Friday, 30 November 2007

sunny ceels

Date: Wed, 13 Sept 2000
From: Ceels

Subject: sunny ceels.

If you work three or four shifts in a row, you don't see the sun for a couple of days. You walk with your shoulders slumped because it is too difficult or too painful to straighten them. Your feet ache from standing on concrete for eight hours and you trudge trying to work out which one hurts most. You haven't slept properly since sometime last week and it makes you feel a bit teary and life seems impossible. Then you step out of the kitchen and take a deep breath. The sun is shining even if you can't see it because the city's in the way.

What bliss to curl your legs under you on the lawn of the state library and tip your face into the sunshine. it seems worth it. Listening to the heart of Saturday night and thinking dreamy half thoughts. It’s like a peaceful night's sleep, or a full tummy, or a hug.

Of course in the city a bit of stress helps with survival. You don't want to be so relaxed that you don't notice things like the lights changing.

Especially in the middle of the road.

I have discovered the worst thing about living with your friends. You can't write emails about them because many of the people you are writing to know them too. They are both so fascinating that I want to tell you all about it. But for about half of you they are not characters in some email, they are real people.

Oh well.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Date: Tue, 12 Sept 2000
From: Ceels


Oh mi god

I am in love again. I sent an email to a boy because I liked his name and he wrote back and I have been swept off my feet into a cloud of erudite deliciousness.

I was worried for a while because I haven't fallen in love for ages. But since I quit the kitchen I have gone back to my old habit of falling in love eight or nine times a day with various fictional/ non-fictional people.

Now I just have to decide what to write back.

love you (all)


Wednesday, 28 November 2007

panic served three ways, with a warm side plate of fear and denial

Date: Tue, 12 Sept 2000
From: Ceels

Subject: panic served three ways, with a warm side plate of fear and denial.

Oh mi god,

Steven just re-did the roster for the week after next and I am not on it. In two weeks I am going to be a chick all on her own with no job and no hair.


This is a shocking tragedy. When I said I wanted to leave I didn't think it was going to be so sudden. What if I’ve changed my mind?

And here was I worrying about the washing machine (which appears to have taken up a vendetta against my favourite skirt. It keeps dumping grease on it then refusing to do the spin cycle while it is in there) I haven't finished paying off my uniform yet. What if I don't have enough money, what if I can't get it clean enough to give back?

What will I do while I don't have a job. I don't know if I know how to relax any more (any kind hearted person wanting to give massages to poor aching chefs?). I can't go yet, what will I have to complain about.

But it would be kinda nice to leave, I am pretty much over all the politics in the kitchen and getting up early in the morning after working the night before and carrying a couple of hundred kilograms of fruit and veg up and down the stairs.

The kind of stress we had the other night can't be good for you. It is giving me wrinkles. I’m tired all the time.

Maybe Sal is right and i should take a week off to look for jobs and relax.

I’ll miss everybody there.

I'll be a free woman in two weeks


love ceels

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

three Kevin Kline movies in one day (what’s a poor sailor to do?) part 2

Mel was on the pass and it was the busiest I’ve ever seen it. There was a point where we were cooking for six tables and there were six or seven dockets hanging out of the machine that we hadn't even seen yet. Sal was on the grill and she is a pro, but even she was losing her grip. Dan was on woks and by the end of the night he was chucking food at me saying, "Here, cook this. You’re responsible for it, I don't want to hear about it again."

You start to do crazy things like lean across open flame and grab a hot pan, praying that the smell of burning hair is your arms and not your eyebrows. Grab colanders of vegetables straight from the boiling water. Lob pots and buckets at the sink (don't look, just hope). Open the steamer and stick your arm in for the rice without waiting for the steam to escape. Duck under Dan as he swings a pan round. Slide across the wet floor until you manage to grab hold of something (or someone). Drop beetroot in the rice custard. Drop salmon tartare in the rice custard. Drop the rice custard. Collapse exhausted. Clean everything in sight. Drink one beer at the end of the night. Get home and fall asleep on a chair because you can't face the stairs.

I guess it is kinda fun. And the adrenalin is pretty cool. But the stress was such that I nearly vomited on the floor (I didn't because it was the middle of service and Dan might have been mad). (Besides, there wasn't time). We did a hundred and fifteen people in under two hours.

Today a funny (or not funny) thing happened. We were carrying boxes of stuff down stairs at the end of the shift and when we got the bottom Mel dropped hers. There was (was) a bottle of balsamic vinegar in there, which exploded. She cursed for a second, rang upstairs to get Abbi (kitchen hand) to come clean it up.

She went back to the box with the vinegar to grab the peppercorns. On the way knocking over a vase full of water and weeping willow. The vase disintegrated across the floor.

