Sunday, 25 June 2017

Challenges, challenges

Champagne anyone? 
Challenges! We don't call them problems any more do we......... problems are challenges! 

Of course challenges don't have you running to put pen to paper to quit the job you're doing - they just make you go and stand in a corner and sob quietly! Or as in my case rage ever so loudly! 

Challenges don't ever appear when you're ready for them they only ever come along when you don't want them, can't deal with them and frankly you just wish they'd bugger off and leave you in peace!

But life is full of challenges and anyone that tells you it isn't is either a liar or living in fantasy land - running a big successful business like the Vic is chock full of challenges - especially this year it seems.

This year, our biggest challenges have been in the kitchen! Staff have left, joined, changed roles within the business, re-joined and then this year we found ourselves at the mercy of agency staff........ for the first time ever.  It has to be said that we found a local agency ChefShare who we worked with quite well and the Chefs they sent us were nothing like the shouty, shifty & generally dubious characters you see portrayed on TV. But, they don't come cheap, so it's been a huge added cost to our business to have to employ an agency chef to ensure our kitchen continued to perform to it's highest levels.

We also had to move our GM, Rob into the kitchen for a couple of months as he had prior kitchen experience - but of course that meant we were short at the front of house!! Now we have been very lucky in the almost 9 years we have been here, we've had a steady crew and a really (quite unusually low for our business) low, low turnover of team. However, this year it's not been at all like that and frankly it's driven me to the edges of desperation and despair!

Well deserved cup of tea Chef?
What you don't see in our business is the often frenetic scenes in the 'engine' room - the kitchen! What YOU the customer see is plate after plate of beautiful food, presented well and smelling gorgeous - you don't (quite rightly!) see the deliveries that start from 7.30 in the morning of crate after crate of fresh produce that all has to be put away and then the kitchen teams ability to turn it into a menu that will delight you.

By 8.30am every morning Sarah will have a tray of Scones baking, then there's often meat to be taken off the bone, fish to be trimmed and stored, cheese to be cut and weighed.  Crabshells have to filled with crab for salads, dishes have to be devised, costed and put on as specials. Vegetables have to be prepared and ready for cooking, desserts are made fresh at least every other day - so trays of Sticky Toffee vie with Banoffee Pie and Possets for space.  Sunday lunch is at least 2 sackfuls of potatoes and as for the Veg!!!??

There are probably another 2 to 3 dozen jobs I could be writing down here, but you'd stop reading before I stopped listing the jobs!

So with at least 95% of our menu made from scratch - that's no mean feat and every single member of our kitchen team is to be congratulated on the work they do producing anything from 300 to 600 meals a day at this time of year.

Don't forget, at 10 or 10.30p.m (sometimes even later!)  the kitchen then gets scrubbed back to shiny clean gorgeousness and they stumble out into the fresh air ready for a nights sleep before coming in and doing it all over again!

So when you are suddenly a person down - that puts the kitchen under enormous strain, but this week at last we appear to have a full kitchen team again! Hoorah!!

So to Head Chef Tania, Snr Sous Tom and James, Sous Chefs Craig, Jake and Sarah, Junior Chefs Churchie and Scott and our wonderful KP's Nick and Ollie, a huge, massive, heartfelt Thank You for all you do in our kitchen for us and for the great dining public - onwards and upwards!

Oh no wait - one is off with a poorly shoulder.......... well then - almost a full team!!

Till the next thrilling instalment of life as a Pub Landlady, 😀😀

Liz x