This morning, the rain pouring out of the purple skies in tropical fat drops woke me up. Lightning and thunder were shaking the cabin at the same time, a fantastic spectacle. I hurried into the shower, a semi-outside facility, and stood in warm shower-water under the open sky. My days are long in the kitchen; yesterday, over fourteen hours were spent, and there was no ease in sight. We at Zeavola Resort are in preparation for the opening ceremony, inviting the monks to bless our hotel, and arranging a themed three-day event in two weeks. Having rarely prepared food for Thai monks before, I am very excited to have this chance.
All employees will dress as rural villagers, and the food will be traditional Thai. I am planning a lunch on little Bamboo Island, fifteen minutes across the Tang Leam beach where we are located. How will this all work out, considering we are still understaffed and receiving info from prior events seems complicated? There are no log books or records of history… another thing I have to implement. As much as I like a good challenge, I don’t like preparing proposals deferred to existing menus and not well-documented events. Our new F&B manager is making a great effort to adapt to his position. It is a difficult task, and I shall assist him with all his questions and needs. He is a charming and friendly fellow, but underqualified.
My friend Larry Kiesel is visiting from California and having a great time. It’s fun cooking for someone I know, and I enjoy the “normality” of being able to speak and be as I am. Here, in this isolated little world of Phi Phi, I have little privacy, and so far, I had no chance or time to escape. Yesterday, I prepared to have a day off (today) and organized a trip to Phuket for one day but had to cancel at the last minute; after a busy dinner event last night, I figured leaving the current staff alone would be a disaster. They are not ready yet. I had asked one of the Pastry chefs in Phuket on her scheduled vacation to join me in a personal invitation to a Chocolate Exhibition at the Amari Hotel in Plantong Beach. When HR heard about it, she demanded I request her permission before planning my private time in Phuket. I’m still amused about it. Next time, I will write down a provisory schedule of my intended activities, from the morning shower to the last thing I do before I fall asleep, to ensure I have her full approval when enjoying my time away from work… Not sure what control she is trying to impose on me. I have “card blanche” from the investors and, frankly, don’t care about her issues.
My cold kitchen staff is making leaps forward with their carving technique. They have discovered how happy I am seeing them snip and chop away on fruit and vegetables instead of simply hanging around aimlessly. Guests love to see their talent displayed. We are finally receiving regular fresh lobster delivery, and they are a hit with the guests. I prefer to do very little to them, liking the most straightforward preparations since the best way to eat crustaceans is poached or baked with butter. I split them in half. Then I sauté in butter:
- Chopped garlic and parsley.
- Finely diced shallots.
- Tomato concasée (peeled and diced) and layer the lobster meat with this sauce before baking them in a hot oven for twelve minutes.
I nappee the beef with the same sauce again (yes, prepare it again fresh); this time, add salt and a dash of ginger chili and white pepper (after baking). This prevents the meat from losing all the liquid in the oven. I accompany the dish with potato au gratin and stuffed tomatoes.
The first order of the “Sunset Menu” I created last week arrived this morning. A romantic tete-a-tete dinner for two. First, cocktails on the boat cruising through the many islands while sunset watching and Bamboo BBQ dinner at the beach. I will explain this complicated preparation in the next blog. There are choices between a romantic dinner prepared in your villa or a private chef preparing your main course at the beachfront and even the fire pit at the beach (in the sand) while dining Thai style and watching the moon rise. Oh, it’s so good to be in love!
Snap – back to work!