September 21 2010
A new week begins after an energetic (and educational!) weekend with my family. Our eldest son turned nine on Saturday and of course we had to have the obligatory party. Football is the sport of choice for him and two of his closest friends so they shared a party which consisted of a tournament in Bishops Park in Fulham. On paper it sounded great – fresh air, exercise, a sunny day and happy kids – but of course in reality the hormones of these “almost” teenagers kicked in, with the memory of any recently learned football skills lost to flared tempers. Interestingly, two days later he told me what a great party he’d had. Following this, a day at the restaurant almost feels like a rest.
Monday mornings are always busy in the kitchen. My day is focused on getting ready for lunch and dinner, starting the food preparation from scratch following our day off on Sunday. My day started at 8am filleting some fabulous sea bass from the Cornish coast and preparing fillets of Aberdeen Angus beef, both for the à la carte menu. For four hours every morning the kitchen is silent and fairly tranquil as everyone concentrates on their specific tasks.
I don’t have space for lunch as I graze throughout the morning, trying the many samples that the team bring to me; everything is tasted and adjusted by me or my head chef Alyn or second chef James before anything reaches a plate. I think this is probably my favourite part of the day as it gives me a chance to gather my thoughts while using a skill I really enjoy. At 12pm prompt the atmosphere changes as we are all ready to begin our first service of the day. Lunch can continue until 4pm or even later as guests enjoy longer menus and are in no hurry to leave.
Alyn and James spent the morning catching up with our producers to see what is coming into season, what is going out. The relationship with the suppliers is so important in our quest to find the best of everything. I think it is probably true to say that in terms of food (and probably weather) we can no longer rely on the four fixed seasons and we continually adjust and tweak our dishes to include new season ingredients or remove items that have passed their best. We are now clearly moving into autumn so in the couple of hours between lunch and dinner service today we started to develop new dishes for the menu.
As I look at my watch it’s 12.14am, the end of another busy day apart from some emails and a double check of the food ordering for tomorrow. Tonight the restaurant was very busy so service was full on from 7pm. Just as everything is tasted in the morning, during service nothing leaves the kitchen unless the chef has seen it. A few guests came into the kitchen tonight – we like to invite people in to see the kitchen and meet the team – and among the familiar faces this evening were two fellow chefs and a well-known pop singer. I am not one for walking round the dining room, but I am more than happy to meet people on my “home turf”. Quite a late night, but I should be home by 1am.