The energy of the Kitchen isn’t good, this isn’t normal, this is very, weird. Barreling at terminal velocity we are now at the half-way mark of a punishing Thursday night service and for the last 90 minutes we have been mercilessly and relentlessly hammered*. My brain is in turmoil, this is not supposed to be happening, this defies logic….but logic doesn’t exist in the Kitchen now…this is blunt force trauma in the extreme and this is requiring every single survival skill I know. My Chef jacket has a long crimson streak across the gut running left to right…..its my blood.
I have 6 dishes ‘running’ and possibly 6 more ‘holding’ on docket, my station looks like a bomb hit it, the heavy iron pans are starting to mount up, the runners just can’t get to them, hoover them up, wash them and get them back to me….we are all pinned down under unrelenting enemy fire and all we can do is dig in a try to survive. And, I’m sobering up…..I see a hangover on the horizon….this is bad.
I take the opportunity and glance over my shoulder at Tony, time starts to slur…his body is in a loaded contortion as he hurls a giant pot in slow motion 12 feet across the kitchen, it tumbles slowly and gracefully in flight, Tony’s face is red with rage and the veins in his forehead pop…. he looks like a Commando breaching the trenches having lobbed his first grenade.
Time is static. I blink and turn to see a waitress enter the kitchen with an arm full of dishes, the giant pot narrowly misses her head as she deftly ducks to avoid it. In this moment I have time to re-evaluate my entire existence, I need out of this madness…or at least I think I do…or maybe I just need to get to that Cider we hid behind the fridge. Tony has a fully charged pint glass of snake-bite at his station…but I’m dry. Time re-sets violently as the pot crashes against the stainless-steel splash-back and ditches into the grey suddy waters of the wash station.
“Baaaaaaastard fuckers, come on you fuckeeeeeeeeeeeers”
Tony bellows with delight as the pot finds its mark, he spins in his clogs back to his burners and continues to glaze a cover of 4 Cote De Boeuf with a fresh rosemary stalk dripping with butter with one hand downing the snake-bite with the other. Anna, the waitress looks like she’s been hit by a train as she tidies a blonde lock that fell across her face during the near miss. She scurries through the steam, smoke and foul language, dumps her dishes and hurries to the Pass to collect more food for the horde beyond our doors….she stops and looks at Tony for just long enough for him to feel it before she disappears back to the front line. He doesn’t look up, a smile cracks on Tony’s face, she’s in love…..Tony has seen to that. His pint glass follows the pot…….drained.
Where the fuck is this blood coming from….
The day started like this, Lunch service was hard and fast, we punched out 20% more covers than expected. The 12 lobster we snagged early that morning went in the first wave of customers. Halved, buttered, grilled and served with Chef’s ‘triple threat fries’. The Monkfish Goujons and Stuffed Mussels lasted the full service leaving the kitchen consistently, the Steak Tartar only managed a 50% shift and Tony’s pride and joy his Turkish flatbread scored zero. I felt for him, he’d spent all week dreaming up this dish and had to watch it sit alone and unnoticed like the mousy girl at the school dance no one was intelligent enough to ask out.
This level of action at lunch was a ‘Tell’ ……like a Poker player’s twitch when the 4th Ace appears. This hard run was what we wanted, it meant tonight would be the polar opposite, that’s how it works, tonight would be easy-street, tonight would be ‘wee buns’*. So what the fuck is going on!?!
“Tony, you prick”!
“I’m bleeding out….I think I’m dying”
“Right, hurry up and do so, then get me the Turkish, they’re going on – we’re nearly outta food”
Where the hell was I bleeding from..I have to find and plug this leak quickly…my sight is beginning to fail me and I don’t fancy the prospect of the Anchor Bar after service low on blood….I’ll need all I can get.
I can do this. The flat-breads need nothing more than to be lined up across the flat-plate dry then flipped at 2 or 3 minute mark – just as they begin to ‘take’ (char) – the breads will puff up initially and the extreme heat will cause the Feta to melt and ooze cooking the spinach as the steam builds inside. No problem, I can do this before I pass out. The kitchen starts to wobble and the walls start to breath….then there is the wonderful sizzle as incredible Greek cheese starts to ooze out onto the hot flat plate…..I need to move fast.
I find the leak, it’s a 4 inch gash running left to right just under my last rib….this is a mystery…this needs stitching….fuck it…the duct-tape that we periodically used to hold our tape deck together will do. I strip to my waist and dump my jacket with the rest of the soiled linen and frantically encircle my midriff with duct tape as the Flat Breads just hit their mark.
The blood stops….survival…again….just about. My assailant was a scrag end of torn metal that loosed itself from the door of the walk in fridge after one to many storms. No doubt a result of an earlier hurried sortie to locate a cache of Mussels and Clams………………….
*being kicked to death by dinners and close to breaking point
**very fucking stress-free facilitating drinking Cider on the job
♠Turkish flat breads♣
Prep time: 3-4 hours mins ♦ Cook Time: 2-3 mins ♦ Total time 3-4hours ♦ Serves 2
♣WHAT YOU NEED♥
For the flat bread:
500 grams white bread flour
10 grams salt
2 sachets fast acting yeast
300mls luke warm water
50mls olive oil
For the stuffing
1 block of top quality Feta cheese
1 bag of washed baby spinach
Pinch of chilli flakes
2 tps sweet paprika
1 tps cumin
♠HOW YOU DO IT♥
Start by getting the flat-bread going, simply combine all of the ingredients in a mixer and use a bread hook to knead for 10 minutes. Or if you’re doing this by hand then knead for at least 20 minutes. When smooth and elastic place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a cloth, leave in a warm place for a couple of hours to rise.
When the dough has risen turn it out onto a floured surface and give it another kneading for a few minutes then split it into four balls, using a rolling pin roll the balls out into discs to as think as you can get – 2mms maximum!! I like to then use a wide dinner plate to cut out a perfect circle for the breads
Roughly chop the baby spinach and arrange it on one side of the flat bread disc then crumble over a generous amount of the Feta. Season with a little salt, pepper, Cumin and Paprika and a lug of oil.
Carefully fold the flat bread dough over on itself making a half-moon and push the edges together to seal the bread. Lightly brush with oil then slip into a hot dry pan and cook on both side for 3-4 minutes each. The bread will bubble and burn.,..which is what you want …and some of the feta may ooz out….a very good thing! Serve immediately out of the pan.
FANCY A BEER? TRY THIS – BO BRISTLE