I don’t really have ‘bad’ dreams. I tend to just have interesting dreams or boring dreams. Interesting dreams consist of things like converting an armchair into a speed boat and zooming about on rivers getting in the way of very serious looking rowers. Boring dreams are more like last night’s subconscious attempt at entertainment. I went to someone’s house, not much happened, then, when it was time to leave, I went to put my shoes on and could only find the left one. The rest of the dream, and my night, was simply me searching through hundreds and hundreds of shoes looking for one that matched. When presented with something so disappointing I feel that the only way not to be completely disheartened by the situation is to find some deeper meaning in the dream. After minutes of contemplation I have decided it probably means one of two things. Either, deep down I believe my friend Matthew Foster is a shoe thief (it was his house I was visiting), or perhaps the fact that I couldn’t leave the house due to my one-shoeness reflects that I am trying to move on from something before I am adequately prepared to do so. My guess is the former. Watch yourself Foster, I’m onto you.
This is usually the point at which I relate my random anecdote to something food related. Alas, that is not about to happen. I told this story to my family and they appeared confused and disinterested so I thought I’d write it here instead. Moving on....
After doing very little at home for a couple of weeks after my work at L’enclume (which last week moved from 2nd to 1st position in the Good Food Guide’s British restaurant list - I think it’s safe to say it was my two weeks there that helped them bump the Fat Duck off the top spot), I was off to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons for another two weeks of work.
More than any other restaurant I’ve worked in, Le Manoir holds particular meaning for me as it was the first fine dining experience that I really remember having, back in 2011 I think, and it was largely that visit that set me on the path I’m on now, so I was incredibly excited to be heading to the kitchens for two weeks. And if you know me at all, you will realise what a big deal that last sentence was, as very few things, save whisky festivals and Springsteen concerts, tend to make me incredibly excited.
The entire operation at Le Manoir was unlike anywhere else I have worked. The first thing that strikes you is the scale of the place as there are close to 40 chefs working there every day. No doubt as a consequence of the scale of the operation, there was also a level of organisation evident unlike anywhere else I’ve worked. And of course it goes without saying that the food is exceptional.
The people I worked with while I was there couldn’t have been nicer, and were keen not just to get you involved, but to really make sure you were learning something and understood why you were doing things, not just going through the motions. They were also very good at letting you get fully involved during service, something I’ve found that many of the restaurant kitchens I’ve spent time in fail to do. I was also lucky enough, after some pestering, to switch one of my days in the kitchen to a day working in the gardens which was equally fascinating, seeing the number of vegetables they grow themselves along with a myriad of herbs and microherbs.
Unfortunately, my time at Le Manoir is now but a distant memory and I am instead procrastinating, ahead of getting down to my Tante Marie project, by writing meandering blog posts.