Starts early, I leave my beautiful room all dressed in clean chef whites and wander through the timber walled corridors and down the “back stairs” as I decide to go down and see the Breakfast Service and see if I can sneak some of the quality sausage too!I am taking photographs of service later have leaving the camera on charge I’m ready to be a a bit David Bailey later!
Breakfast Commis Chef Stephen , is preparing in a much quieter kitchen than when I left it last night. I decided I had better announce and apologise to Housekeeping my “smashing” activity from the night before but couldn’t find head of housekeeping Ian- it was his day off so left a message with the team and headed back to kitchen to see what jobs I could do.
I saw new faces in the kitchen and met Carl who had just returned from Paris, Liam who is from Horwich (unbelievable as this is my hometown – the cliche statement it’s a small world really does do justice here ), Olly commis chef on hot starters and a different PotWash team too , so introductions over the prep began.
Carl set me off with preparing, Confit Garlic and Provencal Crust for the Lamb dish. Again there are stages of process, sorting the size of garlic cloves, boiling in water, or the different components in the crust making, all which will take all day to get to the final product.
I then moved over to Joe’s section on Cold Starters and was prepping alongside him –
- Cucumbers for the Salmon dish – this was slicing them wafer thin on 2 different thickness for dice and slices, vac packing ready to be dressed with dill and vinaigrette
- Honey and Soy Sauce – weighing out every ingredient is the basis to the organisation and also the consistency of quality
- Curry mayonnaise and Wasabi dressing
- Jasmine Puree- a divine puree that takes 3 days to prepare
- Candied Nuts Hazelnuts and Walnuts
- Mushrooms in dressing
The complete simplicity of the dishes served are disguised by the complexity and volume of components the salmon starter dish alone has 16 different main ingredients involved and as many techniques to get the result too. This is 2 (should be 3) star Michelin for a reason , the seasons are translated onto the plates through technique and maximising the flavour from each ingredient this is the true joy of food.
NowI had time to work alongside Jordan again, he is off for a 2 weeks holiday after today so I wont see him again, he shares and supports me through the cooking, prepping and hot starters and shares time for a recipe and the ultimate Jus. The split sauces used in the canapés and main dishes are truly amazing and must be coked for the right amount of time or you taint the flavour, it takes patience to get the right split, the right reduction and right flavours.
Recipe Quail Jus Gras
- 300g quail bones
- 1 large onion chopped into thick rings
- 2 kg chicken wings
- 700 ml Vegetable Oil
- 1.5l water
- Fresh Tarragon , Rosemary and Thyme handful of
How to ..
- Cook off the bones of quail and chicken until coloured in a little of the oil
- Add the onion until soft and also colouring
- Add the water and and the fresh herbs
- Allow to reduce stirring regularly so it doesn’t scorch on bottom of the pan
- Cook out for maximum of 1.5 hours or you can change the flavours
- Pour off and allow the oil to split the sauce
- when using make sure you dont stir too much and have both equal quantities of reduction jus and oil
As you can see using Another recipe here for a Michael Caines Lamb Jus Gras , you can add vegetables to add different flavours, leeks, carrots, shallots, do not add starchy vegetables as this will not make a good reduction
Hierarchy in The Kitchen
The kitchen is a place of respect ( even with the banter), it really does have a hierarchal level that is demonstrated through work ownership, level of complexity and also the cooking at service. It really does work in a kitchen and allows clear progression which you dont always see in the commercial world. Gidleigh Park is remotley located which makes its beauty and location part of its draw, the reality in staffing can be a great pressure getting the right talent to this location , I met the current very talented team in the kitchen and Front Of House who all have varying amounts of service time from new 1 day to 17 years! The focus on the right people has been one of Chefs focus and he has a Academy at Exeter University allowing a home grown approach to nurturing the kitchen talent and the current team is complimented by several of the chosen ones from the Academy
The levels of kitchen titles in Gidleigh are :
Michael Caines Executive Chef, and his team consists of, Head Chef, Sous Chef,Junior Sous Chef,Chef de Partie, Demi Chef de Partie , Commis Chef ( this is entry level chef and covers Breakfast Chef too).
I truly hope I get this right, as I said respect is key in kitchen etiquette and I dont want to offend any role or person in the process of writing this down, Im sure I will be corrected though.
All kitchens have some level of this hierarchy – some more commis, demi and chef de partie’s or some less, its dependent on kitchen size, covers delivered, quality and standard.
From my limited personal experience of working in commercial kitchens, Gidleigh is the most impressive kitchen I have been in on managing sustainability, recycling, process, organisation, quality, production of food and the most importantly the best Team.
It has been an absolutely delight to be involved, included and accepted a truly wonderful place to work. I’m also not naive that as a ‘stage’ its very different than working the 15-6 hour days week in week out, but my experience is if I was 20 years younger I would definitely desire to work here.
PhotoStory of the Kitchen at Work
Now I’m no David Bailey and this is proven on the first step of my photo story of the working kitchen, I had put the camera on charge and it hadn’t charged so I had to revert to iphone of the lesser quality although none the less a great isight into the life of a Michelin Star Kitchen. The Team were very supportive as always, whilst I snapped away getting in the way most of the time during a busy service , they retain their professionalism at all times and never told me to f@*& off at all!
After a busy time and lots of photos, its time to retire off to bed and even now excited for Day 4 to commence …Pastry Section awaits….