Travel. P #66 – Chef de Partie, Covid in your face & Bristol

“There should be no shame in admitting to a mistake; after all, we really are only admitting that we are now wiser than we once were.”

Greg McKeown
My little kitchen bit.
Pate preparation

Back from Germany to England, I went to Steam for a job interview. I managed to get the position in the small kitchen team of three as a chef de partie. The first weeks were very hard on me. Loeads of new information, that I had to work on. I decided to go to sleep as soon as possible after a shift to be able to make new brain connections during my sleep. It worked really good and I focused much on my new job. Lorna was managing the front of house, usually in a team of two as well. Our head chef was a dragon and spiting with fire, but hey, head chefs right.

Pate

On starters and desserts I whirled around like a tornado and learned to decorate, time and organize myself great in a kitchen team. Some of our food was very good as well. Oh and I had to also be very mindful of food intolerances of customers, while I was preparing meals. What was good for me is that the dragon was mostly firing the sous chef, since he shared a part of the kitchen with her, so that I felt safe. We had very funny days as well, many jokes, some disasters, and loads of stress. But man, even the atmosphere was not always flowers and love, I really enjoyed myself in my first position as a chef.

El Chefo

Lorna wasn’t as keen on her job as me, she was already done with hospitality and wanted to experience new things, but we were a great team and it was actually cool to work together. Supporting each other so that the customers can have a great time and enjoyed themselves.

Little Food overview what were Starters and Desserts.

My first two days were full of failure, but once I new what I have to do I was able to work on that and get better. Sadly I didn’t do loads of prep, in the afternoon. Most often I was on for service. Like this I was able to to things with Lorna during the day, which was great on the other side. The nice thing about prep is that this is where you learn about recipes and taste, get your knife skills and speed up. I think I missed out on that. I often asked if I could come in for prep, but two people were most often enough for our volume.

Sorbets

In my area I had 2 fridges, one for desserts, one for starters. I had an oven and a grill, and a single stove for soup, usually. At very busy times it was hard to coordinate desserts and starters at the same time, especially if you want to make sure that the customer is gonna be able to get hot food, and not melted desserts. But this was maximum 2 hours at a shift, and I received help when I needed it. All in all I would say, I did pretty good, as also the feedback of our sous chef said so. He was a funny fella and gave the kitchen great vibes. It’s a shame the dragon was sometimes hard on him, but I guess if you want to give the customer a great experience, this is how it can be achieved, not how it must.

Snoooow

The front of house was a lovely 2 room atelier. Big windows, with old tables and chairs ranging from 8 to 2 people. A candle on each table and different cutlery and wine glasses. Dimmed vintage lights, that gave the whole area a beautiful atmosphere, were cozy. Usually there was relaxed music in the background and Lorna floating in between the tables and working from behind the bar. The bar was maybe 2 meters long and had an old typewriter and vintage things around. A coffee machine, whos coffees got served in old cups from thrift shop stores. I really enjoyed the front of house atmosphere, and the tip of Colin, my Boss, to step out and soak in the atmosphere, everyone having a great time and chatting, shouting, eating, drinking. It feels like swimming form a cold river into the warm springs. From the stressful kitchen into the warm atmosphere of the restaurant front. Almost like two different worlds.

Because I was chefing I tried to get good stuff to Lorna to let her try. In general I myself had to try everything. You have to, when you want to prepare things for your costumers. It gives you a better feeling for dressing, heat, and grilling. I think my favorite starters were three little pigs grilled pulled pork in BBQ sauce served on a just brown toasted, still soft inside slice of baguette, grilled black pudding and chorizo on top and to the sides, with a whisky BBQ sauce decorated and finished with crumbled nachos. I also enjoyed the Bloody Mary and the Iced Parfait a lot. Desserts were all pretty crazy, the trifle, sticky toffee pudding, peanut ice cream, chorizos where probably my favorites.

Because there is not time for break on service, I made Lorna and myself always a plate with things that were too much or not prepared right, so we were able to eat little bits of these and that. Collin also told her to try everything, so she gets a better opinion of what to say about which dish. I still think that this is the best way to do it. Maybe after a shift, where everyone comes together with a bottle of wine, we prepare every dish and talk about it, how it tastes, what could be made better, what is great about it and what we all think about the dish. I really enjoyed the evenings back at the Thai restaurant where we had beers and shared typical Thai dishes together.

Happy Birthday Lorna
Setting the Mascarpone in the tin, as well as roasting the chocolate flakes

With time passing and me racking up my skillset and getting better and better. Also sometimes the dragon spit some proper fire under my butt. At some point we reached a time about Lornas birthday in March, where we all had the weekend off, because the dragon had birthday as well. I made her big cake to her reborn 21st birthday. She loves tiramisu, so I made her a whole tiramisu cake for her birthday. She loved it.

Since I arrived we were also living in the shepherds hut, it was so tiny and lovely. I really like living in there. This just shows you again that you really don’t need much to be happy.

In our free time we usually did some sport or went for walks around the area. Live was pretty chill, and in England it is quite miserable in Winter.

So we decided to visit some friends in the south in Bristol. Jack and Gerogia, who was at that time in the Alpes working in chalets. Jack and his brother just bought a house for a fair price in Bristol, a funny city. Lorna had really enough of her job and wanted to leave and find something else. We wanted to move to another restaurant, where we already had a checkup planned, and Lorna pretty much got a job there, since she worked there already and they know she works great. The head chef told me I have to make a big pot of soup, my plan was a butternut sweet potatoe soup, far easterly spiced. He also saw me working on the pizza oven, a dream of mine.

