Pescatore Kitchen Invader
While you are sitting having a nice meal in a beautiful restaurant, rest assured that there are a bunch of absolute maniacs behind the scenes, toiling away with complete and utter dedication to making your occasion perfect.
WBTC was recently invited into the kitchen of Pescatore for a day. Despite advising multiple times of lack of experience and general incompetence (but immense enthusiasm), I was still welcome to do a shift, in the pastry section no less, probably after seeing my eyes light up like a 12 year old girl at a One Direction concert at the first mention of dessert.
Used to being on the other side of the kitchen, I had absolutely no idea of what to expect - my side of a pre-kitchen entry conversation went a little something like this: “ooh I might get a chef’s outfit to dress up in”, “what kind of shoes shall I wear” and “no idea when I’ll be home, I might faff around for a while and get ejected or I might be there all night”. (Spoiler alert: it was basically all night).
With immense anticipation I trucked along to the kitchen on a fine Thursday afternoon, donned a chef’s outfit (they probably refer to it as a uniform) which was a little too snug in the pants region at the start of the shift, and in very grave danger by the end, and stepped into the pastry section, a sugary wonderland.
The kitchen is run like a well oiled machine by Chef Reon Hobson (more on him soon), who consistently showed me and my fancy camera up by taking much better pictures of his food/art on his smartphone (which pained me to admit as it was not an iPhone).
I can report that I was not one of the maniacs, while I was entrusted with tasks far beyond my skill level (they obviously got extra supplies in that day) and received beyond the call of duty guidance, I basically stood there like a prop trying not to get in anyone's way and eating more food than the entire restaurant combined.
It got to the point where I nearly turned down the fifth dessert (I obviously didn’t).
The desserts at Pescatore can only be described as delicious works of art. Creating them certainly wasn't a case of easier than it looks. The strikingly simple presentation of the Bubblegum Sphere gives no hint of the immense task list involved in its making. There is no simple trick to making the spheres, fashioned out of sugar (at great risk to personal safety) using skill and a blowtorch. Whilst I had the blowtorch, I lacked the other crucial element and hence, produced more failures than successes. That is if you count making a massive one too big to serve and subsequently getting to eat it a failure. My batch of sugar was put away “for later” which even I knew was translation for “the bin when you aren’t looking”. One bubblegum sphere was accidentally sprayed with truffle oil rather than the appropriate glaze (that actually wasn’t my fault).
Other tasks included ruining some horseradish spheres, spraying a chocolate gun and trying to look busy when Executive Chef Andrew Brown made an appearance, to avoid questioning of what the complete random with the camera gaining weight by the second was doing in their kitchen variety. Obviously I only had limited time to perform these tasks in between eating.
Seriously, these guys DO NOT STOP. They don’t sit down, they don’t take breaks, I’m pretty sure no one left the kitchen at any stage. Dinner was eaten not just standing up, but on the run. They are amazing. Polite and patient, hilarious, even when the humour was dished out in the form of getting me to cut up a potato into tiny uniform pieces and gleefully throwing any out that were not the right size (which I secretly liked because it made me feel like I was on Kitchen Nightmares).
The welcoming attitude remained even though I spent most of the evening as a blatant nuisance, trying to remember not to put my hands in my pockets (contrary to belief, hiding them does not make it less obvious they aren't up to much). Not only did I add no value, but detracted, to the value of about 3 dinners and 8 desserts.
The plethora of reality TV programming around food has given a lot of people the idea that they could be, and are basically, professional chefs, on the back of watching a few seasons of Masterchef (NZ, Aus, USA and UK). Nothing on TV could have prepared me for the sheer hard work. Those of us in the seated careers have no appreciation for how sore it is possible for your feet to get. (Yes, standing around eating is exhausting.)
At one point I was brought to such a low that I found myself considering crocs as a luxury, but then I burned myself and snapped out of it.
Things I learned:
- sugar is hot, and double gloving is not sufficient. More like quadruple.
- don’t drink water in a kitchen, as I now believe that if you go to the bathroom you will be fired (I’ve been advised that before or after service is totally fine).
- there is no limit to the amount of dessert I can eat.
- Pescatore is always a good decision.