Gossip, Figs and Sushi: Week 7 in the Kitchen
So the moral of the story is…Don’t ever tell a chef anything. Because they love to gossip. Like pre-teen girls. With dirty minds. . There is nothing that can be a secret, and everything will be read into and fabricated until it becomes dramatic—and probably sexual. It is both fortunate and horrible that I can't speak enough French to properly participate in certain conversations.
This past week was particularly bad, as the dramatic gossip began as one sentence of truth that I told to a coworker...and which somehow became a raging wildfire of misguided storytelling that all of my coworkers (and heaven help me, basically everyone else in the hotel) are in on. Remember how there was a phase where my coworkers were paranoid about what I would write on my blog? Yeah, well, that has ended. Now my Chef has specifically asked me to write down all the "facts" of the gossip and drama in my latest blog post, and that if I don't he will comment and enlighten the internet and all my readers of whats been going on in my life. Nothing like a little bit of friendly blackmail, hey? Luckily, at the end of the day, it is all good natured and in good fun, so don't go out of our way worrying on my behalf. (Though I'm pretty sure I spent half of service on Friday red-faced from embarrassment >_<)
On Monday, I held on to my weekend vibe just a bit longer than usual, and went out exploring the area with a coworker, who luckily for me, has a car. We went over to Cap
D'Antibes and hiked around a bit beside the water before stopping for a sushi picnic. It was brutally hot in the sun, but perfection in the shade--and hard to imagine I had to leave to work a 12 hour shift! Traffic on our way back was a bit more inconvenient than expected, and I was sure I was going to be late for the first time ever. Seriously, I don't know if there have been more than two times when I arrived less than 20 minutes in advance of the start of my shift. So when I showed up a solid 1 minute in advance of my shift starting, it was just in time to hear one of my coworkers asking where on earth I was.
My weekend vibe did not hold out for long though, as on Monday the service was so far “dans le merde” I thought for a minute we would be sending out our desserts late. We managed to hold our own with some quality team work, but it was touch and go. You see, the thing is, the ticket machine wasn’t really working, so half of the time we didn’t get the tickets to say that the table was getting ready for dessert or that we needed to send the pre dessert, which meant the servers came to us directly—without ticket—with the news that we needed to immediately send them back with desserts—and with tickets we fashioned out of scraps of paper and hastily drawn numbers on them.
Regardless, at the beginning of service while things were still calm, we remade two of our old desserts (which were switched out for two new desserts over the weekend) in order to take pictures of them and use up the last ingredients we had sitting around the kitchen. And it was hilarious. I'm not kidding. Usually none of us so much as peek at our phones throughout the hours of work we are doing, but suddenly there was a flock of chefs, all prepped and ready for service, swarming over the counter getting every angle and helping with lighting for each of the plates. I probably enjoyed the moment too much, and spent the entire time taking pictures of my coworkers and not of the desserts. Oops.
Stan is going to hate me for this, but I’m just so amused that I have to share. Diego has gotten him hooked on Pokémon. I don't know what it is about the world--about the discussion in my kitchen--and why this keeps appearing in every aspect of my life. Its going to take over the world.
“Here Stan, here is the bread ordered”
“Hold on, I’m trying to catch this pokémon…”
Going back to the two new desserts we have. Remember how last week I was so sad to see the cherry dessert go? Well...I still miss it, but I changed my mind about being sad. Because the two new desserts are MAGNIFICENT. Seriously. Come eat at La Passagére just so you can look upon their greatness. We have an incredibly lovely peach dessert with a peach blown from sugar, and then the creation you see on the left which combines several different types of olive oils and figs. I wish I had the ability to bring my actual camera into the kitchen so I could actually take pictures of the desserts and all the steps that goes into preparing each one. I have never gone out of my way to choose anything fig-flavored, and I certainly never would have thought to pair that with several different kinds of olive oil--much less olive oil that was made into ice cream and mousse.
On Tuesday, Chef was making a Piece Montée for a wedding taking place at Belles Rives. I was super fascinated because it was the second piece montée that I saw him make and it is not something you see often in the US—and certainly not for a wedding! Try to give an American bride a tower of caramel covered cream puffs for her wedding, I dare you. And then swap out the piece montée with a fondant covered masterpiece for a French bride. I think chaos would ensue.
Side note: I was like 80% sure that it would crash and fall to the floor in pieces as Chef and Diego carried it out of the kitchen and into the office, and then later as it was carried (in the dark) down two flights of stairs to the beach where it was going to be served. SOMEHOW it survived. And I am so happy that I was in no way responsible for it arriving in one piece.
Wednesday was war. Just flat out war. And it didn’t help that there was a fireworks display happening outside to make it sound like a disaster was happening outside the kitchen as well. I later found out that everything was going smoothly in the dining room, but in the moment it felt a little like the world was crumbling to pieces around us. I probably should have realized it that when the day went so quietly and perfectly that it was the calm before the storm.
“Are you professionals or amateurs?!” Chef asked the team.
Probably not the best time for me to pop up and say, “well I most certainly am an amateur over here, Chef” but I don't think the question was directed at me anyway.
On a completely unrelated note, Chef took a blow torch to a bee that was flying around the kitchen. Needless to say, he didn’t get it. The bee lives (though thankfully managed to find its way out of our kitchen). But I was sure Chef was going to start something on fire or blow out the lights. I don't have a picture or a video...I really, really wish I had a video.
I was not ready for Thursday to be so incredibly chaotic—I was literally running as I went about my daily tasks and my additional tasks. Somehow we got everything done, and I braced myself for another terrifying service as I shoved piles of food in my mouth. Turns out, it was the most chill night EVER. Seriously, it went so well. One draw back—one table didn’t order their souffles until 12:30 in the morning. As Floriane and I waited in the empty kitchen, Guillaume came by for a soufflé and ended up trading us for two of the cocktails he thought up in the bar, and then Paul came by with a glass of the new wine the restaurant got to serve in particular with the new fig and olive oil dessert. We stood there, the boys munching their soufflés and Floriane and I attempting to guess what was in our cocktails, until about 1am. I was so tired, but it was such a lovely moment ^_^
One of the chefs (who I think is a chef for the beach restaurant) was chilling in pastry for a while on Thursday. He left, and then a bit later wandered back in and suddenly announced to me that he had gone to News Cafe for some coffee. Well, if you didn’t know, that is where I go nearly every day before work to use internet. So the chef said, "Oh, I talked to the manager of the cafe and we talked about you!" So now I am not only known around the hotels as the Cookie-Making-American-Intern, but now I am known about town. You only live once I guess 😛 It is nice though—it really makes me feel like I am building a community here, which is amazing given how short a time I have been here, how much I work, how little French I speak, not having a car, and that Juan les Pins is basically a vacation town.
As always, thank you to all my lovely and committed readers. There is only so much I can put in a single blog post, and even then I know that they get a little long sometimes! Be on the lookout for more adventures in and out of the kitchen!
**Originally published on my personal blog, Unmasked Adventures