She reached for the peppercorns, only to discover that they too had not maintained structural integrity as they poured in all directions.

I cannot decide if this is a funny or a not funny thing.

love you all


Monday, 26 November 2007

three Kevin Kline movies in one day (what’s a poor sailor to do?)

Date: Mon, 11 Sept 2000
From: Ceels
Subject: three Kevin Kline movies in one day (what’s a poor sailor to do?).

Well, I’ve done it, I’ve quit. I was running out of things to write anyway. And I am perpetually grumpy.

And I have grated all my knuckles off, although my fingertips have healed. I wonder if my hands will ever forgive me. Besides, the kitchen was getting in the way of my plans for world domination (and s11 think all the trouble is at the casino, tee hee hee hee <>). Also, all the cute waiters have quit. I am listening to Tom Waits to improve my mood.

So does anyone know of any interesting job prospects for a chick with no hair? (I think I am going to go and make coffee for a few months, Bridget promises she will come and visit me all the time if I work in the coffee shop on Elizabeth street).

We had a service from hell on Saturday night and any uncertainty I had about resigning on Friday was wiped clean.

It started quietly, an ominous hush in the bright light of the kitchen. I was running up and down the stairs fetching last minute forgotten things. Then at about five to nine Dan (whom I am now very fond of) sent me for the chickpea ragu. I arrived back in the kitchen to find twelve oysters needed to be shucked and chaos had stepped in. (incidentally Santo Cilaro (sp?) was in one night and even if you're famous, you still have the apprentice shucking your oysters (but the head chef picks them out for you)) (I’m the fastest shucker in the kitchen ) I want to try and explain the insanity of that night, but I don't know that I’m up to it.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

early in the morning and I can’t do right

Date: Wed, 6 Sept 2000
From: Ceels
Subject: early in the morning and I can’t do right.

I have possibly done a very bad thing. Yesterday I resigned.

Steven asked me if I was sure and I had to answer truthfully that I wasn't sure and he asked me to reconsider. So I am going to think about it till the end of the week, which is only a couple of days away.

I am beset with indecision (yeah, like that's new).

I mostly want to go, but, as Steven says, you lose most new apprentices at the three to six month point. And I don't want to be just following a trend.

love you all

Saturday, 24 November 2007

what to do when someone drops a chopping board on your head

Date: Mon, 4 Sept 2000
From: Ceels
Subject: what to do when someone drops a chopping board on your head.


The fingertips of my right hand have split and it is somewhat painful to type. But I will gallantly carry on if you will excuse the typos which are bound to occur when my hands spasm in pain or the keyboard becomes slippery with my blood.

In the excellent tradition of things that you learn in the kitchen, I bring you this next list.

Things that you learn from kitchen hands: you can know an awful lot about calamari and Alsatians and still not be any good at washing dishes.
: the kitchen hand is usually the smartest person in the klitchen, getting the highest marks on the kitchen hygiene exams and going on to bigger and better things (Mikey Robbins was a kitchen hand)
: the better they are, the harder they are to keep.

Things you learn from apprentices: always look after your own. The kitchen can be a cold hard place and you gotta stick close. If you have chocolate you share it. If you have time you make the rice custards.
: if you don't know, bluff. Never plead ignorance; you'll wind up with more work. "Oh, no, there wasn't enough salmon for the capaccio plates, I had to make it all into sashimi for the function."
: never bitch to anyone outside your level of the hierarchy, never bitch about each other.

Things you learn from chefs: the more someone complains about somebody else not doing the job properly, the more likely they are stuffing it up themselves.
: even nice people can go on power trips.

Things you learn from waiters: if you are an insufferable prat, nobody likes you.
: if you bring the chefs nice coffees, the chefs make you nice food.
: if you do too many drugs you will start to look like a three-week-old cadaver.

Lack of oxygen to the brain can feel exactly like food poisoning. I thought on Saturday night I was going to die. I limped toward death, contemplating spending my last minutes in the harsh glare of a commercial kitchen as everyone around me got slammed (were very very busy with service). I knew I would never see my house again. Then one of the waiters noticed the amount of smoke coming out the pass and went and turned on the fans. Some clown had turned them off and we had no air coming in to the kitchen and no smoke going out.

I just this week discovered I was utterly in love with one of the waiters, only to discover that he is leaving on Saturday. I have finally had enough sleep so that I am awake enough to find my true love and he leaves the next Saturday. What is the world coming to I ask, scratching my head in befuddled bewilderment.

I meant to tell you all about the waiters. There is, of course, syphilis-boy. And Dean, who is an obnoxious little snob (which is mostly an act), always wears lovely smells, and is a very sweet little man (in spite of the fact he looks like Napoleon). He plans to pursue a career in marketing women's clothing.

