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London @Nopi – Day 10

Plating asparagus and bavette

I spent the time before my evening shift with Jan. He took me to L’ETO, one of his favorite places to have some pastries. We had the pistachio de and the saffron dulce the leche. The cakes were soaked in dulce de leche. Yep, definitely trying something like this when I’m back home.

Then he showed me a bit around, to end in Covent Garden, where he wanted me to try the gnocchi from Paula, ex-chef form Nopi. But unfortunately she wasn’t there today. So we tried the pulled duck – My god, that tasted sooo good!

Jan is from the Czech Republic. He’s been working for the Ottolenghi group for about 2 years. He helps Carlos and Calvin with trying new recipes and renewing the menu. Again, a bit jealous here. He loves what he does and one can tell. He is extremely motivated and wants to achieve great things. He works his ass off tho get there.

Time flies.. Time for my shift. 

When I got in, Carlos, Luis and Visar (from the larder section) were preparing everything for the new salads I talked about yesterday. The new version of the beetroot salad turned out to be really really good. Maybe, they’ll pickle the onions the next time, adding a slight Gini-touch ;0) 
It’s so strange that when you try the different ingredients seperately, they miss something or are too harsh. But when you put them together, it’s just the perfect match. That’s what’s so great about food. 

The new salad with the green beans is also sooooo good. It’s fresh and tasty, and also looks beautiful. 

Yep, 2 great new dishes coming up in Nopi :0)

I think I haven’t mentioned Visar yet, but I’ve worked with him several times now. He is really nice. He started as a kitchen porter (they call it ‘kepir’? – phonetic – I have no idea how to write this. Or maybe I misunderstood. …Remember I thought they were yelling ‘bags bags’ instead of ‘backs backs’…). He worked his way up and is now responsible for the larder section in Nopi. He’s a bit shy, but also witty. I like him. There is also Joaquo (might be spelled wrong). He’s also from Italy. I didn’t have the chance to work with him yet, but he’s really professional and fun. Most of the time he works in the meat section, and sometimes he does the fish section. Also fun having him in the kitchen.
… It seems that I like everybody in that kitchen :0)   

Making that Gini-dip again ;0)

Once the salads were tuned, I made that Gini-dip again ;0)   this time a much larger portion. Then I made the pesto for the aubergine salad. And when I was finished with that, I picked mint and cleaned and cut onions, secretly hoping the evening would bring something more exciting. But that’s part of the job, everyone does it. You can’t cook without the ingredients…

Today Paco was there. He’s a sous-chef, and is going to start in Ottolenghi Spitalfields in 3 weeks. He asked me if I had already helped in the ‘vedge’ section. No I hadn’t! Yay! He introduced me to Marcin who I was going to help during the second shift that night. He is 20 and studies computer sciences. So he combines a fulltime job as a chef (54 hours per week) and has 15 hours class. I don’t know how he does it, but he manages this well. And he is always so happy. A joy to work with!

I formed and baked courgette fritters, baked polenta chips, grilled and plated the asparagus and roasted some quail (which I also tasted. Sorry that I keep saying this, but this dish is also sooooo good!).

I like doing service. Ok, I didn’t do it alone, so that’s easier. It’s really hard working when the chef by the pass shouts ticket after ticket. You have to listen, remember and prepare at the same time. You have to be focussed all the time.

Chefs who do service, have peak and calmer moments. During prep they can follow their own pace, as long as they get everything done. But during service everything depends on how busy the restaurant is and it can really get tough then. 

I didn’t have a clue about the time during service, all I knew was that it was going by very fast.

At 22h30 I changed and went home. A bit tired, but satisfied.

(Did I already mention that I will really miss all of this? 2 more days, and I am not counting down :0(