Published on January 12th, 2013 | by Ann Rickard0
Dining – 400 meals a day
Daniel Dyer cuts a picture of precision with his masterful knife strokes. But he likes to give his chefs a laugh in his busy kitchen rather than a roasting Gordon Ramsay style.
Chefs work long and unsociable hours and unless they make it to celebrity status they receive little recognition. We talked to chef Daniel Dyer, who works in one of Queensland’s busiest services clubs, Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club, serving up to 400 meals a day.
HOW DOES YOUR DAY START?
It actually starts the night before, with ordering and planning for specials for the next day. Then the first job I do is to check all the supplies that come in. Sourcing the produce and products is a big part of the job and it’s important to have good relationships with the suppliers. They’ll let you know when there is a good supply of a certain ingredient. You have to watch the buying carefully. Being a head chef means you have to do more than cook. Any business comes back to figures and percentages. You must be conscious of what you’re ordering, watching the prices.
HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH MENU IDEAS?
You tap into all the dishes you have seen over the years. You have your pairings that work well, such as tomatoes and basil, and you work out everything from there.
WHAT IS IT LIKE DURING A BUSY SERVICE?
If you have all your prep done and everything is in its place and set up correctly it works fine. If you are not prepared, a service can turn into a nightmare.
TELL US ABOUT THE PREPPING?
You must have all the ingredients ready. We make up packs. Say we have prawn pasta on the menu. We put all the ingredients into one container so we have just one movement during service rather than having to reach for five or six ingredients. We talk about movements on a plate. You only want three movements – the main ingredient, say the steak, and then the other movements would be the carbohydrate and the vegetables. When you do this style of club-food cooking with a high turnover you don’t have time to spend on each plate.
DOYOU HAVE STRICT KITCHEN RULES DURING SERVICE?
Yes, very much so. We ensure we have one chef on the grill, one on the fryer, one on cold larder and one responsible for the whole kitchen. Communication is the key. Getting all the orders out at the one time to the one table is vital. You can’t have one person sitting waiting on a meal while all the others are eating. It takes a lot of co-ordination.
IT SOUNDS STRESSFUL?
It can be pretty draining. I like to keep the emotions down in my kitchen. I don’t like that Gordon Ramsay style. I nurture an environment where the chefs are switched on but they are having a laugh.
WHAT IS IT LIKE STANDING UP FOR ALL THAT TIME OVER A HOT STOVE?
It takes its toll. You get home at 10 at night and you’re still switched on. It takes a while to wind down and by the time you crawl into bed at midnight you’re already planning your next day.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Some chefs do it because they love it and others do it for a job. Whatever you do you want to be good at. At times I have sworn I will never cook again. I’ve had breaks from the kitchen and for the first few weeks it’s great, then there is a niggle that calls you back. I think we get addicted to the rush we get out of it. There is nothing like the feeling when service is over and you have a beer in your hand and you know you have achieved something good.