Thursday, April 28, 2005

'city hip'

One of the things about living in the city is that you need a bag. I have been making do with my day pack, but it feels a little touristy. I mean i know its my national birthright to put the maple leaf on everything I own when I go traveling, but I'm trying to be more resident than tourist in Melbourne. That said, I went in search of a bag the other day.
I did get a bag. I searched through Quicksilver and Billabong without success. After a few more shops I gave up on trendy bag and made a last ditch attempt for funky. It paid off in Oxfam; a store kind of like ten thousand villages. Anyway, it's a pretty funky bag and it was a really good price so i got it! I cruised down the sidewalk with it slung over my shoulder the rest of the day feeling very 'city-hip'.
I dropped into a photography book shop on my way home. It sold photography books (as the name suggests) but also old photographs and art postcards. I found a really cool couple series of photos (actual photo prints not on cards) but the lady in the shop (owner) had no idea how old they were, who took them, where they came from or who the models were. What an interesting mystery! Naturally, I bought them.
So, new bag on shoulder and new (mysterious) photos in hand, er, bag I wandered home in the sunshine. On my way home, Andy's sister (Alison) called me and asked if I had dinner plans. I replied with something about peanut butter sandwiches and she announced that she was taking me to dinner. I hopped a tram and headed downtown. We met up outside town hall and hopped another tram into Fitzroy. There we wandered through a couple shops before arriving at the chosen dinner spot: The Vegie Bar. As the name suggests, it is a vegetarian and vegan local. There was plenty of hemp clothing and chunky bead jewelry in sight and the food was REALLY good- cheap too. I think there will be a return visit in the future.
After dinner I hopped another tram and met with a uwc friend of Claire's who is going to university in Melbourne. We went to see a German movie called "Downfall". It's about the last days of WWII inside Hitler's Bunker. Not exactly a feel good movie, but very well made; I enjoyed it. It finished at quarter to 12 so I said my goodbyes and hailed a cab. Home by 12:20 and in bed soon after that. Phew, busy day!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

no blood on the floor

Oh what a difference two days makes. From the last post some may have gathered that I was not the happiest with my current situation; and to be honest, I wasn’t. In the last four days I’ve worked over 60 hours. Its not the work that will destroy me, it’s the lack of sleep. I had a serious case of being ‘over it’ on Sunday night. Scott’s yelling and un-ending abuse had really got to me and I had just had enough. I got assigned to do prep in the upstairs kitchen during service which was probably a good thing. I doubt that I would have stayed my civil self I had to be in the kitchen with him another night.
But then Scott got days off and the entire dynamic of the kitchen changed. Damian told jokes and everyone relaxed a little. All the work got done and on time but just not having Scott around seemed to bring the kitchen’s stress level down five-fold. It was more like a two day cooking holiday. I do not hate the world as much tonight.

Friday, April 22, 2005

where the fuck is the fish

Tonight was the most disasterous service i have ever experienced. Chefs, Allemier, Cuff, Kiefer, Addams, Morrow, Couper, Magis, Tusan and Neilson: I'm sorry for doubting anything you ever told me.

"No thanks Turkish, I'm sweet enough."

More filling in!
This should really go at the end of the last post, but oh well, please deal with it.

I didn't have to start work till 3. After wandering around Carlton till 3am I was looking forward to a morning of snoozing and a doing SFA; Andy, however, had different plans. He was in Melbourne for the day and opted to ring me at 10 and tempt me with yum chow (sp?). I asked Todd and Steph if they cared to come along, they were already planning breakfast out, but dropped me on Chapel St. Near to where Andy said to meet him. I found Andy and his sister (Alison) and we headed down a side street to a little Chinese Teahouse where we proceeded to drink copious amounts of Iron Buddha tea and eat some kick ass Chinese food (the Peking Duck in a Chinese pancake is a definite go-back-for). After food we cruised down Chapel St. Doing some hardcore window shopping. We nearly walked straight past an Oxfam store, but I dragged the other two in (I had spotted a sale sign). I found what I wanted in about 2 minutes; a beautiful handmade cotton blanket on serious sale. Andy took a little longer than me. He became transfixed and wandered around the store in a daze, slowly filling his shopping basket to overflowing. I busily made notes on things I wanted to get once my pay went through and picked out a couple other things that caught my eye. Andy finally snapped out of his trance and muttered that we'd better leave while he still could make car payments. Out on the street I checked the time. 1:50. Crap, I still had to iron my whites and get to work. I bid a hasty farewell and took off sprinting in the direction that I suspected home was.
I was at work a comfortable 15 minutes early, and a good thing too as they were just finishing 200+ for lunch and things were beginning to fall apart. I changed in record time and jumped straight in on larder while they got caught up. At 3 I switched to fryer so the chef could have a bit of a break. The afternoon passed in a blur of prep. Mercifully for the kitchen, dinner service was short, flat out and sweet. At 10:45 I was heading out the door. I caught a ride into town with a couple of the guys from the kitchen and met Todd for a beer. We met at the bar (Transport) right under the restaurant where he works (Taxi). The guys from Taxi had had a good dinner service and were all in the bar so I joined them and chilled and talked till Steph showed up to drive us home.

