Eh … Chef!? Seen it?

Ever worked in a restaurant? A Kitchen? Clangers and I went to see – CHEF – on the weekend, and it was – wonderful. So Jon Favreau plays Carl Casper, a talented Chef, who has traded the edgey-ness of his creative vision, his Authentic Self and Life, for security and a lot of dull! One day a high profile critic comes to his restaurant and gives our hero a scalding review which in turn prompts a new vision and … A Food Truck!

Food Truck 2

Check this out!

Chef 4

Never a dull moment I seem to remember. There is nothing more portable or powerful now that I think of it, than the skills of Waitress. Power is delicately balanced between the perceptions of the bar staff, the vitriol of the kitchen and the unrelenting insatiable and ridiculous requirements of … the beloved customer, the one – we understand is responsible for paying for the whole show.

I used to Waitress, many moons ago here and there. It was not such a bad gig. The Kitchen Staff fed you, the Bar Staff entertained you, the tips paid your groceries and there was always always always the after-work parties. The Head Chef ruled the kitchen but in their absence, the Sous Chef refined their skills orchestrating a Coup. The dish pig always seemed to have a criminal record but they were also a good person to have on your side. Everyone loved music food and a good time.

My last job before I entered the rank and file of ‘the profession’, not the oldest profession but … I blew in to Melbourne after backpacking, couch surfing and bobbing around Europe on a shoestring. I brought back memories, an empty wallet and the skills of a Waitress. I went to work on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy at a little venue called ‘The Hideout’.

There must have been about 30 people working at the Hideout between the Kitchen, Bar and Floor Staff. It was busy as buggery. I believe the technical term used by Kitchen Staff to describe these conditions was … err “slammed up the arse!” And on weekends, we were! The Hideout was a party powered by the kind of petty politics that goes on when you are young. It was staffed by Career Chefs, Hospitality Staff and of course Uni Students. Good Times.

Our Weekend Manager, a Calisthenics Instructor, would be unable to stop herself from shagging the Long Haired Bikie behind the bar even though she was engaged to a very nice Tradie, thanks for coming. She would ‘Go out with the Girls’ all Saturday Night, be due at The Hideout – you know, ‘managing’, I mean ‘sleeping’ in the office all day Sunday, then mysteriously be up polishing cutlery, gesticulating and giving indecipherable directions in time for the appearance of the Cafe Owner who rolled in at 5:00pm Sunday afternoon.

The Brunswick Street Festival was an opportunity to lure in more customers and to induce them – the Kitchen, Bar and Floor Staff were compelled to dress up. Let’s be honest – there was not a lot of arm twisting required. In fact it was necessary to restrain some Staff from the over application of sequins. Our Manager creatively came up with an ‘underwater theme’, and that year in costume desperation – I unrolled a pair of fishnets, whacked them on, rapidly nikkoed a sign saying “LIVE BAIT” and pinned it to my stockings. YEs, I did.

I used to do breakfasts, lunch and early dinner – all Weekend. No meal breaks – barely a toilet break, only if someone wasn’t looking. And as it was breakfast – the touchy topic of Eggs turned up or down depending. The trouble was, the menu said – soft, medium or hard – when it came to ordering Eggs. It was this preference that caused all the trouble! I spent the first couple of weeks trying to cajole, sooth, charm and in some other unformed way influence my customers to eat their Eggs, pretty please – so as to avoid facing … in manner of Darth Vader – THE KITCHEN.

Finally I had to pony up, turn and draw, face down my shadow and carry back a plate of Eggs cooked to an undetermined consistency … to THE KITCHEN. The main thing to do, if you ever find yourself staring down a Chef in this situation, is to ummmm … because like the fear you feel it is real. You might actually die. I recall our Chefs regularly losing their mind. I was chased around the Kitchen with a carving knife a few times before I figured out what to do. Main thing to do when this happens is not to show fear and do not back down. Stare straight in to their eyes, survey their soul, breath but do not under any circumstances flinch or back down!

Friends the engine of life and death can be found in a Kitchen, where food is being made, served, eaten, enjoyed. People are there and the music is pumping. Chefs are artists! They are and just like artists they put soul in to their work. They have heart and love for what they do. Their goal is to transmit the passion they feel for food and life to you. I am here to recommend a movie that celebrates Chefs everywhere – their plight and their passion.

See CHEF. Enjoy.

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