Thursday, 11 June 2009

Audacity of a Patron

Bon après-midi mes omlettes gargantuesques de baleine!

I was blessed at the beginning of last week with a full three days off. Plans were made, D.I.Y items were sought after, the list of 'things to do' grew more and more as Monday morning slowly rolled on. The weather had held and there was a hazy day awaiting my gusto. So, how far did I travel down my 'to do' list...How many red ticks did I place on my whiteboard indicating 'job finished'...How many times, my valued readers, have you done the same? I'm sure you can guess the outcome of my three delightful days off...I did bugger all! Nothing got done, the 'to do' list grew quicker than a genetically enhanced super melon and I endured the wrath of my Wife who would have been quite happy if I had just managed to put the kitchen clock on the wall! (Nails where they have always been and the hammer is in the toolbox in the cupboard by the front door...get the hint?)

Anyway, let me paint a picture for you. It's Sunday evening, you have been working for around thirteen hours, you have served approximately 85 covers, the temperature in the Kitchen is slightly on the warm side and you are waiting for the nightmare to end. Just finishing your last ticket of the night, you notice the clock on the wall...9pm! The Kitchen is now closed and an expression of relief resides on your face which is usually used to frowning the majority of the time. The door to the Bar opens and a familiar face appears...then the words, sickeningly sweet, filled with presumption, a hint of malice and quivering slightly with an undertone of fear..."Chef, do remember the table of 2 that booked for 8:30, well, they just arrived and, um, wondered if, um, it would still be okay to sort of like, you know, serve them?"

Five words projected themselves from my vocal chords..."You gotta be f*****g me!"

I was flabbergasted. Truly, I was. Dumbfounded, dumbstruck, I was rendered speechless! How any normal person could believe it was the height of good manners to book a table for a certain time, turn up 30 minutes late and then still expect to be fed is beyond a f*****g joke!

I am sure you are asking yourself the question "Well, did you serve them?" and to that conundrum, I will answer in the due fullness of time. Had it been my Establishment I would have personally gone to see the offending couple and, without any hesitation, made this statement..."Good Evening. I'm afraid that I will not be serving you tonight. If you think that you can arrive late, without a phone call and especially without an apology, disrespect me, my restaurant and my staff and still expect to eat then you are sorely mistaken. Thank you for choosing to dine here but I think that it is best if you leave now and never return because if you do, I will thinly slice your butt cheeks and serve you to my customers as Carpacchio of Human Arse...Now F**k Off!" At least my theoretical answer was to the point and there is no way the idiots could have misread the situation...or my obvious intentions.

So, to now answer the question that has reverberated around your cranium...Did I serve them?...Of course I did! It's not my restaurant and its certainly not my money or livelihood so of course I served them. Every motion I made for that ticket was painfully filled with resentment, anger and delightfully chilled revenge.

Please, I beg of you, spare a thought for the people in this Industry. We are only human. We could knock out numerous microwave meals or butter bread quicker than the likes of Greggs, Harveys or whichever local Bakery-cum-Eatery that is near you but that is not our style. Spare a thought for the Guys and Girls of the proper Kitchens...your local haunts...the ones that make sure you have the table you like but you don't need to ask for it and appear like a pretentious t**t. The ones that know which drinks you have when you arrive and the aperitif that you finish your meal with. The wonders of the Catering Fraternity that can have a laugh and a joke with you yet you still feel like the most important person in the room. They are the wonders of this trade...They are the ones that make sure every aspect is taken care of and your every whim is dealt with to the highest standard. Do not disrespect them but embrace there gutsy drive and determination which will ultimately lead to you and your guests having a most wonderful evening of food and drink.

P.S. Don't forget to tip your 'moron'! (Most Chefs get a cut of them!)

On that monetary note, some news regarding yours truly...I have been published! If you would care to look toward my 'Beyond The Hotplate' section which is on the left hand side of the Blog you will see 2 additions. The first is the link to ONE Magazine which I have been asked, with some light aggresion on my part, to become the Resident 'Culinary Crank'! It's an honour that I have been asked to write for this publication and I urge you to check it out at your earliest convenience...if not then it may well be time for the Salmon (Read the article and you will know what that means!) Secondly, for the Super Highway geniuses out there, I am now on Facebook with a informatory group called 'Grumpy Chef Groupies' which is open to all and I am also now on Twitter as of this evening...Search for 'TheGrumpyChef' on the Twitter friends page and 'Follow the White Touque!

Thirdly...another website I think is absolutely wonderful...Kamikazie Cookery! Follow the link in the same section and marvel at these 3 gents living in Edinburgh. An amazing concept and easily described as 'Three geeks. Cooking. With science and Explosions. Described as "Top Gear with food and without that twat Clarkson" (by one of our mates, admittedly), we're putting the "fun" back into "food". Which means we're making "funood". And lots of it.'

