Monday, 25 August 2008

Bitter and Twisted

Bonsoir mes rillets merveilleux de jambon!

I dislike Bank Holiday Mondays! In fact, to be a little more precise, I loathe, despise and detest them. If Bank Holiday Mondays' were an entity in their own right, I would make it my life long ambition to render their existence obsolete. Gently gutted, filleted and then slowly, quickly seared over an excruciating high heat, flamed with Louis XIII Brandy, a dash of Lea and Perrins, a few succulent Green Peppercorns and finally lashings of Devonshire Double Cream, reduced to perfection. (Pont Neuf Potatoes and luscious Baby Vegetables on the side).

Why were these holidays invented? Banks don't open enough at the best of times, so why do they need more time to be shut? There is usually only ever one teller at the window while the others sit around comparing their latest St Tropez Tan, Males included! At Christmas when you go to do your banking it smells like the whole office has just bought shares in Lynx toiletries. I will never go banking on a Wednesday where I live as they do not open until 10am due to "Staff Training" and then they are only open till 2pm as it is half-day closing!!! I honestly thought we had left the 19Th Century over 200 years mistake! Now I must go and light my lantern before I continue as the daylight is fading fast and my Internet server has to wind up its generator, so with the lantern I will be able to see even though my screen will dim for a short time. God Bless modern technology......Which reminds me, I must replace the Hamster that powers the printer or I will be completely buggered.

Its not just the Banks that wind me up, its the Shops, Supermarkets, Petrol Stations and my Suppliers that annoy me also. You don't get Gordon Ramsay saying to his many restaurants, " Look Chaps, it's a Bank Holiday on Monday, take the day off and spend time with family, visit your loved ones, have a BBQ with close friends and relatives, but most of all, have great fun ". Of course you bloody don't!

So why do these 'extended weekends' mean so much to us? To the general Public, its an excuse to eat, drink and be merry. So what would you do if, God forbid, the Government took Bank Holidays away? Would you join the thousands upon thousands of minions and, let's be honest, sheep and petition Westminster? Or would you accept your fate and agree that they are a pretty damn stupid excuse to get pissed and cause grief to the Chefs that work their kahonas off in unbearable heat for ludicrous requests like, " Can I have my Tuna Steak pink, or I will send it back!", " Why don't you have Quorn Burgers? Us Vegetarians is what is making this cooking lark profitable! " and, my favourite, " What's Mango Tout when it's at home? Is it some sort of fish 'cause I don't eat fish, it's bad for ya! ".

For information only, the patron that requested her Tuna pink, received exactly that......She sent it back because it was not well done!? The patron that queried the 'Mango Tout' was extremely embarrassed when he was informed that 'Mange Tout' was a vegetable and not an inhabitant of the North Sea. Finally, the 'Quorn Burger Vegetarian' was treated like a Bank Holiday Monday, although I did throw in some celery and shallots to keep Him happy. I do not like to see unhappy customers, but unfortunately for Him, I bloody hate Vegetarians. Sorry!

As for Staff on the holy day that is a Bank Holiday......Well, that is for next weeks post.

So, as I am sure you have noticed, Monday is the new day for posting. My days off have changed, so, therefore, the postings will now be on Monday instead of Sunday. If you usually read the post on Monday then it will not affect you and if you usually read them on Sunday, then you will have to wait. Unless, that is, I post on a Sunday because I am particularly annoyed, in which case this is all completely irrelevant and doesn't matter at all. Confused? Me too.

In the News this week......Quite a few things happened, then not much else. Although, due to current figures, we seem to be eating in more often as Supermarket Sales rose by 3% while the Industry as a whole dropped by 8%. Yet, as stipulated by the Government and Gordon 'My hands move just like Tony Blair's' Brown, there is no Credit Crunch and everything is nice and peachy. Obviously the Prime Minister has moved from 10 Downing Street into Willie Wonkas Chocolate Factory!

So, 'there is no life I know too compare with pure imagination'. Nice one Gordy!

One last thing before I go, the Website is slowly taking shape. I am excited! Just got to get the hang of this 'coding' lark and everything should fall into place. Just like the time Gordon Brown took over as Prime Minister or when Anthony Worrall Thompson (Poisoned Dwarf) thought it would be a good idea to encourage the Public to eat a toxic plant called Hen bane. Apparently getting confused with the herb Weed Hen Fat! The Healthy and Organic Living's website - who published the interview - were forced to publish an urgent warning about the advice saying: "hen bane is a very toxic plant and should never be eaten."

