Couple of months ago i applied for a CDP position in York. It was the time i felt unhappy in my job which was not a good fit for me. I wasnt really thinking – usually i dont do when i just try to escape from ‘my reality’. So sent my CV to a few places in and out of the UK.
My great friend Chef Alma asked me to think about what i would like to do if i have a chance to choose… and a bit of a thinking made me find out: NATURE. Less humans and more nature in my life. So i found a couple of great restaurants where they work from their own garden and doing lots of foraging from the garden of the Mother Nature. One of these places is Roots of York.
So i did apply for a job there – here actually as im here at the moment. Cut the story short – i did get an invitation for a trial shift. But i was struggling with the idea of leaving Brighton. I love Brighton. Plus… my friends around me kept saying how much i would hate York because its just totally opposite of Brighton. So… i listened to them and changed my mind of coming here. But this place – Roots of York was still bothering deep down in my mind so after i finished my current job – was facing with enough free time to organise a ‘kitchen stage’ here for 2 weeks to see all the foraging and gardening what Instagram shows. What Tommy Banks shows – leading the Roots to the 42nd position at the National restaurant awards top100. Champion.
So thats the story. I booked train ticket and got an AirBnB room and here we are.
The truth is – i could and should have look into more details before. At Roots of York the guys dont do foraging and gardening – where all these things are happening is the sister restaurant – The Black Swan at Oldstead. They not too far away but in the middle of no where. There is a massive garden and a Natural Park on the side. Must be very pretty and huge – as the garden itself supplies enough vegetables to ‘feed’ both of the restaurants. Not every single green comes from there – but we have a delivery almost every day just from the garden like salads, courgettes, berries, potatoes, onions, beans, flowers, herbs, carrots, beetroots etc… plus other great stuff from foraging around. So my plan to go on the countryside and do foraging and gardening – failed.
But i met a bunch of great Chefs. All CDP plus a couple Sous and Headchef Sean. I have to say a special thank u to Sous Ethan – he was the one who was taking very good care of me all around this 2 weeks making sure am happy enough and i got what i was coming for. Big thanx – and thank u for all the others – at the end of my 2 weeks stage i finally learned all the names. Not sure about spelling so better not try to writing them down – but all the girls and boys in the kitchen. U are all great and was a pleasure to work with u. I have lots of knowledge – it was not my time to shine but yours to show me what u ve got. Thank u for sharing.
The kitchen itself… Its massive. Apart from my first Hilton Hotel experience – this is the biggest kitchen i worked in with a maximum capacity of 160 covers (Saturday) per day. Sounds a bit ridiculous comparing my 2 last restaurants with 18 and 20 seats lol. So i have to admit – this place is a bit too big for me. The amount of ingredients and products we are going thru each every day is insane. When delivery comes literally all the chefs need to give a hand to handle with organisation cause its so much going on.
But for the size – this is the best equipped and best organized kitchen also i worked in. U can see there are lots of potential and they are going in a very good way to reach more. So as i mentioned the team is great – everyone is treating each other in the same level – they are all nice, they all trying new things and interested in the opinions of the others. Lots of great experiments are on – and everyone is a bit involved, u see that the chefs are truly passionate about food. Great.
The restaurant is located in a huge mansion next to the Museum Gardens and the Ouse River – with insane quantity of rooms on the ground floor and also upstairs (not sure about the roof but wouldnt be surprise of more storage space). The bar is upstairs (cant wait to try some fabulous cocktails made with homemade infusions from foraging) with offices and staff rooms. Downstairs are the two main dining area and the kitchen. The visible kitchen is the service one – yes there is a service kitchen! and a production kitchen behind it – lots of induction hob spaces, planchas and rational ovens. Big surfaces to work on, plus there is a backroom for more food preparations with a huge sink. 2 – i repeat, 2 thermomix is working, big and baby kitchen aid. 1 walking fridge for service stuff and another one for vegetables and dairy products (another walkin for bar and booze). 4 massive freezer boxes. Plenty of shelves for dry store, ferments, preserves and buckets of 4 different types of flours for baking. Oh almost forget the Blast Chiller. Really – its like as a chef “i feel real love and appreciation for the hard work i do” in these environmental circumstances. U dont know what u have till u loose it – i never had blast chiller, sometimes a half broken thermomix, not a kitchen aid but a hand mixer, maybe one working portable induction hob free and a tiny house freezer struggling every summer. After making the best out of u in those poorly equipped situations – i truly enjoy the joy of Roots of York kitchen.
And not to mention the great ingredients i worked with – real vegetables coming from the home garden and fresh herbs seems to appear everywhere – in every corner and every dish. 4 kilos of tarragon sugar is just a part of the ‘daily routine’ lol. Or 20 liters of dashi. Or 3 kilos of smoked cod roe emulsion. Or 5 liters of charcoal oil. These quantities are really normal here. Still bit unbelievable for me – but its great cause the rotation of the food prep is so fast that means everything is fresh. Kindof every day. Cant wait to enjoy my meal in the restaurant as a guest on my last day. If its gonna be just half as good as my experience as a guest chef in the kitchen – well worth every moment. Thank u.