Working Life 2: Wake up Call
Day 5 – the Launch Sequence
Already exhausted I only just started my second week in the kitchen at 9am on Monday…
I made so many of the basics today. But no matter how well I already knew the process, each recipe and or chef had a different approach so I had to try and fulfil the personal preferences or individual circumstances as best as I could.
I made a run of the classic bar entrements including decorating the mini cheese cakes and the fraisier in order to prepare the presentation plates for the bar.
It is incredible to actually visualise even a small proportion of what comes out of our pastry kitchen on a daily basis. With room service, the bar, the two michelin star restaurant, amenities for new guests, anniversary and birthday cakes the variety we produce is astounding.
I marvelled once again how the humble brownie, had been morphed into an elegant petit dessert. It also managed to contain a sinfully delicious molten centre.
Day 6 – the Breakthrough
Finally today the world is looking brighter and in order.
I made the famous Ritz fraisier for the first time – having been spoilt with a taste or two during our long days, I know how delicious it tastes, and how well it presents, first hand! I also know how good it felt to produce it!
Maybe it is even brighter as after the exhausting day at work it was followed by what I should be doing every day of my time in Paris!
I was proactive and made the effort to walk into some shops and do some hard earned window shopping. I messaged friends and organised some catch up dinners. I jumped into the deep end and worked up the gall to try calling a certain someone. I enjoyed the warmth and sunshine sitting back by the pond in the Tuileries and just relaxed.
It is amazing how much more welcoming and beautiful Paris is in the rare nice weather.
I had been becoming lazy in the unimaginably dreary weather of Paris in July and August – it being cold and raining constantly, I had been sick and tired thus succumbing to my sedentary and solitary ways. So most days in recent weeks, I was returning straight home from work, exhausted, to simply laze away the day.
And so, for an hour or more, I lay in the warm sunlight, just dreaming away.
Day 7 – the Countdown
It was yesterday, that I was finally made aware of a grave error in communication, I was in fact not meant to start work at 9am for the past two days, rather at the glorious time of 7am in chilly Paris. And so it was on this wonderful and fateful day that I truly did start work at 7am and I was on the petit fours and bar dessert production line straight off.
Work was good. I willingly took on hard jobs, asking at opportune moments to do things I wanted to do, at the same time as efficiently doing the menial tasks accustomed to a stagir. I washed the floors, I scrubbed the tables, I organised and washed our utensils. But I also made 14 litres of crémeux vanille, decorated the cheese cakes up to their high standards, and helped to make tonnes of Belgian waffles.
The clear highlight was making an anniversary raspberry millefeuille, of which I was really proud and I couldn’t believe my luck. I hope they enjoyed it.
I also managed to squeeze in short bursts of watching the chef produced a range of incredible desserts for Le Espadon, the two Michelin Star dining room I once had the pleasure of visiting.
Finishing at the civilised time of 3pm I made my way rapidly back home to try and sort out a rather embarrassing and rather pressing issue – one that would have a large impact on the next few weeks – a surprise awaits you very soon!
Day 8 – Ready to Blast Off
By the fourth day, with some hard negotiation, I had managed to sort out a certain roadblock, and was faced with a long shift from midday to 8pm as a result.
I helped make some of the chocolates, and mini tarts, and delectable madeleines which spoil the guests with flavour hits throughout the long culinary day.
From then on I quickly passed from emotional frustration to physical exhaustion and the shift went from passing nicely to a dismal end having inadvertently burnt 6 litres of confit de fraise – it was an infuriating way to finish my week for the chef and my own self-assessment.
On reflection though, given our freshness in the kitchen, it is expected of us to make a mistake every now and then despite our best intentions, there are always kinks to work out, especially when it is a first attempt and the oversight is away at dinner.
I left an hour late, not unexpected, and crashed at home after a long and at times draining week but impressed with how I handled it.
I also finally managed to make a small purchase to celebrate… we will see what this leads to, maybe sooner than you think!