What an Idiot!

On that note my snozberries prospères......

Le Chef (Oompa Loompa) Grincheux

Monday, 18 August 2008

The Younger Generation

Bonjour mes escargots de mer fermentants!

The Youth of today need a damn good short, sharp kick in their posteriors! Obviously not content with mugging old age pensioners, spray painting structures on a whim, getting pregnant, drinking vast amounts of alcohol, getting pregnant again and victimizing anyone stupid enough to actually point out that they are being wee B******s, these hoodie hooligans feel the need to work for a living is beneath them.

After recently taking on a young go-getter in the position of Commis Chef, I realised that giving opportunities to the younger generation made my job a little bit more worthwhile. Passing on recipes, skills and trade secrets was actually exciting me. It was a joy to explain the five cuts of vegetables, why you put a dash of vinegar into a pan while poaching an egg and the finer points of towel whipping fellow workers.

Then, of course, he began to turn up late for work, blaming buses and road works. An acceptable excuse I suppose. In the end, he didn't turn in for work yesterday putting pressure on the Kitchen and its many hard working bodies. After interrogating my Kitchen Porter by way of towel-whippings, mushroom missiles and the threat of some serious hugging, he divulged that said Commis had been out drinking with him the night before until 3am. For a brief moment, my mind wandered. I remembered past exploits of a personal nature. Early morning breakfast shifts after two hours sleep, mid-afternoon naps under kitchen benches using sacks of flour as pillows and drinking gallons of espressos' and energy drinks, sometimes even both together.

Now if I could do all the late night parties and nightclubs before starting work the next day, why on earth can't these youngsters? I still cannot sleep till gone two in the morning and I can still make it in looking and smelling fresh as a daisy and I expect my staff to be able to do the same. It's really not that difficult, yet these whipper-snappers find it difficult actually setting their alarm clocks, getting out of bed, dressing themselves properly and making way to their place of employment without any help from their mums'! Who do these bloody kids think they are?

Well, they are the future and that scares the bejeezus out of me! To think I will be putting my pension years in the hands of young adults that wear jeans ten times bigger than a marquee, trainers that you could fit a family of asylum seekers in so as to send them back over the blustery North Sea and shape their hair so they look like Woody Woodpecker on a bad hair day!

So, when you have to work with these insolent, rooster-fied, cheeky and belligerent cretins, put your foot down. Especially if you run a Kitchen. I usually give my newly employed youngsters a small insight into the world of Catering by means of a little speech written for the fabulous series 'Chef' starring the amazing Lenny Henry as Gareth Blackstock, a Michelin-starred Chef on the brink of full-on mental collapse.

I give you......The Commis Chefs' Creed!

"I will work very long hours for very little money. In the Winter I will always be hot, in the Summer, even hotter still. In time my hands will develop a heat-resistant quality even NASA would be proud of. I am the lowliest of the low, but given the opportunity and by my own effort, I will become a valued member of the Team."

This little quote will give even the most eager recruit a few things to think about. If they then decide to carry on with the signing of a contract, they are ready and may the Force be with them......they will need it.

In the News this week......not much has happened!

Jusqu'à ce que nous rencontrions encore mes daikons délicieux!

Le Chef Grincheux

Sunday, 10 August 2008

"Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho. It's Off To Work We Go"

Bonjour mon peu gastro cuisiniers!

How are we all this fine Sunday? Sorry, couldn't quite hear you. How are we? Excellent. So I can begin......

Bloody Staff! Every week there is some problem which finds me either lending an ear to a disgruntled employee or up to my armpits in dishwater scouring the pots and pans I have just used to create another culinary masterpiece. EVERY WEEK! I now suffer from the shakes and cold sweats before I even arrive at my place of employment. I am a gibbering wreck when I walk through the Kitchen door, fearing the onslaught of "Chef, I've been sick" phone calls or excuses of late buses, accidents and the very popular, but extremely brazen and foolish, "I slept in".

