Wednesday, 22 October 2008

(THURSDAY) The Tests and Special/Surprise Midweek Service

We will not be at a computer for the next couple of days so we won’t be able to respond to what you see on TV for a few days. What I can tell you is that when Sarah came to visit she was supposed to be there at 11am and we were not allowed to start work or go in the kitchen until after she had been - she did not arrive until 2pm and we had to be ready for service at 6pm - what a nightmare!! That is why we seem disinterested (I am sure they will put that in as we got a good slagging off for it) we are desperate to get to work because those customers are going to arrive at 6 no matter what “the show must go on”.

I’ll fill you in on the rest later - I don’t want to spoil anything!

We will be live on BBC Breakfast Friday morning.

The "Tricky" customer episode...

This week in the restaurant there was so much going on it is hard to know what to tell you about. As well as the table of coeliacs we also had a table of ‘Rowdy customers’, they were rugby players - I think you didn’t see them as nothing went wrong. They only seem to be showing the bad bits of service on TV. The rugby players really liked there free recipes but did take the bow off before taking it home (I think the bow was a bit too feminine for them!)
The coeliacs did have a good night and were pleased to have so much choice and were pleased that I understood what coeliac meant but it was a real shame the wrong ‘amuse-bouche’ was taken to them - I should have made sure all the waiting staff understood what a coeliac was! our time is so tight to get everything done we didn’t always get to do all the training we wanted to and as we didn’t know what our special tables were going to be before they arrived I didn’t talk about celiac disease with staff. We knew we wouldn't get the vegetarians and vegan because I am a vegetarian and Russell cooks for me all the time so it wouldn't be very fair to give us something we are that used to.
When it came to staff training what we did always manage to do was tastings. Russell had dishes ready for staff to try before service so they knew what we were selling, we also did wine tasting with the food to start to train staff on matching wines. It was very difficult to do much of this due to the time constraints and the fact we were only open Fri and Sat for service.
It said on TV that it took me twenty minutes to take their order but it really wasn’t as bad as it looked - it was not a case of walking out to them then back to the kitchen and back again and again…I went through the whole menu with them and explained every dish which is why it took so long. I did check everything they asked just to make sure - I would rather do that than them being given the wrong food.
That bit when we are cherry picking was filmed on the Saturday when we would rather have been getting ready for service. The cherries were delicious though! We did not give the cocktails away we sold them, they were delicious and very popular. We made the most money again this week!
We are all in the challenge, which to be honest I think was always going to be the case as it would have been rubbish for anyone to miss the challenge this week as it was excellent. The Chefs go to Le Manoir while the FOH go to Peid a terre.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Cook Book...

We love our cook book. The pictures are so nice, Russell did such a good job while I was at the publishers. So the front cover didn't work out but - Don't judge a book by its cover..he he he...
The recipes all worked when Raymonds chefs tried them out. The place we hired all the props from 'the laquer chest' was so exciting, it was filled with all sorts of treasures. We had a great time in there rummaging around. We had to be strict with ourselves as we could have stayed there all day!
As you will have noticed there were quite a few tears in this weeks episodes, when they have got to flow it is best to just let them! It gets all the bad stuff out.
The random bit where we were having an interview and I walked off - I was saying I didn't want to do the interview - I was having a bad time.

You can see the pages of the book on our facebook group.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Cooking demonstration etc.

OMG..where do I start with this one - things may not be as they seem!!!At the beginning, the cooking demonstration, we were in a, well how do I say this, shopping centre in Harrow we were never going to get customers there - well more than one anyway - so why not let the kids see some cooking and learn some stuff about food? I was not going to send them away! Fine move them over but not send them away!Forgetting the food didn't really matter, Russell was a super star and fought his way through the London traffic to get our food, came back and cooked! All the dishes got done in the time slot - we fixed it!!Back at the restaurant, what a shame they never show the good stuff we do, our restaurant was so fun and all our customers had a good time. We also made the most money again this weekend!The brownies were our way of carrying on the take away food service, it went down really well. People bought them to take home for the kids and to put in their lunch boxes. The mix up was due to no ticket being put in for the second order which was a big mistake so we made sure we fixed our system for the next week. When Raymond came to our restaurant I answered all his questions then he gave me a really hard time about the bloody aubergine so in the end I thought sod it and said they were not grown at the farm - 'they were' and I also know the aubergine season is July /August by the way. The variety we used is 'Violletti' which is an early ripening variety.In the room Raymond got 'a bit mixed up', there was a whole big argument that you don't see before I walked out - it was cut so when I walked out it is not because he had just said what ever he did on TV. I told him how disappointed I was in him and ended up getting an apology the next day once all the tapes of what happened had been gone through. The producers promised they would not show any of it but obviously they don't keep their promises (so never trust a producer!). At this point we were quite exhausted, we were putting our heart and soul into our restaurant - it meant so much to us to win!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Love food hate waste

Reduce food waste - Love Food Hate Waste

We are taking part in this campaign in our local area (Colchester). The council are running a competition to create a recipe from 'leftovers' which will take place in November. To read more go to

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Fish and Chips - TAKEAWAY.

