The majority of our work is with the preparations of the ingredients. The actual Service is only 2½ hours long, the rest of the time is spent cleaning and making our “Mis en Place” (prep work).
Every component that appears on a dish has been manipulated in some form or another before being cooked (or served raw).
There is a lot of organisation involved, with each person tending to his individual tasks. Each section has about 8 or 9 different jobs to finish before we can even think about going in to Service.
Perishable ingredients are processed on a daily basis, this ensures that the is a constant “freshness”.
There is always a different Amuse Bouche every evening. Time and effort must also be spent on this titbit, as it opens the meal and says “Welcome to ASIA”.
Foie Gras, Ceps and Shimeji Chawanmushi.
Because we work in a hotel that has various restaurants, we not only prepare ingredients for Restaurant ASIA. Next to our kitchen, beyond the corridor of walk-in fridges and freezers, lies the Central Kitchen and Temperature Controlled Mis en Place rooms, where food is prepped and stored for distribution to our other outlets that serve Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Sous Chef Khamsene gets to grips with a pork leg that will be deboned and cooked for 24 hours at a low temperature, before being glazed with Mustard and Honey. This will eventually be served for Breakfast in the Brunch Room and Terrace.
King slices the Foie Gras in to portions, these will later be pan fried or cooked on the Teppan.
Kuchi handles a Sushi Platter for a Buffet whilst Khamhoung tends to the Herbs and Leaves.
Junior and Suri tackle the Chickens, which are whole and need to be cleaned, and cut in to sections that will be used in different dishes.
Later Suri gets the Canape glasses ready for a pre-dinner Cocktail.
When a dish is put together, we can see the fruits of our labours. There have been no less than 5 cooks that have worked on bringing this dish to the table.
Chicken with Mushrooms.
There is a great feeling of satisfaction after Service, knowing that you have prepared food that has been hopefully enjoyed by diners, who have paid to experience your efforts, and who want to return and experience it again.
It is like experiencing an Applause at the end of a theatrical performance, a role that you have rehearsed over and over. Though it may be the same show on a daily basis, each performance is special and unique.
Next time you go out to a good restaurant, think about how many people are rushing around behind those “Swinging doors”, where waitresses disappear and emerge with loaded dishes. 🙂