If you didn't read the previous posting I will give you a bit of background. The topic was hotel kitchen designers and how many of them don't even have kitchen experience which makes for some interesting (or stupid) kitchen designs. In my previous post I was talking about the hotel I opened in Bombay, India so let's continue shall we?
What was also funny about this kitchen was the design of the restaurant itself. We had four restaurants in the hotel and one of them I was in charge of was downstairs with an open top. The design was like a hole was cut into the ceiling and you look up and you could see two of the other restaurants up above you. There was a glass railing along the edge above so the people sitting along it could look down into this restaurant. The idea was nice in principle, but on those rare occasions someone dining above dropped their plate, glass or whatever down into the lower restaurant, (once on a guest) it ceased to seem to be a good idea.
The design of the upper restaurants was open with no walls which didn't exactly help in creating character for each restaurant. You could sit in one restaurant and look over at the other ones. These restaurants were situated near the front desk and corridors leading to guest elevators and the shopping mall as well.
The lower restaurant's theme was based off of an American grill so you can probably guess there were a lot of grilled items on the menu. (DUH) That is all fine and good except for one small problem; whenever the restaurant got busy and the grill was loaded up, the exhaust couldn't cope with all the smoke coming off the grill. This isn't the first time I have worked in a restaurant that had an exhaust system that couldn't cope with the kitchen output come to think of it. What is it with poor exhausts anyways? What would end up happening when the restaurant got busy is all the smoke would rise (as it normally does) and blanket the other two restaurants in the immediate vicinity and the entire lobby and reception desk.
If you have ever seen a fire and how the smoke blankets the top half of a room than you can visualize what the upper restaurants and lobby looked like. It was hilarious in a pathetic way. The fire alarms would go off at times and we would get complaint after complaint, consequently buying some meals for the really pissed off guests. I don't know what was worse, the fact that the lobby resembled Los Angeles more than a hotel lobby or that all those vegetarians were engulfed in smoke that smelled of grilled meat.
I am the type that can find humor in anything so to imagine all those vegetarians going home with their clothes reeking of grilled meat much like your clothes reek of cigarettes after going to a bar just cracks me up. Sorry all my vegetarian friends out there:) Having said that it makes me wonder when those people went home, smelling of grilled meat, if their significant vegetarian other half looked at them as if they cheated on them like your wife smelling the perfume of another woman on your shirt.
India's population is about 75% vegetarian with some adamantly opposed to meat as if it was a sin as opposed to a dietary choice. I can remember a number of times while servicing a banquet how vegetarians would complain that the non-vegetarian food was too close to the vegetarian food. I mean this is food we are talking about, not the cross pollination of flowers. Buffalo wings can't cross pollinate last time I checked. If so, tell me where to get some buffalo wing seeds and I will plant some buffalo wing plants. While I am at it I will plant some quesadilla seeds. I can have a garden full of bar food. Nacho plants, potsticker plants, onion ring plants, hell, if I am lucky I can grow some Long Island ice tea plants as well. OK sorry, I pulled a "Star Trek" on you guys there and went into deep space, I am back on earth now.
I remember the first time we were busy and the grill smoked up the place, the manager on duty came running down the stairs in a panic thinking the place was on fire.
"Curt, what the hell are you doing?" He asked frantically.
"Cooking, what do you think chefs do man?" I replied sarcastically.
"Shit man the entire lobby is engulfed in smoke, you have to stop the grill from smoking?"
"What the hell do you want me to do? Turn off the grill and just serve baked potatoes?!"
He became more excited and was starting to lose his head, then giving me shit. I didn't like the bastard anyways so him coming down and giving me shit for something I had no control over pissed me off even more.
"Look man, there is nothing I can do, serious."
He then ran upstairs to do god knows what and then a good idea popped in my head.
We always kept a rolled up towel dipped in oil for cleaning the grill so I told my cook to dip it in more oil and cover that damn grill. He rubbed it back and forth over the grill repeatedly and a huge cloud of smoke rose up from the grill that resembled a small mushroom cloud. The other cooks were watching, laughing as we had our fun for the evening.
I never liked people who can't keep their cool and I am the type to twist the screws tighter if I see you unraveling at the seams.
To be continued