A Day in Life 2: From a Shortie to a Long Term Staff
How anyone can not smile on their return to KISC, I don’t know – so it’s no real surprise that I’ve been smiling since I got back here a couple of weeks ago, starting back as a Catering Assistant for the Summer!
It’s been a long journey back here for me, with visa refusals and changes in roles throwing up hurdles along the way, but it’s absolutely been worth it, having fallen in love with this magical place a year ago as a Spring Shortie of 2015. Back then, when I was voted as Smile of the Week, I explained what I get up to in an average day as a Shortie – but now as a Long Term Staff member my day takes a slightly different course, so I thought it would be interesting to have another look at what I get up to in an average KISC day.
Wednesday May 18
0650: Alarm rings. As it happens, I’ve been awake for a little while already, but I hop out of bed and into my pinks. I grab the things I’ll need for the day and my warm jacket, scarf, and beanie, and head out of my flat. I’m only about three minutes’ walk from the chalet, but it’s still cold here at this time of morning.
0711: I’m in charge in the kitchen today, so try to arrive a little earlier than everyone else to get things ready for the day. Bring up the bread, switch on the dishwasher and computer, and get an apron on. Check how many people we’re expecting for breakfast, and start setting up.
0715: The rest of the staff for the day are all in by now, and we’re in full set up mode. This first 15 minutes are intense, as we try to get everything set up by 0730 when we open our doors. Slice bread; put out the milk, yoghurt, and cheese; put on the coffee machine…
0730: We’ve a lot of guests for breakfast, so I send two of our team – my fellow Catering Assistant Putri and Shortie Josh – to eat while I work with Shortie Laura to get more meat trays set up.
0745: Laura and I quickly eat breakfast
0759: We all race upstairs to make it to our morning meeting on time. I have to deal with a few things in the kitchen and end up being slightly late, but arrive to a fun game and our morning notices.
0815: Back in the kitchen, I give an overview for the day. Spring’s deep cleaning time, so we’re deep cleaning various parts of the kitchen. Laura sees tofu on the menu and suggests she can start marinating it – when I realise we’re out of tofu! I set everyone on cleaning tasks before heading to our office to track down an alternative.
0830: We put some chickpeas on to boil and hope that we’ll still find a solution to our tofu crisis. We still have guests in the dining hall, so we have to restrict ourselves to cleaning that can be done in the kitchen.
0900: Our final guests depart, so some intense dining hall deep cleaning commences, involving window cleaner, vacuum cleaners, and lots of cloths. After a few phone chats with our wonderful Catering Supervisor Karin, I place an order with Hari, who supplies all our dairy products, for some halloumi, to replace the tofu, and hope that it’ll arrive in time for lunch.
1010: Coffee break! With our dining hall invaded by the rest of the staff team, we have to bring the half-completed deep cleaning to an end for the day. Everyone stops for a few minutes and I deal with a variety of requests for different things from various other staff members – peppers here, cheese there, and everything else in between.
1020: We really need to get back to work, so I give up on the idea of coffee break for myself by gather everyone back around our whiteboard, and set out our plan for the rest of the morning. No sign yet of our halloumi, but our chickpeas have softened, which is a start. Some of the other staff have spotted the appearance of halloumi on the menu, but I have to remind them it’s too late to become a vegetarian for this meal! Josh nominates himself to do dessert – steamed apples – while Putri and Laura offer to work on the main of ginger and honey pork/ tofu(/chickpea/ halloumi) stir fry.
1030: I work my way around the kitchen, seeing what everyone’s up to and helping out where it’s needed. So far no issues, so I quickly chop up lots of zucchini and set them to roast.
1100: Lots of taste testing! Everything’s progressing well, and it’s looking to be a nice, quiet day in the kitchen. Still no halloumi though…
1125: Hari’s here! He drops off our halloumi, a little later than I’d hoped, but not too late. I start frying it up while Putri and Laura continue working on the stir frys, and when it’s ready, I throw it in to our vegetarian stir fry. We do all, of course, need to taste test it first though.
1140: Everything seems in order in the kitchen, so I head out and start setting up – hot plates for the food go out, along with jugs on tables and signs to tell everyone what the different things we’re serving are.
1150: Josh checks the amount of whipped cream we have and sees it’s not much – we decide to whip some more.
1155: Food starts going out – five minutes to go!
1159: We open our doors! Josh is still whipping the cream, but that’s okay – there’s still some out there.
1210: A break in the line means that we kitchen staff start eating too. Josh is still whipping cream though, and we work together to try and speed the process up…
1218: My turn to eat!
1235: Time to get back in the kitchen – cleanup time!
1315: Dishes are almost done, and everything nearly back in order. I start confirming our numbers and menu for dinner.