Before that we went for a weekend with a bus to our friends. Since the last two weeks we started hearing more and more about this virus called Covid-19. A lung attacking virus. Our headchef got pretty paranoid about it, but in England no one really cared and there were no restrictions, even tho Italy was apparently going down. At Jacks we saw that there is still loads of work to do with the house and the garden. But even at that point there was no restriction or whatso ever.

Sometimes we put on the fire, it just needed a little bit to heat the small room for the day.

Then suddenly everything went really quick. Goergia got on a rescue flight and was flown to Bristol, to live at Jacks. Even tho she came from a hotspot she didn’t have to get a test. All her coworkers where tested positive. Once she was at Jacks place, she spread it among us six and a day before we anted to leave, the restaurant closed and shut down hit. No more possibility to go home for a month and we all had the virus, the question was just when is it gonna hit.

The British way of queuing

After another couple days, Georgias virus broke out and she lay down for two days, she had fever and felt bad, pretty much just laying in bed. Next was Max, down for one two days, than Jack, who had got hit a bit stronger, probably due to his asthma than Lorna for a day and I honestly think I had it, but I didn’t feel anything. Except when I was riding through town on my bike, my lungs had on the steep hills a hard time. I tried to find out what the symptoms are, and how it affected me. I have to say that after it was over, I honestly had a weird feeling in my lung, a if a cat had scratched around a bit. But man. Over all. This virus is not really dangerous.

empty city of bristol

I honestly don’t get why it is supposed to be so dangerous and why we take such strict measurements. I mean it is obvious the way of nature that the old an weak die. That is how it is and always gonna be. What I think is not fair is that the heathy and fit people have to get through the lockdown as the unhealthy fat and weak people. I mean, if you are in danger you must lock yourself away – a lockdown. I agree. But if not, I mean honestly, I consider myself healthy and I was more than fine, it was really nothing bad. I also think that the media is doing a great bit to make the virus sound like the monster that is gonna get us all. But I personally know no one that died of it, stand 01.02.2021. I get that the hospitals are full and the capacity is reaching it’s limit, but that is not our mistake. More like the one of the authorities or government wasting money on stupid projects instead of building a strong healthy well paid health system beforehand. And now it is us that has to endure the questionable restrictions that come with it.

By now people are getting vaccined here, and I also think that if you consider yourself strong and healthy, there is no reason to get it. Don’t be scared of the virus. The media makes us all paranoid about it, I can tell by my relatives, but just relax, don’t panic.

What you should take out of this hole scenario is that you should really care more for your health and eat more leafy green vegetables, better oils and less sugar as well as cheap meat.

Since we had to self isolate now, we used the sunny month to work in the garden. Oh what a crazy project, really. We worked all day, but I absolutely loved it. It felt great. Once Georgia arrived we had a big Dinner together and ordered from the Indian. Oh Indian food is great in England. We spend loads of time at the skip as well, where we sneaked us some power tools and bikes as well as some other useful things like posts, chairs etc. I spend a day there just stopping people and asking if I can’t have what they planned to throw away. And to be honest, they were really happy about it. So yeah, that was great. Even tho I got eyed by the workers a bit funny, but hey, I was just reducing rubbish. Oh yeah by that time Max was living there as well, he stared living at Jacks and Ollis until the new flatmate joined them.

What I found really cool about the garden, is that at least 95% is from people throwing stuff away, everything is used and still great to be used. Hard was to remove that climbing plant. It was all over the place, and in the back was a hole tip of dug in old stuff.

Max and his incredible paintings

Riding around in Bristol is quite fun. I really like the idea of recreating the old railway as a bicycle path, I came across this a few times in England and it is absolutely genius. No cars, no stops. It felt like a highway for bikes. Great! Bristol has got a tidal river like London. I liked the little harbour and the big parks on that high Bridge. As far as I know, is that Bristol has go a bad history of slave trading, and got hit hard of that Black lives Matter movement. I was quite happy to be back in the north at that time. I think it is good that the black people do something against racism. Racism is hard to understand and if it comes down to the base, than it probably comes from far, far back, that when you saw someone looking different, this different looking person might have different diseases that could harm your tribe, so you try to stay distanced. But man, slavery, suppression, and just treating someone different because he or she looks different is in our day and age not necessary for survival and completely out of place.

After a whole month n Bristol, locked in the small house, where we all had a great time, we managed to book a train and leave. I love staying with Jack and Gerogia, they are great. The garden now looks amazing. Like a little jungle with a great chill out area and a BBQ on the top bit and loads of vegetables. We actually motivated the neighbors to work in their garden as well, just by seeing what we achieved. So good.

We booked the train on our own risk, to be stopped and send back, since only essential travel was allowed. And holy cow, the whole train station in Birmingham was empty except for like 10 people and police. It was amazing to see. It felt like walking through the cities with no human beings around anymore. Everything was quiet and clean.

Once we arrived back in the lakes, where we did the last miles spread on two days on a beautiful bike ride, Jane allowed us to live down in the Cottage they usually rent out and we started working there now. Holy cow we managed to do a lot there as well. Lorna got money from the government, where I couldn’t because I didn’t got an insurance Number when I started working. This was so so incredibly stupid and I missed out on loads of money! Very, very stupid that move. Next time when I start working in another country I will do all I can do get things sorted first.

Later on in the lockdown the Monday to Wednesday scheme started, where the government gives you 50% of your bill in restaurants. Oh, we went completely out of control with that. I loved it so much!

But more about that in my next Blog, about our new little home, building stuff, repairing stuff, painting a whole house and growing our own little plants.

How about you stop reading the newspaper and watching the TV for a month. It feels great to be apart of this constant flow of entertainment as news.

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