Guest blog: Vive le Scratch!
Get happy Francophiles because this week is French week. Which means cheese from the best ‘affineur’ (an ager of cheese) in France and the finest cheese available to mankind. Dishes to be decided are onion soup, perhaps some lamb fillet and maybe a fruits de mer platter. And then a completely French wine list. Oh mumma.
Routine and rhythm have emerged over the seven weeks in and out the kitchen. During service David is “on the pans” with a sixth sense for what’s in the oven and Ben is waiter and maitre d’. After opening hours Ben’s responsible for the books and bookings and David looks after food orders and the daily feeding of a hungry starter (a sourdough bread mix needs ongoing flour and water added).
Scratch is only open 3 days a week but that’s over 100 hours for both Ben and David. Add the non-kitchen business administration for an extra days work each and the duo will pocket slightly more than the minimum hourly wage. Long shifts standing up under fluorescent lighting next to burning stoves lead to working conditions that don’t attract typical 9-5ers.
Many professional kitchens collect “waifs and strays”, folk not used or suited to office life, say the pair. As both some kind of sanctuary and cauldron “institutionalised violence and bullying” is expected and routine. Tales of cling-film covered naked commis chefs are de rigueur. The culture is being addressed in France but still remains part of a junior apprenticeship.
The Scratch team remain quite chipper as guests continue to come back and the time investment paying off with the busiest week yet. Both have a more sanguine approach to cheffing, a philosophy preferable for personal stress levels and a close business partnership. And also making good food I’d imagine. Stay tuned for more tales next week. Hourra!