In retrospect, it is lucky that I did not throw away my whites when I got the job at the Bakery, as I was counselled to by my relatives.
On Friday, I went in for a trial shift at a pub just down the road from where I worked at the Bakery. It became rapidly apparent to me that I am badly out of shape. The last time I’d worked in a professional kitchen was exactly six months and one week previously, and I’ve lost my edge: my feet were in agony by the end of the shift, I was having trouble coping with the heat, the callus on my right forefinger where the spine of a knife rests has completely worn away, making repetitive chopping somewhat painful.
Nevertheless, they offered me the job at the end of the shift, on excellent terms. Both the money and the hours are better than I had at the Bakery- something I shall point out with not a little glee to those who expressed disappointment that I had left a “proper job” in order to get back into the hospitality industry. The shift patterns are somewhat more in line with my taste and constitution as well. No longer will I have to be up at sparrow-fart, nor do I now have to stick to a bedtime that a five year old would balk at. The food is good, too. Virtually everything prepared from fresh on the premises, which is a delight after O’Murphy’s. About 60% of the menu there came out of microwavable pouch, which becomes dispiriting after a while- “a while” being approximately half an hour.
So I was offered the job, took it eagerly and went back the following day for twelve hours of intensive induction. Now, when one’s most strenuous activities over the past couple of months have been deciding what novel to read today, a sudden twelve-hour jag on the busiest day of the week is something like a bullet to the back of the head. Sunday saw me utterly exhausted. I met my father on Sunday evening for a celebratory drink and he asked me in all seriousness if I’d been in a fight, the dark circles under my eyes were so bad.
Still, it was a tiring week anyway, without being suddenly plunged back into the fiery inferno of professional chefdom. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Cambridge visiting Bo, and had a fantastic time. We did discourse learnedly upon dyuers matters most recondite (read: we got smashed over an excellent dinner with his friend Melanie and Christina Harrington of Treadwells, both of whom are utterly lovely). However, coach travel is utterly odious, and much of Thursday was spent sleeping the previous two days off.
So that’s that. I’m back in the trade. Once more I am a chef, knowing full well that it’s not what I want to be in the long term. Ach, the things we must do to survive...