Thursday, 12 February 2009

Cry Me A Gravy River

Bonsoir mes fruits savoureux de la forêt!

First and foremost, I would like to thank all sympathisers and well wishers on my recent predicament. Your words of support are a tower of strength at present although that don't pay my bills and the Wife wants a new dining table with matching chairs.

For anyone that is interested, I am now currently employed full time again after 1 month of relaxation and family time followed by another 2 months of transient chef work around the country. Redundancy is an amazing leveller in our society.

Eventually I had to face the inevitable and 'sign on' at the local Department of Social Security which was certainly not a bundle of laughs I can tell you. Those of you that have been in similar predicaments will appreciate where I am coming from and those of you still claiming benefit must be lazy good-for-nothing graduates, sucking the country dry while pissing around trying to find work in astro-physics or micro-biology. Bet you are wondering why you went for that subject aren't you? Degree a waste of time? Can't find work? Well, I am always on the lookout for a Kitchen Porter and I hear McDonald's put a great deal into their Trainee Manager positions.

This week, I will be discussing many items, not necessarily in any particular order but at least you can keep guessing what will be coming up and if I miss anything out, it will give you something to look forward to in my next post.

First......a definition;

gra⋅vy   [grey-vee]
–noun, plural -vies.

The fat and juices that drip from cooking meat, often thickened, seasoned, flavored, etc., and used as a sauce for meat, potatoes, rice, etc.

Let's begin. Okay, I love gravy as much as the next person but why-o-why do people insist on having an extra jug to completely smother there lovingly cooked meal? It completely drowns any flavour that was once there before and renders your dinner into a mass of glutenous brown stodge. What's more, you expect it for FREE!!! Do I go into a Bakers and ask for extra yeast in my Bloomer loaf? Do I venture into a sandwich bar, order a plain baguette, then ask if they wouldn't mind just lobbing in some Chicken, Sweetcorn and Mayo at no extra cost? Do I saunter into my nearest B&Q and purchase a brand new bathroom suite then expect them to throw in a couple of Lazee-Boy Armchairs just because I believe I am entitled to them?

The answer to the above questions is NO! I don't expect something for nothing. If I want something extra, I expect to have to pay for it. I'm not that impertinent. Not only does the ingredients cost money but someone has to make it and then there is gas and/or electric to consider, rent, waste disposal, council tax.....the list is endless.

Running a Catering Establishment costs money. It should not be a career or opportunity that you enter into lightly. Every customer is out to screw you in some shape or form. They will never appreciate the extravagance of overheads and refrigerator repair. This concept is beyond your average everyday punter. They couldn't care less if you have a gas leak or the roof is caving in. It's like "F**k You. Feed me and if its to damned expensive, I'm gonna sit in your restaurant and bitch and moan and complain at the top of my lungs in front of your customers until I get the reduction on my bill I 'BELIEVE' I am owed. Do you hear me? I pay your f*****g wages. NOW GET ME MY F*****G EXTRA GRAVY!"

Just for once, I would love to be able to retaliate at these cretins. I would love to explain in a calm and mild-mannered way that they may have extra gravy but it will cost a set amount as is dictated by my calculations which has to incorporate my costs, the business's cost and a small profit margin. I would make my speech clear and concise, with no room for mis-interpretation while pummeling said customers' head with a soup ladle. I'm sure that would work but I'm not allowed to do things like that anymore. The general public restraining order forbids me to leave my Kitchen through any door except the back where I am ushered to my waiting car by two very sturdy gentlemen in full body armor. As it is a long story I won't trouble you with details but the incident included a Carving Fork, 2 Smoked Kippers, a piece of al dente Linguine, a teaspoon and a copy of the Financial Times stuffed with Pizza Dough and covered in White Belgian Chocolate. Good times I tell you, good times!

Anyway, allow me to enlighten you. The Chef knows how much gravy or sauce or dressing you need! That is why he/she is the Chef. He/She has spent there entire working life learning how to cook, dress, plate, season and serve a culmination of items that reach you at the peak of perfection. Don't fuss with it just leave it alone. EAT! That is the only reason you are sitting in the restaurant. To eat and drink. Enjoy!

This weeks news is all really, really dire and depressing. Closures, insolvency and swine flu litter the papers and websites so instead, I thought I could have just make some up. Then I realised that there is a good chance I may get sued and I really cannot afford that. Not even if I use the word 'allegedly' over and over again. So no news this week I'm afraid.

Until next time my my little petit pois.

Le Chef Grincheux

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Oh Woe Is Me!

