There was no room to write ‘rice with green and purple florets of broccoli’, so Doug wrote ‘broccoli rice’ on the Saturday label, then squiggled his initials and stuck it to the side of the gallon container. It was a few minutes after twelve o’clock. The first tables would be arriving soon, and pretty much everything was done. Most of the prep for the evening menu too. Coming in early had been a good idea. Not that he would miss his flight or anything, but the last thing he wanted was to fuck up the lunch service and leave on a low.

The rice lived on the middle shelf. He closed the fridge door with his knee. Peppercorn sauce and back-up mash. That’s what stood out from his page of crossed out tasks. He turned up the heat on the back burner and began halving shallots.

Steve was scrolling through his ipod.

‘No way. Not happy hardcore. Not this early in the day anyway.’ He stopped scrolling. ‘Ahaa… Have you heard of the Herbaliser?’. A bass heavy track started.

‘Oh here we go,’ sighed Ciaran. ‘More of yer hip hop pish.’

Pish? I don’t think so. Your kid hammering on his toy xylophone would produce better sounds than the stuff you put on here. Yeaaah, listen to that beat. I haven’t listened to this album in ages.’He started drumming his fingers on their shared workbench. ‘They’re on Ninja Tunes. It’s the label that was set up by Coldcut. Do you know the…’

Barry interrupted. ‘You can listen to what you want for the next fifteen minutes. Then the football’s going on.’

‘Oh joy,’ said Steve. ‘The football.’ He started cutting up the sun-dried tomatoes that were strewn across his green chopping board. To his right, Ciaran was arranging slices of ciabatta onto a tray.

‘Don’t toast the ciabatta now,’ Steve said to him. ‘Are you mental? You do that to order.’

‘But there’s tons of bookings. It’s…’

‘Do it to order. Last night was different. It was busier than we expected. And there was the printer breaking. That threw us for a while. Don’t worry. Today’ll be easier.’

‘Aye aw’right.’ He started removing the bread from the tray. So what you doin now? Did you put yeast through the mix again?’

Steve laughed. ‘No. There’s enough in there already. I’m adding sun-dried tomato. Loads of flavour and it’ll give the rolls more colour. I’ll roll them out then let them rise again before they go into the oven.’ He tipped his chopping board and the tomato fell on top of the dough. ‘Man, you need to get up to speed with your own section before learning this stuff though. You got enough caper and cauliflower mix? Soufflé garnish?’ He started mixing the tomato through the dough.

‘It’s all done,’ Ciaran said confidently before adding, ‘Fuck. No. Bacon lardons.’ He made for the walk-in freezer.

Barry was on the phone.

‘It’s the third Saturday in a row,’ he said calmly, then was silent. ‘I don’t care about the order you do your work in,’ he eventually added. ‘We need the delivery by noon at the very latest. We told you that.’ He turned to face Doug and mouthed an obscenity. ‘No,’ he said sharply, ‘you’re too late. We left you a message at eleven o’clock and we’ve just sent the KP to the shops. You can tell your driver we don’t want it.’ He raised his voice and spoke quickly. ‘We’ll ring in our order tomorrow night. Have a good weekend.’ He ended the call and replaced the handset.

‘Is that pot for mash?’ Doug immediately asked him.

‘Yeah. Dave’s rumbling the potatoes.’

Doug continued dicing the shallots and called over to Ciaran. ‘Ciaran, give Dave a shout. I need those potatoes through.’

‘Is he back yet?’ Ciaran replied.

‘I don’t think he’s back yet dude,’ Steve added.

‘OK, Ciaran could you get the potatoes from the rumbler please.’ He turned to speak to Barry.

‘Twenty minutes? To go to a shop three minutes away?’

‘No idea. At least he turned up.’

‘Why’s he on this morning? He’s still wrecked from his party.’

‘Yeah,’ Barry replied with a smile. ‘You can smell the booze from the corridor. But Mary can’t do Saturday day, and Derrick’s not back till Tuesday.’ He looked at the sauces and garnishes in front of him. ‘Hey Ciaran, could you bring through some spoons too. Cheers.’

Ciaran pushed the tub of ciabatta to the back of their workbench, putting it next to the lemon wedges, chopped parsley and redcurrants. ‘It’s twelve fifteen in the Big Brother kitchen,’ he then announced with the affected razzmatazz of a TV presenter, sweeping his towel across the bench and scattering breadcrumbs and herbs to the floor. ‘Ciaran has been asked to go to the KP room.’ He tucked the towel into his apron and walked towards the door. ‘Disco Dave, the star kitchen porter, left some time ago to buy vegetables. Obviously a tough challenge for Dave as he hasn’t been seen since.’

Along the corridor towards the restaurant Lorna was polishing cutlery. ‘Hi Ciaran,’ she said to him. He continued in his TV voice. ‘Lorna the crazy film-maker is working in the restaurant today. She is standing next to the coffee machine and looking hot. Ciaran says hello to Lorna.’ He waved. ‘Hello Lorna,’ he added in his own voice.

