Friday, 22 February 2008

The Chefs' Prayer

Salutations to you all. The Grumpy Chef has returned for more waxing lyrical on the adventures of the everyday Chef in a world full of idiots, morons and halfwits alike.

The cretins of Summers' past are beginning to rear their ugly heads again as temperatures are starting to rise once more and the Sun is holding his head higher, for longer, as the days go on.

Spring is appearing on the horizon, my eager aubergines, teenagers, families and the over 60's are stirring beneath their hibernation cocoons, their noses twitching, slowly and purposefully sniffing the air for the beginning of the saving season. Life for them has, once again, got a purpose. "2 for 1", All Mains Half Price", and All Starters 99p" will soon be creeping on to billboards, appearing in local newspapers and radiating through your car radios, subconsciously permeating your brain with the prospect of something wonderful for very little of your hard earned coinage.

It will soon be the season of " THE DEAL ". This time of year scares me. I think it scares alot of gourmets, having to invent wondrous dishes from left over items that were frozen at Christmas. Produce that was sent by mistake from over eager suppliers or sub-level pickers within the Argos style warehouses will need to be defrosted, checked for freezer burn and used at a very rapid rate before environmental health can get wind of the impending danger to the unsuspecting public and their quest for the ultimate high......Extreme Eating!

We all know never to eat fresh fish and crustaceans until Tuesday for two reasons, the produce bought by the chef on the Friday is now going to be 3 days old at the least ( and he will be wanting to get rid of it ), and on Monday, the Sellers will be getting shot of the produce that didn't sell at the weekend. ( If you didn't know this, and you like fish, I'm surprised your still alive and breathing ! ).

So why, when we see "All-U-Can-Eat", "BOGOF" or "Salmonella with a side of Botulism" in the newspapers, outside restaurants or on the radio, do we jump right in with both feet and call everyone we know to inform them of this stupendous offer? Is it to make sure that the NHS has something to do this weekend during their quieter periods? Is it because we are scrimping and saving for that " Once in a Lifetime " holiday to see the currently warring Nations outside of Europe? ( Kevlar jacket and helmet extra, bus tours available when booking with your travel agent only ). Is it because we like the thrill of feeling we have just got something for nothing? ( Well you could quite possibly get something for nothing, firing from both ends at full tilt! )

Unfortunately, I have no answer for this. Perhaps its in our genetic make-up. Maybe someone will come up with the answer while reading Heat magazine in their hospital bed, with a pan under their arse and one over their head. On that most charming and graphic note, I will leave you with this ditty I found sometime ago. This is for all my fellow Chefs' who have searched for a calming, serene way of starting their services, day or night. A certain shanty of the highest order, a psalm of tranquility, an anthem of light hearted forgiveness before the onslaught of the penny pincher's and the dance of the morons begins. I give you......

The Chefs' Prayer

Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The Courage to change the things I cannot accept
And the Wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill today because they pissed me off

Help me to be careful of the toes I step on today, as they may be connected to the arse I might have to kiss tomorrow
Help me to give 100% at work,
5% on Monday
8% on Tuesday
12% on Wednesday
15% on Thursday
25% on Friday
35% on Saturday
25% on Sunday

And help me to remember, when I'm having a really bad day,
And it seems people are trying to piss me off,
That it takes 42 muscles to frown,
But only 4 to extend my middle finger and to tell them to shove it!

I would like to thank Swedish Chef Dave of Costa Rica for this wonderful piece of work. A genius in the making, but then again, aren't we all?

Adieu my fellow Foodies, Cookies and Microwave Technicians. Until the next time, take care of yourself.....and screw everyone else!

Monday, 11 February 2008

Xmas Is Here

Salutations my devout followers. It is time once again to read about the exploits of the Pont de Barre Public House, as I, The Grumpy Chef, embark on my next monumental berating of everyting catering based ( from abelone to zucchini and everything in between ).