1325: Everything’s tidy, so we gather back around our board. I explain the plan for dinner, and everyone agrees to work really quickly to get dinner together, which is quite a simple recipe. We head off to our lunch break, not needing to be back till 1620 – catering lunch breaks are the envy of the centre!
1330: After checking over my plan for the afternoon again, I head out to the coffee bar and join the rest of the staff out there checking out the works going on out the front of the chalet. We’ll have a new road in within a few days by the look of it, hopefully!
1400: Everyone else heads back to work. I head back to my flat and grab my iPad, then return to the chalet and head upstairs – I’m pretty tired, and a bit of Netflix is far more tempting right now than anything else.
1345: We’ll need more bread for dinner, so I put a few loaves of our ‘emergency’ frozen bread in the oven – most of our bread arrives fresh every day, but it’s handy having some in the freezer when necessary. Laura’s in the kitchen when I arrive – she and the rest of the Shortie team are planning tonight’s Staff Night Out – a weekly social event for staff at KISC – and they’re running a game and a pancake party, and she’s on batter-making duty.
1615: I review my plan for the afternoon and get myself ready. The kitchen’s currently inundated by staff on their afternoon coffee break, and things are getting pretty busy. I call the catering staff’s attention to the board, but for a moment it looks like I’ve tripled the size of my team as lots of other staff gather around to ask questions (What’s for dinner? Where does this go? Should I throw this out?). I answer them all and finally get to get everyone’s attention back to the board. Operation Ravioli and Bruschetta, GO!
1630: We’ve not got enough ravioli. We add in some tortellini to get us over the line.
1700: Masses of creamy cheese sauce is cooking away, while we make salads and organise the bruschetta. We get some bolognaise ready for our lactose free staff members too.
1740: Set up starts. Sliced bread comes out of the oven and we assemble the bruschetta.
1800: And dinner’s out! I shuffle around the many trays of bruschetta while sending everyone else to eat.
1820: I get some food myself, and let everyone know that they can collect seconds. The Shorties remind everyone of tonight’s Staff Night Out (SNO).
1840: The Shorties have all started back in the kitchen already, so that they can get a head start on getting everything ready for their SNO. I join them, but with so many people around I quickly head to the office to follow check up on the plan for tomorrow and start writing an update for those in the kitchen tomorrow (I’ll be away, enjoying my day off!). The Shorties are using the raclette plates, though, which many of them have never used before, and are cooking pancakes on them, based on something I organised for an event at the end of my season. I keen an eye on them and offer guidance as they set up.
1920: I get a reminder from the Shorties that I need to be out in the coffee bar in 10 minutes, ready to go!
1930: And we begin! Over the next 66 minutes, we have 66 tasks to complete as part of a a small group around the chalet. Amongst them is getting a selfie with an Australian, and my group ends up containing both me and another Australian, Dylan, resulting in a need for our group to quickly retreat to another part of the chalet for fear attack from all quarters! We have to climb trees, hide under beds, boil eggs, perform the staff skit and get ‘married’ to each other.
2045: We’re exhausted at the end of our 66 minutes, but have all had an amazing time. It’s now pancake party time though! I make sure the fire alarm’s turned off in the dining hall – the raclette plates will set it off otherwise – and check on the Shortie’s preparations.
2050: Let the eating start! We all cook pancakes at our table (though our table seems to be having a lot more trouble than most…), and cover them in chocolate and fruit and other good things. It’s one of the best SNOs I’ve been to (don’t tell the Shorties that though!).
2130: Time to pack up. Everyone helps out and the kitchen is crazy. People are everywhere and a lot of the LTS who don’t spend much time in the kitchen need a bit of guidance in where things belong. When most things are back in place, just Putri, the Shorties, and I remain to close up for the night. With everything apparently in order, I leave them be for a quiet moment amongst themselves – I was in exactly their position a year ago, and know how hard the next two weeks will be for them as they get ready to say goodbye!
2200: And I leave the kitchen! Everything seems in order for tomorrow, and I head out to the coffee bar. A few other staff are still there, so I sit and chat for a bit, before heading home.
2230: Back home in my flat, with no work tomorrow, I decide to treat myself to a bath – I’ve only been in my flat for a few days and have only used the shower, but have no work tomorrow, so why not! At the end of a long day it’s absolutely worth it.
We work long days here at KISC, and deal with many challenges popping up throughout the day, often unexpectedly, but working in such a stunning location with so many amazing people and being able to do something – managing a kitchen that prepares meals for up to hundreds of people – which I could never possibly do at home (I studied politics and linguistics back home, not how to be a chef!), makes it worth it every single day. I’ll never stop smiling while I’m here.