Post MasterChef - find out how I fared during my first three days at Tom Kitchin’s new restaurant/pub The Scran & Scallie….
I’m standing at a workstation in the Scran and Scallie, quietly chopping herbs. The occasional pan clatters. The chefs move smoothly between tasks, stopping to say hello. Though I look fairly placid, my mind is awhirr. This is INCREDIBLE! I squeak (to myself). I am just like Remy from Ratatouille! I can smell - freshly chopped thyme! Orange zest from the pan next to me and - my god what is that, it has to be the best scent in the world is it - yes it is - oh man there are giant chocolate chip cookies in tiny individual frying pans in the oven! I wonder if there’ll be some leftover? Maybe I should book a table here. I’d definitely order one. No - no - I’m a chef, not a diner.This, I tell myself, is where I was MEANT TO BE.
Ten minutes later, I have stabbed myself in the hand. With my own knife. It’s no big, I tell the other chefs, who are looking concerned. I stick on a blue plaster, grab a vinyl glove, wash my hands, and pick up the knife again. Amazing, I think, blithely slicing away into another artichoke, I’ve only seen this on a YouTube video before, and here’s me, doing it for real, in a real… oh. My glove has filled up with blood. The chefs look alarmed. I’m escorted into the garden by a very nice young chef, and provided with kitchen roll. I’m told in no uncertain terms not to move for ten minutes and keep pressure on it. They think I’m going to faint because I’m a GIRL, I think, grumpily. Well - think again. I bandage it up, stick on a (larger) plaster, grab a vinyl glove, and head back. Everyone is lovely and asks about my hand, to which I huffily reply that I’m FINE before stomping back to the artichokes. Which is quite easy to do in giant kitchen Crocs.
Day 1 summary:
Stab wounds: 2
Staff meals: 1 x bacon roll (my first one - delicious!), 1 x bowl noodles, 1 x apple and - joy - I’m given a giant chocolate chip cookie at 11pm.
High: (apart from the meals) - Tom Kitchin pops in to say hello and very kindly chats to me about my stage. I’m so delirious with tiredness that my answers are pretty incoherent. He probably now thinks I’m slow in the head.
Low: I realise on the way home that I’ve left half my cookie and water bottle behind. Then I collapse in a state of nervous exhaustion.
Hurrah, my water bottle is still here! But my cookie is not. Ah well. Today, excitingly, I’m allowed on the garnish and cold starter section during service. I learn that this means yelling ‘Oui Chef’ a lot, running to fetch mussels and langoustines whenever an order is placed, making salads under the watchful eyes of the other chefs on the section, and at one point get to plate an asparagus dish to go out to a customer. I am ridiculously excited when anything I’m allowed to prepare goes out, and wonder nervously whether I’ve done it right and if the customer will like it.
Stab wounds: 0 (an improvement)
Staff meal: 1/2 pork pie (excellent), 1 x bowl salad, 1 x Krispy Kreme doughnut, 1/2 chocolate chip cookie.
High: A customer recognises me in the kitchen, which is exciting.
Low: Head Chef thinking that I have a death wish, after he caught me taking toast out of the toaster with metal tongs. Oops.
Today I feel all knowledgeable and forget that I am the new girl, as there are even newer stagiers who don’t realise that I’m also here on a placement. Hehe. I helpfully direct them about the kitchen when they ask me where to find things, then promptly can’t find anything that anyone senior asks me to find. Worse, I’m told re-dress the parsley salad by the Head Chef, as I forgot to put the balsamic dressing on it. So much for knowledgeable. But it’s a fantastic and busy lunchtime service, and I get to do more bits and pieces to go out to customers before heading off at the end of the shift to collapse, catch up on MasterChef and write this.
I’m looking forward to the rest of my week here a lot. Not sure I could keep up the momentum of the late nights and early starts for long, but it’s an incredible learning experience. I’ll never look at eating in a restaurant the same way again, especially sitting late over a cup of coffee in a comfy chair, while on the other side of the wall the chefs who made my dinner are painstakingly cleaning down the kitchen until after midnight. That said, I’ve booked a table at the Scran and Scallie for next week so I can taste some of the incredible dishes I’ve watched being prepared, but it’s an early reservation so that’ll keep the guilt at bay. In a couple of weeks, off to The Kitchin - watch this space!
Stab wounds - 0 (but how long will it last?!
Staff meal - 1 x bowl incredible pasta with meat sauce, 1 x sliver of Mandy’s quadruple chocolate brownie peanut brittle slice, 1 x dessert spoon hollandaise (sharp and buttery = perfect)
High: Watching Mandy plate up her beautiful chocolate dessert
Low: Getting under everyone’s feet to take photographs on the pass….