Monday started with me on the grill section with chef Simon. A new section denoted a whole new bunch of prep, which took some getting used to. I worked through till 6. Simon's comment was "daddy's happy with his little boy. Me being daddy, you being my little boy " I cocked an eyebrow and looked at him a second trying to to figure out if I was being mocked or complemented. "you did good today shithead" Ah, it was a complement...
I got sent upstairs to pastry for dinner service.

Scotty: "Watch everything they do. Watch how they do it and what they do it with. Ask questions and get your hands dirty"
Me: "Oui Chef"
Scotty: "I'm serious mate, get it down tonight because tomorrow night you are doing it by yourself"
Me: *swallows hard* "oui chef"

pastry by myself. I survived.

Went to the Prahran market to buy a chef's jacket. I found one I liked and tried it on. It fit well so I took it to the till to pay for it. $71.45. OUCH. for one jacket.... Hooray for plastic money.
I got home and got my bag and hopped a tram to the train station. I got the 5:00 train to Ballarat and snoozed most of the way there. I walked from the station to Cincotta's to see Andy in his new digs. We chatted for a bit as he prepped up for service and then I took his keys and borrowed his car. I cruised by my old work and caught the owner off guard (him not expecting to see me looking for my last pay). He didn't have my money ready so I told him I'd just "sit and have a coffee while you go and get it for me, thanks." I had been waiting over three months to talk to him like that and DANG did it feel good!!! Money in hand, my next stop was Georgie's house to get the last of my stuff and return my keys. Both her and Paul were there, as well as two girls that had gone to Carlton with. I chatted with them a while, then got my stuff and cruised back to get Andy. We had a drink with Jon (Cincotta) and then went back to Andy's place. I'd picked up a slab (24 bottle case) of Beck's and a few guys that we used to work with came over and helped us make a decent hole in it. Later on we went out to a shitty Ballarat night club and partied it up till the wee hours where upon I got back to andy's and crashed in the living room.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Filling in

Here goes.
I cant quite wait for my day off to fill in on what I've been doing because it looks like my day off will be busier then my working days... I don't have to work till the afternoon tomorrow though (thank you great overseeing deity), so I can try to fill in some holes now.
In the last informative update, I think I was just heading to bed the night before work started...

