The Food Odyssey thru the Eyes of the Forgotten Menus from the 70th and 80th

Wine Tales | Written By, NOW! BALI | October 6th, 2014

“When I started to become a waiter in 1972 in Germany. The time was when the countries in Europe became rich from the growing industries and more and more people could effort a wealthy life by having a house, a car, a washing machine and the first holiday in Italy. People felt that the time was ripe to eat and eat, drink and drink for all the lost time of the starving 40th, 50th and most of the 60th.”

“When I started to become a waiter in 1972 in Germany. The time was when the countries in Europe became rich from the growing industries and more and more people could effort a wealthy life by having a house, a car, a washing machine and the first holiday in Italy. People felt that the time was ripe to eat and eat, drink and drink for all the lost time of the starving 40th, 50th and most of the 60th.”

The menus of the so called high end restaurants were in a way for people who loved to eat and to drink for a reasonable price and to fill their stomach, even if they only did eat one course. The dish had to be a nice piece or ragout of meat at least 220 gr on the plate, one sort of vegetable or salad 100 gr. and one sort of pasta, potatoes or something else, at least 150 gr. Unthinkable that a main dish is only served with two leaves of salad, some balsamic sauce, two pieces of carrots, three pieces of beans and one stripe of potato puree like it is today. Until in the late 80th people became therefore quite big, over weight and could eat lots of food and drink up to two bottles of wine. It was not said for nothing in Germany, that the 70th were called the golden year and the 80th the diamante years.

However what was really different to the time of today, was the service in the fine dining restaurants. And the best food service was done in the most famous Maxim Restaurant in Paris in these days. Why, because all good chefs wanted to be there and all good waiters wanted to be there. A certificate of the Maxim did open all doors of restaurants in the world like today when you would have worked in the restaurant of Le Meurice in Paris. As the wage in this time was not so high like today, for example I worked, 10 to 12 hours for 6 days as an apprentice and earned in my first year, 80 German mark something like Rp. 800 000 European standard today, where I had to pay for my food on my free days and the bus to travel home to my parents.

Just to give you an example of the staff template in these days and how hard it was to climb up this ladder.

Service

• Apprentie for 3 years

• Comi de rang mise en place\ débarrasseur\ serveur for 3 – 5 years

• Demi Chef 1 to 2 years

• Chef de Rang 1 to 10 years

• 3rd\2nd\1st Head Waiter 1 to 5 years

• 2nd\1st Maitre d’Hotel 1 year to retirement or go forward to higher management.

Kitchen

• Apprentie for 3 years

• Comi de cusine for 3 to 5 years

• Demi chef de cuisine 1 to 3 years

• Rôtisseur, Poissonnier, Gardmanger, Entremétier, Pâtissier, Potagers

• Chef de party 1 to 10 years

• Rôtisseur, Poissonnier, Gardmanger, Entremétier, Pâtissier, Potagers

• Sous Chef 1 to 5 years

• Chef de Cuisine 1 to Retirement or higher management.

That is why people like me changed a lot to get higher positions after each year  in a different restaurant. Therefore it meant that you had to be at least to be 26 years old if even accepted to be a Chef de rang or Chef de party in the restaurant of Maxim, still far away of the Maitre D’hôtel\Chef de Cuisine. Myself I worked in over 30 places including several Michelin Star Restaurants like Lasserre and Espadon(Ritz) both Paris, Breidenbacher Grill Duesseldorf, Weinhaus Anker In M”feld and Palais Schwarzenberg in Vienna. Today you will see many Maitre D’hôtel already with 24 years of age also Chef de cuisines you have with this age. Why because they worked their bum of and there wanted to be in this position but over all, we do not have so many people who know the job as it was in the 70th and 80th.

It was in this time were my Food Odyssey started because many guest did not eat the second plate.

