Sunday, 10 February 2008

How To Cook Like A Chef

Dressed in my chef attire; complete with "Flying Beaver Bar & Grill" hat

After a third consecutive "snow day" off of work a few weeks ago; bored of sitting around, I casually mentioned to Cory (who works as a waiter) that I could get a second (weekend/evening) job. Mere hours (and a phone call from Cory) later I arrive at the "Flying Beaver Bar & Grill" for an interview! Apparently I had been recommended to fill the trainee chef position and they were eager to meet me since they prefer to hire employees’ friends than unknowns.

Last Friday I started work as a trainee chef; a week after the “interview” (and coming straight from landscaping!). The "interview" was technically more of a casual chat about Canada, the Flying Beaver, Cory, landscaping and cooking. Despite my complete lack of experience, my "willing to try" attitude (coupled with my nationality) was enough to get me employment at one of the nicest bars in Richmond!

The Greater Vancouver area is the 4th most densely populated city in North America (behind NY, SF & Mexico City) and is built on the delta of the Fraser River (longest river in BC). Richmond itself is one of the various islands in the area, due south of the island with Vancouver International Airport on.

Between the two is one of the branches of the Fraser delta and along the North shore (across from North West Richmond) lies the Flying Beaver. The Bowen house is along the West shore of Richmond; protected from the water by a dike.

The Fraser River is the longest river in BC; starting high up in the Rocky Mountains and flowing via the delta that the Greater Vancouver area is built upon, into the Pacific Ocean. On the North shore of the stretch of water that divides Richmond from the Airport, looking over the river, is the Flying Beaver.

Prior to the interview, I had visited the Flying Beaver on two occasions. The first was during my first visit to Vancouver in 2005 when Uncle Ron suggested it as his favourite restaurant, probably due to the view of the river and the close proximity to the float planes (known as "Flying Beavers") taking off and landing on the water outside the window.

The second visit was only a short visit, more recently, to see Cory when he was working (something fun to do...) and we stayed for about an hour. The night we went was very quiet and we sat and chatted with one of Jesse’s friends from a trucking company and watched the NBA. The bar gets much more busy on Hockey nights and also on Wednesday when it hosts it's famous "Wing Night". Wing Night is when all wings go on sale for 35 cents each and people flock in from far and wide across the Greater Vancouver area, as well as pilots from the airport, to eat loads of cheap, tasty (6 or so flavours) chicken wings!

The fact that I was hired was a little bit bewildering to me because I can probably count the number of times I have cooked, without using a microwave, on my fingers! Besides cookery class at Marlwood School, I’ve managed to cook pasta, pizza, loaded potato skins (which were delicious and easily my favourite!) and a barbecue (indoors!!); all during University and stir fry whilst back at my Dad’s shortly before I left for Canada!

I enjoy cooking; it just always seems too much hassle, so the chance to be trained (from scratch) was an awesome one, even though it takes my weekly hours to around 60! Since my spare time (which with football, two youth clubs and two jobs is limited nowadays) is just wasted on Facebook or TV, I would rather be out learning new skills and earning more money. It also means that I have a challenge for this next week (and longer) to learn to cook well.

Currently I am stationed on the appetisers and pizzas. This means that I deep fry calamari, haddock and various other sea foods, fries, beef, potato skins and chicken wings! Once they are cooked through (usually shown by their floating-to-the-top) I add sauces and prepare them to be sent out to the customers. Pizzas are created fresh daily from scratch and involve finding the various ingredients and slamming them artistically onto your newly rolled pizza base! Both are straightforward jobs but enough for me to need some time to pick it all up. For example when a large order comes in, knowing what to do first so that it can all go out together is important.

My shift usually starts at about 4pm and will go on until around 1am, after the kitchen has been tidied and closed. I only work 2 days a week; a combination of two of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday is therefore the only night before an early (5.30am) start so I shouldn’t be too exhausted come the end of the month!

It is interesting to note that I had been planning the “Flying Beaver” as somewhere to show people for a long time before I arrived in Canada (for when loads of people come and visit…) because of the great food, the fun atmosphere and the views of the water with the planes. Now it is even more likely because I get cheaper plane flights with the affiliated sea-airline so could take any visitors there before we flew to Vancouver Island.

Now I just need to have some people come and visit me...


Sam Reeves said...

You seem to be doing well job wise, if only it were that easy here ^^ It's great to keep up with what your doing, its like a novel in nice little bitesize pieces.

I look forward to your next update

How long are you staying in Canada?? I forgot :p

Chris Reed said...

Currently thinking a few years. Will head back after the 2010 Winter Olympic Games...

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