‘I don’t think he’s back from the shops yet,’ Lorna replied. ‘And we need those coffee cups back.’

The impassioned shrill of Frank Black’s discordant voice was still bouncing round the shiny metal room. The album was on a loop. In the sink area to the left, pots and metal containers were piled in a haphazard construction of KP doom. Both of the colanders were attached, as were several other items the chefs would probably be needed back soon. The various utensils that were strewn across the runway to the dishwashing machine partially hid the trail of spilt coffee cups, stained saucers and sodden sugar packets. An abandoned tray of dirty cups sat in the machine. On the windowsill an open can of Irn Bru and a sealed packet of supermarket sandwiches were separated by Dave’s MP3 player and speakers. Kim Deal started telling a story about field hockey players.

The view through the gauze, bars, and dirt of the window suggested that the rain had now dried. The sound of an engine running was accompanied by the periodic scraping of metal on wood. Barrels of beer being rolled into the basement of the neighbouring pub. A delivery with an unitemised fume bonus.

‘Ciaran is in the KP room. It’s a mess. There is some studenty music playing.’ He looked around. ‘The poorly stacked cups and saucers are very noticeable and we can see that the pots are not in soak. Two bags of mussels have clearly been left out following their arrival earlier in the morning. No attempt has been made to clean them or put them in the walk-in fridge. Yes indeed, this housemate looks set for certain eviction.’ He closed the dishwashing machine and pressed the button to start the cycle.

In the small annex to the room, between the washing machine and the coats, shoes, and bags of the chefs’ changing area stood the potato rumbler, shuddering. Water was dripping onto the floor, and it surrounded the open sack of potatoes.

‘The potato rumbler is already on. Ciaran’s task is to return said potatoes to the kitchen for the making of mash.’ He pushed down the lid of the rumbler and it sprang open. He looked inside and recoiled in shock and with laughter.

‘Hahahaha. Classic.’ He had returned to his own voice. He closed the lid and continued laughing whilst walking back to the kitchen. Steve was rolling the tomato speckled dough into rolls. ‘You’ve got to check this out,’ Ciaran said to him.

‘Oh yeah?’ Steve followed him back through.

‘What’s up? Do you miss it here,’ he taunted. ‘You want to come back? Hey, maybe we can give you some extra shifts next week. Get you cleaning that grease trap again.’

‘Fuck off,’ was the reply from Ciaran. Then his face changed. ‘Check this out.’ He indicated towards the rumbler and opened it. Two narrow streams of water were jetting into the abrasive edged cylinder, and as it spun, four tiny marbles of potato bounced around. Ciaran smiled at him. ‘They’ve pure rumbled away.’

Steve laughed loudly and replied, ‘naw man, it’s a potato time machine. They’ve been sent into the future.’

Ciaran laughed at the response and replied, ‘Yeah, two days into the future to be exact. Look at the stop watches. Exactly two days out.’

As Steve laughed his dreadlocks fell over his face. He pushed them away. There were tears in his eyes. ‘So they are. Oh. My. Gaud. These potatoes have just become the world’s first time travelling vegetables.’ They both continued laughing, trying to think of more lines from the film.

‘What’s up?’ Barry had followed Steve from the kitchen and now stood next to them.

‘The KP left the rumbler on,’ Ciaran told him with a smile.

‘That’s a new one,’ responded Barry, peering into the machine. ‘Now that takes talent.’ He flicked the switch to stop the motor, and about ten seconds later the potato marbles came to a rest. ‘He might as well not have turned up after all. State the place is in.’

‘Mary’s gonna have his baws when she gets in,’ Ciaran commented.

Barry looked at him and shook his head. ‘No. I texted her. She can make it in for two.’

He reached into the sack of potatoes and started placing them in the cylinder. ‘C’mon guys, we’ve got tables coming in. It’s gonna be busy today. When these are finished bring them through and dice them. There’s a pot on.’

‘D’you want me to make the mash,’ Ciaran asked.

‘Nah, it’s fine. Doug’ll get it.’ He put in the final few potatoes then dusted the earth from his white jacket. ‘But, next time, you listening? Drain them with a colander, then put them through the ricer. For that amount melt three blocks of butter in the microwave, then salt, white pepper, and a litre of cream.’

He closed the lid and walked back to the KP room. ‘Sort this shit out while you’re waiting,’ he turned to add. ‘Lorna needs the coffee stuff back. And Steve, cover his section. There’s two soup on.’


~ by erskinebeach on August 2, 2012.

2 Responses to “mash”

  1. So is this where Gordon Ramsay got the idea for a food-based reality TV show? 🙂

    Might be interesting to see a soap opera based in a kitchen, now I think of it…

  2. Now that just reminds me of the good old days! Nice one G

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