Food…..I’ve been in the business of food professionally since 1988, starting out as an apprentice in a Hotel kitchen in Norwich, England.
Issued with my five sets of Chef “whites” a twelve inch stainless steel Chefs knife and a small pairing knife made by Gustav Emil Ervin (The Chefs knife is still with me today) and a pair of steel toed non slip boots.
The first day wearing this outfit plus apron and a tall paper hat was very uncomfortable like most new jobs tend to be but it slowly grew on me.
I started alongside three other apprentices and on day one we were given the basic kitchen rules –

No spitting
No running
No smoking in the kitchen
Wash your hands after everything
Don’t be late to work
Reply with “Yes Chef”

The kitchen had Fourteen Chefs plus us apprentices covering all manner of shifts, the split shift was bad 9am-3.00pm 5.30pm-10.30pm but the breakfast split was just nasty, 6.00am-2.30pm 5.30pm-10.00pm.
Pay back then was $60 per week and to say I hated breakfast shifts was an understatement, I used to pay the other apprentice Chefs $15 to take my breakfast shift.
We worked 5 days a week and one day was spent at the College getting our papers which left one day off to ourselves, this went on for three years.
I worked in all areas of the kitchen learning my trade and eventually leaving three years later as a “Chef de Partie” into the world of hospitality.
I worked in local restaurants and hotels and at the grand old age of 21 somehow blagged (embellished) my first kitchen as a Head Chef although I am the first to admit I was no where near being a rounded Chef at that age but due to a lack of qualified people in the industry I was in luck!
This position paid well allowed me to create my own food and gave me some prestige in my clique so what the hell.
This started a trend and I focused on gaining experience by moving around numerous kitchens, working with new Chefs and using some amazing products.
I’ll list some of the products I’ve been lucky enough to use and create dishes with-

Venison
Duck
Partridge
Pheasant
Quail
Pigeon
Rabbit
Boar
Turbot
Dover Sole
Lemon Sole
Cod
Trout
Wild Salmon
Mackeral
Monkfish
Sea Bass
Plaice
Squid
Octopus
Oysters
Mussels

The list goes on and on but the point I’m trying to get across is all this product was available fresh, daily and generally whole, looking back I realise how lucky I was to work with such foods.
Today food comes previously filleted/portioned to save time but which then creates Chefs with fewer skills,we had to prepare all our meat and fish from scratch which teaches the skills you need to be a Chef.
All fish came in whole, Atlantic salmons 9-11 lb would come in whole and I mean whole, we would gut,descale, fillet, portion every salmon every day.
Poultry came in whole for us to break down into breasts and legs and bones for stock, even in Pheasant season the birds would come in feathers and all and sit in the kitchen to “age” before they reached their gamey “High” and were then prepared.
Sides of lamb, beef, pork, venison had to be broken down into the specific cuts and really I could carry on but that would get boring.
Preparation like this teaches a Chef a number of things including , cost, wastage control, portioning control, and freshness.
Being a Chef is truly a lifestyle and not for everyone, out of the 4 of us who started out in 1988 I’m the last one in the industry today, so another ingredient is Passion, you must have a passion for the job otherwise its time to look for something else.
Blogging……now I’m not sure how this Blog will evolve but its focus will be food and the tools, tips and techniques involved in the way I see food, we are all food critics so it can only come from the view of the person writing, its a subjective sport 🙂

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