In the last month banks and stock markets around the world have been collapsing….along with our own savings at the bank ;-( ! Turn on the telly or go to any newspaper web site and it’s pretty much the headline every day. However, these last few months I have managed to find the perfect way of avoiding all of this negative news which is leading more and more economies into an official recession…..well, it’s simple….just work split shifts in a kitchen !
First of all, to the uinitiated, a “split shift” is working from 8-ish until 15hrs and then 17h30 until 23h…for the few hours of “rest” one doesn’t do much more than chill out, drink tea, eat a sandwich, read a book or pass some brief time with the family.
For my last 12 days in the UK I worked 10 split shifts (thus missing the collapse of several British finance institutions), and now that I am working here in Paris, I’m on “splits” again. I’m currently the human version of the mole……burying my head in my work and missing out on what’s going on around me.
Curiously, I also seem to be working in one of the few restaurants in Paris which is doing well (according to the weekly trade paper “Hôtelerie Restauration”, the number of restaurants closing so far this year has increased by more than 30% on last year) despite the huge downturn in the economic climate. Saturday and Sunday were very busy (full each service), with approx. 30 for lunch and 50 for dinner for the rest of the week up to and including last night, Thursday.
So all in all, the various moves to renationalise banks in different European countries has been taking place in a parallel universe as far as I have been concerned…..which maybe ain’t such a bad thing.
So, how’s my first week in my new job been ?
Busy, stressful (at first), but exciting and pretty passionate. I am currently the demi-chef de partie working on the fish section where we deal with Lobster, Scallops, Langoustine, Bass, Turbot, Sea Bream and Cod. My job is to set up the section (garnish, sauces and fish) and then cook and dress the plates for all fish orders during the service….so there’s a lot to get done !!! At the moment I still need help completing the prep work, but I am able to do the service on my own now, which I am delighted about.
Overall, I am very happy with this first full job in a professional kitchen. This is exactly the kind of experience that I need to prepare me for running my own restaurant in a few years time. The only aspect that I am missing out on is the “Fine Dining” touch. The products that we work with are of a good quality and are fresh, but because of the time constraints, the lack of staff and the amount of work to be done, we put more emphasis product and flavour than on presentation and precision. I’m not sure if in time that is going to frustrate me or not. In any case, I have to learn to work quickly (particularly in the preparation phases of the day), and I will certainly learn that where I am at the moment. I also need to learn to manage my orders, cook the food, dress the plates, all the while cleaning up my section as I go along (something I need to improve on)….all of this I will certainly get whilst working the fish section.
So, as far as the choice of kitchen to work in, so far so good.
One recent development back at home is that the kids (and particularly my daughter) are clearly missing me. Now that my planning at work is settled (3 splits, 1 early, 1 late and 2 days off) we should all be able to start settling into a new routine. But the kids were clearly expecting Papa to go back to his previous routine (being back home every evening from 18h30 onwards) that he had when studying for his CAP and doing his placement at “La Fontaine Gaillon”. I’ll be making sure that the days that I have off will be managed in such a way as to spend as much time as possible with them…..and then all that will be left will be working out how to spend more time with my wife !!