Monday, 12 November 2018

Shake Up at the Slieve.

Shake Up at the Slieve.
So it has been about 4 months since I last updated you guys on the situation at the Slieve Donard Resort and spa. A lot can change in 4 months. If I come across as negative in this blog post it's unintentional as I am still enjoying my time here, but without a doubt, it's become less enjoyable than portrayed in my last blog.

A lot has changed in the hotel as a whole. The Kitchen has had a new executive chef start by the name of Kelan McMichael. Which is fantastic and is teaching us new techniques and he has also really improved the HACCP standard and cleanliness of the kitchen. Which before he started was pretty bad. Kelan is great and has a great passion for cooking with local products and I think the standard of food has risen as a whole. Between the executive and head chef, they have drafted a new restaurant menu, lighthouse lounge menu, and afternoon tea menu, all that has been implemented thus far is the afternoon tea menu which has had a drastic overhaul. Which in my eyes was needed.
As with all of the hospitality sector, there has been a massive turnover of staff throughout the hotel, especially in the kitchen. This is due to illness and just working conditions in general which is a massive problem as more people leave the conditions and hours get worse causing the effect to snowball, also people are very unhappy with the rate of pay, which I would also be but as a student I’m glad to be being paid hourly and not just given a token paycheck.  But I’m lucky as pastry has only lost one person since I started and to be honest it wasn’t much of a loss. But something is going to have to be done about the staff shortages, God help them when the three of us leave after Christmas .
Another positive to happen to the hotel was the hiring of a new general manager, Michael Weston, he along with Kelan seem to want to change what the staff have become accustomed to and change the hotel for the better. Mr Weston met with all the staff in a meeting to introduce himself and to hear what the staff wanted to change about the hotel.  He's a great manager and is very charismatic, his hiring has left an overall sense of ease in the hotel and I believe the hotel is working a lot better.
I’m sure a lot more has changed but I can’t really think of any more. The constants are still there. We are still doing functions for a ridiculous amount of people probably the craziest was the northern Ireland travel and tourism awards which we catered for 450 guests all being served at once. We physically didn’t have enough space in the kitchen to plate up the 450 desserts so we had to use the Ansley room which is a large conference room close to the kitchen. The dessert chosen for the function was a Bushmills and honeycomb chocolate mousse which in itself is tricky to make but to make 450 of them is especially tricky. The only way I could capture the sheer scale of the production was in a panorama photo. but saying that it was probably the smoothest and well-organised function the hotel pulls off as all sections are focused on a single function as the rest of the hotel is pretty much closed. it was by far my favorite function to work for. heres a little taste of what the night was like for the guests

Other than that function we are slightly winding down with functions with only maybe one or two a week (compared to maybe 8 during the summer months). November is always a slow month here and we are gearing up for the crazy Christmas period. Which I'm sure will be interesting. 
i have pretty much became the a la carte pastry chef and have changed the presentation to be in keeping with the rest of the menu. One of my favourites is the chocolate orange tart with orange and coconut ice-cream. which I do useing my old vinyl turntable.
I also get thrown into starters every now and again and really enjoy doing the amuse bouche which allows me to experiment a tad. below is compressed watermelon with crispy parma ham and feta cheese.

I’m excited to work on the new menu with hazel and Kelan whenever we do implement it and work through the plating and flovours.

Other than work its great since my last blog post we’ve got a new Ba student join us and another person to have adventures with. Working in the hastings group allows us to stay in the sister property’s for a greatly reduced price.  Áine, Sáoirse and myself stayed in the newly opened grand central hotel in Belfast and had a brilliant night. It’s great to see what the groups offer and the hotel is amazing. It’s also perfectly situated to head to see Shrek the musical and then enjoy Belfast’s nightlife and 90p drinks.

Of course I couldn’t live and work at the base of the Slieve Donard mountain and not go up at least once. It’s a magical place and I see how the Mournes inspired C.S. Lewis when creating Narnia. Unfortunately due to the wind and encroaching inclement weather we only got half way up the mountain. But it wasn’t a wasted day  we had a lovely little picnic beside the glen river waterfalls.

Other than that life is pretty sweet I work 5 or 6 days a week and take it easy on my days off 
In other news I’m officially accepted into the culinary management program in Humber College so that’s gonna be my next adventure after Christmas I just have to survive probably the most crazy Christmas of my life.
Until next time 
Rob Condren

No comments:

Post a Comment