Cooking with the chefs

I never imagined I would be spending two days in a massive kitchen of a massive hotel in a chef’s uniform among tens of chefs. I have never really been fond of the kitchen. If anything, I’m fond of keeping it clean, but haven’t experimented or looked up cook books.

Now I was supposed to be done with my internship in the Marketing department, but I thought hey, while we’re here, why not try and see if the kitchen is open to letting me in for a day or two. I was surprised they said yes! So I was given my chef’s coat, trousers, apron, cap and gloves and was shown around the massive kitchen. It absolutely overwhelmed me! Some excerpts:

Chef: So this is our walk in freezer, its below 5 degrees in here
Me: Y-yeah, it’s amazing!

(After spending 10 horribly cold minutes in there while she explained so many things to me, waiting to step out into blissful heat again)

Chef: And this, is our walk in deep freeze, its minus 18 degrees in here
Me: *open mouthed, frozen fingers* Wow!

(By this time I was shaking from head to toe hoping to God that there wasn’t going to be another freezer!)

I was then taken to the bakery where I helped arrange desserts for the lunch buffet. Once that was done I was shown to the Commissary where the chefs asked what I wanted to do. I shrugged and said – whatever you need. So they gave me some 20 carrots to peel and chop. This is easy, I thought. And then came along a chef who did all he could to keep himself from laughing.

Chef: What are you doing?
Me: Err, chopping carrots?
Chef: * smiles * Here, let me show you how.

And this kept happening. It took FOUR chefs to show me how to chop up carrots properly! And just when I thought I was done for the day, having chopped 20 carrots and all, along came another massive trough full of them orange things! Hundreds of them! It never seems to end – they’re chopping vegetables all day long.

I also got to make some sandwiches which were to be served to the guests in the executive lounge. I think I gave the chefs a good laughing spree again. But despite the fact that I couldn’t cut carrots or arrange pastries, the chefs were so, so kind to me. They made sure I was comfortable, they made sure they spent time with me, and they made sure I never got bored. I felt surrounded by dads 🙂

What amazed me the most was that everybody knew exactly what they had to do at all points of time. Nobody had to ask anyone, nobody had to tell anyone. This is what I call fabulous communication. Twice a day, all the chefs in the kitchen get together for a briefing session with the executive chef, and everybody knows exactly what to do. They even know exactly what the other person has to do. No confusions, no miscommunications. Just a group of passionate, dedicated, hard working, talented chefs. I can see now that being a chef is so much more than donning a hat and being able to cook a tasty meal.

Thank you, chefs at Courtyard Marriott Chennai, I’m never going to forget any of you.

Image courtesy – Flickr