Line is Dutch and can be a bit touchy about the amount of hours she works. If she feels like she's had a rough day then she doesn't want to know that you've had a worse one. Mel recons she looks (and moves) like one of the thunderbirds.

Sheena is friendly and laid back; she is very concerned about her appearance and has a boyfriend with blond dreadlocks.

Jeff is a nutcase and is always looking for food. He has a Calvin Klein key wallet and asks weird questions.

Sacha is good looking and has a wife and young child. He seems a bit distant and is not quite weird enough to fit in.

We have a washing machine now, which makes life incredibly much easier. Unfortunately it is possessed by an evil spirit. On the spin cycle it takes off across the floor at a lumbering waddle, making for the door and certain freedom. Only to be brought up short by one of us or the hose pipes. In retaliation it dumps grease on our clothes. We have been having firm words with it, with little to no result so further action may be required.

I hope every one is well; I am going to drag my weary broklen body home.

all my love

Friday, 23 November 2007

washing eggplant down the drain

Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000
From: Ceels
Subject: washing eggplant down the drain.

I think I have worked out why I was so over work. I was taking it too seriously. I was thinking of it as my entire life, rather than just something I do so that I can write about it later. Of course if you are in the kitchen for fifty-six hours a week then you can sometimes confuse where the tired you ends and the exhausted you begins.

The kitchen is a bit like a hostage situation with no terrorists, you are just doing it to yourself. Or maybe it is some bizarre form of torture where you are subjected to bright lights and extreme pressure in a confined space, and you are never quite sure when, or for how long. It keeps changing, changing, changing.

Or maybe the punters are the terrorists.

Tip number 79 for punters: if you laugh like a horse, the chefs will make fun of you.

I should point out that I am still writing under extreme lack of sleep and am prone to exaggeration anyway. I am sure it is not really as bad as I am making out. I’ll work it out when I have had more sleep and get back to you.

I will think of three good things.

1. I am much stronger now than four months ago. We have a new full time kitchen hand called Marty. Bridget calls him a girly-man. He is a goth and he shaves his eyebrows and paints them back on every day and he is a very nice boy, but Bridget is right. Anyway, I used to be about as strong as he is, and now I can lift 25 kg bags with only a little bit of complaining.

Also I can get yelled at more and picked on more without getting upset. Except not on Friday when a chance remark from Steven caused me to burst into tears. Then I couldn't stop crying for the next hour and a half and it was ridiculous.

2. There are cute waiters. (But not Andrew, whom I like to refer to as syphilis boy, he is not a nice person and I loath him and I don't like to look at him. He upsets me.)

3. I am learning lots about politics. If you keep your head low and your mouth shut most of it misses you. But I am learning what it takes to make your way to the top (AND SOON I WILL TAKE OVER THE WORLD).

I saw a man today who had a really long droopy nose and it was all I could do not to grab it to see if it was real.

When prawn stock goes off it smells exactly like really rotten eggs. Only worse. And if you tip it down the sink you can stink out the whole of down stairs for about half and hour. Incidentally, apparently the kitchen’s exhaust fan outlet is right by the air-conditioning intake vent for 333 Collins street, so everyday 8000 people in suits hate us very much.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

when the calamari is pink and stinky (or what to do when the second chef has pms)

Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000
From: Ceels
Subject: when the calamari is pink and stinky (or what to do when the second chef has pms).

At the moment I am working an extra shift at work. This is why it has been so long between letters. It no longer seems to me that I am trading work time for me time. I am trading work time for just enough time to crawl back from exhaustion into tired before I work again.

The other reason is that I love our house so much that I have trouble leaving it.

I’m over this whole chef thing. Gone is the dizzying whirlwind of new information, over is the honeymoon period and I am BORED. I am stewing away in a pan of rancid duck fat and crushed rosemary.

Confit de ceels, with a delicious side dish of quince and frustration.

Of course I am fitter than I think I’ve ever been. I crushed things in a mortar and pestle for two and a half hours today with out getting sore arms. Every night during service I leap like a gazelle no no no. Like a lioness, I bound up and down the steps fetching things people have forgotten and I don't get puffed.

I bought a shirt at the beginning of the year when I was going for job interviews with three quarter length sleeves. I wore it again the other day (because it is the end of my wash cycle – the only excuse other than a job interview for wearing a shirt that pink), and the sleeves don't do up around my arms any more.

Peter is leaving on Thursday. He is the head chef who is a bit daffy. He can be incredibly irritating but I will miss him muchly. He’s a funny bloke; he's a big Maori guy, looks like he might have been a boxer. But he reads his horoscope every day, has a beautiful sweet tenor voice, knows more about music than anyone I know and makes the lightest, most heavenly chocolate mousse imaginable. We have had our run ins. he never really worked out the best way to deal with me. He always told me to do stuff 'because he said so' rather than coaxing me, or fooling me into thinking it was my idea in the first place.

