Saturday, 24 September 2016

Goodbye to Summer and our Head Chef

Head Chef James is next to Chef Tanya

It certainly seems to be goodbye to summer tonight as I sit typing this blog and it's pouring with rain outside!! There's also a distinct Autumnal nip in the air - which is fine with me because it's my absolute favourite time of the year.  Soon be time to light a fire at the Vic then........

But it's also goodbye to our Head Chef James who has been us from the first day we walked through the doors of the Vic.  

James had actually been at the Vic long before us (well I think at least 3 years before us) and he has been the steady hand on the tiller as we've grown from a really quite small business to one today that is thriving and still growing. 

From a kitchen that had 3 people and SOH cooking on a Sunday to one that now has 8 full timers and a couple of part timers, all year round! From a kitchen that sent out a couple of hundred meals a day in the summer to one that is open all day from 12 - 9 and sends out well in excess of triple that amount in the summer.  

Whatever has happened James has been there consistently, even working with a broken foot! Him and I have been a lot like a married couple sometimes - we've squabbled, really rowed and yet we've laughed a lot together! Never mention the word Sherry Trifle to him...........or me for that matter!  

We've been out socially and the image of James very drunk hiding behind a curtain in a posh London Hotel then coming out from behind it and giggling like a child will stay with me forever  - as will his slightly ashen face on the train home the next day!!

So it's been a challenging few weeks since that day nearly a month ago when he asked for 'a quick word'! £1500 of advertising attracted very little in the way of people I would even want to walk over my threshold let alone lead my important team in the kitchen. I'm NEVER using formal advertising again, it has to be social media and free online advertising all the way for me.  Not that we need to advertise often - thankfully!!

However, to James we say THANK YOU! 

Thank you for all the hours you worked so hard, the blood sweat and tears, the amazing wedding reception you did for us and the Wedding Cake that was SO beautiful! Thank you for always looking out for the younger team members who needed a bit of loving support, thank you for all the times I phoned from home asking 'How do I............'???? Thank you for always making sure food went out quickly regardless of the numbers of times we all thought we were going drown in tickets! 

Thank you to your wife who must have hated the Vic at times (it's not easy being a Chef's partner and to your kids who sometimes missed you at events because work came first! 

We all wish you well as you go onto your next job James and Tim, I and all the team will miss you. 

But fear not dear readers and visitors to our pub, next blog I will tell you all about our new Head Chef.......... Tom! Fabulously talented (rather gorgeous too - always a bonus!)full of passion for food and bouncing with inspiration and incredibly excited about the challenge of being our new Head Chef - I know our beloved Vic is in great hands and I'm sooooooooo excited about the next stage of our pubs future. 

Till next time my lovelies

Liz x

Saturday, 3 September 2016

September blows in!!

So here I sit, 3rd September in the afternoon with a blank page (on my new Apple Mac!!), light on, pouring with rain outside, heating on and wondering if this is it for the summer??  I do hope not because we've had such a gorgeous one haven't we.......... But the huge Range Rovers have been leaving in droves this morning, boats are being towed up the hill and out of town and schools back next week! 

After a slow start the summer warmed up nicely, both in terms of heat and in terms of numbers - culminating nicely in a massive Bank Holiday that broke all records on the Sunday. We also retained our No 1 status on Trip Advisor for the first year ever, that was an amazing achievement and I was personally delighted as it's a great reflection on all our team. Our garden has looked absolutely beautiful this year and all Tims hard work and that of Bayleaf Gardening is really paying off. The food coming out from our kitchen - regardless of the numbers has been off a really high standard and we've had many, many hundreds of happy guests. 

Beer, wine and spirit sales have been high so St Austell Brewery should be pleased with us! :) 

Talking about our team they have been amazing again this year - we are so very lucky that every year we get such fantastic people to come and work with us. Here is Rob our GM with Jessie and Karen 2 of our full timers and below is the team who helped us get straight after the floods - more of that in a minute! 

Speaking to Freddie (summer team member) last night I asked him if he'd enjoyed it - he replied that it was a lot harder than he could have ever thought, but yes, he had lots of happy memories....... bless him.  Also his girlfriend Hannah who between them provided the backbone of the summer team.  Hannah ended up washing dishes last night - a mark of the teams willingness to do almost anything. 

The picture below this is the team that helped us clean up after not 1, not 2, but 3 floods because of the sewers in Fore Street being backed up and overflowing into the road - so our waste water had no where to go............ 2 summer team in that pic as well - Georgia and Ellen (although Ellen of course works for us all year round). 

Flood 1 at 6pm on Saturday with a bar full of people was challenging but huge thanks to the Hodder Family who were dining with us in the bar who helped us move tables and chairs - that flood was just about recoverable from! Thank God too as we had about 200 diners expected that particular night. 

The 2nd flood at 7.30 was a mere dribble compared to the flood that hit us Wednesday evening and meant we had to close the pub down very quickly............ Our team were beyond amazing as we suddenly found ourselves in about 3 inches of water coming from under the stairs into the bar and spreading to the hallway.  My heart sank as I looked at it, we looked at the booking sheet and realised this time we were defeated! 

But that night we cleaned as best we could with the kitchen team doing their bit to help as well and every one was in the next morning bright and early to steam clean the floors and get us cleaned up and ready to trade again!  

What reduced me to tears that night though? 

The flood - No not really! Anger because SW Water had not sorted our issue out the first time as they should have - Not quite! 

It was the loveliness of guests we had to turn away, the wonderful people who offered their services to come in and help us and the spirit of each and every one of my team who just waded in (literally) and set to cleaning up.  No asking or telling - they just did it! It was the lovely guest who bought us in a box of chocolates the next morning as they had seen me sat desolately with head in hands at a table late that evening waiting with SOH for SW Water yet again. It was the offers of help via Facebook - it was all the kindness's that made me cry and also made me realise we are surrounded by lovely, kind people; Guests and Team. Thank you all of you! 

What else was a bit of a blood pressure raiser this summer? The knives and forks being thrown at our little silky chickens, the deliberate smashing of a window by same said children of the Budgie house. But what made up for that:- The other lovely things that's what!!  The lovely, lovely children who say please and thank you with no prompting (who often get a bar of chocolate from me because of it!) The repeat customers who look forward to coming to see us for their fortnight of summer sun.  The welcoming of old friends as they walk through the doors! 

Also this year our fair share of 'celebs' in our pub and in town.  Amongst others in our pub we had Helen (Call the Midwife & Strictly star) George, Ian Wright, David Dimbleby and a brilliant author called Fionnuala Kearney - look her up and then read her books - she's fantastic! She also gave me a couple of signed books that I had won in a FaceBook competition.  

All of them, really lovely people, unassuming and generous with smiles, but my favourite it has to be said was David Dimbleby - he was an absolute charmer - as were his family members. What a legend he is and my overriding memory is of discussing Brexit with him - who'd have thought it!! 

It's funny, people ask me why I don't get 'selfies' or pictures with the celebs when they're in - I'll tell you why - It's because we want them to relax and enjoy their visit just like you and I do when we go anywhere

In town we also had Simon Cowell - I saw his limo, but we're so used to seeing big posh cars I didn't blink twice! I might have broken my selfie rules for him!! 

So all in all it's been a challenging summer at times with other times being amazingly fabulous. I hope you all had a great summer and lets hope for September giving us a lovely Indian Summer to make the winter shorter. 

Till next time my lovelies 

Liz x

P.S - We are already booking up fast for NYE so if you're still at the stage of thinking of it I'd give us a ring!