I have always been intrigued at what goes on behind the scenes of a top-notch restaurant. Braam Beyers, Junior Chef at Chef’s Warehouse, Beau Constantia, gives me the low-down on his first professional gig after graduating from the Hurst Campus at Backsberg in Paarl last year.
7:30am The team arrives on premises, we all greet each other with a great deal of excitement, even though we saw each other about eight hours ago.
7:35am Bags are put in lockers and we head downstairs into the kitchen to be greeted by The Boss Ivor Jones (head chef) and Dave Schneider (sous chef).
7:40am Every one grabs cutting boards, scrambles for containers, goes to their section and sets up for the day.
7:43am We then check our prep lists which were written the night before and make mental notes of what ingredients we need for the day. Large trays are grabbed and we head up to the walk-in fridge upstairs to get everything we need so that we are not running back and forth all day.
7:45am “Coffee up!!” shouts one of the chefs which is followed by an “oooooui”. We then all grab a coffee, gather around a table to discuss any menu changes, problems and what needs to be done for the day. Ivor then allows us to finish our coffee while admiring the beautiful views of Constantia Valley.
8:00am We all head back into the kitchen, put music on, make sure we have everything we need for our setup (knives, containers, spoons, bins etc.) and get cracking immediately.
8:30am The aromas are beautiful, the kitchen is loud, chefs are focused and we are in full force, ensuring that everything on our lists will be completed by lunch service.
11:00 The chefs start to finish up their last things on their lists, Ivor takes a walk around every section ensuring that they are on track and will be ready to set up for service by 11:30.
11:15 We start to setup for lunch service, cleaning down our surfaces, pulling out our garnish trays, checking if all our containers are full, ensuring we have everything that we need and that the kitchen is clean, organized and ready for lunch service.
11:45 Everyone should be set up ready for orders to come in. Any little jobs are then completed such as picking herbs, filling up service bottles with purées or dressings and ensuring you have everything you need as well as back up.
12:00 First guests are seated.
12:10 ‘Check on 1 for 2’ which is followed by a roaring ‘OUUUUUI’ from all the chefs. Service begins, the pace and adrenaline starts to pick up. Everyone becomes focused and every detail is monitored by Ivor, Dave and Chef Jami de Witt.
14:00 The restaurant is full, chefs are sweating, waiters are running, customers are smiling and chatting while enjoying their food and wine.
14:30 Last orders are put through, and the chefs start to top- \up all their dressings and garnish trays while making mental notes of what they need to top-up for dinner service which starts at 17:00.
14:40 Starters pack down, sanitize their surfaces and fridges. Cutting boards are then grabbed and we start cracking on with prep that needs to be done for dinner service.
15:15 All the sections (starters, middles and mains) are all packed down and have started prepping for dinner service.
16:00 Staff food is served which is prepared by a different section every day. The chefs are extremely pleased as they are ready for a good meal after a busy morning and lunch service. The chefs then take their food and go have a seat for 30 minutes outside, if they have the time.
16:30 The chefs go back into the kitchen and setup for dinner service as the first tables will be arriving at 17:00.
16:45 More coffee is served which must be about the third one of the day. Endorphins are released and the chefs get pumped for another smashing dinner service.
17:00 First guests arrive to be greeted at the door by our hostess, waiters and chefs from their open kitchen.
17:15 First order comes through and the whole process repeats itself, the chefs ready for another cracker of a service.
20:00 Last orders are placed, it is confirmed with the restaurant manager that this is the last order and the food is sent out starting again with starters.
20:15 The chefs on starter-section begin to unpack their whole fridge which is to be cleaned and re-organized, everything is wrapped, meat and fish placed onto fresh trays and their benches are once again cleaned and polished.
21:00 Everyone has finished service and the cleaning begins.
21:15 Grills are scrubbed, blazing hot flattops are cleaned and the kitchen clean-down is in full force.
21:45 Everything has been cleaned, floors have been mopped and polished, the chefs take a walk around the kitchen just to make sure that everything has been cleaned properly. We then head outside to have our customary end-of-day meeting where we discuss the day, any menu changes or ideas that any of the chefs have and finally our prep lists for the following day.
22:15 Everyone shakes hands and heads home after another long but good day in the kitchen.
I am currently a Junior Chef at Chef’s Warehouse Beau Constantia and this being my first full time job in the kitchen, I can say that it has blown my mind and surpassed any expectation of what I had. Working for the Chef’s Warehouse brand whether it be at Beau Constantia, Thali or Chef’s Warehouse in Bree Street, I think is a key point in growing as a young chef. This brand allows chefs to constantly learn about new methods, techniques and ingredients because of its menu that changes every few days.
I have been in many kitchens and there is nothing like this one at beau Constantia. For us, it’s not just another job, it’s our home, our playground where we all share a massive passion for food as well as a high amount of enthusiasm to learn, grow and reach our full potential as young chefs.
Working under Ivor Jones is a blessing as he is young but possibly the greatest chef that we have ever come across.
Having someone like him allows us to be ourselves, it allows us to make mistakes because he can relate to us, he has been through what we have been through, he is not an old school chef that just wants to rip people apart, he wants to teach people, guide people and help them improve every day and in my opinion that is a vital aspect in having a successful and happy group of chefs.