I also feel I should give Dan another go. He’s the cousin who gets drunk at Christmas and makes jokes about the fairy on the tree. The last time I was dish pig he helped me with the dishes, and he always stops to explain stuff, and even if he never remembers to put day dots on the buckets and doesn't sweep under the benches, he is not a bad guy.

Hope everyone is well in the real world

all my love

ps. I don't know if I mentioned it, but I shaved my head bald (a couple of weeks ago) and I love our house.

Don’t worry mum, it's growing back.

Hair extensions cost $950.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000
From: Ceels
Subject: hurting.

I have just finished my eighth shift in five and a half days. It is amazing what you can do that you don't know you can do. And now my reward is that I don't have to work until Thursday at four.

On Saturday Em Jansen came into have a meal. I saw her and waved. Every time I walked past I waved at her or pulled a face and I delightedly told everyone in the kitchen that Em had come in and that was great. She gave me a funny look and I stuck my tongue out at her. When I got a chance I leaned out the pass and said 'hey, it's great to see you, what are you doing here.'

There was a pause.

She said 'Do I know you?'

And I said indignantly 'Em!'

And she raised her eyebrows and said 'no'.

Unfortunately it was just before I my break and I was so embarrassed that I ran straight out of the restaurant. I couldn't go back in to have a meal until the end of my break just in case they were still there.

So. Em Jansen has an identical twin sister from whom she was separated at birth.

love you

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000
From: Ceels


Three girls marry house in West Melbourne

Monday, 19 November 2007

Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000
From: Ceels

Yesterday I moved into our new house. Lex is moving in today and pip gets back from Brisbane tomorrow.

No more Collingwood. No more human excrement and used syringes on the front path. No more noise from the guys next door. No more cinnamon doughnuts from the Vietnamese bakery for breakfast on my way to work. No more flirting with the guy in the Fitzroy library. No more catching a taxi if I miss the last tram home from work. No more watching lunar eclipses on the roof.

Our new house

Oh my

I feel like Anne Shirley when she found Patty's Place. This house was meant to be. It has the sweetest little staircase and an attic and a lavender bush and a chalkboard and a laundry in the kitchen and it is just the dearest little house that ever was built. We are very much in love. It has a door on the second floor, which goes nowhere. It has a balcony and pot plants (and something that ate all the leaves off my herbs last night while I was sleeping, but I will forgive it that)

Anyway everybody is invited over all the time.

It’s a grown ups house and makes me feel like a grown up, (but tomorrow I am dish pig at work, so that is probably not going to last).

We are one street over from the Queen Victoria market and that is just too too delightful for words. There is a little storage room up by the attic and I am sure there is a ghost living there (but don't tell lex, cause I told her there wasn't) and there are definitely elves in the tree outside the door that goes nowhere.

Yes it is truly a good place to live. When the sun goes down my room lights up all golden and makes me happy.

love you

Sunday, 18 November 2007

I smell like calamari (it haunts my sleep, it never goes away, I am at one with the calamari) (stinky stuff)

Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000
From: Ceels
Subject: I smell like calamari (it haunts my sleep, it never goes away, I am at one with the calamari) (stinky stuff).

Oh mi god.

We got the house.

If only I wasn't so sleepy I could properly appreciate it.

Like going to see it. Is it bad to sign the lease before I see the house? I mean I trust lex, but Sal (at work) seems to think I am crazy. Course, she thought I was crazy already.

So, I am living in a house I haven't seen yet, but by reputation it is fabulous and not a dump. Two good things

It looks like my career as a chef might be over already. No. I am sure it is not that serious. It is just that Steven, the head chef, wants to 'have a talk to me'. I feel like I am trying really hard, but it doesn't seem to be enough and I just get told I’m crap. It would probably really upset me, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that if I get fired I can just go flip burgers at Maccas. She’ll be right.

On Wednesdays now I have a shift as kitchen hand. I don't much like washing dishes but I have decided to look on it as my substitute for going to the gym (because I went to the gym so much). Besides, while my hands are scrubbing my brain can go and do other things. I have worked out why all the kitchen hands are so thin though. You do all this physically strenuous work and by the time you get to the end of the shift, the last thing you feel like seeing ever again is food.

I have to go wash, I really do reek of calamari, the stench is making me feel light headed.

love ceels

Saturday, 17 November 2007

where ceels goes to Naracoorte and frightens the locals

Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000
From: Ceels
Subject: where ceels goes to Naracoorte and frightens the locals.