Now why had a waiter to be of age in this time to lead 3 to 6 tables in a fine dining restaurant is the question? Nearly 30 % of the most famous dishes in the restaurant were served and cooked or prepared by the waiter, which does mean also that nearly 90% of all dishes were arranged on the plate with double service which meant that you only served 60% of the dish to the guest on his first plate and kept the rest on rechauds hot. Than you had to clean the plate and serve a new plate with new cutlery to the guest for the same dish. It was in this time were my Food Odyssey started because many guest did not eat the second plate and I kept it somewhere save to eat it after my duties were done. Just have a look on the menu below what kind of food I did eat in this time for at least 20 years and I also enjoyed the wine of the wine region I worked in.

Just to give you glimpse of the knowledge a waiter had to have in this time in the product itself and the serving style, so let us order for two people only.

Lets take an order for two people and see how one dish was served by the waiter in those times.

First Course: Melon Cocktail and Fresh Irish Salmon Bel vue as starter. Second Course: Petite Marmite Henry V and Gin Tomato soup. Main Course: Trout blue and Pepper steak and finally Dessert: Crepes Suzettes for two.

In the most restaurants I worked in this time the restaurant had at least 6 service table for 12 tables, 2 carving boards, 2 set of carving knifes and forks,24 rechauds (heating  for big  food plates), 2 plate warmer, two flambé trolleys, one cheese trolley and one desert trolley  which was necessary for this kind of menu and service.

Pepper Steak:  the waiter had to put first the flambé trolley in front of the guest, not to near for any fire danger of course. Then he had to bring all ingredients for the dish like the steak, onions, bacon, mushrooms, green pepper and mustard. In the trolley itself was the cognac and salt and pepper always.

The waiter then heated the pan and put some oil in the pan. After this he put the bacon, onions and mushrooms in to the pan and left it on small flame for a while. In the mean time he put some mustard on the pre sauted steak (if it was ordered medium so it was already cooked rare of time reasons) and gave some green pepper corns on it on both sides. Then he put the steak into the pan and the heat turned higher. When the steak was nearly medium he flamed the steak with Cognac and rushed down the flame with the pre prepared meat jus. He took the steak on a hot plat on a rechaud on the gueridon on the side of the flambé trolley and finished the sauce with some cream. Another waiter brought the green beans and the sautéed kummel potatoes in nice looking silver dishes at the same time. The steak was nicely arranged with the sauce and the ingredients and served. Left sauce was given into  a hot silver carafe and put on the rechaud to be reserved also half of the beans and potatoes where put on the rechaud to be reserved. In the mean time another waiter had already fielded and skinned the trout on a service table with rechaud and hot plates and served to the second person. 

I do hope that I gave you a glimpse of the practical knowledge of the Food Odysseys in the 70th and 80th from a waiters point. The knowledge of this service is practical destroyed by the new fine kitchen were the chefs do prepare everything in the kitchen which has of course also its fortunes. Therefore I must say that the plates in our days do look more beautiful than in the ancient days and the waiters can concentrate more on beverages and the guest. What stays is the Sommelier who has not changed his work. There is still the decantation, the opening of wines by cork openers and the rituals with different glasses to different wine regions of the world. Only I may say, that to many Sommeliers have changed there cloth. I liked it better from the old days where there were all black and had aprons too and did not look like managers or wine seller for supplier.!

Harald Wiesmann, Restaurant Manager of the Asian inspired Haute Cuisine Kayuputi and Chief Sommelier at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has a very interesting career history spanning a number of years with different roles in various countries. His 41 years of international experience has led Kayuputi to receive prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator Magazine (USA) for four consecutive years since its opening five years ago. While for the first two years the restaurant was awarded “Award of Excellence,” these last three years Kayuputi has been honoured with “Best of Award of Excellence,” making it the first and only restaurant in the whole of Indonesia to win this coveted award for the third time. Just recently, the fine restaurant received “Award of Travelers’ Choice for Travelers’ Favorite Fine Dining Restaurants in Indonesia” and 2nd place for “Travelers’ Favorite Fine Dining Restaurants in Asia” from Trip Advisor.

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