This, dear Readers, is not good enough for my liking. It happens way to often, especially in this Industry. I have quite a simple outlook upon absenteeism by members of my Brigade. The only rule I have is that unless you have been stabbed, shot, mortally wounded or are pronounced dead, then I expect to see you full whites and checks, allowing for plaster casts e.t.c, on time and ready to work.

A Chef with a broken leg which has been plastered can still sit and peel numerous fruits and vegetables. "Ah", I hear you cry, "What if the Chef in question were to have a broken arm, which has been plastered. What of that Chef?" My answer is to the point and to hammer home the answer which emanates from my lips, I tell a little story.

Are we sitting comfortably......then I will begin.

Once upon a time, a young Junior Sous Chef named Pete, was on his merry way home from a night of supping Poteen (Mash Vodka). On his way home, extremely merry by now, he happened to fall into the re-inforced shop window of a local estate agent.

Perturbed by this involuntary action, as he calmly removed himself from a mangled heap on the floor to an almost upright position, he became aware of a mass of blood oozing from his left arm. The oozing turned to a spurt which, within Milli-seconds, became a flow of pure Claret. Pete had managed to sever a few veins and arteries in his arm, which was causing the now worryingly steady flow of the red stuff. Luckily for Pete, the friend with him was trained in the actions and repercussions of falling through plate-glass windows and with no hesitation, removed his belt, stopped the blood escaping from Pete's body and managed to call for the Emergency Services.

Pete was lucky. The fabulous Paramedics got to him in time. He was rushed to Hospital, given blood to replace the stockpile he had lost in his unfortunate 'accident', and was later that evening tucked into bed with a mug of hot chocolate. a copy of Jamie Oliver's latest book "Pukka Tukka, Mukka from the Mockney F****" and a vast amount of tranquillisers which could render a Rhino unconscious.

The point of this delightful story is coming, I assure you.

The next morning Pete's arm was placed in a big chunk of plaster and he was informed that he should not work for at least 2 months. Major surgery had saved his arm and the plaster would have to be on for 8 weeks with a scan and x-ray every 2 weeks to check on progress. Pete nodded. Compliant with the Doctor and Surgeon.

Three days later, Pete was back in the Kitchen. One arm in plaster, one arm working like a Trojan. His plastered arm was duck-taped to his chest so it wouldn't get in the way. He worked for the next 2 months, six days a week, fifteen hours a day. He became a Legend, and his story is still told by myself and many others. I have never seen such dedication, determination or sheer stupidity since that day.

The End.

Now let us catapult ourselves back to the present day. Lunch hours, coffee breaks and the ever popular split-shifts scenario do not apply to this Trade. When you become a Chef, you fore-go the Working Time Directive. Like Hanger 18, the Man in the Moon and a Souffle does not exsist. You will work as and when you are told. You will not moan, cry, shout, jump up and down screaming "I am tired" or "I have to have a break, it's the Law". There is no Union you can turn to and even if there was, they wouldn't blink an eye. It is how it is. Get used to it, because if you struggle with your first day of being pushed from pillar to post, shouted at and mentally abused then it is time to hang up the standard issue apron and walk out the door. You will never get used to it.

Forrest Gump was wrong and so was his Mama. Life is not like a box of chocolates. You do know what your going to get due to the piece of card on the top of the chocolates and by reading the fine print listing the chocolates and ingredients on the back of the box. You join this Industry, you better be prepared for all that comes with it. It ain't pretty, sociable or easy. It's hard graft and it will break you, but, you will become accustomed to it and you will succeed if you want to. Long Live The All-Day Shift!

Great news my fellow foodies, I now have a website! Still under construction though and will hopefully be ready within the next four weeks. My Blog will continue as normal even after the site is up and running.

One thing I have noticed recently is the lack of comments! Do not be afraid my dears! Grumpy Chef Groupies......where have you gone? I feel abandoned! Comments help Blogs to move forward. Not happy about something, let me know. Happy about something, then let me know. I write for myself, yet others enjoy reading it and that makes me happy.

And finally......the News.

Two companies, Cains and Food and Drink Group, have called in the Administrators this week. It is starting my wonderful Woodcocks'! The beginning of the End for the Pub Industry. Yet the larger groups are not only seeing a fantastic profit, but are building more Hotels, Casinos and even Restaurants. Why? Answers on a postcard please!

Bonne nuit mes soufflés de fromage légers

Le Chef Grincheux

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Letting Go......

