I have not had much desire to post about my stage lately, as things got worse, and I had some really bad days, where some people treated me really badly, and as my ego is not the strongest those days I ended up spending some sad and frustrated evenings, wondering why the hell I was here and what I had run into. However I figured out that it would not be fair, to judge the whole brigade, it is just three individuals who find their biggest pleasure in giving me public lessons and treating me like shit all the time (verbally and also physically, by pushing me really agressively out of their way), unfortunately those are very dominant and talented individuals, so they are recognized by the rest of the brigade.
But just like outside summer is eventually here, there is some hope for sunshine after rain in the kitchen as well. The apprentices go back to school in September, that means one week out of two they are not working in the restaurant, which will be a relief, to not see or hear some of them. Also there will be a couple of new apprentices coming on board, so maybe the target for humiliation and making fun about will change to them. I already feel sorry for the new kids arriving. Then in mid October some people that make my life difficult will leave definitely to go and work for other great chefs in France. the number of covers per service is going down as well, and with it the stress level overall. We used to have almost 100 covers per service in the last weeks, and with the end of the French summer vacation we are going down to 20 for lunch and about 50 for dinner. It makes a big difference.
A great change occured already yesterday. After four weeks in "le froid" (the cold), preparing and plaiting mainly lobster salad I was assigned yesterday to work in patisserie for the next two weeks. It is like night and day. It seems to be a different world. I was treated like a human, and the pâtissiers were eager to teach me and make sure I would learn something. The complete opposite to the last four weeks, where usually I was sent away when I dared to ask a question, or clearly told how stupid I was, when I made the slightest little mistake. I cannot believe this is the same restaurant. Finally. This is how I wanted my stage to be !
Normally the time in the patisserie will be limited, as assignments change every two weeks now, but I plan to ask the chef, whether I can stay two weeks longer in patisserie. It might sound strange, but my objectives have shifted from learning as much as possible, to enjoying myself as much as possible and have a bit more fun. I still don't dare to take pictures in the kitchen, just to avoid to give them one more reason to make fun of me, so I took the pictures below from chef Jean Coussau's book "Aimer la cuisine du Sud-Ouest." (Loving the South-West cuisine). The lobster salad I was plating for the last four weeks and one of the desserts (la pistache dans tous ses états) that I am preparing and plating now :
(photos credit of Jean-Patrick Gratien in "Aimer la cuisine du Sud-Ouest", Jean Cousseau, Editions Sud-Ouest).
The other good news is, that my most regular blog readers are planning to visit mid September to spend a week of their vacation here, so I will take the opportunity to eventually eat in the restaurant (and take real pictures of the dishes). And Chef Cousseau suggested that I take a couple of days off to "montrer leur la region". Très gentil et généreux Chef ! So I will definitely do !