Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Over the years I've spent working in the sinister under world of catering/waitressing/bar tending, I've seen many weird and wonderful things and also some pretty amazing cock-ups.
I'm sure I've regaled you with some of the tales over the years such as the time the boss at a restaurant I worked in in Switzerland poured a 'Fruits of the Forest' syrup topped ice cream into the lap of a woman wearing a cream linen suit who was one hour away from attending a wedding, and when I managed to score direct hit on a chap's 'family jewels' with a Knickerbocker Glory.
There was also the time I accidentally filled a woman's handbag with gravy (I ran away without mentioning it) and dropped a very curly noodle into another woman's incredibly curly perm. It was rather fun to watch the noodle work it's way through her hair before she realized, and thankfully I'd finished my shift before it got there.
I don't think I've mentioned the not so amusing time when I was working at a certain club and a temp refused to stop wearing oven gloves, slippers and tights even though I'd informed her it was against H&S regs, and fortunately my senior was aware she'd refused.
She found out why it was against regulations when - because she was wearing slippers when she bent down to take a tray of extremely hot casserole out of the bottom part of an oven and slipped backwards causing the hot liquid to go all over her oven gloves (which she could not take off) and her legs which caused the nylon covering her legs to melt.
All I can say it was bloody lucky I had a hose with cold water handy and the emergency services were very quick and proficient.
I'm not sure I've mentioned the time that I was behind the bar and a group came in who had just been to a Christening and we all dressed in their Sunday best and one of the women ordered a large glass of wine. As she wanted one of the 'nicer wines' I served it to her in a rather lovely long stemmed, large 'bubble' style glass, and all was well until I somehow, while passing the glass to her, managed to catch the top of the beer pump which caused the glass to fly out of my hand and empty itself all over her extremely expensive looking attire.
She didn't see the funny side, but declined the offer of my paying to get it cleaned for her.
But anyway, this tale is one from a pub I worked in many moons ago in Earl's Court.
I'd been hired for the evening as the manager had a function on in the upstairs bar and needed as many people as he could get that knew how to waitress properly.
Somehow I also managed to end up in the kitchen endeavouring to get fifty portions of egg mayonnaise ready in about minus ten minutes.
Great fun.
I'd managed to boil up about half the eggs needed and had put the last batch on to boil when the manager came rushing into the kitchen shouting that he needed the champagne flutes in the bar area cleaned asap and could I go and do it.
I said as long as someone kept an eye on the eggs, then fine.
He said he would and also start on the side salads so off I went.
I finished polishing them with five minutes to go before the guests were due to arrive, so I went back to the kitchen again to finish the eggs and so.
It was about then that the manager realized that he'd forgotten to get the plug in soup tureen from downstairs and dashed off to get it.
Now, to get from the downstairs bar where the soup tureen was, he had to go through the upstairs bar where the guests would be arriving any second, and past anybody going up the stairs on their way there.
He got the soup tureen and cursed as he discovered that it had not been cleaned out from the lunch service and was still three quarters full of some sort of soup that was not what the guests wanted. Cursing, he grabbed it and walked as quickly as he could up the stairs past the now arriving guests and into the bar...

where he collided with one of the chaps who was also helping out by carrying two trays laden down with eggs mayonnaise.
Somehow they stayed upright in a sort of spinny embrace caused by the momentum of the collision for a moment before the chap with the eggs let go and stumbled with arms holding trays outstretched before miraculously setting both of them down on the buffet table.
The manager somehow slipped and skidded along the floor on his backside all the while holding the tureen out in front of him before he hit the door at the far end and came to a stop.
The guests (who had by then arrived) applauded their antics and the manager breathed a sigh of relief as he went to sort out the new soup de jour.
All was going fine; the champagne was flowing and the guests were settling themselves down at their seats and chatting as the last few platters of food were laid out on the buffet table.
Last to come out was the soup tureen, this time all clean and full of piping hot fresh soup, all ready to put on the buffet table.
The manager himself carried it out, and carefully avoiding guests he made his way to the table where he lovingly placed it...

and caused the entire buffet table to collapse.
There was soup everywhere on the floor which made the rest of the buffet rather soggy indeed.
In brief, the whole buffet was ruined by a tureen of soup.
But luckily a friendly nearby Chinese restaurant saved the day.
And still people ask me why I left the catering business.