I have the chef bug. I loved my week at Carousel at the beginning of 2015. Carousel is a restaurant which has a continuous change of the best chefs from all over the world taking residence for a couple of weeks at a time in London’s West End, Marylebone.
When she planted the idea and suggested I do a short stint there, Melissa Hemsley had to endure my backwards and forward eagerness and reluctance. I am not a chef, I kept saying, I don’t know if I can do it! Being a chef is so different from being a home cook! Plus I was in acute distress at the idea of people coming to eat my food and judge it. What if I just muck everything up? What if something happens and everything I have built will fall apart?
Nights of fear and apprehension plagued my sleep.
Feel the fear! Said Melissa. And do it! Do it anyway!
Ok, I said, biting the bullet. I’ll do it.
Being a chef, (only for a week) was one of the most tiring times of my life, even though I had a couple of chefs helping and a KP and my assistant Jenny Brown (and thanks to Rosie Birkett for 2 nights help too). It was exhausting and laborious. It is work for strong, robust people with stamina and strength of youth and vigour.
At home, I would make things in small batches, at Carousel, I learnt how to make army batches in massive pots and pans that weighed ten fold of densities I am used to. I watched Rebecca crack 50 eggs, she doesn’t mess around, she makes things in mammoth sizes as well as multitask the constantly ignited flaming stove.