Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Indian wedding part four

When I think of the dichotomy of this hotel it makes me laugh. For all you people out there who don't work in the hospitality business remember this.  You may go to a top hotel and be blown away by the decor, the architecture, state-of-the-art this or that or whatever but little do you know what a disaster can be lurking behind the scenes.  I am not saying all hotels are like this, I am just saying it is not that uncommon. I have found that in most cases, the nicer the hotel, the more professional the staff,  the more pride in their job which means in the kitchen they will most likely work cleaner.  I have been in kitchens of well known or famous places and was thinking how funny it was that the place had such a top notch reputation but the kitchen is horrendous.  How sad it is.

So after the shock of what I saw settled in, I had to start preparing for this wedding.  I had my sous chef who came with me start looking for cooking utensils and anything that was somewhat clean. We couldn't even start cooking for an hour because we were hunting down everything like we were on a treasure hunt.  The average home kitchen has more utensils and miscellaneous kitchen equipment than this place.  I honestly don't know how this hotel did large functions or even functioned like this.
Just as I was about to start working one of the chefs came and told me our fruit delivery arrived.  Ah, at least something good is happening.  We wandered through the maze of back hallways (which were to my surprise, clean) to the loading dock but I didn't see any fruit.
"Where is the fruit delivery?" I asked.
"It is coming now," he said.
"Where?" I asked.  As we were speaking one of those black taxis backed up to the loading dock.
"Here." He replied
"The taxi?" I asked puzzled.
"Yes" he said.
I didn't really know what to say so I waited.  The taxi driver got out of the car, came around back and opened the trunk.  All of the fruit was sitting in the trunk on the spare tire and other car equipment with no case, cardboard, bag or anything to protect it from being contaminated by all the automotive parts, oil and grease.
"Are you kidding me?" I asked dumbfounded.
"No, this is how the fruit comes." He replied as if he couldn't understand why I was puzzled but I was still new to India and learning the way things are done there.
"Holy cow," I said in disbelief, not realizing I made a joke because cow is holy in India..."Holy cow!"

At least all of the fruit had a thick skin like pineapple and watermelon so being in the trunk didn't ruin it.  We brought the fruit to the kitchen and we started cleaning it, removing the skin and the automotive dirt and grease that accumulated on it being in the trunk of a dirty taxi.
By this time it was approaching evening and I decided we had enough for one day.  By this point I was too damn frustrated and couldn't even think straight. Tomorrow the reinforcements would be here and we could get some serious prep done.

Off to take a shower then hit the bar.  The bar was more of a lounge, dimly lit and relaxing.  One thing I loved about being outside the US is that you can smoke in bars.  I had left New York City in August of 2003 and the city had become non-smoking shortly before so I was more than happy to be able to light up.  I lit a Monte Cristo no 2 cigar, had my Johnnie Walker Black Label on the rocks and kicked back.
Perfect ending to a screwy day.

Tune in next time

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