- October 30, 2007
So, what do I know ?
From the menu I can do,
* tartare de bar et saumon
* petite friture de calmars (3 / 4 mins à la friteuse, il faut défaire ou agiter les tentacules avec une grande fourchette une fois les têtes sont dans l’huile)
* moules de bouchot à la marinière (50 seconds dans le cuiseur à vapeur)
* saumon frais mariné aux pommes de terre
* salade d’artichaut au fois gras
* nems thaï aux langoustines
* tourteau frais aux pamplemousses
* ravioles de langoustines aux persil plat
My 14h30 to 18h tasks,
* peeling artichokes and preparing the hearts
* preparing and washing calamaris (lots and lots and lots)
* boning 52 herring fillets
- October 30, 2007
OK, so it’s started….now it’s down to business. My first day at “La Fontaine Gaillon” has started, 9 til 6pm. The team is good, professional, with most of them having worked together for a number of years having followed the chef, Laurent Audiot, from his previous 1 Michelin star restaurant. I’ll review my experience at the end of the 2 weeks. However, briefly, what did I do today ?
* arrived 9am : met team, met the “Garde Manger” who I’ll be following this week.
* 9-11am : made mayonnaise, prepared tartare sauce, chopped v. finely (“ciselé”) onions (for tartare, vinegar for oysters, for the mussels…..), peeled some green asparagus, cut grapefruit slices, met Gérard Dépardieu (who is a co-owner of the restaurant)….he was perfectly normal and was interested by the fact that an englishman was wanting to stop being a consultant to do a CAP Cuisine and then open a restaurant…
* 11-11h30 : “lunch” with the team
* 11h30 – 14h30 : service. 50 covers
* 14h30 – 18h : prepared 3 crates of camus artichokes, 105 crayfish raviolli, deboned and battered 10 whitings / “merlans”, 30 crayfish nems.
During all of this time, there was of course almost constant cleaning and tidying of our “position” / table.
A good day.
Got home and filleted 3 mackrels !
- October 28, 2007
“Welcome to the Pleasuredome”, as Frankie goes to Hollywood sang back at the end of the eighties. Well I had my big day – 6 hours in the morning/midday shift, and 7 this evening….140 customers in total. I’m too tired to write any more, so I’ll simply copy the contents of a mail (in French) that I wrote this evening to a friend.
“eh ben, je rentre d”une grosse journée au Zephyr…le service du midi était tranquille (40 couverts), j’étais en cuisine avec la propriétaire, j’ai pu papoter et rentrer en contact avec lui (son parcours, sa vie, un peu de son histoire, sa famille) et aussi avec sa cuisine (je veux dire, le lieux, et non pas la carte / la bouffe….le midi c’est assez simple…hors lui, son caractère ressort dans le menu du soir). Il m’a parlé aussi de son logiciel pour tracer tous les produits, l’inventaire, les fiches techniques, le coût de revient, la marge, le coulage, les pertes…..franchement, rien que ça était impressionnant….côté gestion, c’est bien fiscellé son affair !
Et puis ce soir, 100 couverts, plus de travail dans les assiettes, et j’ai couru toute la soirée, et bien sûr, j’étais pas du tout en contact avec la cuisine / l’équipe / le lieu / les plats…..mon cerveau, mon corps et mon âme étaient pris par les événements…je passais mon temps à chercher où se trouvaient les choses, “qu’est-ce qu’il faut mettre avec le fois gras mi-cuit encore ?”…..mais une sacrée expérience…..mais sans les automatismes ça faisait bcp et donc je n’étais pas capable de sentir / rentrer en contact avec les produits.
Par contre, à la fin le chef m’a dit que je leur ai donné un bon coup de main ce soir – donc, j’ai déjà réussi le premier objectif (“être présent dans la cuisine sans être pénible à l’équipe”). Le chef m’a proposé de travailler sur la patisserie / les desserts samedi prochain, et pour préparer et pour me motiver il m’a demandé de proposer un dessert – pas trop compliqué. Je vais penser à qqchose de Français / Anglais, avec un peu de sucré / salé.
Je suis cuit !
et ma femme a bien assuré aujourd’hui – nous avons bien parlé cet après-midi en se baladant avec les enfants entre services…on a eu un moment difficile il y a 1 semaine mais on s’est retrouvé.”
basically what I’m saying is that it was a great day where I really saw everything that I could have hoped to see – spending time chatting and working with the owner / chef, and also running my arse off. Already I see the importance of all of the automatic gestures / techniques…when there are orders coming in left-right-centre, to be “in contact” with the food, you can’t be worrying about where such and such a product is stored / how is the “blah-blah” dish presented and so on.
