Friday, February 19, 2010

The Slack Blogger Returneth!

No apologies or excuses - you've most likely heard them all before anyway!

So I am off on my usual rants about food and travel and adventure once again and there may again be great tracks of nothingness between posts, but then again I may surprise you. Hell I may even surprise myself.

Having read my last blog - Laverstoke Park farm yard animal antics - I realise I have some filler talk to provide before I launch into the present and discuss the future. I left Laverstoke perhaps a little earlier then expected but I knew very soon in the preceedings that it would not be a long term job. It was amazing and interesting and a great experience but he (Mr Scheckter)- although a clever and driven man - was too 'all over the place' and lacked a goal. I was confident at one stage that his plans to create a mobile hospitality business was going to be great for me but he seemed lacklustre in his decisions to pursue it and I did not want to make myself look stupid with contacts in the city if he was not going to back me in this endeavour. He also thought I needed to go and work under some great chef for a while to build up my strengths. Which to be honest was a fair and helpful suggestion. But I have other plans!

I left and headed for Antibes. My original destination after Christchurch, to work on yachts and sail the Med and cook up flourishing and elaborate inventive concoctions to delight the guests, who pay exorbitant money for their holiday or break from reality. Antibes, in fact the whole of the French Riveira, is a place of dreams and things that just dont fit in real life. Money here is just that thing that gets passed around while the rich and famous languish in style and glamour aboard multi million pound boats of such excessive opulence it would make any normal man blush. It is people like me that service these crazy rich people, with a graciousness and perfectionism that borders on insanely anal. Everything has its place and purpose, and although wastage is shocking in this industry, it all has to be perfect before its thrown out. The food - works of art, the flowers - creations of beauty, the floors, walls and shiny bits on a boat - pristine and glistening, the bubbly - perfectly chilled. Then its all tucked away or thrown away, for new and fresh stuff for the next guest or the next time the owner returns.

I speak as if I know all this, but the truth is I am still looking to get on that first allusive boat. Once you get your first job the work is easier to find but everyone wants someone with experience on boats. I have perfected my CV to its 15th revised look and I am quite happy with it, but they always want more. 'How about a portfolio of photos of food you have prepared' (never even contemplated photgraphing my food before deciding to come to this industry). In the days and weeks and months to follow, you will see a slowly developing repetiore of photos as I begin to take more and more photos of my food.

But I digress, I was filling you in on my movements. After leaving Christchurch, I headed to Italy to meet with Lisa, who was travelling through Europe with her lovely 'Fairy Godmother' Lynette. I met up in Rome and we soon travelled to the Amalfi Coast via Pompeye. A week there and then back to Rome and then a stint in Austria before I said goodbye to my darling in London. I then got work at Laverstoke and then headed to Antibes (that was the expigated version of the last few months). Here I undertook safety courses and fire fighting and first aid for working on boats and had a medical and met with all the boating employment agencies. I stayed at Debbie's Crew House ( which caters for accomodation for those in the industry. A great place to meet others doing as I am doing and as she calls it a home from home. Here I was given the opportunity to cook great feasts for the crew and Debbie and her family. I got to experiment and show off and some dishes were a kind of help yourself (not superyacht food) and others I plated up like on a yacht. Debbie congratulated me on these occasions and stated my food was better then she had tasted on yachts and she has been in the industry for over 18 years. This made me very happy but I do feel it must have been a slight exaggeration on her part. But nevertheless I keep getting the compliments and I am happy with or without these comments as I just love cooking for people.

But despite a month in Antibes and seeing all the agencies I was lost without seeing my darling everyday and the thought of missing her until March was too much to bear. So I booked a flight back to Oz and Christchurch for Christmas and New Year. With me I took a purchase from a well known store in Nice, and upon my arrival in Sydney (Lisa was house sitting in Coggee Beach), I was dutifully collected. On the drive from the airport after many kisses and hugs from my love, I directed her to a rocky outcrop at the Coggee headlands. In this idyllic setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean I got down on one knee and proposed to my beloved. Thankfully she accepted and we returned to Christchurch for Christmas and New Year and time with her family which was magical. I catered for Xmas parties and New Year and even for our own Engagement party and I had a ball concocting various different dips and canapes for each occasion. The last party, our enagagement, was fabulous fun and I made several marinated skewers of beef and chicken and meat balls for quick bites all with lovely dipping sauces and decorated them just like in stylish parties. I even made meat pies and little asparagus and cream cheese rolls. The Champagne flowed and my darling and I were very happy. Then sadly I had to admit that it was time to try and earn a living again. So here I am in Antibes, the place for hopeful employment again, visiting all the agencies and cooking for the crew at Debbie's, again! I expect to be in employment some time in March but its a long slog and somewhat frustrating. The season has not yet started but I have been told it works in my favour to be here earlier then all the other crew looking for work as I have time to make an impression.

So make an impression I will. I cook for everyone and anyone I can and I walk the docks with friends who expound my cooking virtues to prospective employers and I dont even have to pay them! I have had only one significant interview so far but my CV has been sent to hundreds. I am unabashedly not shy when it comes to applying for absoluetly anything. Eventually someone will pay notice.

In the meantime I practice and play at Debbie's cooking souffles, Thai Curries, BBQ's of gargantuan proportions for neighbours and crew, sweet fruit mousses, stews, roasts, pastas. You name it I am cooking it. I made some Ameretto macaroons the other day and made a Selibub based on a Nigella recipe and it was a huge smash hit at a lunch on Debbies deck. The old Italian man from next door who Debbie calls her adopted father, expounded the virtues of my biscuits as nostalgic thoughts flowed across his brain and he reminiced about how my biscuits tasted like the biscuits he ate during the war and that the biscuits from the original town were they were invented were the same as mine. I was very touched and both Franco (Debbie's Italian husband) and I were nearly brought to tears by his stories. Franco has also been very complimentary of my cooking. If only the cook from his own boat (The Kingdom) would have a coronary then maybe I would have a chance to get work with him.

So I continue to cook and delight in making people mmmmm and aaaahhhh about my food. The crew here have agreed to put money in a pot for me to cover my food costs and they get to reap the benefits of their small donations. I will endeavour to bring you more tales, but for now I think I have acheived a mighty step forward in my lazy life as a writer. Until next time dear reader. Thanks and see you soon.