I wasn’t working last night at the Sausage. If I was then the following would not have happened. But it did. We need to learn our lesson. I’m sorry. I’m sorry to the customers who didn’t realise and I’m especially sorry to the poor diner whose lips swelled up and, according to my head waiter, Gordon, appeared to sprout blue splotches all over her face as he watched.
What did we do which was so bad, so heinous? Unfortunately, one of my chefs (now no longer one of my chefs) added alcohol to our soup. And not just a little alcohol but a lot of alcohol. A lot. Gin, vodka, I’m not sure what else. It wasn’t clever but it was bad.
I should also like to apologise to the customer on the nearby table who had their dinner suit speckled with vomit from the allergic diner, and in turn to their dining partner who received a plateful of pearl necklace all over her lap when her husband jumped up to avoid the vomit. (Bit of a waste of good seafood really). I also understand that the police took a lot of convincing that the poorly woman’s husband had himself not been drinking-and-driving; at least we now know that a breathalyser cannot distinguish between a glass of something which you have genuinely drunk and a bit more than a glass (or three) of something in your soup.
It was, as the French say, a slight faux pas. Or as we would say here, an absolute f****** nightmare.
PostNote: I have to tell you one more thing. The reason I wasn’t at my restaurant last night was because I was meeting a very interesting man who had an astonishing story to tell and an amazing offer for me. I can’t tell you more just yet – we are currently looking at contracts – but trust me, when you hear the news you are not going to believe your ears! It is something out of this world.
Watch this space…
I’ve been experimenting recently with cooking a few things which most normal chefs would just discard. And one of my successes has been the banana peel. And next month will see one or two of my new inventions hit the Sausage menu.
It’s funny how popular this has been with some of my sous chefs and even my head waiter, Gordon. Not only have they embraced the concept of using up all the banana skins in new recipes, but they have even taken away some of the more stringy parts of the peel for “our own experiments” as Gordon explained to me. Certainly there has been a lot more laughter in the kitchen since they started. And a lot more smoking breaks. And some of the chefs who I am sure used to smoke cigarettes are now smoking roll-ups. Good for them, I say.
Some of this is what you can expect from our new menu now or over the coming months:
- Banana peel curry. The peel is an amazing addition to a classic Indian curry, and adds a unique sweetness and texture.
- Deep fried Banana Skins: sliced very thinly and with a secret selection of spices, and a ginger ice cream. Delicious.
- Banana skin huts: I won’t tell you more yet – but they are something to behold.
I tell you, other chefs will be copying me in no time. Hashtag food trend.
Dramatic events last night at the Sausage! We were just finishing service and – fortunately – only a few tables were still occupied, when we suddenly heard the smash of glass and, as my head waiter, Gordon reported it, a brick “sailed through” one of the side windows and landed in the guinea pig cage. It took everyone a few moments to actually realise what had happened, and by the time Gordon and two of our other waiters had raced outside, whoever had thrown the brick had scarpered.
By that time, I had recovered the brick and found a piece of paper wrapped around it with a note written on it, made up from newspaper letter cuttings. This is it:
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t signed but I can have a good guess that it came from a bunch of animal activists. Clearly they do not like our current event of serving guinea pigs which the customers can select themselves from the guinea pig cage.
But it’s a bit of a crap communication, isn’t it. They’ve spelt my name correctly, which I am very flattered by, especially as it is probably the hardest word to spell on the note. But the rest is not even grade D spelling: ded? guinee? servnig? (maybe they are dyslexic activists?) They’ve got no idea of punctuation and the fact they’ve resorted to the lazy use of “texting” style (u rather than you) means my respect for them is zero. I’ve no real problem with people expressing their opinions but if you’re going to protest then do it properly.
The really sad thing is that the brick landed plum on one our Abyssinians, killing it on the spot, without so much as a final squeak. So now the activists have a guinea pig death on their conscious like it or not. Ironic, eh.
On Saturday night we had one of those customers who thinks it is cool to complain. A lot – And loudly. Well let me tell you, he picked the wrong restaurant to do that in.