A great day, but I’m bloody knackered. Hats off to these boys, and girls….they know how to work !
- October 24, 2007
Before the CAP Cuisine started I would talk about the unknown impact that being in a “foody” environment would have on what I would be capable of doing…..I imagined that certain things that seemed impossible / unattainable, or even that I would not have thought about, would suddenly become possible purely because I would find myself surrounded by new people, new ideas, shared aspirations and thus a new energy created by the “group” (that is, my fellow students, the teaching staff, the restaurant people, the staff who work in the gourmet bookshop, etc……)…and with this new energy completely new, incredible things would be possible. A bit like the famous “gagnant / gagnant” that Ségolène Royale talked about during the presidential campaign earlier this year.
Here I’m talking about a kind of energy that could not have existed when I was a computer consultant – of that I am sure.
Well, anyway, the first evidence of this new energy source is this blog ! I’ve never been able to keep a diary, never mind do the necessary to set up a blog and then start to plan how it looks and what content to put in it…..and when I say never for the diary, I mean never !
So, now into my 3rd week I’m very encouraged by this initial sign of new creativity appearing where there was none before – and where it would not have been possible before.
I signed my blog up to a “cookery blog directory” for blogs here in France – hopefully the start of creating links with this new world of cooks and fellow personnes passionnées par la cuisine. The only problem being that I write in English….I’m going to have to decided pretty sharpish if I want to continue in English / French or both. We’ll see / à voir……
In addition, my wife (who has been very much under the weather the last week or so) is back on the up. We had a rough time last week and I started to wonder what on earth I was doing changing careers and whether or not my wife was up to the challenge of letting her husband earn les money whilst spending more time at work !! Anyway, as happens with our couple, we are back on the up and things seem to make sense again.
- October 23, 2007
After a good day in 2 different kitchens I’d be tempted to say that this project of career reconversion is starting to take shape.
First day in a real kitchen in a real restaurant….okay, cutting very real vegetables, but I felt good, not totally awkward and most certainly not out of place. This was my first morning at “Le Zephyr”, working with the very friendly kitchen team – sous-chef Vincent and trainee Sandrine. Worked a variety of products, including kidneys which I’ve never worked with before. All basic stuff, but just a question of getting my bearings, checking out where the washbasin is, where the knives are, where the veg is prepared, starting to get to know a few of the starters and desserts.
Then, in the afternoon (14h30 – 19h30) it was back to school for a very good practical session in the kitchen with M. Baucheron. On the menu, Macédoine Mayonnaise (ensalada russe / russian salad) and Blanquette de Veau with Créole Rice (ordinary plain rice finished off in the oven with butter). We had plenty to get through and went at it at a good pace – with the result that it felt briefly almost like being at the hotplate in a busy restaurant.
Tonight Olivier (one of the lads from the course) created our Forum “http://greta2007.forumpro.fr”. Go and have look, if your french is up to scratch !
There’s a good feeling in our group – we’re all motivated, we work hard….the telling moment will be after the first 2 weeks in our respective restaurants.
- October 19, 2007
So there we have it, 2 weeks on the CAP Cuisine course and tonight I’ve lost the “buzz”. I think that it’s normal since there’s a bit of fatigue, it has to be said that the dishes that we are preparing aren’t the best in the world (moules marinière, roast chicken, chips tonight, yesterday steak béarnaise and choux pastry with crème chantilly), and just to add to it, we’re in the middle of a tense period for my wife and I.
I went to see the owner of one of the restaurants where I will be working (“Le Zephyr” part-time Monday 9-2pm, Saturday all day) and so as of next Monday I’ll be in the real kitchen cooking (well chopping and preparing cold stuff).
I should be energised, but it ain’t there – I’m worried about what all of this will mean for my family and the couple.
Bon weekend !
- October 17, 2007
Wednesday Week 2 of my cookery diploma, it started with a 4 and a half hour class at 8am, and was thus looking a bit tricky ! However, between Mr Faverol and the rest of us, we managed to get pretty animated by the history of cookery, development of products and techniques in the 19 & 20th centuries, and the structure of a typical kitchen “brigade”…..really good stuff from a teacher who has been there and done it after 15 years of working in various kitchens (including the Ritz).
