2017 is fully underway and I am quite literally watching the days fly by on the food hygiene labels which I have to date a hundred times a day.
2016 projected goals:
-see more of Bristol
-work in Bristol’s food scene
-start a fabulous blog
-save for travelling
2017 current achievements:
-have graced most of Bristol’s fine establishments with my presence (esp. the raves)
-working as a savoury chef in Pinkmans Bakery
-reach your own conclusions
-celebrating my first day out of the overdraft
Summary of the road to success:
Left behind Rainbow Cafe in September, sadly, it is now on its last legs, run solely by mother and daughter. Lovely place but ice berg lettuce and budget tea bags don’t cut the mustard these days, especially not in the gentrified Clifton. Afraid that we might have come to the end of the Rainbow, it’ll never sell to a prospective cafe owner and will likely be turned into offices. Spent autumn and a good chunk of winter either in Calais or floating about in Bristol/ Sevenoaks. Enjoyed being a housewife a surprising amount, somehow the days flew by. Mature graduate life primarily consists of an ale and cake addiction. Strange feeling to be in the same city but with a totally new perspective, happy to be detached from the student life but nostalgic for the departed. Deadline worries have become replaced by monetary or employability concerns. Went to a couple of disastrous trial shifts which entailed washing up in Kuch (for a bewildered Persian owner who insisted that I didn’t want the job) and making cakes in Rosemarino (where I confused fahrenheit with celsius when trying to make caramel). Embarrassing, though, thank god that I did because a few weeks later the owner of Pinkmans decided to give me a shot and I’ve somehow managed to land on my feet in this ‘loco’ but remarkable establishment.
Pinkmans have literally nailed the market, providing an extensive range of freshly baked sourdough bread and pizzas as well as a stunning array of high end but affordable cakes made by pastry chefs trained in michelin star kitchens. The breakfast menu incorporates all of the current food trends from the classic avocado and smoked salmon on gluten free cornbread, to the exotic shakshuka and irresistible custard dipped brioche with maple syrup bacon. The day then rolls on through pizza and cake until evening where the well priced cocktails and pizzas/ tagines/ meatballs attract a consistent crowd. The interior is so well done that you are incredulous to discover that it is a start up business, the lighting is perfect and the space is informal and trendy, without trying too hard. The open kitchen invites curios spectators; mutually relaxing for both spaces.
It really is a test of endurance working 50+ hours a week in a kitchen, quite a step up from flitting around the ASS library. I can only describe it as a medley of watching your hands get more and more scarred, whirling around as fast as possible (which still isn’t fast enough), exhaustedly trying to communicate in a mixture of very basically constructed English mixed with the occasional Spanish word I can dredge up from school, and finding the constant flow of mistranslated male humour purely hysterical. Currently the ratio stands at 5:2 native Spanish speaking to English, Sorrell being my English male counterpart (and probably the reason why I got the job), on my trial shift I think I vicariously procured my sense of calm from his cool attitude. The Venezuelan head chef, Eddie, is a genuinely hilarious, approachable and intelligent man whom I love working with. Aside from making pizzas my daily jobs include a lot of labelling food, slicing cured meats, chopping and roasting vegetables, grating cheese, making sauces and making sandwiches.
If the entrance of a girl into an all male kitchen changed the dynamic, it has now returned to what feels like its normal balance. I have noticed my sense of humour dropping about 10 years in maturity, my tolerance for constant gross innuendoes growing and have started bartering with beer to avoid having to clean the oven. They also seem to have got over the fact that I can lift things.. I hear ‘oo strong woman’ less and less. Admittedly, I have had a couple of very unmacho episodes including throwing a stop over having to de-skin and butcher a leg of cured pork, and seizing up at the prospect of sticking my arm up to my armpit into a burning hot oven. Mostly these happen towards the end of a 12.5 hour shift (to shamefully try and make them more understandable).
The unwillingness that I felt in Summer at Rainbow having to work one easy 9-5 day at the weekends has now been replaced by offering to work overtime on two already 10+hour long weekend shifts at Pinkmans. The energy and passion is contagious, the team is loveable, and it helps to be making food that people actually enjoy. My embarrassment at sending out sandwiches has been replaced by the kick I get out of making a perfect pizza (increasingly consistently, I might add). The learning is invigorating and the care taken is refreshing.