Everyone loves Fish and Chips! In fact we had Fish and Chips for dinner last night in celebration of our Takeaway.Russells idea of doing a Fish and Chip takeaway when down really well. We didn't know how busy it was going to be and we were very conscious of making sure we make money so we didn't get anyone else in to deal with the orders and it was so busy.As you probably all saw we used frozen chips the reason for this was a lot more than the bit you saw on TV. They were all fried but we had the worlds smallest fryer. It wasn't just about saving the cost of staff it was about getting them all done on time.Everyone loved their Fish and Chip and a few people, phoned up the next day to say how delicious their Fish and Chips were. We thought that was really nice of them - thanks.Our delivery guy delivered quite a few meals but in between deliveries we sat him in the rocking chair in the back section of the restaurant.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Did we get to go home?

I have read a lot on the internet about whether or not we all got to go home during the experience. No, we didn't. We were busy all day every day except Sundays as explained in 'what happened on a Sunday?'.

We really missed our family, we didn't often even get a chance to phone home.

Tim and Lindsie had a little boy and missed him terrible, it was really hard to see Lindsie missing her son. They had to be very strong to keep going but looked at it logically that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. They were so dedicated to their son they drove back after service on Saturday to see him and came back again Sunday night. Sometimes this meant they would only get a few hours sleep - it was an emotionally and physically draining experience.

We did all miss our families which makes the experience harder as we are taken away from normal life to live in a hotel. It makes good TV though having us all tired and emotional.

We were however very grateful to have the experience...

Sunday, 5 October 2008

What happened on Sundays? and the rest of the week?

On Sundays after the weekend (Friday & Saturday) service we would wake up feeling like we had been hit by a bus! Everything would hurt and we would be really dehydrated. So we would spend Sundays in the local nature reserve laying in the grass on sunny days, go to the pool in the hotel and eat and drink as much as possible to try and make up for the rest of the week.The reason we were so worn out by Sunday is not just because the weekend service where we would come into the restaurant at midday (we were not allowed in before) and find out what the task was, get in supplies, get the restaurant ready, write menus, prep all the food, make the bookings, get more bookings if we didn't have enough, plan the tables etc.Monday - we go see Raymond and the inspectors for the analysis of our service. All very stressful as none of us had anything to compare our service too - we never knew if we had done well in comparison, obviously we knew if we had a good service but not in comparison. Therefore never knew if we would be put in the challenge. When we get ROTW we are genuinely shocked!On Monday we are also sent off to a different hotel closer to wherever the challenge is - we always had to pack separately as we sometime had to be split up - I didn't like that! We did get to eat and drink on Mondays too.Tuesday - first day of the challenge.Wednesday - Second day of the challenge.We always worked really hard on challenges even and probably more so when it wasn't our challenge as we always wanted our team(s) to win.Thursday - Back to see Raymond and the inspectors for analysis of the challenge, again very stressful. I would cry every Thursday (unless it was my challenge) as I felt so bad for those going in 'the room' I knew how horrible it was as we were in the first challenge! I was sad that someone was leaving. Then in the afternoon / evening we had a little bit from Raymond about the weekend (a suggestion).Friday - Back to the restaurant.This is just a brief rundown of our weeks event - I can assure you it was always hectic, a lot of running and driving around. A lot of tension, and never really know what was going to happen to us from one day to the next.

Friday, 3 October 2008

The Swedish Weekend!

Swedish weekend was so fun!
It was really hard work as always especially trying to get everything we needed in just a few hours ready for service. The Reindeer was the hardest to track down, the only butcher that I found that had reindeer was in Scotland!! I even tried Harrods and Selfridges but we got some in the end from a Swedish shop in London called 'Totally Swedish' and it was a great success.
We had to send our waitress, Bryony, to get it on her way in to work - bit of a detour and it mean we lost time having her in the restaurant getting ready for the service but not too much and it was worth it!

One lady that I offered a try of the reindeer samples I took out into the street was a little concerned about what Santa would think!

For our entertainment I organised for this absolutely lovely little Swedish boy to sing the Swedish National Anthem to the group of Swedish people sent by Raymond. It was great, they all joined in! We got in a bottle of Aquavit (a Swedish liquor) for which they sang before every shot. Even the kitchen which was right at the back of the restaurant asked what was going on with all the noise.