I have to type really fast for many reasons, so if I make mistakes be patient. 1) My fingers are burning from the chilli I chopped this morning, 2) my break is nearly over and I have to go back to work, 3) I am in a place where you pay for your email.

I got down and dirty with the peroxide last week and I am now as close to white-blond as a brunette girl can get without blistering her scalp. (Don’t worry mum, it looks fine)

I went to Naracoorte this weekend for a school friend's 21st. Naracoorte is a small country town (pop 5300) in South Australia. The party itself was held at the Naracoorte caves, but after the party we went to the pub. Given that I was wearing a cocktail dress, you might expect a few stares. But I think there was something about a chick in a dress with spiky blond hair that Naracoorte wasn't ready for. Nevermind. I enjoyed the attention.

We have maybe found a house to move into, (pip, lex and I) and it sounds exciting. I haven't seen it yet, but I trust lex, who has. I don't want to say anything about it in case I jinx it. But everyone has to cross their fingers for us.

love ceels

Friday, 16 November 2007

Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000

I meant no eating with your mouth open, don't eat with your mouth open when you are on the tram, you are welcome to eat with your mouth full, but then you are not allowed to talk. (That’s the way it works isn't it? I’m sorry mum; I know I shouldn't have to be asking).

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000
From: Ceels

This morning on the tram a woman got on and complained that people were blocking the door (they were). And this man went off his wheel. 'Shut up you f**king black bitch. Go back to your own country, you fat old cow.' She said some thing to him and he said, 'Oh yeah, well you just pushed straight through a pregnant lady when you got on and you didn't even help her. Go home you f**king foreigner.'

The pregnant lady started muttering under her breath, I was standing quite close to her and tried to move away. At the next stop she burst into tears, shouted 'I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat.' and got off the tram.

Last night on the tram there was a very large woman coughing. She had her tongue poking out and was spraying the seat opposite her with spit. I think I will write an etiquette book for tram travel, starting with 'cover your mouth when you cough'. And include other things like how much noise you're allowed to make when you're eating and appropriate/inappropriate mobile phone conversations, ie. No eating with your mouth full and no phone sex.

I may have given the impression that I don't like the waiters, and this is not the case. I don't like one waiter, and all the rest are lovely lovely people and I should introduce them to you soon, (it is always nice to get to know the neighbours).

love to you

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

a disgruntled apprentice

Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000
From: Ceels

Subject: a disgruntled apprentice.

Sometimes work feels like a second family to me. So I will introduce them to you. There is Sal, who most often works the woks, which is the section next to mine. She is the older sister who puts up with you and probably loves you in her older sister way, but you don't want to piss her off.

Mel would be our work mum; she bosses you thoroughly and makes sure you're happy.

Aunty Sara is a bit mad, organises things and takes up the secondary bossing role. She hates the waiters (you could call them long time neighbours) and says things about them to make you laugh.

Paul is the affable old uncle who is a bit absentminded but mostly well meaning.

Dan is the cousin whom no one can stand, who gets drunk at Christmas and makes inappropriate jokes about the angel and the Christmas tree.

And I guess you could call Steven the patriarchal head of the family, the authoritarian absentee father figure.

As for Bridget, Kelly and me, we would be the triplets, always giggling together and getting into loads of trouble (um, did I just manage to sound like an English girls' school novel?) //[thought bubble] but little do they know of our cunning plan to take over the kitchen. Marching to an apprentice's revenge against all the wrongs and indignities meted out to us in the course of a shift.//

love you


Tuesday, 13 November 2007

good things don't come to those who wait

Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2000
From: "Ceels"
Subject: good things don't come to those who wait.

I worked out why I was having doubts about work on Wednesday. It’s the new guy. He’s so depressing and it makes for a hell of a long shift. I went home convinced I was never going back to the kitchen again. I had to unwillingly drag myself out of bed on Thursday morning and (oh, hang on...). But I wasn't feeling cheery about the whole experience.

He is the type of guy who can make you feel worse just by walking in the room. He’s never happy about anything, he caused an enormous fight between the kitchen and front of house staff (because his latte had too much froth) and he is rude and sexist (oh yes he is), he would make St Francis of Assisi kick babies.

I have had a busy couple of days standing up for myself. Culminating into today when I gave one of the more odious waiters a dressing down. He was incredibly rude on the telephone from downstairs, to the point where I got really angry. Have you ever seen me really angry?

It doesn't happen very often. I hung up the telephone, took two deep breaths and went round the wheel.

Once I calmed down I went down stairs and said 'Jacob, do you have a minute?' I took him aside and gave him the nursery routine. (Imagine ceels, eyes wide and voice earnest) 'Now Jacob, how do you think it made ceels feel when you said those words, do you think she might have been a bit angry? Perhaps next time you might try to say helping words? And then ceels won't belt you in the head with the meat mallet.' well I didn't quite say that. But I did tell him his manner was unnecessary and perhaps if he was a bit polite he might evoke a more positive response.

