Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peaceRobert J. Sawyer
After I went into nearly every restaurant in Wanaka, I got two instant job offers. My first one was the Thai-Restaurant, where I left in the evening for a two hour trial shift, paid by a nice meal afterwards. After my shift, my manager said I will have the job. The kitchen was small, Thai music running and the two really nice cooks nearly just spoke Taiwanese. My job was to smash the dishes through and make sure all plates are clean and stacked up. My work area was tiny, maybe two meters from the left to the right, where the dishwasher was. I never did any of this, so I was pumped to learn. I hoped to gain some skills from the chefs to improve my cooking. The restaurant is was busy, usually from 7 to 9. A lots of take-away and usually around this time, the restaurant fully booked. I worked 5 nights this week and reduced it to 3 days and finally to one night, because I was more needed in the other job. I remember my trial shift was crazy. The kitchen was huge, in comparison to the other kitchen. My work area and the dishwasher were huge, I would say at least double the size before. I had no idea what was the best and most efficient way to clean the dishes. It was super busy and I was just spinning and throwing dishes through the machine. Dishes to my left stacked up higher and higher. Hot pans, trays, plates, bowls, ramekin, and cutlery. Than pots and cutting boards on another place and knifes in another tub. Holy shit. It was crazy.
Because it was busy I had no fucking clue what was going on. My chefs shouting at me, “we need long plates/dinner plates/ bowls (balls in Ravis place)” and I had no idea what name fits to which plate, or even a ladle, no fuckin idea. After the shift my brain was just empty and I could manage to speak properly, but ay you know what? I got the job and my team was alright with me.
After some shifts I became more and more used to my environment, and bored of my Thai restaurant job, because I realized I reached the point where I wont be taught more, so I went for working one night the week, and two weeks after that I quit my job. I liked my team though and we had some fun evenings, where the restaurant was closed, the chefs made food and we had drinks and shared stories over spicy food. Even the salads after work were so hot that we were sweating. My personal food in the end were carrot skin that I peeled, mixed with coconut cream, a few spices and rice or pasta. I enjoyed it, and it was always without sugar. Thai food is usually quite sugary.
After my crazy three non stop working weeks, I stopped my work amount a bit. I worked usually 5 days or four days at lake bar. 2 morning shifts after those I left to my Thai restaurant job. But I have to say, that in a small place, things are more personal, and the atmosphere is different. I loved both teams tho. In the end I had a 12, 14 hour day. When I quit I only worked for the Lake Bar, some nights till nearly one o’clock. I had my 10,12 hour shifts, but they were rare and most days I started from 3 p.m.
My team was nice. The main chef was not there, which was cool for me so I was working with a team, that didn’t thought to elevated of themselves and we had loads of fun. The waiters were great as well and it was always fun to have a small chit chat while smashing dishes through. In the 2 weeks holidays during the winter season Sam joined me. He an his girlfriend Claire. Both from the states and super nice people. Sam and me had a lot of fun. There was not one person in my team I didn’t like, everyone was different but great. I had situations where we had struggle, but that was just temporary. To the day I am very thankful for everyone, especially Jamie, my ‘head chef’. I learned a lot through him and his nature and of course my boss who didn’t think better of him than of everyone of the team. I started as the slowest dishwasher and left as the fastest one. I knew a lot about food storing, what the chefs will need and what belongs where, when to get it and how to top up the food resources we need, when to order new one and how to keep the team going and supported without aiming for acknowledgement, just quiet in the background. Thanks to Brandon, who introduced me to my first sous chef shifts, where I did the salads for a few nights. I am very thankful for that and learned a lot through him as well, especially thanks to showing me Juice WRLD, haha. (Right now listening to Death Race For Love) I also learned about food prep from veg to meat and fish. Next to the dish washing my job was to make some fancy served desserts. A good friend became Will a waiter who called me out for the sunset, nearly every time. I am also thankful for that. He is fucking great, a very calm nature, smart not showing of boy, I hope I see you again bro! Man I really learned a lot and when I left I was just on three days per week, so that I could enjoy my free-time on the mountain or working on the van with Lorna. Great about working in hospitality is that you get a feed, which is usually good and satisfying. In the kitchen there is more food than I could possibly eat, so much is still got thrown away, that was used for pig food luckily. I sometimes took some Broccoli stamps home or leftover dinner. My flatmates loved it even more than me. But no one could reach the food quality of Lornas Italian Kitchen. The food was very very good and perfectly spiced. Incredible. My next time I would like to work in a kitchen that is more focused on spicing and preparing food.
A few times, when I had a flat tire in my bike, I ran to work, and went for a swim just before. It is amazing how hot it is, once the sun is out. Best star for a night in the kitchen, fresh and awake. My worst or more sad night was when the police confiscated my bike because it was stolen and I bought it from a recycling shop. I never saw my money again and the guy whos bike it was told me I can have 30 bugs for it, but I never saw them either. When I cycled home, after my staffie (we got a free drink per shift – I took mine only on my Fridays, to keep me motivated and off the alcohol) I was watching the milky way above me, cycling through extra dark parts, with a 10 minutes meditation at the lake front a few nights per week. My favorite cycles where with Lorna though, always fun, even if I had to push her sometimes, haha. Oh man it was all just a really cool time, and I got sick of it after like 4, 5 month. Usually I can’t stay in a place for longer than a month and get itchy feet.
Yeah man, that was my work life in Wanaka. If I had the chance to do it again, I think I would do it exactly how I did it. It was a great start into the commercial kitchen life.
Next time more about my life in Wanaka, my birthday and getting my 2nd van in New Zealand. My Hitchhiking to Dunedin, lovely cake for my birthday and a package that arrived from home.
Maybe invite some friends over and have a shared dinner, a ‘potluck’. Everyone can bring a bit and you all have a good time together.