This is part of the new series of blog articles called “A Writer’s Guide…”, check out this article by writer R. H. Hammer on being a cook at a bar.
Being a Cook in a Bar
By R.H. Hammer
I have been working as a Cook at a bar in the Netherlands, Europe for little over a year. I have always loved to cook. It’s my second passion after writing. The sounds, smells, taste and texture makes my heart sing at times.
One day I found an ad looking for a cook and I went in and applied. I got the job and was thrilled.
I am a self-taught cook so it’s always nerve-wracking to try and convince others that you are indeed good enough for a job without having the proper paperwork to back it up.
The bar I work at is open in the weekends from 06.30 at night to whenever the last person leaves. Then we still need to clean so it gets around 06.00 most times until we can go home.
At the bar, you can play pool, some darts and lasergame. But just sitting at the bar drinking is also allowed of course. During the week it is open from 06.30 to around 12.00 at night and on Wednesday and Saturday it’s also open during the day for kids parties (the lasergaming)
At first glance, being a cook might sound like a simple job but besides the cooking for the guests that come to the bar, we also do catering for parties from time to time. It’s then that I work with a Chef and learn the most.
What does my shift look like? Well let’s bring you into my kitchen world:
I work graveyard shifts on Friday and Saturday nights and work on Tuesday night too.
Why do I call it graveyard shift? Because of the time, only people that are dead and rise again will sit in the bar until 06.00 or 07.00 in the morning and run back into their graves before the sun comes up fully.
I start at 09.00 at night and begin my shift with, what else, putting on my apron and making sure my hair is pulled back in a tail. People that are drinking might like to eat but that eating shouldn’t include my hairs…
Then I put on my own music, which is basically anything I feel like.
Most times, because during the hours before I start working the people that are behind the bar pouring the drinks make some little food, the kitchen is a wee mess and I have to clean it first.
And if there is one thing I hate its working in a mess.
Then when all is sparkly clean I get to dirty it up myself but hey, no worries, I clean it too when done at night.
I start by filling up the supplies in my fridge and throwing things away that are close to their expiration date.
I cut onions and boil eggs. Clean the fryers if needed( always a lovely job…yes it’s sarcasm) and check if I have enough supplies to last me the next few days. If not I write down what I need for the days ahead so my boss can order it.
Then I check my inventory of spices and other products like sauces etc while orders roll in.
I work alone in the kitchen but If the night gets crazy I can always ask my boss to jump in.
On normal weekends I see around 50 orders coming in per night. Remember that all the other things I do in the kitchen I do in between orders when I can.
Orders can be stuff like Nacho’s or a fresh-made Club sandwich. We have a menu that people can order from.
It’s awesome to create something that looks good and taste great and then get a compliment for that food.
Besides the order and the gathering of the supplies I also have to serve the food too if its to busy for the servers to do so. It’s a fun way to interact with the customers but I prefer the private space my kitchen provides me.
I get the food requests through a little printer and can make it in my own time within reason.
Of course, it needs to get sent out as soon as possible but when busy I rather send out good food than bad food but on time.
I also register the temperatures of the fridges and freezers as by law one needs to always have to be able to show the food is stored at the right temperature. Also using stickers to code the date and time and product name is needed to ensure no one gets sick while eating at your place.
I took a class for this and got the certificate that ensures I know what I am doing with the food your eating.
I also took a First aid class for companies that helps to act when someone gets hurt.
There are many rules food has to go through before it can be used.
A cook needs to know where their food comes from, what the temperature was when it left the facility it came from and also check the temperature when the goods get delivered.
Store it in a proper manner and use it within the limited times you sometimes have.
Every so often I need to ask my supplier if he can do a check, which means he has to send his product to a lab to check bacteria etc and then give me the results. This ensures the product I am handling is a good one.
The end responsible is still my boss but I do take responsibility as much as I can for the food I serve.
Besides the normal stuff, we have special beer events that will gather as many as 1500 people at once to our bar to drink the new seasonal beer and get a little bite to eat with it. You can imagine how busy that is. But also so much fun.
The parties are nice too. Its making food in bulk. The foods we serve can be whatever the party wants.
In the end, it’s a fun job. I get to do what I like to do and interact with some nice people along the way.
Soon I will get a how to deal with a robbery training that will be interesting for I have no idea how I will react in those kinds of situations. From here I have no idea what road I will take but for now I am fine where I am.
Hope I gave a good inside of a Dutch kitchen.
If you have any questions please just ask.
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About R. H. Hammer
R.H. Hammer is a writer, cook, and mom of three, living in the Netherlands.
Ever since she could read, books would surround her. Creating a fantasy world where she could be whoever she wanted to be. She started to pursue her writer dream in 2018.
Her work includes mostly Fantasy, Romance and Urban Fantasy, all sprinkled with a dose of her own humor.
Some of her work includes Magic Amongst Us, The Cauldron, Change of a Lifetime and Reapers, all still work in progress. She is also drawing up an Encyclopedia to connect all the creatures from her worlds.
R.H. Hammer loves to connect with others through Twitter, so please don’t be a stranger… but do stay strange.
Do you have knowledge of a skill or occupation? Would you like to be part of the Resource Team?
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All the “A Writer’s Guide” articles will be linked to their new page for easy access. I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions for R.H. Hammer, please drop them in the comments below.