During the night, the air mattress deflated. I wolk in a contorted bundle of limbs laying flat on the floor. 7:45 am. I painfully unraveled myself and set about organizing my stuff. Todd was getting ready for work at the same time; we exchanged first day tips while fighting over the iron to press our whites. 7:55 am. Everything I need for work is safely tucked into my bag. I knew this because I had checked it a minimum of 6 times. I was breathing faster then normal and my heart rate was up. "fucking hell" I thought to myself as I headed to the shower, "I'm waaay more nervous then I thought." 8:0 3 am. I found myself staring at my face in the mirror, marveling at how calm I looked while inside ignorant armies were clashing by night with un-bridled ferocity. 8:15am. I called a Taxi. Never trust arrival at a first day of work to public transport. 8:28am. The taxi arrived. The driver then proceeded to take me on a lovely tour of Melbourne, prompting me to ask if he actually knew where I wanted to go. 8:45am. I was still in the taxi, nearly crapping my pants. So much for 15-20 minutes early. 8:55am. I finally arrived at work. I walked up to the back of the restaurant (heart beating like crazy), pushed open the most likely looking door and walked into a completely deserted kitchen. And I mean deserted; lights off, hoods off, floors clean. In fact the whole place was deserted. I pushed open the door to the dining room and looked around; noone there either. WTF?!?!?!? I checked my watch. Was this some odd joke they played on the new guy? All of my stressing about everything that morning seemed a tad ridiculous as I stood awkwardly in the middle of the empty kitchen. I had to laugh at it. But then, a noise! A definite people made noise! Feet on stairs! At this point I had no idea what was going to happen next, so ready for anything I turned to face the stairs. A girl in whites trod into view and looked over at me. "I'm Jane, who are you?" "Tim, pleased to meet you" "Kay, get changed and then come help me lay out the mats" I gave her a blank look. "Ah, its my first day, where do I get changed?" "oh" she laughed, "sorry, I haven't been here in a few days, I'll show you."
And there it began! I changed into my whites and helped pull in the mats and set up the kitchen. Other chefs began arriving, hands were shook and introductions made. And the day took off! I got paired with Jane on the larder section (Garde Manger for the classically trained people, place where salads are made for everyone else) and the morning passed in a flurry of prep. Lunch service started at 12 and it was a moderately busy one. Orders came in at a steady 2 or so per minute for the first hour and then tapered off a bit. Jane remarked that because she hadn't been there for a couple days, there was a lot of prep to do and we might not get a break. "that's ok" I thought. "What time does the night usually finish then?" I asked. "Around 11." I checked the clock: 2:00pm. Welcome to a new world. At some point I remembered that mette had invited me to an international students party with free drinks included in the ticket price that night. It was a happy thought. We prepped through the afternoon and started Dinner at 6. Dinner was busier than lunch and the chef (Scott or SP) calling the pass yelled a lot. There was 200 people booked to arrive in an hour (dear front of house staff, there is a special place in hell for people who take that many bookings for such a short time) so Scott decided to do a verbal service. That meant that we had no dockets to look at, only his voice to tell us what to do. It was my first experience with a solely verbal service and I found it a little trying not having a docket to back check my ears.
For those of you having trouble understanding what I'm talking about, imagine a group of seven airplanes that have to fly in formation (these are the different sections in the kitchen). During normal service, everyone can see what is going on and the planes can talk to each other and see where they are and what the other planes are doing. During verbal service however, the planes have no windows, can't talk to eachother, are flying through a hurricane and have to take off and land (in formation) every 4 minutes with only the half crazed screams of the lunatic ground controller to guide them. Its a real thrill every time.
By 11:30 it was all over except for the crying and we all sat out back and had a beer. I got told to come in at 9 the next morning. I called a taxi and messaged Mette to let her know that all the beer I could drink wasn't the best plan for the rest of the night seeing as I had to be back at work in 9 short hours. I got home and fell into bed.

was a good day, I was back on larder and managed to hold my ground.
It was another long day. Mette messaged me back and invited me to a costume party on Saturday. "come as something that starts with T, not Tim obviously" well there went my first idea...

I started the day in Larder and moved up to pastry for the end of dinner service. The pastry section is way more chill than the rest of the kitchen. It was like a holiday.

Saturday night was the most insane service of my life. I was on larder. We did over 300 people. Scott went off the handle several times at various sections, chefs, servers etc. I thought I had sold my soul to survive it all, but I found it hiding under the Combi-oven with the puff pastry cups when I was cleaning after service. I got a ride to Carlton (a suburb) after work and went in search of the party Mette invited me to. Two hours later, I hadn't found it so I bought icecream from a 7-11, called a taxi and went home.

Ok, I have to stop it here, I'll try to finish filling in up to today tomorrow morning.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


i sleep on my feet as i wait for the cab home at the end of the night, and in the morning i sleep on my feet every tram i catch. work is going well. "No Dramas" said the chef of my performance thus far. if i ever get a day off, i'll write all about it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Night Before...

