I’m here, in Mannheim, working at Restaurant Amador. I arrived shortly before Spain played Italy in the Euro 2012 final. I was hoping Germany was going to be in that final, and I planned my flight so that it would fall on a day of no Euro matches. That Sunday, the 2nd of July, the restaurant held an “open house” event, and about 300 people attended. We roasted a pig, and the guests enjoyed some fine pork, among many other things.
My first day in the kitchen was Saturday, July 1. I worked hard – everyone in this kitchen works hard – and long. Harder and longer than I have in a while. I’m not complaining, just remarking that 15-hour days are long days.
Days that long contain plenty of time to peel parsnips for stock, to chop garlic and shallots, to shell and clean beautiful crabs, removing all of the yellow and reddish tissue and leaving behind nothing but briny white meat. Plenty of time to clean and scrub floors and counters and walls and ovens. Enough time to get to know the cooks in the kitchen, from whom I am learning a lot.
On the evening of the open house, after all the guests had gone, we set up a projector and watched Spain decimate Italy, watched the Spaniards show the rest of the world how to play football. We sat in the restaurant, eating beautiful steak, drinking some good wine, tired from the day’s work but happy. (Except for the Italian supporters; they were upset.)
As I watched the match and sipped a dry Spanish white, I thought to myself: I am in a three-star restaurant, watching the final match of the European Championships. I just finished a long day working in a great kitchen, a kitchen full of great equipment and ingredients. Some of my colleagues had just dried off from swimming in the pool on the restaurant’s grounds after their long days and were sitting near me, eating and watching the match.
I was tired, and I was just a little jet-lagged. But I was where I wanted to be.
It has only just begun, and I am loving it.