No matter how hard you try, there will be always be those #restaurantlife days where you’re in the shit and there’s no turning back!

When we owned the restaurant, either the 15 year old dishwasher didn’t show, your line cook didn’t read the schedule properly and ended up in Vancouver on the long weekend, or your other cook called in sick because well, his cat was sick (true story). Things happen. Prep doesn’t always go to plan. But, there is always the music – your concentration face’s partner-in-crime.
You know when you’re going into service scared? Well, for me, that’s is when The Lion King’s ‘Be Prepared’ would pop into my head. Really bloody random, but a really good message as well, and it would just kind of happen.

Another one was Florence + The Machine’s ‘Shake It Out’. Just before I was heading out to eat the world, I was hosting a pop up dinner at Tantalus Vineyards for Valentine’s Day. (I should also mention how unromantic of a person I am and that PDA weirds me out).
Anyways, I had to re-do my dessert on the fly, which is never ideal! I’m known for doing really stupid things and this idea was one of them. I wanted to bake one of my Mum’s Gulab Jamans (green cardamom soaked doughnut hole) inside of individual dome shaped vanilla cheesecakes. Sounds delicious, right? Except when I was removing them from the moulds, I noticed the Gulab Jaman were a tad too big, so they looked like boobs! It was Valentine’s Day after all. I could cover it up, so that wasn’t the problem. The actual problem was that I was making this recipe in a rental kitchen for the first time and had issues with getting acquainted with their oven, so they didn’t set properly. I remember intensely starring at my tiny boobs as they thawed on the counter to test if I could serve them. The answer was no! And so, came the speed baking to ‘Shake It Out’ on repeat to make my Chai Infused Sticky Toffee Pudding instead. The cheesecake fail was an expensive mistake. Obviously, I told the boob story at the dinner and Dave Paterson (Tantalus winemaker) shared how he didn’t see the problem because he liked them (haha).

Those memories prompted me to ask my industry friends to share their ‘in the shit’ or concentration face song.

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Sarah Farmer | formerly The O’Brien House, Ottawa

“At O’Brien if we are trying to crush prep, we’d always sing ‘Eye of the Tiger’. It somehow always got stuck in our heads – fairly obvious song. If ever I were in the weeds, we would sing the kid song ‘1, 2, Buckle My Shoe’ in a stressed out voice because Chef just had a baby!”.

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Matt Batey | Teatro Group, Calgary

“My song is ‘Best of You’ by the Foo Fighters. I do 30 push ups before every service, I do it to that song – it’s fast enough to get my temp up and has great lyrics. I also shake the hands of everyone in the brigade when I come on-line, ascending in order. I am an old school Chef. Now, to be fair, that’s no longer an every day thing as I don’t work service everyday, it comes in waves depending on what the restaurants need, , but without fail, no matter what property, I have the same ritual. I am very superstitious”.

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Tina Tang | Predator Ridge, Vernon

“Funnily, I never listen to anything! I love the silence and the sound of knives on cutting boards and water boiling. I’m weird! I particularly love to know who comes in the kitchen, I know by step sound”.

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Jamie Harling | Calgary

“Hmm, I would say there are a few – ‘Uptown Funk’ [by Bruno Mars] would be one, ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk, ‘One More Time’ by Daft Punk, ‘Hey Ho’ or ‘Cleopatra’ by The Lumineers, anything by the Arkells. It’s tough as I don’t always have music playing but those for sure would be on the list. No particular reason for them, just upbeat and they make me happy. ‘One More Time’ and Daft Punk would be from my sports days”.

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Giselle Courteau | Duchess Bake Shop, Edmonton

“When I’m in the shit and alone in the kitchen, I only listen to New Order and Depeche Mode. I can listen to ‘Walking in My Shoes’ by Depeche Mode on repeat”.

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Jeff van Geest | Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhoro Creek, Oliver

“Not a song but a genre – old school dancehall. It calms me down and I start moving to the music. One song that sticks to mind is ‘Murder She Wrote’ by Chaka Demus & Pliers“.  

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Amanda Cheng | Mak N Ming, Vancouver

“‘You’ve Got the Love’ by Florence + the Machine comes to mind immediately, but I haven’t listened to it recently. But, at my most stressful times, I sing that song in my head. My Disney pick would be Mulan’s ‘I’ll Make a Man of You‘”. 

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Davina Moraiko | RGE RD, Edmonton

“I sing a lot in the kitchen. There are many songs – ‘Holiday’ by Madonna, ‘Baby I Love Your Way’ by Peter Framptom, there are so many, ‘Eye of the Tiger’“. 

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Melissa Finn | Richmond Station, Toronto

“It’s usually a variety of things. When I’m crushed, bird calls are the first thing that comes out! It’s definitely crushed and running my ass off and can’t catch up. Instead of crying, I do this – I’ve been doing it for years and I don’t know why.”

“I get ‘Be My Baby’ by the Ronettes in my head a lot. And Amy Winehouse and it’s usually ‘Mr Jones‘, almost always”. 

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Ladies and gentlemen, we’re in it together now, so here is our ‘Shit Shit Fuck Shit’ playlist to get you through (except for Tina):

More random questions to come! You’re welcome.

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