I just realised today that when I head back to work on Tuesday, I have 4 weeks to go.  Time is really flying by.  There is so much to plan for and get ready to do, I hope I will have enough time to get it all done.  

Things have been overwhelming here as of late.  For some reason there seems to be more to do than ever before.  It is stressful, however it is preparing me mentally for things to come.  Im finally getting a chance to push myself and see how hard and fast I can move and still have the perfect brunoise, julienne, or picked grapefruit.  When the kitchen calls the prep-house and says they need 50 oyster shells opened in 15 minutes, and you still have 3 more things to accomplish, you learn about yourself and how you can produce.

New stagiers started this past week as well.  Its nice to have the extra set of hands, but at the same time (as im sure it was with me) they needed to be trained and their production needed to be double checked.  All of which takes time away from the supervisors and their jobs.  Im sure they will get used to it by the end of the upcoming week.

Sorry it has been a while since I have written in the blog.  Its been a hectic few weeks here in Bray.  I have really settled into a routine here.  Wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep….repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.  To be honest, I kind of enjoy it.  Since I have little to no personal life here, it works.  The majority of my free time is spent at the local pub having a few pints and a plate of meat and veg.  I am looking forward to returning back home to a little bit of uncertainty.  Uncertainty about a job, where I am going to live, how long I am going to live there, things of the sort.

I have come to realize here why I love the restaurant industry.  The fact that it is unpredictable.  I love the idea that tomorrows service is not going to be the same as yesterdays service.  I love the fact that decisions need to be made on the second in the heat of the moment.  I enjoy the feeling of getting through a service when the dishwasher breaks, the hoods are down, and your a man short.  Being a cook, a plumber, an electrician, and then walking into the dining room and resolving a conflict.  This is what drives me to be in this industry.  

Here at The Fat Duck, it is not like that.  Everything is set to a specific standard here.  Much to the credit of The Duck, they have eliminated the majority of chance through their cooking methods and such.  The variables have been eliminated and marks have been placed on consistency.  This is what Blumenthal wants.  Consistency.  I cant blame him one bit, it is the mark of a great chef, and certainly the mark of an amazing restaurant.  

The problem that I have with this system however is that it lacks excitement.  It lacks the rush that one gets in the heat of battle because nothing changes.  I don’t know exactly what to make of it in the grand scheme of things.

On Monday the 13 of September, The Fat Duck had its annual staff cricket tournament.  Now until playing this game, I thought that cricket was quite possibly the stupidest game ever invented.  How wrong was I.  It has the slow pace of baseball, but you add beer (on the field mind you) to make it seem faster.  And while in baseball you have gloves to catch the ball, in cricket you don’t.  This can result in broken hands which require surgery (see photo below).  Leave it to the Brits to come up with this game.

At any rate, it was a fantastic day which left my entire body sore for days; my hamstring in-particular.  I pulled it while diving full sprint into the crease as to avoid getting out.  I will be bringing cricket back to Atlanta and starting a cricket club.  You are all invited to play.

 

Me bowling against HestonMe bowling against Heston

 

 

Me and Heston.  Notice his broken hand.

Me and Heston. Notice his broken hand.

The last thing I had to do today before cleaning and going home was grind up some whole quail for making an ice filtered consommé gellie.  Now granted we make huge batches at a time because we sous-vide it, but still.  140 lbs. of quail, one grinder. I believe it was somewhere around 325 quail.  Thats a lot of quail, but you should taste the result.  

Its a layered jelly of quail consomme, pea puree, and langoustine cream, topped with a foie gras parfait.  Wow.  The flavors here are so bold and rich.  It seemed as with each bite you tasted the progression of the dish as the layers became mixed in your mouth.   

The more menu items I get a chance to sample, the more I realize that the work I am doing is just as important as the cooking that the chef de partie are doing.  Its making the days go by a bit quicker.

And were off and running here in Bray.  72 hours over 5 days this week at The Fat Duck.  Needless to say I was a bit exhausted.  I have seen so much over the past few days explaining every detail might take some time.  I’ll only point out the highlights and keep the post broad.

3 Michelin stars…I now understand what it takes to be a 3 Michelin star restaurant.  The devil is in the details.  Detail is a word I have become familiar with over the past week.  From brunoise carrots and celeriac, to laying out mushroom plates, its all about the details.  Time consuming, often times painstaking details.  For the first 3 days I did nothing but prep work.  I found it really hard to understand why I was picking the individual cells out of 3 grapefruits.  Then on the evening of my 3rd night I had an observation of the kitchen for dinner service (The restaurant kitchen and prep kitchen are in separate buildings).  That is when it all made sense.  I now understood why my brunoise had to be perfect.  Seeing the detail and time spent on every dish made me realize that the painstaking work I had been doing for the past 3 days was such an integral part of the menu at The Duck.

The following day I spend all day in the kitchen at The Duck working the line on the amuse station.  I was responsible for the oyster with mango gellie and lavender, the red cabbage gazpacho, the quail jelly with foie gras mousseline, and I also helped plate the infamous Sound of the Sea dish.  What a fantastic feeling to complete a full day of work in the the kitchen at the second best restaurant in the world.  

The first week is done, 11 more to go.  I am beginning to miss it state side.  I miss my friends, my apartment, things of the sort.  I am just now realizing how much everyone has meant to me over the past year.  I know if i don’t learn any more techniques here at the duck, I know I will grow mentally into a stronger more dedicated person.  and for that I am truly grateful.

Sorry to everyone that has been keeping an eye on my page waiting to hear the events of the first days of The Fat Duck.  I am putting in a lot of “proving” hours this week.  I will catch everyone up on Sunday when I have a day off.

 

The Fat Duck

The Fat Duck

The Hinds Head Tavern

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