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

1 comment:

SheR. said...

Here Chef!
Hope all's well. I've seen a lot of silly excuses given by lazy chefs too. One guy was so knocked out by drugs.. he slept through the entire day. No one could reach him on the phone. He only rang up the next morning lying that he forgot his shift! He was sacked of course as it was not his first time.

Good luck with your staff chef!