Here I am, a week after starting my new stage in another restaurant. Back to square one? I believe not. In fact, after working for four weeks in Frenchie, I felt very unmotivated to keep on full power to the end of the stage. I thought a lot about the purpose of the stage, and how I pictured it in my mind before I started. I believed it’s gonna be hard work, almost free labor, in exchange for being able to learn a significant amount of knowledge in this time and improve my skills. When I realized it’s not the case for me I was disappointed and confused: why am I doing this? What am I gaining out of it? Where’s it gonna lead me? I deciding to leave without a lot of expectations, fearing this is just gonna be something I must go through and finish in order to receive my diploma from Ferrandi.
Out of the very few restaurants options I could come up with doing a small research while working my last week, Chef Sebastien had recommended me to try go to Ledoyen, and I called for an interview. It’s a big restaurant, old establishment, exists since 1791! The current chef, Christian Le Squer, holds three star Michelin! It’s a classic place but a creative cuisine with a lot of seafood and Japanese ingredients. When I had a tour there I was excited to see these plate covers, like you see in cartoons to reveal the plate in front of the customer. It’s a real French kitchen, like one can never ever work in outside of France.
The restaurant has two kitchens: what they call the gastronomic cuisine and the other is the reception (or banquette) cuisine. The first one is the regular restaurant where diners are eating the 3 star Michelin meals. The cuisine staff are working 8:00-23:00 with a two hours break, 5 days a week. The second one is the big parties cuisine which operates as sort of a catering for events (varying between 8 people to more than a hundred). It’s different because there is no actual service and menu, but the customer who orders the event will decide what everyone is having in advance. The dishes are not as refined as the gastronomic cuisine but they are very nice as well. The cuisine staff are working 8:00-17:00 or 14:00-23:00 5 days a week.
I asked to start working in the reception cuisine, mainly because of the hours. I was also told there is an option to rotate and switch to the gastronomic cuisine after a while. I said I want to rotate after about 3 months or so, so that I will have 1-2 months to experience the other type of cuisine.
I came to the restaurant Monday morning, starting my new life.
This week was not easy, I worked hard, but I was very happy. I got to do so many things! Just a partial list of jobs I was doing this week:
Juice from: apples, pears, beets, watercress, spinach. Peel and cut onions to Lozenge-shapes, rings; Cut citrus confit stripes; Peel garlic; Fill metal rings with spaghetti outline and mushrooms filling; Pin bone salmon filets; Chop fennel; Mix the ingredients for pain d’epices; Make a passion fruit infusion; Plate the salmon cold entree; Plating the main course of the chicken in orange; Half a day helping out in the patisserie: cut chocolate crunch to small squares, cut cookie roll to circles, mix icing sugar and almond powder for the macarons, mix yolks and sugar for creme anglaise, mix the sorbet exotique, cut the tuile as it comes out of the oven; Zest lemons and oranges; Clean and cut to four three baskets of champignon de Paris for a Duxelle, de-stem chantrelle mushrooms, taking the hair out of a huge pile of “pied de mutton” mushrooms….
This is just the things I did the first three days at the job. Next day, Thursday evening, there was a big cocktail party for 120 people. I came at 14:00 and started plating all the small cocktails appetizers. It was so much fun! We did mini sandwiches, balls filled with foie gras cream, sablee of Romarin with olive paste, smoked salmon… about 12 different little things. I also helped cooking the warm dishes like fried rolls and I tossed the mushrooms in a pan. It was a lot of adrenaline!
The staff is very nice and I get to know them little by little, all in French, just French. It’s a bit of a barrier but as well I get to improve my language. I will dedicate a whole post about working in French. I get to come home early enough to rest a bit, do some shopping or anything I need, see some sunlight, which is very nice and I do not take for granted now.
I also have a lot of space there. The kitchen is huge: two levels with many different purpose rooms. It’s pretty ancient but it’s well maintained. I have my own locker for uniform, I have a place for my tools, place for a working station, the sink is free to use most of the time. There’s a cafeteria for the staff which serves balanced lunch and dinner everyday with some restaurant leftovers such as the cheese cart oldies!
So it seems like a better placement for me to learn as much as I can. Hopefully everything will stay positive. I’m crossing my fingers and next weekend will update if everything’s still well.