My day job is being a chef, which inaccurately implies that producing this blog is somehow my night job. I like to think that being a chef lends me a certain air of coolness, badassery and authority as a food blogger, but I am deluding myself, as per usual. I love my career but I’ve definitely had some shockers over the short span of it, and I thought it would be both hilarious and educational to recount a few of these for the purposes of making everyone else feel a little bit better about themselves by comparison.
My first restaurant job was in one of the busiest spots in our town, in a boutique hotel with an executive chef who could bring me out in a terror-sweat merely by glancing at me. I got the job in a November and proceeded to blunder my way towards something in the vicinity of competence, finally hitting my stride right around Christmas-time. I was the deep-fryer person, and it was at this station that I did such illustrious things as accidentally immersing my own thumb in scorching oil, but during prep time I typically assisted the pastry chef.
When I was still quite new I got tasked with preparing a 20-egg batch of lemon tart filling, and was given a tray with exactly the right amount of eggs on it with which to go forth and achieve this presumably mundane objective. So I’m working away, just morosely going about my business and considering the relative merits of being mauled by a shark or being caught in a tidal wave (we had an ocean view from the dessert bench, okay?). The finished lemon tart filling is poured into pastry shells which go into the oven to bake. I start dealing to all the crap that I’ve hauled out in order to make the filling, throwing out lemon rinds and empty cream bottles and egg shells and…errrrrr, there’s still an egg in the tray…WHY IS THERE AN EGG IN THE FARKING TRAY?!
Now, my general disposition at that time was not one that supported rational thought in a ‘crisis’; I was often rather wound-up. This only goes so far to explain my following actions though. In my fear-beset brain the presence of this one wee egg nestled amongst the shells instantly translated to ‘an obvious and very incriminating piece of evidence that points to the fact that I have caused the complete ruin of three large desserts, and will subsequently be flayed alive. Probably with one of the shitey blunt knives too’. Gripped by paranoia, I was convinced that suddenly everyone in the kitchen was a master of deduction and/or a genius savant who would immediately figure out from glancing at the tray that I’d left an egg out of the mixture, thus dooming the entire restaurant to epic failure.
In a move that seemed well-calculated at the time, I stealthily slipped the damning article into the pocket of my chef pants, put my game-face on and nonchalantly proceeded with my cleaning up. The fact that I was now the appalled owner of one ill-protected pocket-egg slipped my mind during the lunch rush, and was only recalled to my memory when I leaned particularly heavily against the bench at one point, and felt it burst against my thigh. That was quite the unwelcome surprise, let me tell you. Not as unwelcome as spending the rest of the shift with the business part of an egg seeping down my leg, though.
Having spent my break taking the opportunity to change my pants and lose my mind with apprehension over what had happened to the tarts, I returned to the kitchen to find the sous chef contemplating said tarts with a confused and enraged look on his face. Having laid eyes on them myself, they were looking decidedly, well, @#$&ed. From my perspective this turn of events completely validated my earlier batshit behaviour, and I concluded that I should probably just take that little secret to the grave. Either that or spin it into a mildly amusing cautionary tale on a blog in the future.
I later found out that someone else had overcooked the tarts, and leaving one egg out of such a huge mixture would have done bugger-all to affect it, but the egg-stealing episode remains one of more fascinatingly dumb things I have done in my working life. So, what is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done at work? Tell me in the comments…if you’re brave enough!