At the ripe old age of 17 and after two years I moved on from a Chinese restaurant and into a 5 Star Hotel where the kitchens were saturated with European Chefs. We had Swiss, Austrians, French Germans and English, there were very few Australians and here I was…..
I recall one particular day my Sous chef asked for me to get him some ketchup, my reply as a young apprentice was “what’s wrong with your legs?” (yep pretty cocky) a few minutes later I went to the cool room to grab some Desiree potatoes & as I leant down he gave me the hardest kick in the bum ever with steel capped boots, when I stood up I saw stars, white dots actually! Sure this practice is not ideal or condoned but did I learn a very quick lesson…. The following month I knuckled down & did as I was asked, before I knew it the same chef promoted me into The French Fine Dining Restaurant. I saw this as a promotion at the time; now I’m older & wiser have my doubts.
What an experience. Discipline is a code of conduct and it was here where I learned to appreciate the finer aspects of respect, not only for food, but for myself. We were only opened for dinner starting at 7a.m in the morning for a 6p.m service, 30 covers was considered a good night. While we were preparing every 30 minutes we were told to wash our benches, if we spilt anything down our apron it had to be changed immediately; if our chefs’ whites were messy they too were to be changed immediately. Washing three jackets a day would drive anyone nuts. I can assure you with these practices you changed your habits pretty quickly & found ways to work clean & very tidy. Once I completed my apprenticeship I moved to Melbourne to work in a Two Hat Fine Dining Restaurant.
I wouldn’t change it for the world, it makes me who I am today There are many lessons to be learnt in the kitchen, discipline is one you have for life!