David Wilkinson - 01 Mar 2016

Cheffing (verb) – A succession of non-negotiable deadlines.

IMG_3599What do I mean by non-negotiable deadlines?

Well, in the kitchen there is no chance of getting away with lame excuses when it comes to serving up food.

Our customers are, quite rightly, very demanding when it comes to food service, and if I say that we will be serving ‘this meal’ at ‘this time’, then that’s how it has to happen…

We casually accept that our morning train has been cancelled because there is no driver available but would we tolerate breakfast being cancelled due to the lack of a chef? How about if you were sitting in a restaurant waiting for your main course only to be told by the waiter “I’m terribly sorry, we’re a bit busy today, could you come back tomorrow when we have more time?” You just wouldn’t put up with it, and nor should you. A typical day in the kitchen is punctuated by a continuous stream of mini deadlines and sometimes they can have you on the run from before dawn until after dusk.

This put me in mind of a completely manic day we had recently that could best be described as ‘character building’ for the seven chefs I had on duty that day. Although the numbers weren’t huge every menu was different and every time we sent one thing we were chasing our tails for the next. Let me give you a run-down of the day…

Woking-station05:29
Shivering on the platform at Woking station while listening to the announcement that my train has been cancelled because there was no driver available. Oh the irony.

 

 

06:30
Finally arrive at work and fire up the ovens.

 

 

 

Tredgold Room, One Great George Street07:30
The first function of the day is a breakfast party for 21 in the Tredgold Room.

 

 

 

One Great George Street08:00
Three further, separate breakfast functions for 15, 15 and 24 that are in different rooms on different floors and of course with different menus.

 

 

DSC_717308:00 – 10:00
The first check for the breakfast service in the Café Bar rolls off the printer at exactly 8am. It’s going to be a busy one.

 

 

One Great George Street Wine Tasting10:30
The first of two bespoke canapé menus for 70 people. A rather nice function as we designed the canapés with the client to complement their wine tasting.

 

 

Brasserie One12:00 – 14:30
The Brasserie One service gets underway at noon. Our popular restaurant was understandably busy that day with so many people in the building.

 

 

Cafe Bar12:00 – 14:30
Café Bar lunch for approximately 180 customers. It was the ever popular Fish & Chip Friday!

 

 

 

Great Hall12:30
The largest function of the day was probably the easiest. The Fork Buffet in the Great Hall for 170 people went very smoothly.

 

 

 

Rennie Room12:45
Unusually we only had one business lunch that day – 26 people in the Rennie Room.

 

 

 

Chef, One Great George Street15:00
We sent out the second half of the bespoke canapé function before a quick bite to eat and a review of  the next day’s ordering.

 

 

 

Chocolate dipped strawberries (G, V)18:00
A small canapé function for 40 people – this time thankfully off our regular Canapé Menu.

 

 

 

President's Dining Room18:30
The first of two small dinners. This one was for 10 people in the President’s Dining Room.

 

 

 

President's Dining Room19:00
A second small dinner for 11 people.

 

 

 

Spanish Flag19:45
More bespoke canapés for 40 but this time from a different menu – Spanish themed to accompany the sampling of an extraordinarily expensive bottle of 120 year old Sherry.

 

 

Waterloo Station21:15
Clean down the kitchen and head back to Waterloo hoping that the truant Casey Jones is waiting to take me home. I walk in my front door at 10.30pm and sit down for, if I say so myself, a well-earned cup of tea.

 

 

Despite being a busy day it actually went very smoothly because there were no last minute curve balls to complicate matters – imagine a day like this complete with a last minute surge in delegate numbers, staff absence due to sickness and wrong produce due to butcher errors! Find out how we ensure smooth-running catered events in similar circumstances in my next post; ‘It shouldn’t happen to a chef’!

2 Comments on Cheffing (verb) – A succession of non-negotiable deadlines.

  1. David Carley
    1st March 2016 at 9:20 am (1 year ago)

    Blimey, that is some day and quite impressed that a cup of tea suffices!

    Reply
    • David Wilkinson
      14th March 2016 at 10:10 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks David! A cup of tea cures nearly everything. However, had I been off the next day a cheeky single malt from the Scottish Hebrides might have been the tipple of choice.

      Reply

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