Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Are all cooks so arrogant? 25/05/09

At last it is Monday, our day off. I am wrecked. I woke at 12.30 my whole body aching, especially the legs.

Last night the restaurant was full. I was on fire going round all the tables explaining the specials, ‘the fish of the day is mupa, abbiamo burratina pugliese (which most people didn’t know since it comes from Puglia and not Sicily, so I had to explain it is like mozzarella but creamier - really delicious). People asked me where I was from, and was I Spanish because of how I pronounced the names of the tapas. One table of guys said ‘complimenti per l’italiano’, which I really appreciated since it is no mean feat to have to rattle off the specials , then explain and advise them on the different dishes available, when you have large tables of hungry customers staring at you, slightly bewildered by the array of things on the menu. We have ‘Piatti Unici’, the equivalent of a main course (some with basmati rice and vegetable souffl├ęs or roast potatoes and salads etc), but this is most unusual here since they are used to the primo piatto of pasta followed by the secondo piatto of plain fish or meat.

Il cameriere couldn’t come last night (basically he is off work today and had gone to the Aeolian islands to his girlfriend’s summer house and didn’t want to have to come back for work last night and then go back over to Lipari this morning … talk about work ethic). We missed him because he can do the bar too. Mi marito had to go behind the bar at around midnight because so many were coming in for drinks, and tapas and cocktails.

The chef messed up again. He can’t smistare (sort the orders and keep track of them), even though he insisted that he wanted to do it. He can’t even read the orders and doesn’t bring his glasses to help him, so he squints at them, misses part of the order, and then puts it back on the rack in the wrong place. The result – dishes go to the wrong table, the same dishes go twice to the same table, and some tables simply don’t get their full meal. What a disgrace, I would be raging if I were a client. So I had to apologise again to several tables and take the blame for something over which I have no control. Many of mi marito’s friends keep coming and it is so embarrassing when they don’t get well looked after.

After work we had a word with him, and he blamed everything and everyone other than him. He stupidly told mi marito to ask his mother what she thought, thinking she would take his side! We already knew she would be saying get rid of him! He blamed the aiuto cuoco saying he is incompetent, that the girl is not that great and he has to keep an eye on her (another aiuto cuoco, she comes at weekends and we all think she is very good, quick and able to sort the orders better than anyone). He said the kitchen is too small, there aren’t enough stove tops on the cooker and there is no one to chop tomatoes for him when he needs them … excuse me? I said, you have three people helping you and if there is no one to chop tomatoes it means they are already busy doing something else and YOU have to do it. ‘Ti pare giusto (do you think it is right)that a cuoco should have to do this?’ he asks mi marito, as if I don’t count. As if he really was a cuoco. Since we were getting nowhere I said you need to stop blaming your tools, you need to accept responsibility and identify the problems, the orders went to the wrong table and some simply didn’t reach the customers. He shouted and raved and muttered and defended himself and I put up a hand, Enough! OK, I am no clearer than I was ten minutes ago but I need solutions so you need to go home and write down some solutions. Yes yes, he mutters, I wake up in the night trying to think of solutions, he says,but he can’t come up with the goods. Then he parades about outside with his beer and cigarettes at 1am leaving the aiuto cuoco and the others to clean up after him while he ponces around like the main man of the moment.

Well, his days are limited, we need to get someone slick and professional, though that is not so easy here. I suggested we advertise in some of the bigger cities, but as mi marito, says, Do you think someone from Catania would move here for this job? Apparently not.


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