We don't have enough kitchen hands at the moment (they've all bloody gone to Spain and places). So the apprentices are being kitchen hands for a while. No one told us this, or asked us. Our identical response was 'do we get paid more?'. (Edit: at the time – apprentice chef AUD$2.91/hour, dish pig ~AUD$15.00/hour)

So if anyone who knows anyone who is looking for work and would like a couple of shifts as a kitchen hand??? Or if anyone wants to be a first year apprentice? (I hear it's a great job).

Well I must be off, I need some sleep. I am working a double tomorrow (Edit: = 16 hrs) and the boys next door were talking loudly about penises until 2:30am this morning. If they’re loud tonight I will fill up their wheelie bin with Selly’s gap filler.

love you

Monday, 12 November 2007

please keep your feet off the seats (public transport is for everyone)

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000
From: "Ceels"
Subject: please keep your feet off the seats (public transport is for everyone).

I am starting to have doubts that I am in the right job. Ask any one, 'Should Ceels be in a job which primarily requires speed and co-ordination?'. I was dish-pig today as well as runner. No matter how fast you wash them they keep appearing. It’s worse than kids with snotty noses.

But I will hang with it for a while; the problem with having no direction is the constant vague feeling that you are not doing quite the right thing.

I think that I am going to have to get up a little earlier in the mornings so that I can have a proper breakfast. I was hopeless today, dragging my bum along the ground (figuratively). It’s just that my body refused to work. My brain kept saying 'hurry up', chef kept saying 'hurry up' and my body just said 'why?'. A handful of choc chip biscuits is not a valid breakfast option.

If anyone has any direction to offer me, it would be welcome.

At least with this job my biceps look great.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

if you drop a knife, don't try and catch it

Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000
From: "Ceels"
Subject: if you drop a knife, don't try and catch it.

On Tuesday the dumb waiter broke. It broke the first time when Sal was bringing up two trays of basmati rice (about 6 litres) and a bucket of mixed nuts and seeds. When it hit the bottom they exploded, sending nut and rice and seed projectiles through the air, bouncing off benches and fridges and waiters.

The second time it broke was in the middle of service when we were sending food down stairs to be served. It plunged to its doom with an almighty BOOM, and we got to see what happens to a meal when you chuck it down a fifteen-foot elevator shaft.

On a more embarrassing note, I forgot to lock the door to the staff change room. It is also the staff bathroom, and when I am going in there to use it for it's amenities I remember to lock the door. The short story is that I was standing in my undies in that fluorescent light like they use in department store fitting rooms when David walked in. He is one of the executives. I am unable to look him in the eye.

I also accidentally cut one of the ties off my new knife wrap; my new knives are very sharp. I nearly accidentally cut one of my fingertips off, my knife slipped on the last bit of the onion.

love you


Saturday, 10 November 2007

a good wettex, used properly, should last about half an hour

Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000
From: "Ceels"

Subject: a good wettex, used properly, should last about half an hour.

CC: a whole list of names and addresses

This is a special message, just for Blair, who wanted to know who else was on the mailing list, the only other news is that I have now cut my self on my other new knife, so hopefully they will leave me alone now.

love to you all


Friday, 9 November 2007

if I have ever given you a massage, now is the time to return the favour

Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000
From: "Ceels"
Subject: if I have ever given you a massage, now is the time to return the favour.

Oh my,

Yesterday I had Suzy’s gnocchi. It is blanched then pan fried in butter. It is good and right. You crunch through the outside and then it just disappears. It was like eating crunchy clouds. I understand, I understand exactly how greatly I failed in my gnocchi-making endeavour. I understand that boarding house gnocchi is not gnocchi (I knew, but I never understood). I would like to formally apologise to our dog for trying to feed her my failed gnocchi attempt.

Fortunately she had better sense than I had gnocchi skill and didn’t eat it. I am going to learn how to make this phenomenon known as gnocchi and revel in my gnocchi ecstasy.

I cut my self on my new knife for the first time yesterday, while I was putting my other new knife away in my knife wrap (oh the indignity)


Thursday, 8 November 2007

playing dot to dot with my bruises

Date: Fri, 9 Jun 2000
From: "Ceels"
Subject: playing dot to dot with my bruises.

From time to time I realise I am not just at zukini to fill in a bit of spare time and to have something to write emails about. I sort of 'come to' in the kitchen and think 'help, I am an apprentice chef'.

So I have been making a list of why I like to go to work each day.

*I enjoy shelling prawns (it gives me a sense of achievement when I get the head off and the poo vein out in one deft movement).

