There can be some heartwarming moments in catering prep at the large kitchen I've been working in. The space is the home to scores of catering outfits, and is a buzzing hub of activity seven days a week. All that time spent sharing space means folks are forced to get to know one another. Sharing by way of "do you have a grill pan I can use," or "Help! I need half a cup of rum," happens often, if not daily.
Although I always bring a bag of nuts and a water bottle for emergencies, there's little need for snacks. (The water is a different story. It comes out of the tap with a brownish tint, and is rumored to taste terrible). My client/boss, Chef C, usually whips something up for us to eat -- both breakfast and lunch sometimes. I dig her ham and cheese melts early in the morning, cooked in rich butter. She'll share with folks that are for that day employed by other outfits. Many times, these are people she has hired or worked with over the years.
Good to keep the troops happy. It's not just a one way giving street. One day, Chef C's group was treated by a neighboring group to roast beef, carmelized onions, roasted veggies, and noodles. Flavorful goodness that hit the spot. We sat around the prep station and sighed softly as we dug in. The one advantage for the chefs to feeding everyone is there's little or no leftovers to pull from the walk-in or clean up days later.
Just when I start to feel like it's all love all the time there, I read notices posted on the walk in fridge along the lines of, "You will be fired immediately for taking anything from this walk in without express permission. We won't put up with it. Taking without asking is theft, that is STEALING. There have been numerous incidents of items disappearing. This is NOT acceptable and will NOT be taken lightly." Chef C notices when things disappear. A bottle of water or soda is one thing, but when pricier big ticket items go missing, she gets pissed. Beef, dairy, and shrimp cost serious bucks, and usually require advance ordering. It's also irritating as hell to go looking for something you need to use right away, like olive oil. You may at first feel like senility is kicking in when you can't find the item in it's usual home, or where you last left it.
Chef C caught a culprit using her aluminum foil last week. The entire ream had disappeared. However, her foil cutter leaves a distinct pattern on the ends of the foil. In a face to face discussion, Chef C asked the potential thief if he was sure he knew where the foil came from. He denied it three times until she grabbed the cutter and showed Mr. Culprit the exact same imprint on the foil he had used. "Oh yeah," he back pedaled. "I couldn't find you...." he said, mumbling. Mr. Culprit sometimes works for Chef C, and perhaps thinks her stuff is open season. Even though there are locked and covered areas for storage, it seems like it is a frustrating, constant cycle of items big and small disappearing. I would probably be and act much bitchier and pissed. Perhaps not healthy, but that's my natural reaction to territorial threats.