Then, after lunch with Monique and my wife (semaine du goût – at the restaurant run by the students at our cookery school – food disappointing) I went to the “Librairie Gourmande” near to the Sentier à Paris. Great place, full of cookery books, dvds, biographies, history of cookery, etc….had a great look around, noted some titles that would be good for a later date and then left without buying a thing….which ain’t easy for me when it comes to cookery books !
Got back home (reading the interesting, even if very light, autobiography by Gordon Ramsay “Humble Pie”) and completed my prep work for the practical cookery classes tomorrow and Friday. I feel as though I’m really getting into things, I know the names of a fair bit of the material (knives and pans, basically) and I see now pretty much what is expected of me.
To finish the day, here’s an article about “The Fat Duck” which was voted the best restaurant in the world (in 2005) and has 3 Michelin stars (despite the chef and owner not having any formal training or experience before setting up the restaurant)….
- October 12, 2007
So, I finally got my hands on my knives today….ok, it was only so that I could cut up some veg, but hey, I can honestly say that I was absolutely delighted at the end of the session (5 hrs)…..carrots maçédoine (biggish cubes), jardinère (batons), “ciseler” (cut in fine little cubes, whilst leaving the root on) the onions and shallots, “émincer” onions / carrots / peppers / shallots, “tourner” some potatoes….ohh, nothing much and yet everything !
Today was the first day of real action for me with regards to my project of changing career.
Started with a visit to a restaurant in the 6th arrondissement of Paris (not far from St Michel / Montparnasse) called “Le Timbre” which is run by an Englishman called Chris Wright. He didn’t seem in too much of a mood to chat, but it was good to see another Brit (without any formel qualification !) who has made a good go of it (10 yrs in Paris, 3 as a waiter, 1 as restaurant manager, 6 as manager/chef of the 24 seater restaurant “le Timbre”).
Then off to WH Smith (the bastien of all things literary and, more importantly, ENGLISH in Paris) to buy the biography of Gordon Ramsay “Humble Pie”. Read the chapter on his time in France – fascinating stuff, at least for me…..I have to say that I’m a bit starry eyed at the moment when I read this stuff….I know that I’m caught up in a certain “romantic” view of the industry at the moment, but it’s an essential natural mechanism which allows me to get through the initial “integration” period…..maybe a bit like when a couple become Mum & Dad for the 1st time….it’s such a shock to the system that without the “lovey duvvey” feeling when they look at their new child they would be left feeling submerged by all of the shitty, difficult moments (of which there are quite a few during the first few months)…..so, I’m counting on my “romantic” view getting me through one or 2 sticky moments.
Then off to “Chez Léon” which is co-run by a person who “graduated” from our course 18 mths ago and has gone on to set up his own place (with his cousin). I wanted to see if I could work there during the days when I am at school – in other words, during the 3.5 months that I have of theory and practical lessons at school I am not meant to work (I spend the other 3.5 months working in a restaurant – my “stage” as they say here). However, I want to get as much experience as I can, and thus I am looking for a 2nd restaurant where I will be able to work Monday, Friday (8am-2pm) and all day Saturday. Anyway, “CHez Léon” not being open on Saturday’s, I’ve asked my teacher (Mr Charron) to ask at the Zephyr (which isn’t far from where I live) if they’d be interested by such an arrangement. We’ll see.
Then off to the Fongecif to thank Mr Gharbi who helped a great deal with my application for funding – chocolates bought by my wife, it has to be said !
Then off to my 5 hour class – pure veg cutting heaven !
I’ll take this opportunity to show you a picture of us all – me and my collegues who’ll be accompanying me over these next 8 months.
I finally feel as though my training is starting, and not before time !
- October 4, 2007
Bonjour à tous,
vous savez depuis longtemps que Cap est reconnu comme étant “le leader” en tout ce qui concerne “la transformation”……et voila l’opportunité de vous présenter une belle histoire d’un projet de “Transformation” qui commence avec une Réunion de Lancement demain à 17hrs, au bar Globetrotter (aucun intérêt en lui-même, c’est tout simplement le bar le plus proche) qui est en bas et à droite de la Tour Coeur Défense.
Je vous explique…..