Its been quiet, too quiet in fact and I know why its been quiet........Christmas is on its way. I shit you not, its coming and now it is only 317 days 19 hours and 42 minutes until its time for the festivities to begin again. So every annoying, loud and overzealous office, factory, school and emergency service home base is saving like a bastard ready for their next night of Xmas debauchery and depravity. Where things that were once unimaginable and sometimes inconceivible now seem to be acceptable as long as you have drunk such copious amounts of alcohol that you end up praying to the porcelain gods with an offering of half digested Oysters Rockefeller, Beef Bourguignon and Plum Pudding ( Hopefully remembering that holly actually isnt edible ). Remember, groping the bosses' wife isnt just for Christmas, but for life! A life of photocopying, teaboy/girl duties and answering the phones. Sending facimilies of your posterior is not advisable either at Xmas parties, especially with the added worry of camera phones and the internet. In fact the latter 2 items should be cause enough to make every Works Doo as sober as Cliff Richard at a Salvation Army Dinner Dance ( Maybe a bit unfair there, we all remember Wired For Sound, what a track. God Bless Ya, Sir Cliff )

Best of all, is when these obscure, sometimes semi-skilled/educated and unintelligible rapscallions descend on unsuspecting restaurants and hotels for their 3 course meals ( including a glass of wine of course ), free party hats and Brakes Bros Christmas Crackers. For less than a tenner, they can cause more mayhem and destruction than the Chelsea Headhunter Hooligans at a derby match or the Billy squaring up to the Tim at an Old Firm game in Glasgow.

You see this is where I think Footie Hooligans have got it wrong. Why spend exuberant wads of cash on season tickets, public transport, and lashings of White Lightening cider or Special Brew when all you need to do is wait till Christmas! The company pays for the mini bus, half the food and usually a free bar long enough for half the staff to get reasonably soused before someone realises that they nicked the extra "free drink" tickets two hours ago and have been giving them out randomly without any thought for the situation they are about to cause........the banning of their company ( in fact any company ) from ever being allowed back into this paticular hotel/restaurant, you can usually guarantee at least one cat fight and a couple of push me - pull you goings on between a few of the shop floor lads ( maybe even a scuffle amongst the IT Department due to the fact half the system crashed and now they are blaming each others porn downloads for creating the problem! ( When we all know that it is really just that Windows is just damn unstable.........Burn in HELL, Mr Gates! ).

As Chefs, we dont really see all this, and I'm glad we dont. We don't have the patience or restraint to deal with these.........people. We would wade in with arms flailing, brandishing meat forks and soup ladels ( which can really hurt if you get the correct point on someones noggin ). That is why we are Chefs. Most members of kitchen pirate crews have worked front of house, now that may surprise you, but, that is why they now work the kitchens. Customers dont like being shouted at by the person that has just brought their lunch. They dont like having a fork shoved up their nostrils because they dont like dressing on salad. I had a customer who had a Club Sandwich yesterday, it was made to perfection by my Commis, presented beautifully and when it went out the kitchen came straight back in within seconds because the customer had forgotten that she was allergic to butter and wanted to know if there was any on the dish she had already ordered!

Another Guest yesterday asked for a gammon steak. When asked 'Would you like an egg or pineapple with that, Sir?' he replied, 'What's an egg?'.??????????? Then he actually enquired, 'I didnt know you used eggs here'. They really do walk amongst us. In both cases, comments that would have cost them dearly had I been working on the other side of my steel reinforced swing door ( with double bolt locks and bulletproof glass ).

Saturday, 2 February 2008

You Think You Got What It Takes?

You need to have a sense of taste and smell to be a ego the size of your average watermelon ( American industry standard that is, as your average British watermelon is the size of Texan grapefruit, partially due to the lack of potentially harmful genetic chemicals we have stopped using since they badly maimed a gnat in 1988 and caused the extinction of a whole generation of ameboas in 2002)......and finally, you need to be able to SHOUT!

Not just any shouting, but real, graphic (usually sexual in content and aimed at another chef......possibly commenting on his sexual preferences or ability to shove large vegetables into numerous orifices or the fact he is so far deep in the shit because of his lack of preparation it will take a miracle to get himself out of it). Of course, this has to be heard not only by your kitchen staff and front of house morons, but also by all paying customers on the premises.

Do you really think you need all the above to succeed as a future Heston Blumenthal or Raymond Blanc? The answer is no! So really the sense of smell, aquired tastes of fine foods, the ego and quite almost everything (even the shouting) is all a load of bollocks? Yes, because for the average, everyday, mediocre chef (like myself) it can all be learnt, taught, read or even bought. It helps if you want to be a chef as, believe me, you will find that it takes over your whole exsistence as you strive to get better, work longer hours and push yourself harder to learn more as it consumes your whole life.

And this is just the beginning......