Bonne nuit mon carbonisez merveilleusement les brochettes vertes thaïes grillées de poulet

Le Chef Grincheux

Thursday, 4 June 2009

My Hypocritical Oath

mes tians savoureux de tomate, de basilic et d'avacado...mes pains belges succulents..mes goujons gastronomiques de morue…

When I embarked on my culinary journey, I pledged an oath. An oath of great magnitude that I still uphold to this day. A vow so colossal that I have struggled many a time to bite my tongue so that the perpetrators of vile deeds need not incur the wrath of my otherwise calm and gentile demeanor.

I took this oath well over a decade ago and until this day I have followed it to the letter. I have never strayed from my sacred words of wisdom...until now! The aforementioned statement reads thus...

"I, The Grumpy Chef, do solemnly swear never to gripe, groan, grumble, 'put down', 'tear to shreds', deconstruct, 'rip apart' or moan about any dish I eat when visiting a food establishment as a paying customer or regular patron. Nor will I demoralize any 'moron' about said dishes or subject them to ridicule over said dishes. This includes, but is certainly not limited to Managers, Bar Staff and Owners. In the event of a bad meal I will quietly pay my bill and leave calmly via the nearest exit. I will never name or bad mouth the establishment. Nor will I use telephonic communications, hand written letters or verbal speech to indicate my dislike for said establishment. This is my oath...mine and mine alone!"

Shame I never updated it to include Blogging...Oh well...God bless modern technology!

To begin with my Chicken Liver Pate, which seemed to be housed in the same type of receptacle that was used for ashtrays in the gardens, was overly coarse, contained bits of rubbery sinew and was finished on top with an unclarified butter. All of this resulted in the fact that the Pate had not been passed correctly (possibly the remnants from the Chef's last Donor Kebab with Chilli Sauce), it was over salted and was as warm as my nether regions after a busy Dinner Service.

Unperturbed by this ramekin of rubbery crap, I hunkered down and braced myself for the main course...a Beef Fillet Steak, cooked Blue, with full Garni, Homemade Chips and a succulent Pepper Sauce. I think I should have braced myself a little harder than I did. What followed was a Culinary injustice...a meal so detrimental to gastronomy itself that Escoffier must have been turning in his grave.

My Steak was Medium-rare one end and Rare at the other (a Culinary Feat!), the Onion Rings were bought in from a mass-market Giant, the Mushrooms had been sitting in a Bain Marie so long you could taste the stainless steel, the whole Tomato had been microwaved and then introduced to the grill for a fleeting moment before being plated, the Homemade Chips I don't think had ever seen a Homegrown Potato in their manufactured life and as for the Pepper Sauce, well, I think it was more of a sweet Gravy with lumps of Onion and White Peppercorns in. No sign of any dairy product what so ever...maybe he had used Milk to carry on his obvious talent of saving money for his G.P but producing s**t for his customers!

By now I had all but given up and persuaded myself to give this cretinous cook one last shot of the proverbial dice. Dessert was the final course and I waited with bated breath as it appeared on the horizon, awkwardly making its way to the table carried by an inept 'moron'. One look told me that the idiot had failed and failed with such magnitude that I had been stretched to breaking point. My White Chocolate and Baileys Cheesecake was actually a gelatinous and sickly piece of a Brakes-Own catastrophe! Even worse though, a Chocolate sauce that had obviously come from an Ice-cream Van, a rosette of 'Aerosol Cream' and 'the crowning turd in the water pipe'...a solitary piece of Physallis. The 90's answer to the 80's Cocktail Umbrella or the 70's Fondue!

So, in retrospect, the Cook needs to go back to Culinary School! My main worry is that this isn't an isolated incident. I have still to find a restaurant or even a Public House where I have enjoyed eating in the county of Cheshire. Don't get me wrong, there are a few extremely excellent eateries and for that reason I will name them...The Cottage Restaurant and Lodge in Knutsford, The Bridge Inn in Audlem and for good wholesome British grub, The Barbridge Inn in Barbridge. Yet in a county that is approximately 600,000 Acres in size and is home to over a million people, surely there must be more than just three decent establishments! There just has to be.

On that Culinary note...The News...

Following on from last week, We see that Chef Blumenthal has been overlooked by Mr Pegler, Chief Exec of Little Chef and didn't even consult him on the proposed Nationwide roll out of Heston's Menu. Come on Heston, I'm sure Mr Pegler will soon consult with you once he has a Halibut shoved up his bottom and a few New Zealand Green Lip Mussels coaxed up his nasal passages...Where's your 'kahonas', Chef? Probably in his latest weird and wacky molecular masterpiece!

Voyez-vous bientôt mes ramiers merveilleux bourrés de la substance. Ayez une semaine fantastique

Le Chef Grincheux