Welcome to hell, my hell. - Chronicles of an Apprentice
Tonight was… fucked. Not in a good way, but not overly bad either.
It all started at 6pm, when I walked into the door. I was expecting a quiet service. We only had twenty people on the books, of which 12 were a single table. So by all means it should have been a quiet night. But it was anything but quiet, anything but routine..
As soon as I walked in, I could sense the chaos, I could sense the disarray and stress beginning to mount. I looked at my work bench hoping to see a clean station, with everything prepped and ready to go, but alas. It was not to be. The mixer was on full blast making a fresh batch of mayo, ranch and aioli. The oven was on full blast steaming potatoes and on the bench were half filled ramekins of liver pate. I had a quick glance over at the dish pit, hoping to see a kitchenhand furiously working away, but then I remembered that he was off tonight, and it was me, I was doing my back section, my pastry section and also dishes. I was in for a fun night.
I didn’t let that alter my mood though. I just got stuck in, checked that I had enough stock to get by the night, and then I hoped for the best.
6:05, the first dockets start rolling in. The first 3 were expected, the second batch of 5 were not. From that moment I knew that tonight, it would be anything but quiet. It would be anything but routine. It would be a challenge, a mission and if we all got through unscathed, a bloody miracle.
I spun full circle, grabbed my knife, ran it along a steel, looked up at the ceiling, whispered a quick “I love you”, looked back down, thought of her smile and loving eyes once again and let go of everything non-work related. I relaxed, turned off my brain, set my auto-pilot onto “kick ass” mode and off we were.
Shit was hectic. Plates were flying out, but dockets were coming in faster than we could get them out. Not small dockets either, tables of 5, 8, a 10, 2′s, 3′s and the usual 4′s. Dockets started backing up, I started running out of stock, and the floor began to get greasy. Dishes started piling up in the dish pit and work benches got cluttered.
Eventually, our floor was like an ice rick, enough so that at one point, as I’m walking around a corner my legs cleanly slip out from under me and send my head bouncing off a stainless steel fridge door, and then bouncing off the floor.
I lay there for a few seconds and gather my composure. It didn’t hurt as much, it only really made me mad and determined. Determined to finish off this night and go home.
Finally, the last of the dockets comes through, another table of 8 and a few 4′s, but the worst of it is over. I come back to my senses as I start to come down off my high and look at the kitchen. The chaos and disarray that I walked into has multiplied and fuck me, there’s shit everywhere. The dish pit is piled high with plates, pans, cutlery and other bits and pieces which I haven’t even thought about doing yet, haven’t even had the time to think about doing them. And then my phone beeps and vibrates. I don’t have to look at it to know who’s texting me or what they’re asking me. Cause I already know it’s her, and she’s asking me “When do you finish tonight?”
Finally we send out the last of the meals. And not a moment too soon either, because we’ve just run out of plates. And pans. And tongs.. We’ve run out of everything pretty much. Our backup fridge is looking scary empty and I’m not liking tomorrow’s prospects..
Our clean down tonight took a whopping 2 hours. But we had a lot to clean, we had a lot of stuff to check. A lot of stuff to order, I think we’ve got $2000 worth of food coming in tomorrow morning, that’ll need to be prepped asap..
Now I’m home, contemplating have a shower now so I don’t need one tomorrow morning. But it’s almost 1am and my alarm is set for 6 hours time. I already know tomorrow is going to suck, I’m doing an all day run, from 9am till 10pm, non stop service.
All that on 6 hours sleep? It’s doable, it’s normal for me, but I’m not going to enjoy a second of it.
As for tonight, we put out 115 plates. We fed just over 65 people. It’s not many, but when they all come at once, it’s a lot more fun. When they all want entrees, mains a desserts, it’s even more fun.
We worked in hell tonight, like we often do. But once again, we came out on top.