There’s a first time for everything. Sixteen people all sitting down and ordering breakfast at the same time was one of them.
A few things not to do when this happens and you suddenly have the ‘hosts’ bringing you ticket after ticket. One: don’t panic. That one I’m fine with. The other: do not, for fuck sake, drop the tray of prepared and ready to go bacon. Because a word of warning for the next time you’re in the situation where you’ve just plated up five plates of scrambled eggs: if when you go to grab the tray of bacon to put on top of said eggs, and you drop that tray… you… are… royally… buggered. Fire in the hole.
I didn’t even brake stride as I swung around, bent to pick up two frying pans, and put them on the gas whilst calling for packs of bacon from the fridge. They arrive and go straight on the heat in close-to-record time. I turn to the wall to my left where the tickets are stuck with blue-tac to the wall (very high-tech). There’s only two orders on without bacon. I quickly plate those up and tell Becky to take them and to tell everyone else that the tit of a chef dropped the bacon and it’ll be three or four minute (it’s streaky so doesn’t take long). I turn to the plates of scrambled… I’m not going to be happy with those eggs by the time the pigs are sizzled. I tell Will to bin the eggs and get fresh plates up them. Pan on, butter in, butter melts, ten eggs in, a big glug of cream, salt, pepper and stir whilst watching this pan intently. You don’t want them too runny but I’m fucked if I’m serving dry eggs – especially as they’re waiting on them. I get them perfect and turn to the bacon which has come along nicely. I plate the eggs whilst looking at the wall of tickets behind. All with bacon – two on its own – two with tomato – one with tomato and mushrooms. Wipe the plates, check the tickets: and ‘service’. What a pillock. Anyway it was only an four minute delay and the plates looked good. And just like that – after twenty minutes of mad rush – everyone’s fed. Especially Will who never threw the eggs but kept them for himself. Fat fuck.
On to chocolate chip cookies for afternoon tea and prep for tonight.
I look at my list. Cookies. Yorkshire pudding. Shred the confit duck. Portion the pork. Make the chocolate pots. Peel the potatoes. Canapés.
I’m looking over the menu now. There’s seventeen different things that I had to prep for tonight (some of those are easy last minute things like salad dressing) and that’s me having simplified things and not including things like cooking the pork belly yesterday, taking the skin off last night and making crackling. And that’s with no vegetarian options (I’ve got the ‘Farmers’). I’ve got my hands full and I desperately don’t want to cut corners. The first thing I did when I walked in the kitchen was to unplug the microwave and take it down to the cellar – it’s only been up once for the Christmas pudding. So in order to not cut corners I’m doing a few things instead – I’ve simplified the menu and made sure that when I’m doing something a little bit complicated that I have easier options alongside so that I’m not running around doing a hundred things last minute. The other thing I’m doing is just getting quicker and more efficient. Once you’ve done it five times it gets easier, right? I’m hoping it will anyway.
And so service was much better tonight. The last time I plated up burgers with pork belly it was a bit of a mess: I’ve swapped triple cooked chips out for skin-on roasted paprika potatoes and stuck a coleslaw on the side. And I’m just more aware of whats going on around me and what’s required to make this work now. Although I’m not through it yet – there’s plenty more shitstorms to come.
Like going to the cupboard tonight and looking for mandarins – a fairly important component for “Mandarins with Cointreau” – and not finding any. I turn to Rob and Becky: surely you’re not fucking stupid enough to serve mandarins for breakfast when you know I’ve got this dish on the menu. Silence. Silence. We haven’t served them for ages. Grade A bullshit. I run down to the shop. Its shut. I come back and scrape around in the cupboard and find six – `I’ve got nine on order. I peel them whilst shaking my head at the fucking idiocy of it. It’s my fault too – I should be watching for things like this but it’s pretty bloody basic. I manage to get enough together and juice oranges instead of mandarins to go ontop. No one will know but it’s little things like that which can really put you in the shit.
Neither have owned up but I’m pretty sure they won’t be serving them at breakfast anytime soon. It could have been a bit awkward. It could’ve been no fucking desert. And so as the enquiry into mandarin gate just gets cracking – I wonder what tomorrow will bring. Snow hopefully. It’s cold enough.