Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Oysters Are No Aphrodisiac

Recently while faux chefing at The Big Pointy Building, a very important function was taking place. There was a lull in service while speeches took place. Chefs and kitchen hands milled about restlessly. Head service peole joined us. Hushed chatter, a few stifled laughs.

Guy in a tux walks through our makeshift kitchen area with a glass of wine, obviously on his way outside for a cigarette or something. I recognise him as the frontman of a pretty well-known Australian band. He spots a platter of leftover oysters sitting on a table I am standing next to.

"Do you mind if I have an oyster?" he asks. "I'm one of the guests."

"Sure," I reply. "Help yourself."

This is the entirely wrong thing to say because the head chef has a rock solid policy of no one eating in the kitchen area, aside from chefs who must try the food from time to time. Wait staff - forget it. Guests? Fuck off back to the guests' area to eat. I'm just a little more casual about it all, which is wrong. I always shrug and figure it's food that's going to waste anyway, someone wants an oyster they can have an oyster. But this is wrong because I am only a faux chef, not a real chef and certainly not the Head Chef.

I turn around to ask Famous Singer if he is performing tonight and see that he has settled his glass on the table and is hunched over the oyster platter eating a lot more than an oyster.

Not good.

I then glance over just as the head chef looks up from the food he is putting the finishing touches on and sees Famous Singer eating the oysters - only he doesn't see a famous guy, he just sees some wanker in a suit making a pig of himself and I realise that a total innocent is about to suffer the consequences of my slackness.

"OI!" Head Chef snarls as he crosses the room. He's a pretty big guy. Forceful presence that can ooze menace. "The fuck do you think you're doing? I don't like you coming into my area and eating my food. Fuck off somewhere else to eat food!"

Famous Singer looks like Withnail in that pub scene when the red-neck local is threatening him and 'I' ("I have a heart condition. If you hit me it's murder...").

"I did ask," Famous Singer simpers and the glowering head chef, "but yes of course I'm so sorry."

Later, there is another lull in proceedings, this time for a musical interlude. It's an all too familiar whining voice with piano accompaniment. We're all a bit stir crazy by this time because we just want to get on with the function and get out of there. We're talking in hushed tones again. At one point there is talk of the singer and Head Chef asks who it is.

"That," replies one of the service people in his very dry Scottish accent, "is the man you were so rude to earlier."

Head Chef is amused. He denies that he was rude, says he just didn't want him to eat in this area and invited him to go elsewhere. There is much stifled sniggering because everyone saw exactly what happened and it was pretty damned funny.

"Even funnier," I say, deciding to fess up, "is that he did actually ask. I said yes and five seconds later you're ripping the poor bastard's head off."

From out in the function area Famous Singer gets a round of applause and starts on another song, much to our dismay.

"Fuck me," Head Chef says. "Where's that platter of oysters? Might take it out there now and say 'here, want an oyster now? Lee says you can have one."

It can be such a stressful job, but it does have it's nice little moments too.


Anonymous said...

You gotta have your fun where you can. My current entertainment is teasing the woman I work with for not being able to pronounce names right. She thinks Dimitria is same as Dimitra, and Nadia is Nadira.

Kathryn said...

Oh god, I could go for an oyster right now.

bohémienne said...


But they are, you know. Aphrodisiacs. ;)

quick said...

Good one Amira :)

Oysters weird me out a little sometimes, Kat. Love 'em other times.

Thank you Bohemienne. And thing is, aphrodisiac or not, what I was craftily doing there was leaving a little clue in the post title about the identity of Famous Singer. He's probably unknown outside Australia, but if anyone can guess who it is they will win the prize. Which is an oyster. Ooh. I am ever so crafty.