Pour la plupart d’entre vous, l’histoire de mon départ pour suivre une formation de cuisine (CAP de Cuisine) de 7 mois est déjà connue.
Pour ceux qui ne sont pas au courant, je pars en Congés Individuel de Formation avec un financement (en tout cas, moitié financé / moitié congés payés ou sans solde) par le Fongecif d’Ile de France. Je vais passer 7 mois à apprendre cuisiner comme vous – les Français(es) – dont la moitié du temps sera à l’école (Collège Georges Méliès 19ème Paris), et l’autre moitié en cuisine au resto “La Fontaine Gaillon” (http://www.la-fontaine-gaillon.com/).
Vu que je pars dans le contexte d’un CIF, je ne quitte pas Capgemini…..je prends une petite pause (je ne me reposerai pas, d’ailleurs, parce que le métier de cuisto est très loin de reposant !!), avant de revenir au tour du début de mai 2008. A ce point-là, je referrai le point avec Bruno et Christian, et je verrai si je voudrais continuer à cuisiner à plein temps / mi-temps ou si les études de cadrage / réponses aux appels d’offre / propositions de belles architectures BI / présentations des points forts-faibles de la solution “machin truc” m’ont trop manqué….je vous laisse parrier sur où j’en serai d’ici 7 mois !
Donc, sachant que demain sera ma dernière journée chez nous avant le début de la formation lundi prochain, je voudrais vous proposer de fêter et partager ce moment autour d’une bière (je suis avant tout un anglais !!) au bar Globetrotter à partir de 17hrs.
Je ne proposerai aucun “cucumber sandwich” / “tartines à marmite” / “jelly trifle” / “légumes cuites à l’anglaise” / “bacon and eggs”…désolé. Pour ces belles choses-là il faudra attendre 3 ou 4 ans avant l’ouverture de mon resto “Entente Cordiale” qui proposera une fusion des cuisines française / anglaise…..;-)
A demain peut-être ?
Dominic Quirke / Capgemini France / Technology Services Industry and Distribution
Senior Consultant BI CRM/BI – BI2
Office: +33 01 49 67 52 45 / Mobile: +33 06 76 99 75 79
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*(l’anglais au 35ème qui parle avec un accent, pour ceux qui ne me connaissent pas !)
- October 4, 2007
Tomorrow being my last day at work before switching “codes”, I’m starting to get myself into the frame of mind of next week.
Went to get my knives, spoons, scissors, whisk, etc….today at “Lejeune’s” at Asnières…an anonymous industrial estate…a bit like the place where I learnt to drive back in Newcastle ! As I walked out of the shop, carrying in one hand my briefcase with my portable pc inside (my consultant tools), and in the other, my knife case…..the 2 trades, one alongside the other….a bit odd, but a good feeling.
I wrote my “farewell” email today at work – 6 years with the same employer…something that I’ve never done, and I’ve only got good things to say about Cap, in fairness to them. I’ve been challenged every year for 6 years..let’s see,
+ yr 1 : Jade arrives, struggling with French, tough project with crappy team at Aventis
+ yr 2 : Noé arrives, good first mission with Bruno and Antoine (who sadly killed himself this year), disaster with Carrefour, meet the Holos team, start running seriously (1h26 for 20k)
+yr 3 : MicroStrategy at Carrefour, team leader at EDF (work my cock off), Paris Marathon (3h40, bolloxed up due to 3 wks solid work and no training before the marathon!), married my lovely wife
+ yr 4 : France Telecom team leading again, back to EDF and then off to BMS to begin my Pharmaceutical period…also did the 3 day Gastronomy Cookery at Grégoire Ferrandi
+ yr 5 : whole year at BMS, working my bollox off, team leading / project leading…good stuff, 1000€ bonus, start my “high level consulting” career with mission at Société Générale
+ yr 6 : high level consulting and business development year, trying to get MicroStrategy business going and seemingly starting to succeed, successful 3 months consulting for NOB-BI…..and now starting my training, and more importantly starting a new, challenging and personally much more satisfying career – I hope….in fact, I’m keeping Darren in mind who also made a break for it (in his case into the publishing world) out of the IT comfort zone, and now he’s in a senior position after a year or 2 of making it work….good on the lad. I’m also keeping Monique in mind, she who did last year what I am starting this year (even went to the same Restaurant for her practical placement)…she’s off on her own adventure, trying to get her own place set up…..a very interesting 2 years ahead of us both, I think.