sYou may be wondering what it entails to be a chef and how a typical day might pan out? We spend a day with Head Chef Steve at The Bell Inn, Ladbroke, to see what goes on.
It’s a common misconception that a chef’s day is spent entirely cooking. The day starts at around 9am. The chefs begin to sort through the fresh food deliveries which have already begun to arrive. All the produce is checked thoroughly to ensure the quality and quantity is correct. Each chef then starts work in their section preparing elements for each dish on the menu. This process is referred to as ‘mise en place’ and is a French term used by professional chefs to refer to the preparation of dishes and ingredients before service commences.
Booked in at The Bell this lunchtime is a party of 15 walkers who have pre-ordered lunch to ensure it’s ready for when they arrive, famished from their morning’s ramble. As it approaches noon and the walkers start to arrive back to the car park and change footwear, the chefs start preparing each of the dishes. As soon as they are in and seated, the meals are swiftly delivered to the table by the front of house team. A succession of further lunchtime orders are bought into the kitchen by the waiting staff and it turns out to be a pretty steady lunchtime.
Being a Wednesday, the weekly offering of Burger Night means there’s potentially a busy night ahead too. All sections must be well prepared and ready for that first “Check on”. The booking sheet often only tells half the story, there’s no predicting how many people will spontaneously call in for a bite to eat. The chefs have to be ready for walk-ins and bookings alike. Steve informs me that it can be quite a juggling act at times managing multiple orders simultaneously, especially on a busy service. Steve has been a Head Chef for 9 years though, so keeps a cool head. His experience and ability enables him to deliver the required quality and consistency from his team.
From the outside looking in, working in a commercial kitchen looks to be a pretty tough profession. I ask Steve what motivates him and his team and why he still enjoys his job. “Being a chef gives great scope for creativity. With each season, we create a new menu based on local seasonal produce as well as ingredients available from further afield. We also compile new menus regularly for special events and also our Prix Fixe Menu.” Steve goes on to say “The biggest boost for me and my team though is people coming back to The Bell Inn time and time again to eat our food. There is no greater compliment for a chef.” It is well known though that this industry is not without its negatives, working long and unsociable hours can mean time missed with family and friends.
Head Chef Steve has kindly shared his recipe and some valuable tips on creating the perfect Braised Blade of Beef, similar to the dish which has previously featured on The Bell Inn’s Main Menu. Click here to view the recipe.
The Bell Inn blog is updated by Ruth.