You can tell the sort as soon as they walk in. In fact, you’ve probably seen his sort before: so cool in his eyes that he wears a huge, patterned shirt with at least the top 3 buttons undone, Armani jeans with a massive Diesel buckle, a huge f***-off watch which is so heavy I am surprised he can even lift his arm to w*** and usually some horrendous footwear he probably calls boots but look to me as if he nicked them off a pixie.
And he talks constantly, loudly and arrogantly. He slouches, smiles insouciantly at his girlfriend and clicked his fingers at Gordon, my head waiter, which let me tell you is taking your life in your hands.
Then he made his fatal mistake. He sent back the Amazonian Gecko, saying it was under-cooked (WTF does he know if a Gecko is under-cooked?!) and asked to speak to the chef. Which was absolutely bloody fine with me.
There are 3 ways I have used over the years to deal with such people:
- Steal their wallet and then make them wash-up. I don’t actually recommend this anymore since my court case. And we only used this approach when we had Jonno, one of our waiters who had spent a couple of years doing time for HRH. The basis was that he would finger the customer’s wallet and then when the customer found he couldn’t pay, we made the goon wash-up. It gave us great satisfaction but I did sometimes start to feel a bit sorry for any ex-dining companion who would be left alone with a glass of tap water. Plus, invariably the customer was crap at washing up so we would have to do it again anyway.
- Get their car towed away and only tell them this was happening just as it was being towed off. Again, I’m wary of the legal position of this one now. But it works a treat. It wasn’t difficult to spot the customer’s car – often they’d leave their keys ostentatiously on the table anyway, and if not then you can guess what they are driving 9 times out of 10.
- Suggest they arm-wrestle one of my waitresses. This is my current approach and is very popular amongst my staff and other customers. It works like this: Me to customer: “If you are not happy, I suggest you arm wrestle Yan, one of our waitresses. If you win, the meal’s on us, if you lose…” and I jerk my thumb towards the front door. The customer looks across at the waitress I am indicating. Yan is a 5 foot 2 Chinese girl and looks like she wouldn’t hurt an ant. So there is no way the customer can say no and lose face, so he accepts the challenge. Unfortunately for him, Yan could arm wrestle a bear and win. As I said, the other customers love it and the customer has to slink off with his tail between his legs.
Having said all that, what I would really like to do is to take a custard pie and just slam it in the customer’s face. That would be the very best approach. I am consulting my lawyer at this moment as to whether this is viable.
So I thought it was about time that I started my blog. Especially as this week, as I’m sure you know, I have a new TV show starting on Mad4Food TV channel: “Christoffel Cooks”. And “I’m pumped” about it, as my ex-sous chef would have said before he had to go back to East Jersey Penitentiary. (He had told me that was the name of a trendy New York eating house he had worked in when he applied at my restaurant; I should have known better when I saw the knives he was carrying. Still, you live – just – and learn. And my head waiter’s scars are healing now so that’s okay).
I had hoped that they would film it here at The Smoked Sausage but apparently our kitchen is too small. I told them it was a decent f****** size but evidently not if you need to have a TV director, two cameramen, sound engineer, make-up girl, runaround-boy or something like that, and various hangers-on, and then – minor point – my brigade as well. So we’re filming it at the TV studio where it will be made to look like a restaurant. But with other people as my brigade, and not my real staff! Finding that hard to swallow.
Not that I really mind. Other than the 24 mile round trip between the Sausage and the TV studio. The 5:30 am alarm call. The 5 hour filming. (5 hours! Can you believe it. For a 45 minute program. Less with the ads). And all the make-up which I have to take off before coming back to my restaurant or suffer humiliation in front of my staff. Apart from my Head Waiter, Gordon, who I think would be quite impressed by it.
At least the company pays for a taxi. Not that the bastard taxi driver had heard of me. “Christoffel who?” he had said when he first picked me up for the pilot. “Beycope,” I replied curtly, “as in the famous chef.” The driver sniffed. “Sorry, never heard of you, mate. Though I did have that Jamie Olivier in my taxi once. Fat geezer he was. Much fatter than he looks on the telly.”
I consoled myself with that.
Oh, I suppose I should also mention that Ainsely Harricot is on Christoffel Cooks as well. The TV company said they wanted a big name too. I hope Ainsley isn’t too pissed off that he isn’t thought of as a Big Name.