Bonsoir mes dorades subtilement assaisonnées !
How are you all? Here we are again with another twisted, 'through the looking glass' view of an Industry on its knees, begging and pleading not to be taken over by large conglomerates, TV corporations or Jamie 'The Mockney' Oliver and his fellow cooks.
I would be over-whelmed with joy if I could say that is has been an uneventful week. A quiet and serene time of inner-thought, soul searching and plenty of down-time to recuperate from my fathers incarceration in an NHS hospital. Unfortunately, it has been a week of busy services, staff shortages and my Father's re-admission into another NHS hospital. While on the subject of hospitals and the staff within, I would like to thank all the Staff Nurses, Doctors, Surgeons, Consultants and the 'God-like' Senior Consultants for looking after my Father so well, that he nearly did not want to leave!
Special thanks to Mr Boom, who realised that the remedy to my Father's ailment only required a dab of Silver Nitrate and to Mr Richards who took pity on an old gent just wanting get home to his own armchair with a cup of his favourite brand of tea and a KitKat.
From myself and my family, we thank you with peace and love in our hearts......now how about reviewing the parking charges in Hospital grounds?
To Business! For those of you able to enjoy a fun-filled Fathers' Day, I salute you. To all Dads, I hope you have milked it as much as possible! I do believe Mothers get to much of the credit and I also believe that when it is Mothers' Day, they are actually not that bothered. Fathers Day, I feel, should be promoted a little more. Better gifts, like a harrier Jump Jet or Porsche 911, now that would be a start. Maybe even a 'Dads Only' room that will hold the users most valued possessions like Scalectrix, train set, computer game simulators and an Action Man fortress. I m positive I asked Santa for those items when I was younger and they never appeared......should have gone to Argos. Stupid Bugger!
Times are steady at the current moment. Warm temperatures and sunny days are keeping the flow of patrons at a constant tick-over. Although, around the corner, madness awaits. The Summer Holiday season is creeping closer and closer. Everytime those words are mentioned I cower beneath my stainless steel table, slowly rock back and forth muttering the phrase, "There's no place like home", over and over again to myself.
For all you civilians out there, especially school teachers, college lecturers and university professors, it is a time of fun and larks. Apart from those individuals in the Education Sector (who seem to stop work when they need another pay rise), it is an eight hour day within an air-conditioned office, a minimum of an hours' break and enough canteen-supplied cold drinks to quench the thirst of a third world country. What a hardship! I do you pity you all. It must be a terrible chore to move from your comfortable seat to even have to go to the bathroom. To even get to your mode of transport at the end of a tiresome day must be unbearable.
Every member of my Brigade understands that all personal activities cease to exsist around this time of the year. A member of Staff wants the day off to go to a family re-union......bring them to the restaurant for a meal and maybe I will let you out of the extreme heat and discomfort for five minutes. My Commis Chef wants a day to go shopping with his girlfriend.....Tough! In fact, unless you have a family bereavement or you have managed to die on the way to work, forget about any time off unless I am obliged, by employment law, to give it to you.
So far this year I have been absent from one 21st Birthday bash, three Family Birthdays, two Stag weekends, a Bamitzvah and numerous trips to parks, farms and general days out with my Wife and Daughter. I will also be missing, later this year, from two Christenings and another Stag weekend and that is only if nothing else crops up.
When you are chosen by this Industry, and it is the Industry that chooses you, it is almost like selling your soul to the great Chefs that have gone before you. It is ingrained in your progression through the ranks of the Kitchen. You will work as and when you are needed. No arguments, quibbles or huffs. This is now your primary objective. Work as hard as you can everyday until you retire. If you are lucky, you will find an employer who understands the need for personal time with family and friends. A need for interaction with 'the outside world'.
'Once in, never out' is only one of many phrases banded around the kitchens I have worked in. You can leave the Industry, but quite a few of us do not really have another road or path to follow. If the lucky ones do achieve another goal outside of the tiled and stainless steel walls of a kitchen, more often than not, it will be as a sales representative for one of the many corporate food distributor's or advisors for restaurant management companies.
There is a silver lining though. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The jobs I speak of are very rarely advertised and are usually acquired by knowing people already within these Industries. One such position is working for gigantic pub and restaurant companies as a Development Chef, doing the job you love to do, but with the hours of an office. You could go even better than that and work in the Private Sector. Private Hospitals, retirement homes and even the Prison service have great opportunities for Chefs of all ages and levels, but these jobs are so hard to come by that they seem to be riding on the wind of myth and legend!
So, as many of us do, I will carry on catering for the ladies who lunch, business types, hooded teenagers, drained parents with excitable children and wrinklies for a while longer. Ever searching for my pot of gold, waiting to catch my Leprechaun......
Au revoir mes puddings roly poly de camarade. Until next time......
Le Chef Grincheux