*I am developing bicep definition. (and I can run up and down stairs really fast)

*I get to wear latex examination gloves (every day) NB. When you are scrubbing iron stove tops with steel wool. It is quite possible to scrub straight through the latex examination gloves and the skin on your fingers.

*I get to work with people, rather than sectioned off into my own little booth with a telephone (cf. telemarketing) and the only person I didn't like in the kitchen has just left.

*I eat good food all the time

*I am learning new things about time and space (how to fit 10 ltrs of rice into a two litre bucket and how to make fondue, shuck oysters and prep salmon condiments at the same time)

*I can dye my hair blond, and nobody minds

As I am getting better at things I get to do more. For example the fruit fondue. You have to whisk it until it forms thick ribbons. By the time I was halfway through I had sweat (sorry, perspiration) running down my spine and the backs of my legs, soaking into the top of my socks. And you don't want to know what Suzy told me to think of to improve my whisking technique.

I have also learned to de-bone the quail (it is quite fun, squidging around) and plate spaghetti (a major step forward).

And last night when I made an apple kebab risotto, it was such that the head chef told me it was the first time he hadn't hated me since I arrived.

Advice for the week: don't eat toast in bed, no matter how tired and hungry you think you are.

love to you

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

some days are better than others

Date: Tue, 30 May 2000
From: "Ceels"
Subject: some days are better than others.

I have learned many many things in the last few weeks and seem to have forgotten at least twice as much.

I have learned that seafood is treacherous and will turn on you if you lapse in vigilance. I have forgotten how to construct paragraphs; my life has been reduced to a series of lists.

I have a new list of nicknames: 'hey you', babyface, madam lash (???), celie has resurfaced and there are many other unrepeatable things.

Exciting things have been happening. I was in the paper last week and Pat (McKernan, musician at the local pub, the Dan O'Connell) recognised me. (I could die now and die a happy woman).

I met Ben Harper (oh my)

And I shaved my head.

Work has been exciting too. I have learnt how to make rice into a viable building material.

If you are washing snapper and you have too firm a grip on it, it will shoot straight out of your hands and down the bench. (fish are very aerodynamic (this desk set wants to fly))

Never touch hot toffee. Sugar boils at 160-180 degrees and adheres to your skin.

It is easy to get miso broth and lemon grass tea confused when you are in a hurry

Miso paste takes the sting out of burns. White pepper takes the sting out of cuts.

The three most valuable things in a kitchen are buckets, tea towels and fridge space.

If you are using a knife, concentrate on the knife.

Don’t yell at a chef (they'll nail your arse to the wall)

The oven is hot (the oven is hot, the oven is hot)

Organic food is full of organic grubs (and I am on the frontline between the people and the bugs).

love ceels

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

if it's on the stove, chances are it's hot

Date: Wed, 10 May 2000
From: "Ceels"
Subject: if it's on the stove, chances are it's hot.

Things that are more likely to happen when you are tired and in a hurry:
*walking out into on coming traffic
*using rabbit stock instead of white wine in the fruit fondue
*slipping over on wet tiles
*getting hit by the steamer
*hitting your head on the oven
*hitting your head on the dishwasher
*breaking a dish
*getting wasabi in your eye
- the juicer
- the bell on the fridge
- shelves
- fridge doors
- a hot pan
- a hot tray
*shooting murderous glances at a fellow chef and getting caught
*forgetting to dilute the wheat grass juice before service.
*cutting your fingers on:
- a shelf
- an oyster
- a prawn
- a fish (the sea food is deadly)
- a loaf of bread (again)
- a knife
- a metal scourer
*losing the ability to form coherent sentences about vital information which must be conveyed to other people, "the stock has boiled over", "don't tip that, there are eggs in it", "the spoon is on fire", "the hose has melted to the hot plate", "I brought the calf's liver up already", "there are no beans left in the cool room".
*tipping the entire box of 500ml lids onto a fellow chef's head (they weren't heavy, so she forgave me).
*mistaking the bucket of miso broth for the scrap bucket.
*the dumb waiter breaks (and you know who has to run up and down the stairs when the dumb waiter breaks)

Advice for the week: say sorry every time you do something, or somebody speaks to you.

Monday, 5 November 2007

give a klutz a knife

Date: Wed, 3 May 2000
From: "Ceels"
Subject: give a klutz a knife

Things I Have Learned About Being A Chef.

1. If you scrub 25 dozen oysters you will shred your hands unless you wear latex gloves

2. If you did not wear gloves, do not accidentally tip vinegar on your hands

3. If you did not wear gloves the oysters will seek their own revenge with salt water when you come to shuck them.

3a. If you do not wear an apron and forget to take a change of clothes to work, after scrubbing and shucking oysters no one will sit near you on the tram.

