Coronavirus Diaries: David Anderson at Black Tap
Early starts and late finishes for the corporate executive chef
I wake up as early as 6:30am for my daily routine. I get out of bed, brew some coffee and make some breakfast then take my vitamins I usually listen to either a podcast or metal rock music and talk to my family back home in the US.
By 8am, I am ready to explore the world even if I always feel anxious about this pandemic. Before I open my front door, I kiss my wife goodbye for the day then wash my hands, sanitise, and put on my face mask and gloves as a safety measure (this is my new normal).
I usually arrive at work two-hours before the restaurant opens. I lock-in one of five Black Tap locations in the UAE. I get together with my team and go over opportunities to coach and motivate our managers and staff, while always striving to raise the standard for safety sanitation, and culinary brilliance.
Sales reports, and product mixes are implanted permanently in my brain and simply became muscle memory. Receiving guidelines for incoming products is extremely important that we get the best fresh products and ingredients that money can. We ensure through daily diligence and checklists that any vehicles that bring our products are inspected on the spot for broken boxes, cleanliness, or any physical or microbiological hazards, and every food item is according to its appropriate temperature. Our receivers and kitchen supervisor ensure to receive, sanitize, disinfect, and store all products coming into the back of house. The team are wearing face masks, gloves, stopping to wash their hands and change gloves every 30 minutes, and keep distance from each other.
The food cycle is so critical and we use the best beef, freshest vegetables, and groceries from all over the world to ensure a delicious memorable experience one plate at a time. We have several sanitation and cleanliness records and disinfection guidelines and systems in place that are maintained throughout the day. Daily prep lists are created to make sure that we are preparing the freshest food possible. All sauces and prep were validated by the chef in charge before it is labelled and stored appropriately. Line check is conducted to be certain all equipment are working efficiently and stations are set up for operation and show time ready. The recipe of the day is made together side-by-side with the whole team, as well as building our awareness of allergens and increase the depth of knowledge to achieve ultimate guest satisfaction and attend to any of the guests’ needs or concerns.
Lights camera action! It’s very important to create a fun positive atmosphere with your staff and create a positive high energy environment where a team can come together, learn and create something special. It is very important to be firm but fair and always treat the staff better than you wanted to be treated when you were in that position. People are the heart of our business, and our greatest resources, and always give back to the staff, by having great rewards programs, and a chance to grow their careers. From the dish room, to the head chef, everyone has an important role to play together, and need to coexist in the restaurant symbiotically. Which means one cannot survive without the other in order to be successful and run a flawless shift.
Dinner shift. Mostly the rush hour takes place. From the first ticket until the last, we give the highest attention and effort in every dish that leaves the kitchen. We coach opportunities to improve throughout the day and brief the staff swiftly during team alignments and what we can do to be better than the day before. We create station workshops for staff training & developing on a monthly basis. I work on a lot of new food tasting testing and R&D to create fun delicious specials, and possible new menu items. Closing deep cleaning disinfecting and sanitising the equipment. A chef does not count the hours in a day, we do not go home until the job is done.
After work I go home and reflect upon the day, I decompress and unwind. I create a unique meal (most of the time) for my family and try to chill to the max. Most of my spare time at home after work, I play my Red Dead Redemption game on my Xbox (you can never go wrong with this game!). I normally lay in bed by 11pm, however it depends on what time I came from work on a daily basis.
Everyday is most likely the same routine, especially during this time of pandemic. However, COVID-19 taught me a lot of good things. To be grateful and to stay healthy as you can be.