Just a quick post before I head to bed.
Today was a pretty quiet day. It involved a large walk. I walked to a couple chef supply stores and bought some stuff for my kit. I walked around lost for a while. I walked through the Queen Victoria market and bought some tea at a tea shop. I walked around lost a bit more. I walked back to Mette's place.
The rest of the afternoon involved cleaning and polishing my clogs, listening to music and trying to upload pictures to this blog. (I figured out the picture thing, sort of, watch for a beta test soon)
Around 6 Todd called me and said he was back in town. I re-packed my stuff and bid Mette farewell with a promise to have a night on the town sometime soon. A short cab ride later I was piling my bags into my new living room. I set about settling in, which was a bit tough to do. An old friend of Todd's is currently sleeping in the room that will be mine while he is looking for a place of his own, so I'm in the living room till he finds a place to go. Steph set up an air mattress and quilt for me so at least I'll be comfortable.
In other news, I start the new job tomorrow at 9am and am just managing to not allow myself to worry too much about it. My knives are sharp, my shoes are black and my jacket is clean; other than that all I can do is do my best. If it goes well that's cool, if not it will be an interesting three months. The more I think about it, the more I work myself up, so I think about it as little as I can. So with that, I'm off to bed. It's not a long trip, the computer is in the living room (so all I have to do is stand up, turn left and fall over and I'll be in bed).

Monday, April 11, 2005

The First Night

I have decided that I like Melbourne. This is not a new revelation; I decided I liked this city quite some time ago, but last night was a particularly decent night.
Around five, the essay brainstorming session that Mette and her flatmate were having on the roof turned into a tapas party as I had just got back from the grocery store. We sat and ate tapas, drank beer, and watched the sun go down over the city. After the sun was gone it got kinda chilly so we headed inside to catch the Simpsons. Later on (about 9:30) Mette figured that we should have some real dinner so we headed off down Lygon St. In search of a good pizza place. Now for those of you who don't know, Lygon St. is Melbourne's Italian sector. The street is lined with cafes, food shops, restaurants and fashion boutiques, and, on a Monday night it was bustling with activity. We found a place that offered "All you can eat Pizza, Pasta and Salad- $10" and thinking that was the best deal we were going to find, sat down. The food was decent and the wine was suprisingly good. We spent the next hour eating, drinking, and talking and laughing. When we got back to the house, we watched a bit more TV and collectively mocked everything about it (spending time with people who are driven as insane by aussie advertising as I am is quite refreshing). We crashed just after 12. All in all It was a good first night in the city...

Mette's view

mette's view

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A New City

er, welcome to the first post in my latest foray into mass communication. Just to begin I'd like to lay a few ground rules down. I will make no promises as to the frequency of my posts or their quality or length. I will try my best to keep those reading abreast of any major changes and post pictures where I can. I will also attempt to fill you in on the first three and a half months of my time in Aus from some of the journal entries I have managed to keep thus far. Please post replies, and when you do, please leave your name or a name I would know you by so I know who is saying what.

Today I moved to Melbourne. This is the beginning of the second major chapter in my Australian experience. The First chapter was Ballarat, but I posted nothing about that so I suppose you could say that this blog is beginning in medias res (sp?).

The last few weeks condensed are as follows
-Andy files his resignation (effective April 4)
-Tim files his resignation (as per visa regulations) effective April 10
-Tim, Andy and Walshy go to Waterfront restaurant in Melbourne. They all talk to Shawn (a chef Andy apprenticed with). Shawn tells Tim to go and talk to the executive chef who is in the kitchen. The executive chef gives Tim an interview while he is calling the pass and then tells him he can start April 13th.
-Tim changes his effective date to April 4th
-Cooke (the dickshit owner) tells Andy to finish up in the kitchen on March 28
-Tim works the last week out with a stand in chef and has a massive (very messy) farewell.
-Tim and Andy have a mad road trip to NSW
-Tim pets a kangaroo
-Tim moves to Melbourne

that is a very abbreviated version, but is the basic outline.
I start at the waterfront on Wednesday. I will be living with Todd and Steph (of Mission Hill Terrace fame) for the 3 months or so that I'm in Melbourne. I talked to Todd last night and he is in Queensland (a long way away) till tomorrow afternoon so I'm just chilling at Mette's (one of my sister's old room mates) till then. IN the mean time, I have a crap load of stuff to do to get ready for this job; shoes to shine, pants to press, knives to sharpen etc. I have to find a good chef store to seafoodrestarauntize my kit and I have to figure out how I'm going to get from home to work and back again. All part of this experience I suppose.
So now its off to do something about these things that need to be done!