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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Day Off



 So now you know I like my job...I think I am pretty good at it...at least I hope I am...and I live in the Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada. It’s my day off.....what to do..what to do??? I know I’ll text my buddy Shawn. We grew up together as teenagers in Ontario. Then  I'll drive into the Remote Wilderness  thru thick fog  - and roads that have holes the size of the tire on my 4X4 in really mushy slushy conditions...that'll be fun. Never should have bought a white truck either.

Why you ask??? There is a kitchen that’s not mine there!! I love kitchens...it doesn’t matter where they are. I just wanna poke my head and my camera into every one I see. They are never the same...go to two McDonalds restaurants and they won’t be twins. Now sometimes they create shock and dismay...but usually they just make me happy for some reason. Today I went to have lunch with Shawn. He is the Manager of an Executive Oil Camp with a Rigger camp just behind it. The Lodge has a Gleaming...yes it  F@ckin twinkles I tell you...Kitchen. The Kraft Camp behind it has a large Diner Kitchen meant to pump out a lot of food to some big hungry boys just off shift!
  At the Lodge it started from the door. Now this place is in the middle of the bush right beside  “Oh Shit I’m lost in the forest  and I’m gonna have to eat my arm in two days just to survive”. Yet walk in through the automatic front doors and its a three story foyer with fireplace, leather couches, a fitness centre, a huge bar with darts etc etc...but it was the smell of split pea soup that I noticed. Shawn was missing but I was quite happy to just sit and enjoy the quiet...and the smell of Pea Soup.
 He eventually arrived and we headed to the Restaurant. In any other Camp I would say cafeteria...but this is a Restaurant in Fort McMurray style. The floors gleam..everything looks like it has just been polished and dusted. It is empty because we are eating so late in the afternoon. The odd staff member wanders by in a pressed clinical looking uniform. We are grabbing some lunch when the Chef grabs a seat. Younger than me but not by much I would guess. A normal lookin Chef except for the Hoodie and piercings....we all have our quirks...mines tattoos. The normal shop talk ensued while we all enjoyed a bite.
 Then we proceeded to the kitchen. Now if you ask a Chef to see his kitchen..a few things can occur. He says NO!! I hate that one. He says Yes...and leads the way. I love that one. And the final one where He says Yes...then asks you to wait a moment while he dashes off to the kitchen...flailing his arms..muttering under his breath...then having a good ole fuckin spazoid on all people in the kitchen at the moment..after the shithole is correctly polished..he returns and brings you on a serene tour of his semi immaculate kitchen. I giggle at this one.  This one was the Middle option. I usually try not to ask and more just kinda wiggle my way in...snapping pics the whole time.
 A Chef and Crew that  are proud of their kitchen. No worries of slipping in built up grease...polished to a mirror. I usually look in the exhaust hood...something most places forget to clean as often as they should. There  are gloves on counters everywhere. Little buckets of Sanitation Solution at every Station. For me it was just a little bit to calm. I am used to a little more chaos and noise. Everything was as it should be though. Now being a Banquet Cook I like BIG Kitchens...this one is a bit bigger than the average kitchen. It had two nice big Sauce Kettles...Excellent Stoves..Steamers..Killer Ovens...and all was  new.   Because I am a type A I am usually nosey enough to even open fridges and freezers and just walk in. This takes practice and you will be yelled at several times by very mad lil men in big white hats. It really was a well designed line. The  chef was telling me they had to make 20,000 Sandwiches last week for lunch. They are about to have a full house...which is around the 700+ number. That’s thee meals a day plus snacks and take out baggies etc etc. The chaos that drives so many cooks is about to arrive at Black Sand.Riggers like to eat...and so do the Execs.
 So next time you go to a restaurant...just ask your server for a tour of the kitchen. Lie if you have to (I do this in most restaurants..I collect menus from everywhere I eat..I usually say it’s our Anniversary..then ask the server to ask all the kitchen staff to sign the menu..They can’t really SAY NO! ..and it has led to some very interesting Menu’s HaHa)...say your a Chef. It doesn’t matter what kind of restaurant...Tim Horton’s can be just as cool as the Fanciest Fine Dining Joint. Do it at a sports arena...do it at a wedding..ask to see the catering set up. Cooking is cool...we all have to do it!!

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