4. It is possible to cut your fingers on bread.

5. If you cut your fingers, do not get chilli juice on them (ever). NB. If you get chilli juice on your fingers do not rub your eyes

6. If onions make your eyes water, do not try to keep cutting while you cannot see. Chances are you will slip and cut a chunk out of your finger.

7. Do not ever say 'Yes, but' to the head chef.

7a. Do not ever say anything but 'Yes chef' to the head chef.

8. Always keep track of the rubber bands.

9. If you are asked to drain the vegetable stock, do not accidentally pour the stock down the sink.

10. If you intend to move about the kitchen, announce your presence in a loud clear voice

11. If more than one person tells you what to do, follow the advice/ instructions of the most senior.

12. Never ever cry.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000
From: "Ceels"

I had my first official day at work today. It was top fun. To start off with, I had my doubts. We sat around downstairs on the concrete (the carpet goes in tomorrow, until then it's piles all round) and had a little group session on the Kitchen’s mission and goals. We each got up to say who we were and what we could contribute to the team. And the peppy little thing running the show kept going on about how we completed the wheel and how each member of the team was as equal as the next.

If I had been a cynic I might have rolled my eyes.

When I was told they were packing us into mini buses and we were going on a little bonding trip, I admit, I was frightened. They were taking us to Altona. As it turned out lunch was amazing (one of the benefits of working in a restaurant like the Kitchen) and rock climbing was not as bad as I thought. In fact I enjoyed myself immensely. In fact it rocked (hee hee).

I am covered in blisters and bruises, but every one of them was worth it. I never realised how fun climbing the walls could be. So now the real stuff begins

love you

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000
From: "Ceels"

I have entered the wonderful world of being a telemarketer. You may have thought I was becoming an apprentice chef (as did I), but the restaurant in which I am being an apprentice chef is not opening 'til after Easter. So in the mean time I am a telemarketer (and oh what fun it is). I am phoning people in New Zealand to sell them a book of vouchers for free stuff. The book costs $80 and many people are abusive. They seem to think I am wasting their time.

However, I had a couple of lovely chats with people. One guy was on the dole and was thinking about getting into telemarketing, but he was worried that it would steal his soul. One guy's girl friend can't get a visa to get into New Zealand, but he hopes to see her soon.

Some one has taken all one old woman's furniture and she's not sure where it is, she thinks they might be moving her to another country.

Mostly you get answering machines (it is the middle of the day after all). I have not yet sold anything. I think it is hard to be convincing when you do not have faith in the product you are trying to sell. Or it might be because I sound dodgy. People kept asking me if I was Canadian or South African. (Is my accent that weird?).

any how,

love you lots,

Friday, 2 November 2007

Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000
From: "Ceels"

I am just writing to do a quick update. I am living in Collingwood now until the end of semester. And, in case I haven't told you yet, my next mode of employment is at a new organic restaurant opening in the city on the 6th of April. I will be working as an apprentice chef. I am an apprentice chef (yes indeedy).

So no doubt this will lead to regular updates of my trials and tribulations (at least until I cut my fingers off)

love ceels

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Next post, the Kitchen

I have joined NaBloPoMo. Wish me luck.

And just in case you were wondering about the rest of letterland:

Annie Apple is doing acrobatics with the animals
Bouncy Ben is bouncing his big, blue ball
Clever Cat can catch creepy caterpillars
Dippy Duck is diving in the deep dark dam
Eddy Elephant eats eggs every Easter
Fireman Fred is fighting the fire with his friends
Golden Girl is giggling at Gabby's green greedy goat
Hairy Hatman has a hairy house
Impy Ink is inside the incubator
Jumping Jim is juggling jelly
Kicking King is in the kitchen with his kitten
Lucy Lamp Lady likes looking at her lighthouse
Munching Mike is munching marvellous metal mushrooms
Naughty Nick nails a notice on the nut tree
Oscar Orange is on an orange octopus
Poor Peter is paddling in the Prep's pool
Quarrelsome Queen is on the quilt with the quads
Robber Red is robbing Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer
Sammy Snake is snoozing on the sand
Ticking Tess talks on the telephone
Uppy Umbrella is upstairs with her uncle
Vase of Violets vanished in the volcano
Wicked Water Witch walks on her windmill
Yellow Yo-Yo Man is yelling at the yellow yabbies
Zig-Zag Zebra zips across the zoo

It's not the same without the pictures.

slinking home with my tail between my legs

Date: Thu, 23 Dec 1999 17:35:01 +0000 (GMT)
From: Ceels
Subject: slinking home with my tail between my legs.

Dear every one,

Thanks for all your good wishes and support but I am coming home. I bought my plane ticket yesterday afternoon and I will arrive in Melbourne on the 28th.

love you lots