Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cook number 4

19 July 2010

The usual back-and-forth going on between the potential new cook and ourselves regarding the contract and pay. In this country it seems the power lies with the employee. Or perhaps it is just because they know we have no one else lined up. How they boast about their talents is quite something. Perhaps we are all just too humble in Ireland. This cook, or should I say ‘chef’, started off with an unattainable figure for his pay (again – it was he who named the sum, not us …), knowing full well that this would oblige us to counteroffer a high figure and that somewhere in between would probably be agreed. We watched him at work this week, but it was a fairly quiet one for the kitchen. While compliments were received for the food, we never got to see him deal with 3 or 4 orders arriving at once, or a full restaurant. Just as well for his first week, as he needs time to note how we do things etc, but it is hard for us in such limited time to discover just how competent he really is. I want to call up some of his previous employers, but again it appears that this would only further complicate matters. He accepted our proposed rate of pay – which will allow for a higher rate during the peak time in August – but it is easy money for him. If he has worked in these places he has shown us, in photos and on CV, he will have had to work a lot harder than he has for us, where the average is 4 or 5 tables during the week, and 5 or 6 at weekends, not forgetting that many orders are for panini or antipasti, which he does not deal with.

Mio marito’s mother has been in bad form all week and now I realise it is because she does not like this cook. They have little to say to each other. She thinks he is full of himself and all chat, probably because so far they have all been like that. He didn’t participate much in the extra Sunday cleaning last night either I noticed. He picked up things and pretended to be getting on with some cleaning when I came into the kitchen, but my sister-in-law confirmed that her mother and the dishwasher did the most part. Well, next Sunday she won’t be on, so he will have to get on with some of it. Though we will no doubt discover that things are not as well cleaned as when she does them. Without a more detailed CV and a chat to previous employers I find it is impossible to get a clear picture of what we can ask and expect of an employee. And in the meantime, I think they use every trick in the book to get what they want from us. Having accepted out proposed pay, it was almost like he was doing us a favour by accepting this compromise, but he said he was happy to do so since we are ‘good people’ and he is working with good people in the kitchen and he lives within walking distance (so no petrol money). He did the usual chat that all the others have come out with, I could nearly save them their breath at this stage: ‘You can trust me, I am a reliable person, I have years of experience and it has taught me that most restaurateurs are nasty, profiteering people, but I see you are honest and honourable people and I will do my best, it is all about respect .. blabla bla and so the person gets the job. WHY can’t we use some sensible North-European interview techniques at this stage? Every time we have been disappointed, each and every ‘cook’ we have hired has tried it on. I could see him in my mind replacing ‘nasty’ and ‘profiteering’ with, in our case, ‘young’ and ‘gullible’. Funny, but as soon as they do that whole ‘You can trust me, I am a reliable person’ speech, any hope or faith I had in that person just dissipates into the humid Sicilian air.

In the tradition of all the previous cooks, he made a semifreddo to try and impress me. He told me himself he wanted me to taste it and then mio marito told me that he was keen for ‘tua moglie’ to try it. The semifreddo alle mandorle, (almond) is just too sweet for me, like most Sicilian desserts. His had a layer of caramelised almonds on top, which just made it totally inedible for me, and then it was to be served with chocolate sauce. Way too much sugar for me, but the semifreddo itself was nice and I know that is what Sicilians like. He is at least the fourth ‘cook’ who has thought that impressing the wife with the desserts is a good way to get the job. Little do they know that it is a lot harder to win my sceptical North European heart.

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