April in my mind, but I can’t sleep
So I take a walk under the trees
What did I see? Summer waits the leaves
As lovely as I’ve ever known
Happiness just comes and goes
–Here Comes the Phantom, The Clientele
So I’ve gone and done something a little unexpected and probably completely crazy. I’ve resigned from my job.
I say “crazy”, because this place actually looks after me pretty well. As anyone who works in the hospitality industry would know, it’s pretty unusual to get weekends off and not work nights. Both were my stipulations when I was asked to work here. The reason was that my previous job involved a lot of both. Lots of double shifts, sometimes in a row, and very late finishes (coupled with early starts). There were days where we’d be waiting until almost 1am, for a customer to finally order dessert. I wanted a break from all that for the time being. At my current job, I run my own section and get to experiment a little with dishes. Although, in a function environment, it can be very restrictive in terms of how elaborate you can be. We did a recent plating-up of new dishes for a tasting, and for every item I included in a dish, I had to think about whether I really wanted to reproduce that 300, 500 or even 1000+ times over. It’s like when Qantas apparently decided to remove a single olive from all their green salads, and saved $thousands. Remove a single sauce flourish from a dish and you could save yourself hours of frustration.
The decision isn’t as “sudden” as I make it out to be. I’ve been contemplating it for some time now, but when you like your boss and the people you work around, it’s hard to take that step. To that effect, I will miss everyone : Loading Dock Ben, ascerbic Lee, the incredibly patient and accomodating Darrell, the “Make it Sexy” BossMan, EVERYONE. Even Abir who never cleans the deep-fryers properly, and Galib who always leaves explosions of butter in my microwave. Well, maybe not Abir because he also borrows my knives without first asking.
I can think of several catalysts to my decision to leave. One was a dessert I had at Rockpool a couple of days ago. Another was when I finally cracked open one of my El Bulli cookbooks on a chance day off midweek. Yet another was a pastry chef they kindly hired to give me a hand for a couple of days during the leadup to our big function. A qualified pastry chef, who turns out to have Michelin-star experience and who I must say, was great to work with. Aside from getting a bit of help, it was so nice to be able to “talk pastry” with someone; get some answers to questions and exchange a few ideas. He gifted me with a recipe for a strawberry curry chutney which he insists I make sometime. Apparently it’s out of this world, even if it does sound a little suspect at this stage. I mean, strawberry? curry? chutney? Anyway, having Stuart around reminded me that I didn’t want to become complacent with my job. I didn’t want to be doing a job where I just came in and went through the motions. I’d like to get back into restaurants and be immersed in an environment where I’m regularly experiencing and learning new things.
So here I am. Four weeks to go and hopefully the world will be some sort of bivalve of mine.
Amrita of La Petite Boulangette is hosting this month’s SHF and has picked asian ingredients as the theme. As a tribute to my outgoing job, my choice of ingredient is Maccha/Matcha, or Japanese Green Tea, which I use quite often at work to make flavoured shortbread, amongst other things. It’s because of this job that I started to really use ingredients like maccha and leatherwood honey, and to teach myself to make things like muffins and danishes. This particular shortbread (the recipe for which has been altered from an AWW one) is incredibly short and fragile, but delicious. Once baked, I like sandwiching it with raspberry jam, or white chocolate ganache. It goes very well with a cup of tea, like most things in life
Green Tea Shortbread :
250g unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1/4 cup rice flour
2-3 teaspoons maccha
Preheat oven to 190′C.
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and maccha, beat until combined. Fold in sifted flours and salt. Fill into piping bag fitted with fluted tube. Pipe into straight lengths, S shapes or rosettes, on trays lined with baking paper. If you don’t have a piping bag handy, the mixture can also be rolled into balls and pressed down lightly with the tines of a fork.
Bake for 12 -15 minutes or until light golden and firm. Cool on trays. Serve shortbread as they are, or sandwich with homemade jam or chocolate ganache. You can also drizzle or dip the tops in chocolate or dust with icing sugar.