Our guest blogger today is Andrew Vernon. He is a mechanical engineer who is living in the middle of a remote Australian rainforest doing dishes to afford beer and meat pies. Warning: there is some foul language, not suitable for kids.
Amongst the toil and froth of every restaurant, amongst the chaos and noise of a kitchen getting slammed, there will always be the dishy. While the wait staff are the smiling, happy faces of the business, the chefs the heroes of legend, the dishy is the unsung cog in the machine, pounding out the dirty work so that the rest of the show can go off without a hitch. The dishy is the one who makes sure your garbage is always empty, your shelves full of shiny dishes, your workplaces clean and organized.
Somebody must carry the burden of the grunt soldier, and that is the duty and honour of the dishy.
Is it a job that reaps heaps of praise and glory? No, but that is not the way of the dishy. Being a dishy is a role of honour and pride. The satisfaction of watching the circus that is the restaurant business play out in a seamless manner and knowing that it plays out the way it should because of the teamwork of all involved is satisfaction enough.
Boardies – To wear anything other than boardies is sheer folly. Either that or a lack of commitment. When doing dishes in a fast paced setting, you are going to get wet. The job deals with water 80% of the time, so you can guarantee you’re going to be soaked by the end of your shift. If you aren’t drenched, you’re going too slowly and taking your time, for which you should be shot.
Tea Towel – While the days of drying dishes in the kitchen is nearly over, the tea towel is still one of the most important tools in your arsenal. Even though the dishes have been pounded through the 1,000,000°C industrial conveyor belt dishwasher, some food is far more tenacious that it is given due. Granola is a mother fucker. Upon final inspection of the dishes as they emerge from the steam belching monstrosity, some little piece of food will try to be reintroduced to customers, and the tea towel will evict the unwanted food with the quickness.
Bucket and scrubbers – This is the border guard of the dishwasher. Pots and pans always need to be fleeced down before gaining access the dishwasher, or they will come out the other side with bits of burnt meat still baked on, resulting in a second run through. Unacceptable and inefficient. A bbucket of soapy water with a sponge and more importantly some steel scrubbies allows you to prep for wash. These are also needed for VIP dishes that need to be done faster that the washer will do. More on that later.
Scraper – There are times when shit gets burnt. I’m talking apocalypse-style-scorched-earth burnt. You will blow an elbow if you try to attack one of these travesties with a scrubbie. This is where the 3” putty knife commonly found in your local paint stores comes in handy.
With a deft hand, one can dispatch ¼” thick burnt spinach cream risotto in no time.
Tongs – The chef is getting smashed. They are pumping out pans and pizza trays like bullets from a chain fed machine gun, and you are the one responsible for keeping them stocked. There is no time to wait for those pans to cool off, and to pick one up is to achieve 154th degree burns. Tongs are like robotic hands that feel no pain, cannot be cut or burnt. With the proper tong training regiment, you can wield pans like a light sabres. It’s like being Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi.
Hands – Spooning the left over mash out of a big tray is going to take forever. Get your hands in there and get it done.
A dishy must work with an organized and active mind. If you want to get out early enough to catch a beer or two at the pub, you need to manage your time and keep track of your pace.
As the dishes come in, get them organized into the proper piles so like dishes are together. If you are panicking and throwing through trays of mixed dishes, you will be running around on the other end like a chicken that has recently had its head removed. Organize your shit.
Manage your dish load. If you are in the middle of service and you have one or two of each dish, let them build. Your time is better spent on other things that you would otherwise have to do later.
VIP dishes must be done. There are always the hot items that there aren’t enough of. Chop boards, ramikans (sp), oval plates and sauce pans. If any of these items show up beside the chef, you get it done and sweep it through VIP style with a quick scrub wash and return to its rightful place .
The world of the dishy isn’t for everyone.
The faint of heart need not apply.
If you can’t see yourself hosing down your legs with a fire hose on the dock after a garbage bag of sludge explodes all over you, this isn’t the job for you. If you can’t fathom yourself coming home soaked and stanking of a thousand soggy meals, this isn’t the job for you.
But if you can, ahhhh, my respects.