"Niles from home (part 2)" by Simon Dow

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th January 2011

Simon Dow Maitre de Cuisine Kempinski Nile Hotel Cairo To read part one please click HERE. So here we are part two of the adventure, yep that's right an adventure what else would you call it? So before I even get on the flight to Cairo there is a lot of background work that's needs to be done so that my wife and son have smooth transition period from departure to arrival, now I have never in the 5 years abroad have accepted anything less than a family package, just makes things easier for me. The big difference between moving the family and being single is easy, Single you accept a job get on the plane you arrive you work you play and then get paid simple. Now as for me it's not that simple, even before I apply or get recommended for a job there are many factors at play, schools, hospitals, dentist, supermarket living conditions, cost of living all play a huge role in whether I will apply or accept a contract. I had to sell the idea of living in Cairo to my wife then I have to sell the idea to my son who is 16, Now we as a family are well travelled and have experienced a lot in the world so for us as a family unit in just a matter of putting things in motion. Like I said in the first blog I will tell it you the pro's and con's of living outside of the UK from my standpoint so after selling the idea of a living in Cairo now we have to locate the school. Not just any school but the education system my son has been taught in for the last 4 1/2 years and there is only one option for me that is the British International school (these schools are private schools that do cost a lot of money but the education system is second to none and you would be hard pressed to find a better schooling within England, the schools themselves are positioned throughout the world and all follow the AQA standard of education). So with my sons school sorted each time you apply there is always an entrance exam and failure on the entrance means you child does not get accepted (the deposit I will mention later on). So I have accepted the position and contract flights are booked I will fly on ahead. My wife and son will meet me in 6 weeks time, my son is on track to start the school as soon as we arrive (word of advice here whenever you move get your kids at school as soon as possible purely for the fact the quicker there in school the quicker they make friends and settle.  School + kids +happy =happy wife). Ok so the ground works done I have the school sorted and I am off"¦"¦ Cairo here I come baby"¦"¦"¦Now I was greeted at the airport by the Exe Chef and a hotel driver now its slowly dawns on me what I have done and where in the world I have ended up. Its quite a sobering thought just 5 minutes outside of the airport all I could see in each direction was building after building it was like a huge sea of bricks and mortar. Now Cairo is the largest city in Africa the city is ready to burst at the seams unofficially there is over 50 million people in Cairo and poverty is rife you see firsthand and it does affect you. Now I was dropped at my temporary apartment and now the real work begins I always create2 action plans and a priority list of things to sort out first and foremost personal and work. I have 6 weeks to find apartment in a suitable area and after that find the nearest major supermarket. My first day at the hotel  was let's just say interesting the hotel was due to open the month after I had arrived and looked like from the offset this was  not going to be happening and by the look of things was not going to happen any time soon . From that minute onwards I started introducing myself to the key players in the team in the F&B and outside of the F&B team as well. Now you have 2 choices from this point onwards you can knuckle down get your menus done recipes costed etc or you can wing it and just enjoy the short working hours and just enjoy your time. Me I chose the first course of action get things done and use my time wisely as I know from past experience when the hotel finally opens you will not have time to rectify you wrongs. I was introduced to my kitchen team and they where a mixed bunch but what they lacked in experience they made up for in passion and that they also all had worked outside of Egypt which was a bonus. My job was simple or so I thought the brief was simple too. Ah I was so wrong the first thing I wanted to do was get the menus done dusted as the kitchen team where doing there inductions with HR so this left me with time to get this done. Easy enough I hear you say "¦Nope it's like this go to see the purchasing manger can we get this product"¦.uuuuummmmm"¦.Ok  what about this uuuuummmmm "¦ok we are off to brilliant start then I had a stroke of genius if you want to see what products you get in any country go to the largest supermarket in town .  Carrefour here I come"¦. This is simple logic if it does in the supermarket a supplier somewhere can get you this produce so I based my whole menu on items that I could get readily available from the local market until such time as the purchasing department can get the suppliers onboard. As the weeks passed nothing much was happening and I was on the verge of insanity I was going stir crazy still hadn't found apartment the hotel was not going to open anytime soon and it seemed we where all stuck in limbo..I had done everything I could possibly do SOPS, recipes, menu, but until the kitchen where ready we could not move or do anything. It was hard trying to keep myself motivated as well as the team. And on that note I will keep you in limbo until the next blog where the kitchens are ready or so we thought and the arrival of the family and things really start to take off!!
The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th January 2011

"Niles from home (part 2)" by Simon Dow