Last week I had my first full time week in the kitchen at George Street for many years. Contini at Home launched. Thank you all lovely people for your orders and your support. We’re here for you and thank you for being there for us.
I loved it. A little adjusting my position (no sore backs wished for), reorientation, remembering where the salt is kept etc but with two long standing members of my team around me I am in a comfort zone.
Comfort zone in that I’m in task mode, and I know that we’re starting to generate an income again, albeit tiny. Eight weeks of a business closure is frightening. At times I’ve had little hope of seeing a solution, we still can’t see what restaurant life will look like, if it is a sustainable existence, but cooking for you to enjoy in your home, will, I hope, get us through the short term.
The morning starts with a harvest from our Kitchen Garden. Salad leaves for the starters, rhubarb for the panna cotta, thyme for the arancini, lovage for the roasted Italian vegetables, chives, violas, and many other lovely herbs and flowers. We say what we do. Nothing like a family business to deliver what it says on the 100% sustainable packaging.
Straight to George Street. Temperature check on arrival, wash and change. Team meeting. Discuss the learnings. Deliveries in hand so it’s straight to prep.
This time last year I would be planning for the summer, coordinating over 100 team members in four venues, looking at our additional festival recruitment of about 30 and loads of meetings. Marketing, menu development, accounts and admin were the priority. Now my hands are in the sink. George Street had a team of 40 and now there are 5 of us. Two additional members of the team joined on Saturday.
Working with a mask for 10 hours, washing every 20 minutes but in a space that was designed for service not for production is challenging. Stay alert by all means applies. I have the responsibility of my team, our customers and myself but I’m also very aware of my family.
We are taking orders until 9pm at night for next day delivery. 10am, lovely Alina, who is our rock, signs off the orders and the kitchen starts cooking. We’re aiming to start packing around 2pm, refrigerated and then aiming for delivery between 3pm and 7.30pm.
We’re all having to learn new tasks, review, streamline. Resilience is vital. Nothing is normal.
Anyone collecting from the restaurant is asked to stay in reception and their order is brought to a collection point for them to take home.
We have some help with deliveries but Victor and I are trying to do as many as possible. Why? Well it’s really lovely to see our customers faces. It makes it feel real. We are a family business and we know it’s not just about our food, it’s about the “Victor welcome” and the “Carlo cuddle”, the best way we can do this is by saying thank you ourselves.
Wearing a mask is strange. It’s sore for sure. (I can’t imagine what full PPE in a hospital environment must feel like). But our eyes become even more important. My father used to say you smile with your eyes, and it’s so true. Our eyes are the windows to our soles and we’re all going to have to acknowledge and share our feelings through our eyes.
I’ve done every job my team has done and deliveries are no different. What became clear on the first day is I don’t want to risk any of my team going into a shared flat complex. So all deliveries will be left at the main door and we’ll wait until you come down and collect. With potentially 20 deliveries in any hour we have to take all steps to ensure everyone’s safety.
The last delivery is a relief. We’ve achieved what we set out to do. Check orders for the following day, thank the team, head home.
Normally coming home is cuddles. Now it’s wash, bath, change. Then cuddle. The impact on all parts of our lives is so difficult to comprehend. Not cuddling the team, which we do from time to time is strange, not giving a customer a kiss, which we do from time to time, is strange but not holding your children is disorientating. It brings it all into perspective.
We have no choice but to go back to work. We have commitments that we have to deliver. We need to find a way to generate an income. There have been challenges getting some of the team to work. Yes, stay at home and protect the NHS is vital. We are feeding people and providing a service, and we are absolutely committed to doing this safely for you our customer and for our team.
Contini at Home is a start. We’ve started cooking, we’ve started delivering and our customers are sharing the most beautiful feedback. Thank you
Keep well and keep safe and keep ordering!
Love happy Covid cooking