“Le Vacance est fini!” was what chef Bartignac said to me this Tuesday, after I showed up in Etc at 8am and was surprisingly sent back to Ledoyen. I was half asleep, not wanting to believe my time at Etc is over. Chef Pinaud, Etc’s chef, said maybe i’ll come back the next day. I smiled and said yes but I knew that sending me back means I’m not gonna return. It was sad, I packed all my things and said a short goodbyes to everyone. Took the metro to Ledoyen, after a month not working there, not knowing what’s ahead. The vacation is over, I’m not going back to etc, said chef. I took a look at the board of upcoming reception events, 150 covers event on Thursday and 550 covers event on Sunday. As well as being in a small state of shock I was also sick this whole week, sick enough to feel weak and miserable but not sick enough to stay at home and rest while watching TV and sipping hot tea. What else? The last month there wasn’t any big events in the reception kitchen, meaning, all the basic preparations had to be done all at once. Usually it’s things that keep being made all the time bit by bit but there wasn’t any reason to keep them. We got big deliveries of the raw ingredients and for two and a half days we were all busy doing basic prep in the biggest magnitude. Boxes of tomatoes to blanch, peel and seed. Boxes of artichokes to turn, huge amounts of champignions, onions to peel, stocks to pass.. The next day, more tomatoes, more artichokes, more cleaning.
I felt pretty bad working on the same thing for so long in the very cold room while I’m sick. Thursday was a long day, starting with a lot of preparations in the morning, then we came back afternoon for the 150 people event service. It wasn’t a buffet service, meaning 150 plates of entree, plat and dessert after a cocktail aperetif. At the same time was another event of 25 people that had to be all plated as well. It was a mess, so many people trying to send all these dishes at the same time, everyone’s trying to be controlling telling other people what to do, pressure and hectic mess. I don’t like it when there’s compromise of the plating aesthetics when there’s too much plates after a huge investment in the preparation time, but it always happens with big events. The entree was a beet juice covered salmon with candied ginger, celery root and granita of horseradish. Pretty nice combination but so many of them to cover and plate made me sick of it, I didn’t even want to try.
The main course was soy glazed Entrecote with the home made ketchup. It was another mess but I tried to avoid it, too many people were there anyway, it was hot as hell, sweat was dropping in the food and the high pressure together with me not understanding something in French made my chefs angry. I just waited for this day to end. By 23:30 there was nothing else found for the stagiaires to clean so we could go home. Next morning 8 am in the kitchen, we continued the prep for the 550 covers wedding party. I was told I’m about to work Saturday and Sunday so I was kind of down. Friday, surprisingly, there were yet more tomatoes and about 50 heads of lettuce to wash and dry and more stuff like that to do. I was anxious that day, waiting to speak with my chef about my last two month of the stage. At last we spoke and he listened to my request and said he will try to make it happen. I felt better.
Saturday and Sunday were in fact the better days of the week. Saturday we were only 8 people in all the kitchen. It’s a huge place to be occupied by only 8. No other stagiaires so it was nice and relaxed. I was doing things I like better and everyone were in a good mood. The lunch was made from the last party leftovers which was great! Entrecote and vegetables and some of my lovely peeled and seeded tomatoes.
After that there were a lot of big plates to cover with charcuterie which was easy and took a while. We left early that day. The Sunday event was not as bad as I thought. Many people but the buffet made it a lot easier on us. Fifteen outside cuisiniers came to help in the prep and to serve food in the event itself. They were given clean aprons and a chef hat and walked around all day with the tall hats we never actually wear in the kitchen. It was hectic but in a nicer way. With all the help we hadn’t had a lot to do. We were said to do some minor things here and there. I peeled some onions, and then walked around to check if anything can be arranged, cleared out of the way and stuff like that. Then we made a big big tuna sandwich followed by the famous smoked salmon sandwich. We helped with the asparagus risotto and then I was busy rolling the “gosere” (sounds like it but I don’t know how to write it). It’s filo dough filled with Parmesan pate a choux, rolled with butter.
It was a lunch party and around 16:00 the food part was over, and all the leftovers came back to the kitchen. So much leftovers. We finished cleaning and when it was all done we went upstairs and helped ourselves with the leftovers which were about to go to the garbage!
I took as much as I could carry, thank god the course had me prepared for this situation as well. No plastic boxed, just aluminium foil, I did the best that I could! From there I went happy to a picnic with friends to eat all the goodies.
The ending of this 7 day week was sweet, too sweet! Now I have another week in the reception kitchen with a lot more events including Sunday big 250 people event. Then I will hopefully be transferred to the patisserie kitchen for a month followed by the last month in the Gastro kitchen which is about to be HELL! But I’m waiting for it.