Sunday- A Day Off, Not So Much
1:30 am: Almost done. Dishes stored. Floor reset. Countdown to square 1. Chimes. TEXT: “Chef, my ex is acting all crazy again, I want to come in but he will probably follow me. Can you come and open with me?” This f*cking guy again? Somebody needs to kick his disrespecting okole. No ha (breath/life), no aloha. REPLY: “Sure, be safe.”
2:15 am: Pillows from heaven. Bed, finally. An Angel? Wife’s voice, “you know you have to go and meet her.” Drifting. “I already said I will. How was the kid’s performance?” They practiced on the Grille’s private terrace the other day. Parents know, kids assume we don’t see. “They did really good, I’ll show you the videos in the morning.” What was life before video?
5 am: There is a time too early for coffee. Here it is. Awake in darkness. Roll down the Waimea hill. Tiny lights of a waking island. Road Warriors. Triathletes on mid-morning sessions. Resort workers arrive from across the island. Tourists gather to stroll. Sprinklers land water spots on rental cars.
5:30 am: Park & scan. “Morning Chef!” All clear. “Morning, I can see your crazy ex is not here. Let’s get set this morning, we have a 20pax (person) at 11am. Tonight at 6pm is a party of 60 so we can also start prep.”
6:30 am: Office e-mails. “Aloha Chef, I know I said we were going to have 60 but it will probably be less, is that ok?” REPLY: “Not a problem, how many less?” Sent.
8 am: Kitchen fired up. Eggs cracking. Cooks focused. Honey brushed on bacon slices. Time for me to butcher. Get out ahead of dinner service. Chop, chop.
10:30 am: Check-in. No unread e-mails. Check-in. “How does the private dining room look? The party of 20 will be in soon.” “Good, all set Chef, but I cannot work it. I am slammed in the main dining room. Can someone else do it?” Do the shuffle. “Ok, I will take the drink orders and we will have Lisa take the food.”
11 am: Restaurant is slamming. Seats full. Bar full. 20 top welcome. Food almost done. Time saver: drink orders. “Aloha, can I get you drinks to kick off?” Maybe 10 minutes. “Oh, no. We are just having water and we are starving.” Ok maybe no minutes, ducking wonderful. Food is close. “Alright, we are keeping the food warm and it will be right out.”
11:10 am: Back in the kitchen, “How long until the food is finished?” “5 minutes Chef.” Not bad. “Ok, good job guys, once this food is out it’s on to prep the 109’s (bone-in ribeye). There’s a 60-top tonight but it will probably be less. I’m just waiting to see the final number.”
11:30 am: E-mails. No final number. Be ready for anything. Wife calls, wants to know how long till I leave. “Sorry Hun, I might as well stay and finish up for this party tonight. Go ahead and take the kids to Hilo.”
11:45 am: “Chef, what else do we offer gluten-free?” You worked here for one year and you still do not know what gluten free is? “Local catch, wrap, and we have the gluten free pasta.”
12 Noon: Chimes. TEXT: “Aloha Chef, Mike here, are we still meeting to finish taxes?” REPLY: “Sorry Mike, I had to go in again this morning, let’s do next week.” Great, I’ve cancelled on family, taxes, what’s next? Back to prep.
1:30 pm: Throw 2 prime ribs in the oven. Need time to rest, the meat and me.
2:30 pm: Unopened e-mail: “Aloha Chef, I am really sorry but we only have 18 people arriving for the party.” Profuse profanities. 18 out of 60. I have enough food for 60 people. REPLY: “I have food for 60 people, we will need to discuss the charges.”
3:30 pm: Emerge from the office. Looking for initiative, not so much. Dining room still not set. Bartender sampling wines with a vendor. Staff gaggling about anything but the party. “Oh, hell no! You guys need to get your shit together. The dining room isn’t going to set itself and clean that bar.” I need focused people, now, right now. “You, Wino, take your bottles before I throw them out the door.” Half-kidding, or was I?
Some regulars are in for happy hour. They gesture to me and say hello. Enjoying themselves. Entertaining High Maka Makas and 1933 Mai Tais. Mai Bacon, BBQ sauce. James Bond marathon. Casino Royale.
5:30 pm: Dining room set. Time to party. A few guests take pictures in the foyer and out on the green. Coordinator arrives. “Hi Chef, I am sorry about the reduction in numbers. What will be a fair charge for dinner tonight?” “You guaranteed 60 people so I think you should pay for 40. I have your food bought and most of it cooked or prepped. It’s not like I can use it for something else.” Here comes the rebuttal. “40? I was thinking more like 20. My boss is not going to be happy about this. You will need to talk with him.” 20? You’re kidding, what an insult. “Sure, just come in the kitchen when he arrives and we can straighten this out.” He is not my boss.
5:45 pm: The coordinator enters new territory. “Chef, may we enter? This is Michael.” The decision maker. Game face on. “Hey Michael, I was explaining about the cost of the party and I will still need to charge you for 40 people.” “Are you sure? Look, I have my own business, you can charge me for all 60.” Day. Made. “Thank you very much.” Hand shake. Hand shake. Party time. “Howard, he loves McCallan 12. Get him a double neat and whatever he wants to drink tonight. It’s on us.”
The party sits down to the meal. They love the food. Paired with three bottles of McCallan 12 year aged single malt Scotch whisky. They appreciated us and we returned the gesture. Great Scots & Mahalos!
11pm: E-mail rundown. Clean kitchen. Go home.
Hell of a day off.