Dear diary: the reflections of a chef de partie working in a Michelin-starred kitchen

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th March 2014
This is the first in a series of quarterly diary extracts from Camilla Waite, a young chef de partie at Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 in Padstow. Monday 3rd February Here we are 2014, reopening after the three Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 -nick hook photographyweek closure, great to see everyone again all looking well rested and excited for another year. The first week, we started on the Monday and spent a couple of days preparing for opening on the Wednesday. There is a new member to the team who we all know. He has come over from our sister restaurant Rojano's. We’re sure he’ll enjoy it over here with us too! Tuesday 4th February We've sprung a leak! But luckily we have some lovely plumbers in Padstow and the problem is fixed within just a couple of days. Saturday 8th February   Crispy Porthilly oysters paul-ainsworth_david-griffen-photographyThere’s a couple of dishes changed main course wise and a dessert too. The cod dish has evolved, keeping its curry flavours, but now with a new recipe for the curry dressing, a sweet mixture of olive oil infused with spices, along with fresh tomatoes and mango, the cod is baked in beurre noisette and a korma curry seasoning, baked to 42c for a consistently gorgeous piece of cod for every customer.  There is white crab picked by us, bound with oyster mayonnaise, lime, chives and chervil, along with chargrilled baby leeks, crispy cod skin and oyster leaf.  There is now a dish for two on the menu - the Cornish lamb rump, brined and roasted with hay and aromats, the lamb is caramelized in foaming butter, presented to the table on a bed of hay, along with garlic, thyme and rosemary that were in the pan while the lamb was caramelizing; then it’s lid on the le creuset pan and off to the customers, where one of our front of house Paul Ainsworthteam present and speak to the customers about the lamb; then back into the kitchen and the plating begins – spinach, lamb’s neck ballotine, celeriac puree and celery leaf, both fresh and deep fried, are arranged on the plate, on the side a celeriac boulanger and a lamb sauce are served, the lamb carved into 4 pieces, returned to the le creuset and taken to the table for the customers to help themselves.  Then for dessert there’s another evolved dish, the ‘breakfast’ is now a trifle, we’re currently using rhubarb but the fruit changes with the seasons, using the vanilla yogurt panna cotta in the base of a goblet, a well is made, filled with poached rhubarb bound with rhubarb puree, covered with a disc of crunchy caramelized puff pastry, around the pastry poached rhubarb and puree but this time the two are kept separate, then just before serving an aerated custard tops it off, sprinkled with toasted almond slithers and astina cress, on the side a moist piece of saffron cake with currants brushed with an orange marmalade. I couldn't choose a favourite of the new dishes; they are all incredible!  Wednesday 12th February Numbers are steadily looking busier towards the weekends. Our day-to-day bits and pieces Banana cocoa slice ~ peanut pastry ~ yoghurt and lime sorbet - Copy paul-ainsworth_david-griffen-photography-149and general cleaning rotas being adhered to, produce being tasted when being made and tasted again before services. Our head chef John is busy doing dish costings for the new year, which is interesting as we get to learn about these important workings too.  Friday 14th February   Another lovely addition to the team, our sauces are now being kept in thermos canisters during service, reducing wastage and improving consistency of the sauce served for every customer. An exciting delivery has come -  Treescape, a bespoke carpenters, has brought the new wooden boards for the trifle to be presented on, another addition to some of the beautiful boards we already have for dishes and sides such as our oyster dish, parfait dish and pork side board amongst others.  Tuesday 18th FebruaryCaramelised shallot tart blue cheese  5jjj ham paul-ainsworth_david-griffen-photography-127 We have another addition to the team, from Rojano’s we welcome the former head chef into our kitchen. I have worked with him before at the seafood restaurant just around the corner, where I started straight after college. Friday 21st February  We’ve had our local asparagus grower in for lunch, she’s said all this bad weather and rain isn't great for sand beds, but fingers crossed it won’t affect her lovely crops. Ross Geach from Padstow kitchen garden has been in; won’t be too long now till he’s coming in the door with an armful of delights! We’ll be getting ready to say goodbye to forced rhubarb and have some outdoor rhubarb coming in, as well as getting ready for some wild garlic and purple sprouting broccoli which we put to good use last year. Can’t wait to see what treats we get in this year! Maybe some sorrel or seakale if this cold weather we’ve had allows it. Tuesday  25th February  Exciting changes on a couple of the starters - the oysters have evolved. Three oysters, Torched Cornish mackerel paul-ainsworth_david-griffen-photography-068which before were all crispy on a bed of apple and fennel salad topped with a thin slice of salami, now one will still be served like this, one other served naturally and the other served escebesh, the base lightly warmed, vegetables and liquor then the oyster put in at the last second quickly basted to take off the chill and placed into the shell on top of the still crunchy vegetables. I love the changes you get while eating this dish – now the raw cool salty sea, aromatic crunchy vegetables and a saffron tint and then warm and crispy, sweet and sour salad and umami rich salami, just delicious.  The next dish to be evolved is the veal sweet bread, now a ballotine of confit chicken legs, bound with a foie gras and marmite butter that is to die for, wrapped in wafer thin slices of Parma ham, served at room temperature with a layer of confit lemon on top and studded with parmesan crunch and crispy chicken skin, placed onto a bed of parsley pearl Camilla Waitebarley risotto. Wow I loved the dish before, but now these rich and fresh flavours combine to dance on the tongue and not leave the stomach feeling heavy, pure indulgence!   Camilla Waite has been a key member of the team at Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 for two years, working her way up to chef de partie. When she's not cooking up a storm, Camilla enjoys seeking adrenaline rushes, whether it’s trekking across Nepal or sky diving to raise money for Cornwall Hospice.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th March 2014

Dear diary: the reflections of a chef de partie working in a Michelin-starred kitchen