ‘woman’ - according to him). Needless to say, I wasn’t trained in kitchen work, and when housemate met the chef/cook and inspected the kitchen, it wasn’t much different to what you see with Ramsay:

“I want this kitchen cleaned from top to bottom, and if you don’t clean it properly I’ll make you lick it clean with your tongue!”

The chef/cook almost died when housemate said that, and I had to excuse myself to go outside and laugh.

A lot is said about food being sexy, and Nigella Lawson has added a lot of sensuality to cooking but there is nothing sexy about working in a restaurant kitchen, or in a restaurant. There is pressure from just about all directions, and if a person can’t handle that pressure - then they’re screwed. If a patron gets food poisoning, that can remove a percentage of clientele by word of mouth. If service is horrible, it is unlikely people will return. If a chef’s arrogance and temperamental attitude doesn’t match his/her culinary skills - it’s a right pain in the arse, especially if they make runny crème brûlée.

I must admit, I’m eager to see how it all pans out because if it does, then it is possible that yours truly will be relocating overseas at some point.

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