8 years ago today…

So 8 years ago, i was working as Head Chef of The Crying Tree Gastropub & Function Rooms in Liverpool. I had a pretty hectic job, overlooking the food operation of a 90 odd cover restaurant, and 3 function rooms that had a capacity of about another 500 people. I loved the job and my employers loved me, but for some time now I’d been itching to get away from the comfort zone and my girlfriend (now wife) was on board too.

We first met in Austria…Vita was running a 9 bedroom guest house in a beautiful ski town called Bad Gastein, and she had given up her lovely lifestyle to move in with me in some grotty ground floor flat in Liverpool, as we planned on starting a family. Anyway…Vita got her old job back and we had free live-in, which was pretty cool as we were properly on the bones of our arses for quite a while before moving abroad.

I was offered a job right away through a local restaurateur called Alex. I had visited his place a few times for a date with Vita when coming to see her in Austria, and some absolute piss head had told me was is #7 ranked chef in Europe🤣. I’m clued up on these things so I knew it was bullshit, especially after eating his food. That’s not an insult by the way, his food was spot on…proper Alpine style, big portions, big flavours, very basic presentation, and not expensive.

My German was shit back then…could barely string a sentence together, and even when I did the Austrians looked at me in a funny kind of “fuck you” way…so I didnt make too much effort. I did try with my boss and his wife though, although their English was brilliant i felt like a tit, so I learned bit by bit and my culinary german was getting better.

After the first week tourists started arriving, and the ski season was pretty much on the go. We only had a small menu…several starters, about 10 mains, few desserts, was straight forward.

Alex was the chef, but also a great host and people visited as much to see him as they did to eat his food and drink his drinks, so he was always doing 3 things at a time. On saturdays he must have had some pre orders or something, I dont remember the reason but I was asked to pre prepare about 60 pork schnitzel, then cook them to order…so I did.

(As i said…my german was shit. I’d only been in Austria for a week, so was fucking all sort of sentences up, the staff must have been ripping the piss out of me).

So alex is flying round at a hundred miles an hour…I’m serving all of the soup starters…beef consume with sliced pancakes…sounds rank right? It’s amazing. So so tasty. So that’s left the kitchen and some mains are being called away…so I start frying the schnitzel in a pan with hot clarified butter, both sides, nice golden brown, then onto paper towel to absorb the oil…all going sound as a pound.

Next thing, Alex flies in an asks how the schnitzrls are going, I shout “kaput chef”. Then it goes like this….

Alex “what did you ssy”

Me “schnitzel ist kaput”

Alex (head in hands) “why kaput?”

Me “alles ok chef”

Alex launches a wooden spoon and nearly takes my head off, going mental in German mixed with local dialect so I’m now just watching some mad fella trashing his kitchen, then gets in my face, screaming, showering me in his spit.

Me “fuck you, I’m out of this shit hole”

Then his wife runs after me saying “he doesnt mean it, please dont go, we need you here for the winter season, this happens every week, hell be ok tomorrow”.

So I went back in and I started playing up the schnitzel. Alex walked in an expected to see some burned pieces of shit, and realised they were actually perfect. I served them with the help of his wife while he calmed down over a pint of warsteiner, then brought me a box (20 x 0.5l bottles) Kaiser beer and shook my hand.

I said to him “sorry I swore at you, but what just happened, I cooked what you told me to cook, so I’m a bit confused”

Alex said “kaput means destroyed…fucked up…ruined. it has a totally different meaning than Finished”

So I’d basically thought I was telling him the schnitzels were finished an ready to serve, but insted I said I’d fucked them up🤣. The trials and tribulations of learning a foreign language.

Anyway…that was 8 years ago today. It ended with us both getting pissed on Austrian beer…still, we had many more fights that season, this was just the start! Great guy tho and good people to work for…when he wasnt smashing up his kitchen🤣.

Enjoy your day people.

John

Wiener Schnitzel mit Kartoffeln, Salat und Preiselbeermarmelade

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