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Archive for the ‘A Day in the Life Of’ Category

Full On

I have photos upon photos on my memory card just waiting to be download from my adventure to the last Wednesday night market of the summer and my much-awaited visit to the Spanish tapas place Movida. Getting back into school mode has proved more challenging that I had originally imagined. Any foreign national in this country knows that any dealings with DIMIA are never straight forward. I was only just finally enrolled in my course (4 weeks after the start date), which allowed me to apply for my visa renewal (1 week before its expiry).

In addition to all the school hubbub in my life, in the past 2 weeks 2 individuals have been let go from the kitchen staff team, consequently leading up the week when the head chef and pastry chef were to go on holiday for a week. So, life is full on the moment. No time for my partner, not time for fun cooking, no time for real food, no time for me!

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It’s Friday evening and even though I could probably go out for a few drinks with some friends, I simply don’t have the energy! I’m still recuperating from yesterday’s day of work. My assignment at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre proved to be quite tiring! The experience was one for the books but the assignment itself was very unorganised. Once I was actually inside I didn’t know who to report to, what I was meant to be doing or how anything worked! After a bit, it became very evident that the newbies, such as myself, were delegated to do bottom rung tasks such as wheel chef’s trolleys around and, collect and scrape food bits off of dishes. My agency had told me I was doing plate-up service, which is actually quite wonderful because you get to actually put the food on the plate and make it look presentable. What I was doing was more of a kitchen hand/catering assistant job. The best part of the night was getting a free dinner from the leftovers: grilled tofu served on a bed of curried red lentils and a sweet vinaigrette reduction. So yum.School was sooooo boring today. I really do feel like I’m in high school or middle school on Fridays (theory days). However, my studying paid off because I got a 97.5% on my latest assessment. Why do the Indian students think it’s appropriate or even acceptable to speak Hindi (or what have you) all throughout class? I really do think that because we’re in an English-speaking educational institution, English should really be the main language spoken in class. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that I can’t understand them, it’s just annoying because they speak all during class, especially when the instructor is trying to explain the in the most simple of terms the concepts that will appear on the assessment that they will most likely fail, once again. I’m not worried about myself, I’m just annoyed with the sticky slow speed I’m forced to learn this stuff at.

I’m really hoping this job lead works out! It’s be the perfect job to have for 4-6 months or until I can learn enough to get a position at a proper restaurant. I get the feeling that until I’m actually done with my course and officially a “qualified cook” by industry standards I won’t be doing too much else in the kitchen besides kitchen hand tasks. I’ll just have to take this thing day by day, it’s the only way to do it.

This coming week is my last week of school until late January, so I can work for as many hours as my little heart desires. Must. Earn. Money.

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I had my first assignment with my staffing agency yesterday and I must say that it was great. It’s exactly the work I’m looking for. I spent most of the time washing dishes, but I did get to do some food prep, such as making sandwiches and wraps. It’s called kitchen hand work. Last night around 9:45 pm my staffing agency called me in for another assignment as a catering assistant doing “plate up” for a function at the Melbourne Convention Centre. I’m guessing that since my first assignment went well, I’m no longer a risk for them to send me out on assignments. Money is finally coming into my bank account!
While I was eating breakfast, just a few moments ago, the head office of a particular food establishment called me to ask if I was still interested in working for them as a cook. I was secretly hoping that it’d be my staffing agency calling to say my position had been cancelled, but it was even better. They are going to train me to be a cook (if they hire me)! This is just the opportunity I was looking for to get some work experience in the kitchen. It’s by no means a top restaurant or anything, but when you’re starting from the bottom, whatever work I can get that is going to help me climb the ladder of hospitality work will have to suffice.Last night Will and I went out for dinner at Veggie Bar in Fitzroy to celebrate our six years of fabulousness together. Unfortunately I don’t have rave reviews about my dinner, or the food there in general for that matter. Everything else about the restaurant is great, except for the food, which is just OK. I’ve been there a few times and have never been blown away by the flavours. Last night I ordered one of the specials: Cran-Brie Pizza. It was a great idea executed rather poorly. It was more or less a thin pizza crust slathered in a sweet cranberry jam topped with slices of brie and tofu. It tasted great, but I felt like I was eating a dessert or a breakfast, not dinner. The cranberry was too sweet and was over-slathered.

In general, they just don’t add enough salt to their food. I don’t even know if they even add salt. Salt in moderation is good for you and it’s rather necesarry in cooking to bring out the natural flavours of the food. I found that the vegetarian restaurant I worked at also had a salt phobia with their cooking techniques. Salt is good for food; use it!

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On Becoming a chef

What do you do if you already know what you want to be when you grow up but you can’t become that just yet? I want to be a chef. Yesterday I wanted to be a translator. Last year I wanted to get a PhD. I still want to be a translator and if I could afford it, I’d get a PhD as well.

So, now I find myself in this position. I know that I want to be a chef and that I WILL go to culinary school. But, the problem is that both of Will and I can’t be in school at the same time, so I have to wait at leat two years. We also have to wait for our permanent residency application to go through and be settled in that department. What am I meant to be doing in the mean time? I can’t work in a cafe or a restaurant because I have almost zero experience and that kind of job isn’t going to pay for the lifestlye we want to have, make loan payments or pay for holidays to Fiji. So I guess I’ll take the administrator -translator route for the next two years and see what happens after we get PR.If I could spend days planning meals and cooking them I would, that’s where the personal chef part comes into play. I might work in a commerical kitchen for a bit, just to get experience until we open up The Dirty Flamingo Bar, Grille & Hostel. I don’t care for the hours that chefs have to work or the immense amount of stress that everyone is under in the kitchen. I can handle stress, but a lot of other people handle it very badly. That’ll suck the fun out of cooking in no time.

NOTE: Jamie Oliver isn’t my heroe or anything, I just bought his first cookbook at TJ Max for $5. Even though it wasn’t a vegetarian cookbook, I bought because a)I like Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners tv series and b) it was only $5! This is actually the first cookbook I’ve bought that wasn’t vegetarian.

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