Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Life as a chef

Working experience in a Michelin kitchen

Sous chef Tom Booton and Chef Patron Andy Mcfadden
L'Autre Pied

Ever wondered what it takes for a restaurant to provide a plate of food in front of you? We see all the glamour and glory side from those so called celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White, but most people don't realise that the real commitment and hard work that is required to work in a top professional kitchen, goes unseen. Marcus Wareing, holder of 2 Michelin stars at his flagship restaurant Marcus, once said on Masterchef: "I sacrificed my youth, my friends and my family to get to where I am" also Helene Darroze, who was recently voted world's best female chef, was quoted in a newspaper saying: "at the age of 23 when, she got a job at Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV restaurant in Monaco. For several months, she was authorised only to wash the lettuce."
lunch service
Chefs in action

With no proper hospitality experience previously apart from a brief spell at a Chinese restaurant back in my uni-days, I was keen to experience first hand to see what the life of a chef really is like working in a top level professional kitchen. I was lucky enough to have a half day work experience by Andy Mcfadden, executive chef at the Michelin starred L'Autre Pied in Marylebone. I had to get up much earlier than usual to get to the restaurant by 8am, the typical working hours at L'Autre Pied is from 8am - 12am, that is 16 hours a day compared to my 9am - 5.30pm office hours! But that is standard working hours for a chef, especially ones that operate in a high level restaurant. The long hours every day require real commitment and focus and to do that on a constant basis is no simple task at all.

dish plating
work of art 

As I am a complete noob in cooking, I was given some of the most basic tasks as expected, guided by sous chef Tom. My first job was to prepare a cucumber garnish for a popular scallop dish, by peeling off the cucumbers and rolling them into a certain shape, Tom made it look easy but it took me forever just to create a single one. I will never forget the half days experience at L'Autre Pied, I was given the easiest tasks but I still found it rather challenging such as cutting at the right angles to reduce the waste and getting all the vegetables in the same shapes etc. Working as a chef, turning it into a real career requires high discipline, great attention to detail and passion, but yet the salaries are usually low as far as UK standards go and some people see it just as a stop gap or a low value job which is far from the truth, life as a chef is proper hard work with no short cut and they all deserve our respect.

*Thank you so much to David Moore, Andy Mcfadden, Tom Booton, Philip Roe, Luke Armstrong, Manjot Singh, Joe O’Neill, Killian Walsh & Dan Graham for the work experience opportunity and guidance.

For more information about L'Autre Pied, Please visit: http://www.lautrepied.co.uk/

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