......and tonight, I let go.

Dear Eddie and Heather,

May God Rest You In Peace. Forever In Our Thoughts.

Craig, You Will Never Be Alone.

Bonne nuit mes chocolats chauds de consolation. Puits de sommeil !

Le Chef Grinchux

Sunday, 3 August 2008


Bonsoir ma crevette délicieusement sensible de Devilled!

It has been far to long my little cupcakes. I must, once again, thank you all for your patience. My working Summer has begun and it is filled with all the miscreants, chavs, scallys and neds that seem to roam this beautifully globally-warmed and gently basted world we call Home. It is also, with great regret, that they too call this world their Home and that is a general shame for most inhabitants struggling to survive on this wonderful planet.

So this first message goes out to all the trailer-trashing, nedified, scally-blooded, woolyhat wearing, trackies-tucked-into-socks, baseball capped, hoodie morons......For the love of God......Please do not ever step foot outside of your homes again. For pity's sake. The off-licence is cheaper and a burger from he local Kebab shop will cost less than the one you are trying to share between three of you. The small china dishes you have received with your accompaniments are not bloody ashtrays......neither are the glasses you just finished your last WKD Blue from. Nor, my dear ruffians, are you to relieve yourself on anyone elses car, except your own. Nor do you turn to the Chef and shout, from the other end of the bar, "Oi, Fella. Can you put gravy and cheese on me chips, mate? You know, Nudge, nudge, wink, wink? Forget the salad and how about a couple of rashers of bacon mate?"

My reply was quite simple. It was courteous, well thought, polite and yet to the point so that an imbecile could comprehend. "F*** O** t* M*******s, you miss informed rapscallion! These are local burgers for local people! Away with you, your girlfriend, your six children, father-in-law, uncle, auntie, aunties' second-cousin, the bloke you met up with earlier in town today, and your three bull terriers!"

As I sit here nursing a black eye, dislocated pinkie and a collection of slight injuries, I believe my answer should have been, "Of course Madam, would you also like some Foie Gras collops and hand-shredded Gold Leaf with your Cheese and Bacon Burger? Maybe some Black Truffle Mayonnaise and HP Brown sauce would enhance your experience of Culinary perfection? Maybe even a robust Pernod and Blackcurrant sauce which could render you unconscious would ease your ever increasing urge for blood?"

The misconception that these types of people only come out at night is a fallacy! They are now everywhere. Usually milling around pubs with large beer gardens or Wilkinsons, loitering with intent on upsetting some random individual who just wanted a quiet day off, getting their messages for the week.

If you hadn't guessed already, my restaurant is full of them! Uneducated requests for extra gravy for a Steak and Ale Pie, only to have it sent back because they assumed that it had none. It cannot be made without Gravy! Only Chip Shops have to add the said sauce and they charge as well! There are TV programs and websites that will educate you on these things. Use them!

I try and I try. I try to educate the minions of this green and pleasant land and it seems to fall by the wayside. What can I do? At the current moment, the United States seems to be leading in this Industry......where is the honour in that?

When you look at it, it is the French that created the way we eat. The style, the order, the way we consume. You cannot deny them that accolade. It is written in Culinary History. We are taught it in Colleges, Schools and on-the-job training. I just wish someone would denounce this molecular gastronomy, stand-up for what is right and coax the general public back to the classics! The way we should eat......with our hearts and minds.

And, in the words of Jeremy Clarkson, its time for the News;

Dominoes Pizza Company will be enhancing your experience at their restaurants by enticing you with an open Pizza Theatre! A glass panel will be Incorporated to their restaurants so you can view your pizzas being made. It is their commitment to the fact that all their products feature fresh ingredients......I completely agree, I love to see a Chef, sweat dripping from his brow, onto my plate, before it served by a jumped up student who insists I give him a tip for carrying a plate and referring to me as "Pal"!

Also, within the foreseeable future, your children will be assessed on how obese they are at school. The new Government Legislation will chart the progression of a child's weight so as to inform the parents if the child is gaining a few pounds. There are too many routes I could take with this idiocy, so I will leave you to your own, fine judgement.

And again, in the immortal words of the Clarkson, "On that bombshell", it is time for me to bid you goodbye.

Au revoir mon poulpe légèrement chevronné de bébé. Until next time......

Le Chef Grincheux. xx