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This is a question Restaurants, Kitchens and Bars... Oh my!

Many years ago, I went out with a chef. Kitchens are merely vice dens with food. You couldn't move for people bonking and snorting coke in the store room. And the things they did with the food...

My personal vice was chocolate mousse - I remember it being very calming in all the chaos around me. I think they put things in it.

Tell us your stories of working in kitchens, bars and the rest of the nightmare that is the catering trade.

(, Fri 21 Jul 2006, 9:58)
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It's long, skip if you want - no apologies
Colonel, thanks for reminding me of some of the ‘characters’ at the Toby Grill:

Mark was our dim pot-washer. He actually said his ambition was to be a glass-collector at Yates’, not sure if he ever made it that far. He was about 5’ 2” and 17 years old, to get a good mental picture of him, imagine morphing the face of a mongoloid child onto a wombat. While working at the place he lost his virginity to a 22 yr old single mum who was at least 5’ 8” tall and very ugly, he thought she loved him. The look of pure delight on Mark’s face as the resident Friday night DJ played ‘Like a virgin’ for him to celebrate his popped cherry was heart-rending. Mark used to bike to work.

‘Dippy’ was a chef – in the loosest possible sense of the word. His nickname came from his not inconsiderable reputation as a pickpocket and thief. Once, he nicked Mark’s bike from outside the kitchen while he was working. Next day, poor Mark had to borrow his sister’s bike to get to work. Dippy nicked it, Mark never twigged, we all knew.

Pat the manageress was like something out of Coronation St. She might have been late 30s but first thing in the morning she looked a rough 65. She took up with the 22 yr old deputy manager who was a cnut of the highest calibre. They both ‘lived in’ and had free meals/drinks, so had more money than sense, or manners, or style. He had an MR2 and used to go (from York) to Manchester for a take-away curry. After a while, he started hitting her, she’d come down in sunglasses and tons of make-up, he’d come down with a smirk.

My least favourite customer was Mr Bastard. He’d come with his wife regularly every Friday night for a slap-up meal of pre-packaged dross. Each time, when he bought his first round from the bar in the restaurant, he’d say “Would you like one yourself Che?”, to which the standard answer would be “Thank you very much Mr Bastard, I’ll take for it now and have it later.” Fast-forward to the Bastards’ anniversary or some such. They arrived with about six friends and sat in the pre-food lounge area. At which point Mr Bastard turned towards me at the bar and snapped his fingers – yes, he actually snapped his fingers, then beckoned me over. I had to go over, take his drinks order and then carry the drinks back over for him. He had paid for this butler-like service with a few halves of lager. So, what was this snobby, arsehole of man in real life? He collected money from slot machines.

My favourite customers were a couple that lived nearby and were friends of Pat. They came in one night with a friend of theirs whose wife had just left him. They talked to him all night and he left around 11.15. There was a noise outside and the couple went out to see what it was. Their friend had gone outside, sat down against his van, stuck his shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. We all got home late that night.

To end on a happier note, we had a ‘back room’ with no bar that could be let out to private parties. A regular booking was for the Morris Minor Owners’ Club. I found out one of the favourite pastimes for this group was ‘guess the part’. They’d pass round a black velvet bag with a part from a Morris Minor in it, each member would feel inside the bag without looking and write down what they thought it was. There were ten rounds…wild nights.
(, Fri 21 Jul 2006, 13:53, Reply)

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