Thursday, January 28, 2010


Regular readers will know that lots of moons ago I worked in a hotel in Switzerland.
It was a good job; pay was excellent, as was the accommodation and locale, and the rest of the staff were mostly a good laugh as well.
Anyway, my job was mainly waitressing. I say 'mainly' as from time-to-time I'd be called on to help out with getting a room ready for guests, or helping get the laundry ready for a wedding or something, but as I said, mainly waitressing.
Now, the menu would stay the same most of the year, but as the seasons changed different dishes would be added, as would the occasional new dish to see if it would go down well with the customers.
One lovely spring day, the boss and chef had decided to try out a separate Italian menu to see if there was enough interest to make the dishes a permanent fixture and the chef had informed the rest of the kitchen staff what the plans were, but not to put the Italian menus out while he wasn't there, as he was the only one who knew how to make the food and until he had time to teach them how to as well, the menus weren't available to the public.
It's at this point in the tale that it's important to mention that the staff comprized of quite a few different nationalities, and that the majority of the kitchen staff were from Albania, and their German was not very good except when it came to the basics needed to work in a kitchen, and although the staff had smiled and nodded, they didn't understand WTF the chef had told them.
That lovely spring day, I was working alone in the bar and restaurant as being a very quiet day during the very quiet season, not many customers were expected.
The only staff in the kitchen were the Albanian sous chef and one Albanian kitchen helper, and though the sous chef could speak good German and English, the kitchen helper didn't even know how to order a beer in the local lingo.
I'd was busy cleaning the shelves behind the bar when the local priest came in with a couple of friends. The local priest was a very much respected man in the area, and the locals treated him with an ages old reverence, specially reserved for men of the cloth. Whatever the priest wanted, the village folk would try and get or do for him, and a visit from him was an honour for the local pub, inn-keepers and restaurant owners.
He was also a really nice bloke, and it was a pleasure to have him around in the hotel.
I got their drinks and left them with the regular menus, and was most surprized when I went to get their orders and heard that the priest wanted to try the Spaghetti Carbonara.
I reckoned that the chef must have shown the sous chef how to make the Italian meals, and so took the order and passed in onto him in the kitchen
A few seconds later I heard the sous chef give a sort of muffled scream and I went to investigate.
Turned out that he hadn't a clue how to make Spaghetti Carbonara, and that the kitchen helper had put the Italian menus in with the regular menus as he was trying to help.
Now the sous chef and kitchen helper were very religious and were not going to upset the 'Man of God' and didn't want to tell him that he couldn't have his Spaghetti Carbonara.
Almost in tears, they both turned to me for advice on what to do next and being the mug I sometimes am, I said 'Don't panic, I know how to cook it' before telling them what ingredients I needed.
Ten minutes later I'd cooked up a Carbonara sauce the Pope would have liked and served up the meals to the Priest and his friends.
The priest loved it.
He loved it so much that he asked me to pass on his compliments to the 'chef' before deciding to order yet another portion to share with his friends.
Off into the kitchen I went once more, and had nearly finished when I heard another group of customers come in and sit next to the priest and his friends.
While the new customers perused the menus I took out the second dish of Spaghetti Carbonara and three sets of cutlery to the priest and chums.
The priest raved over the food and when the customers at the next table asked him what he was eating, he told them and said it was so good they really must try it.
I ended up cooking about twenty portions of Spaghetti Carbonara that afternoon while the sous chef and kitchen assistant scurried around me prepping whatever they could and clearing up behind me, whilst still carrying out my usual duties of running around in the restaurant waiting on the customers.
The customers also sent their compliments to 'the chef' and the sous chef smiled wanly and gratefully as I passed the message on.
It was when the chef got back we realized that as my recipe for Carbonara sauce was such a hit and folks would be coming back for more, I had to show the chef and the rest of the kitchen staff how to prepare my recipe.
As far as I know, it's still being served at that hotel in Switzerland, but it's rather a long way to go to find out.

Additional. Seeing as somehow my old Haloscan comments have been reinstated when the Echo comments got sorted, I've taken out the Blogger comments, which means that now I just have the one set of easy to use ones, and all the comments from over the years are also back for posterity, yay!