Bonjour mes peu d'ananas vitrés par sabyon!

I have grave news my fellow foodies. Just over a week ago the unthinkable, yet almost expected, happened to me. I was made redundant and had to leave my employer and my Staff to face the winter of discontent alone. The decision had to be made and unfortunately it was my turn for the chopping block. I hold no animosity or ill-feeling to my bosses or any other members of the Staff and I wish them all well. I hope that all will come good for them and the Pont-de-Barre will thrive once again. Good Luck Guys!

In our current economical climate, I am beginning to see a 'wind of change' in the way people dine. Where as before it was almost never an issue if you had a full 3 course meal with all the added extras, aperitifs, liqueur coffees, brandy and cigars e.t.c. Times have changed though and the Food Industry is beginning to see a dramatic shift in the way the country eats and drinks.

So as we move forward into 2009 and the recession begins to take hold, we are seeing a rise in the cost of produce, a rise in the cost of alcohol and the inevitable collapse of the Catering Industry as a whole. Having watched numerous companies fall at the feet of bankruptcy, mergers and takeovers, how long will it be until you find your local pub or restaurant fall at the hands of the economy? Many have already fallen foul to the "2 for 1" virus, despite the trade associations calling for calm and restraint. Is this really the way forward? Is the future of this Industry doomed to selling low-grade and sub-standard produce for a pound just so customers will grace their tables? Are we really losing the battle to the larger and more well known companies who can sell pints of beer and lager for 99 pence? The answer......It has already begun and a lot of privately owned restaurants, hotels and public houses have already crumbled under the pressure putting many in debt and many others in search of work!

As we watch our local eateries fall into a state of despair, we would hope for some words of wisdom from the very people who have help contribute to high produce prices and spend thrift customers. Many and baying for some sort of guidance from the ageing Messiahs, but to no avail. No words of encouragement, no shoulder to cry on and no ear turned in the direction of our plight. I speak, as always, of our 'gracious and God-like' Celebrity Chef!

To be quite honest, I am dumbstruck. For years now these Culinary Buddhas have been torturing and mangling our brains for vast wads of cash, but when we need them the most they are nowhere to be seen. apologies, they are on the TV but how are they assisting in this crisis?

Well, 'Mockney Boy' is currently taking on the EU over Pork and is pushing the price over and above an acceptable cost. This will then have an effect on every other meat and will push their prices even higher than before. The 'Poisoned Dwarf' is licking his wounds after having to shut down one of his pubs, The Greyhound, and has also seen a slump in the price of his 'knife collection' in most major stores. I actually bought three sets and use them for opening my mail, screwdrivers and opening tins of paint and varnish. Chef Ramsay appears to be in more difficulty than he is letting on with the rumour of severe financial problems and the possibility of being prosecuted by Companies House in relation to his accounts. Finally, and one that has really sent me reeling, is the new adverts of the Knorr Stocks Range. Marco, Marco, Marco......WHY??? I'm sure you don't need the money, but in promoting these products, you have signed a deal with a devil greater than yourself! For years you have promoted 'from scratch' cooking and now we see you using a product that is undoing all your good work.

As for the rest of our over-promoted cooks......where are they now when the Industry needs them the most?

Now the news and we start with some fantastic news.....

Luke Fredberg, TripAdvisor spokesman “The biggest and best dirtiest list is back, with TripAdvisor discovering that some hotels take the concept of offering dirt cheap rooms all too literally."

At last we will be able to discriminate correctly when choosing our city-based hotels. The return of the list is welcomed by many and will now name and shame the worst culprits of Health and Safety violations through reviews of their poor and unfortunate guests. Well Done TripAdvisor!

'Mockney Boy' is at it again and is urging Caterers to know the origin of its pork and the subsequent dishes that are produced from it. News Flash, 'Me dear old China Plate', it's called a PIG and has been around for some time, and that 'Me fluffy 'aired, Fireman Sam Role', is where Pork comes from!

And finally......On a lighter note, The Anstuthers Fish and Chip Shop in Fife, Scotland has won the award for 'Best Fish and Chip Shop in Scotland' for the forth year running. Not only that, but they have also been awarded the prestigious 'Best Fish and Chip Shop in Britain'. Congratulations to Robert and Alison Smith.

Our website is taking shape and is now looking almost reasonable. We expect it to be online to view within the next month or so. Anyone wishing to promote restaurants, hotels, blogs and anything else to do with catering please contact us either through the comments section or email us at

On that crispy and light battered note......

Le Chef Grincheux