Saturday, September 4, 2010

Indian wedding-conclusion

We are getting all the food heated up for the plating and getting the two plating lines organized for executing the banquet.  For those of you who don't work in a kitchen, food is plated 'assembly line' style for banquets. You have long tables with stacks of plates on one end and the pans of food on the side of the table opposite the chefs who are plating. You usually have one person for each food item on the plate.  The chef at the end of the table with the stacks of plates will put a plate down, the next chef will put his food item on the plate and push the plate to the next chef, that chef will put his item on the plate and push it to the next chef and so on until the plate is completed.  The chef at the end wipes the plates and hands them to the servers.  When you are plating something like a five course meal for large numbers like 500 people you are basically standing there looking down for 30-45 minutes or more depending on the until the entire banquet is completed.

In the case of this wedding, there were not enough hot boxes to put the food in so we had to have a couple guys heat things in the oven and bring it to the plating line as we needed it.  An inconvenience but it can be done as the people plating cannot leave what they are doing.  Oh, for those of you who do not know what a hotbox is, it is what its name says it is.  It is a mobile or stationary box that plugs into the wall and you set it to the temperature you desire.  When you are plating a banquet simply cook your food and put it in the hot box and it keeps the food hot without cooking it like an oven would.  They also have cold boxes even though they are not called that and they keep the food........well, cold.

I already knew the chef of this hotel was a shoemaker but what really confirmed it was when we were plating the banquet.  On my plating line I had the Italian chef and the hotel chef (the shoemaker) working with me.  Here we are in the middle of plating this dinner, pumping out food and the chef takes a phone call on his cell phone.  He was talking on his phone with one hand and plating food with the other.  The Italian chef looked at me and said something in Italian (even though I couldn't understand it) that I could tell it was something bad regarding the chef's lack of professionalism and we both just started grinning.  I mean who the hell would take a phone call in the middle of plating a banquet? Idiot!

We finished plating the banquet which turned out to be a success.  It is kind of funny that everyone loved the food. That food was by no means what I would call great food (I know I wasn't very proud of it) because we didn't have the tools, or anything for that matter to do our job properly.  The guests of the wedding were all Indians, as you may have figured since I was in India and many of them don't know Western food as well as they know their own food so we were lucky.

We started to clean up but there was no soap, towels or anything to clean with and after the past few days of working in the most unhygienic and unsanitary conditions imaginable nobody was in the mood to deal with that shit anymore so we said "screw it" and left.  We had enough. Let those guys clean up.  If they want to work like pigs that is fine but I don't want to clean up after them.

After working in those conditions I felt a bit dirty, maybe even contaminated and I thought about that movie "Silkwood" with Meryl Streep as the main character who worked in a plutonium plant.  There is one scene where she is contaminated by radiation and they have to scrub her down with these harsh brushes and soap to remove any contaminants but it basically scrubbed her raw.  I though I may have to do the same to feel 'clean' again.

We finished our night in normal fashion in the bar with Black Label and cigars. While it felt good to be able to put out a banquet under those conditions and make everyone happy, we were looking forward to leaving.

I hope you enjoyed this story.  I will be putting more kitchen stories as well as recipes and please get your friends to add themselves as followers.

Culinary regards

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