Yesterday I asked chef Carlos to change shifts, so I hit the road early this morning. What a difference! While I was used to hasty business people rushing down the streets, and full coffee houses, I was alone in the street when I left my apartment at 7:30. There were garbage and cardboards everywhere and it smelled a bit like ‘de Vlasmarkt’ during the ‘Gentse feesten’ ^^
I felt my body was starting to protest my new way of life. My routine is completely fucked up. I barely eat vegetables or fruits. In the morning I have a pain au chocolat or a sweet bun. Lunch is a wrap or sandwich. And during my shifts I tasted several things, but never had a complete/healthy meal. I’m not eating enough and forget to drink.
I never thought I would say this, but this morning I didn’t want a muffin or sweet bun as breakfast. I wanted something hearty! So I went to Le pain quotidien for a full breakfast. But it was closed!!! So far my good intentions…
I had to be in Nopi at 9h. So I took the first best thing I could get.. a cinnamon bun (eye roll). Now I can’t see any sweetness anymore!
Today I assisted chef Marco in the fish section. He’s from Napoli and worked in a Michelin star restaurant. He speaks real Italian English.m: not “Johnny Depp” but “Johnny Deppé” :0) He made lots of jokes and laughed all the time. Such a funny guy. I think he’s a bit chaotic, but it seemed to work. Although today’s chef by the pass Christos (Yes he’s Greek) was a bit worried about this… But eventually everything got fine!
I cleaned gamba’s, cut some vegetables, and helped with the mise en place. During service I helped a bit, but the fish section takes only a small part of the kitchen. So working there with 2 was not very comfortable. But I did some plating and helped where I could.
I was on the perfect spot to figure out how the kitchen is organized during service.
Chef by the pass (that’s what it’s called – remember yesterday, I didn’t know the name of such a chef?- ) yells the orders and keeps an eye on the timing. Sometimes 3 or more orders are shouted at once.
An easy trick for the chefs to remember their dishes, is putting the right plate ready (each dish has its own plate).
And again… timing is everything. As there are different chefs in charge for the meat and fish, they have to align their plates.
It’s amazing how a service is organized. It can get pretty stressful. Respect…
When service got calmer I helped chef Francis. He is from Brazil and has been working for about 15 years in the Ottolenghi group. I like him a lot. He is so calm and nice to talk with. He has this mysterious look. He intrigues me. While prepping, we talked a bit. About him, about me. I had a good time :0)
I work 6-7 hours per day (that’s Nothing compared to the other chefs who do 2 shifts per day, meaning from 7h to 00h – crazy!).
Before I started this adventure I couldn’t imagine I could stand up this long. And as I am really getting tired now, when I was heading to Nopi this morning I wondered if I I’d survive this shift. My energy level has dropped. I don’t sleep a lot. And when I’m free I want to see as much as I can from London. And my eating habits really suck…
But once in that kitchen I forget this as an adrenaline boost takes it over. Really strange how my body reacts to this all…
Hah, you know what made my day? I think I’m one of the oldest persons in that kitchen, but people think I’m 28 (I’m turning 35 (!) next Tuesday!) B-)
After My shift I ate with the rest of the staf (my first real meal in days – oh god so good! I didn’t know I was thát hungry). Afterwards I went to Hyde Park where I laid in the grass for about 2 hours, getting some colour in the sun. It’s summer!!!
I ended my day nipping 2 ‘hit the road Jack’ cocktails somewhere in a basement with funky music. I think I deserved this one ;0)
So, in short.. Today’s Balance: a burnt thumb from a hot plate and yellow fingers from peeling the turmeric, lots of fun and feeling 28 again (which is actually my favourite age).
Oh and… despite the fact I’m underfed and really tired, I’m having the time of my life!