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Nopi @London – Day 3

Tower Bridge

I discovered a nice little bakery very close to my apartment where they have 3 sorts of buns (cinnamon, cardamom and saffron) and some really tasty looking bread (I should get one when I go back to Belgium). Gini’s heaven :0)

So this is where I got my breakfast today. I decided to do some tourist attractions in the morning and took the tube to the Tower Bridge. Although it’s a beautiful bridge, I regretted my choice. It was soooo crowded. I took the obligate picture and decided to walk back. I strolled the streets of Central London heading to St-Paul’s Cathedral. It’s such a busy neighborhood, with people walking down the street, sitting on every little piece of grass, drinking ale on a terrace, … being busy. It’s funny to see men in a suit running through the streets. I always wonder why they are in such a hurry.

During lunch I thought it was time for another yolo: I contacted Jens Ferdinand, head pastry chef at Ottolenghi Islington. Maybe he could learn me something? I explained that I’m doing a stage in Nopi and that I am also a baker, etc… He answered really quick, referred me to his colleague et voila. On my free day, I will assist Jens Ferdinand and his colleagues in Ottolenghi Islington. Oh my, I’m really excited about this too!! I’m getting the full experience here :0))
Happy with this amazing news, I took the tube in St. Paul’s, back to my apartment to get ready for my next Nopi shift.

I got there perfectly on time (but forgot my working shoes :0/ I put on my chef tenue and headed to the larder section where I made these huge salads again and cut some greens and chilis, peeled and cut oranges, cleaned koriander and got everything set up for the first shift.

Today I had fun in the kitchen with chef Jan. He is a really smart, interesting and funny guy. I told him I work for the Belgian government and now he’s convinced that I’m a spy (my boots were the best proof of that). Nevertheless he took me under his arms, shared some kitchen secrets and advised me to have some more guts. He’s right.. 

I had the impression today was less busy than yesterday, so I did what Jan advised me to do and took some time to explore the other sections in the kitchen. I tasted a few things and watched how the chefs made all kind of sauces and salads. The amounts are insane! Kilo’s and kilo’s. I thought they were preparing for the whole week, but nope. It was just enough for 1.5, maybe 2 days. Crazy…

I also took the time to write down some recipes. Well, actually I wrote down the ingredients. As for I have seen, they don’t weigh their ingredients. So for me to find out which ratios give the best results. 

Do you know what’s really cool? They called me chef, just like everybody else in the kitchen. “Thank you chef”, “yes chef”, “That looks really beautiful chef”, “You ok chef?”, … That really made me feel like… a chef :0)

Another funny thing I figured out today is the meaning of some of the shoutings in the kitchen. “Bag, bag”… Erm, what do you mean? I don’t have any bags here? Duh Gini! Not “Bag, bag”, but “Back, back”. They shout this when they are passing right behind you, so you don’t step back at that moment. The same with “Knife, knife”, “hot, hot” or “heavy, heavy”. I’m not used to raise my voice like that, but it’s really important to shout these things if you don’t want any accidents to happen.

Today I also got one of the best tips ever! At first I thought some of the chefs just wanted to look cool, with their legs pretty wide open while cutting stuff. But actually this is a very good trick against lower backache: when you spread your legs, you don’t have to curl your back. And since my back is a weak point and really hurts every time I bake or cook, this is a life saving tip for me. So from now on, I will look really cool at my kitchen counter :0)

I ended my shift cleaning pomegranates. Lots and lots of pomegranates. Too much pomegranates… :0/
They showed me a trick: cut it in half and then smash the back with a relative heavy spoon. I think I cleaned five pomegranates in the same time I cleaned one before I knew this trick. One drawback: I left the kitchen, covered in pomegranate juice  (but it washes off easily, so I went spick and span to bed).