Other wacky stuff to read

Monday, January 3, 2011

work, work, work.

Trying to earn enough money to compensate for the crashes I'd gotten into, I spent the first three weeks of my summer holidays working. Like a slave. Although it does not involve me being whipped like real slaves should, I was working almost every single day of the week, spending up to 12 hours a day. For three weeks the only thing  I've done is work, and recovering from work. I might be the last person you'd want to have a conversation with right now because ALL that I'd talk about is bread. bread. and more bread.

With that being said, let's have a nice tour around what I've spent doing the past three weeks.

I work in a shopping centre located down the 'west' side of melbourne, and I live on the south-east side of the town, which means getting around from home to work takes longer than it took Christopher Columbus to realize that the earth was not flat. After the crashes that resulted in the $2000 bill hauntingly waiting for me, I was quite traumatized and hesitant to use the car for work. So I had to take the train in the morning. My shift usually starts at 8 in the morning, so I had to wake up at 6, as taking the train to the city, another train to footscray and the tram up to Highpoint takes about an hour and a half. I don't really mind taking the public transport to work, for two reasons:
1) I get to sleep, snore and make every passenger in the carriage to want to rip their ears off
2) Sprinting after two trains and a tram counts as my daily exercise requirement, it seriously happens everyday.

My trips toward the other side of town in early mornings and late afternoons have helped me learn the cultural differences between the two different areas. Many say that the eastern side is more.. "business-like" than the western side and I can see that myth to be true from the time I was coming home from work.

Just like a usual day from work, I took the train up from Footscray towards the city and switch to the Glen Waverley line. I got on the train towards Flinders street and everything seemed normal. Me sitting down looking like a stoned idiot and a weird Indian bloke sitting on the other side of the carriage staring at me the whole trip. Nothing unusual. Until I saw a glimmer of light that seemed to have reflected off a certain object. The light had came from the guitar that the person next to me was playing. I looked at him, took off my earphones and listened to the friendly and casual tones of his 'jazz' style playing. Although some people seemed to be quite annoyed from it, I find it to be a nice change to the usual 'awkward silence' people usually get in trains. On the way back home in the Glen Waverley line, everything was back to normal, until a similar glimmer of light was shone to my face. I looked towards the source of the light and hoped to see another person playing a guitar in the middle of a train ride. Sadly I realized that that light had came from the reflective surface of a briefcase! Businessmen and corporate workers coming home from work filled the train carriage and I start to think, "what a downer"


Now to the main topic. BREAD!

The three weeks I have spent at Breadtop was quite hectic, especially during Christmas times. The kitchen clearly needed more people as the amount of work piles up, which means that I had to learn how to make more types of bread so that I am more of an 'efficient' and 'useful' worker and not so much as a 'rookie' or 'the son of the boss who comes in just to make other bakers feel insecure".

During my first week, I've always been looking at the work of the head baker, and his superb skills in kneading bread (not a metaphor guys). There is this one particular bread he'd make that really does impresses me. The 'dinner soft roll' seemed like a simple bread to knead, but in order to have that fluffy consistency, certain techniques are required to successfully create it. What astounds me more is the speed that the head baker is moving at while making this bread. One second I was staring at a dough and the next second I see the bread done and ready for baking. Magnificent.

OK so I am going somewhere with this weird description of my admiration towards the head baker. A couple of days before Christmas, the store had received an order for 400 'dinner soft rolls' and with the head baker busy taking care of the daily bread, I was assigned to make the batch. Having no experience with making this type of bread, one thing ran in my mind: "I'm screwed"

The head chef decided to teach me how to make one of this complicated and seemingly impossible bread. And the first thing he said was, "it's pretty simple". I thought, "SIMPLE?! SIMPLE IS MORE LIKE MAKING MIE GORENG STRAIGHT FROM THE PACKET!" He put a piece of dough in his workbench and told me to follow what he's doing.

"Alright so you pull it like this", he pulls the dough to make it longer. "then you do this" and the rest became a blur. I saw something like him folding the dough 200 times over and over into a tiny oval shaped bread that looked good enough to put in an art display. I stared at him and he smiled, "see? simple."

I took a piece of dough and put it in the bench and tried to remember the movements he had made. My mind thought, "ok so he pulled it first, then he just starts moving his arms around. So let's try that." and I did. The head baker stared at me, and said, "why are you dancing." and I thought, "ok so maybe try something different."

He then laughed it off and showed me how to do it again, he did the same steps. "ok. pull the dough right, and do this. one, two, three, four." he counted the steps as if it's some sort of aerobic exercise you do in Zumba, but all I saw is just a blur. He tried to make it slower this time, but ended up going even faster than before and I didn't know what to do. I grabbed a chunk of dough and moved to my own bench, my back facing him and hoping he doesn't see what I was doing.

"it's 4.30, and I finish at 6. ok so do 400 of these in 1 and a half hours and bail." I thought. I stared at the dough. It is sitting on the bench, staring back at me, mocking me. I was having a staring contest with a piece of dough, and losing. I took a deep breath, and hoped for a miracle. "ok so pull." I pulled it. "now what." I tried to think back. I remember him putting the dough from either side together and smacking it with his palm. so I did it. Then he curling it 3 times to make it into an oval shape, and so I did it. He then rolled it with his palm to make the surface of the dough smooth, and I did it. I looked at the dough, it looked like a piece of crap. The shape is not even oval, it's almost rectangular. The surface is nowhere near smooth, and when I pressed it, the dough just feels like it is about to fall apart any second. Looking at the dough, I felt sorry for it. But I had to keep going, 399 to go.

By 6.00 I had finished and gave the head baker 5 boxes of 'adhi's soft dinner rolls' for storage in the freezer. I somehow got the hang of it after the 300'th bread and the last box seemed to be pretty edible. But the first few boxes looked so bad that the person who ordered the bread might commit suicide for having seen something so degrading and horrible.

The head baker took the boxes and stored it in the freezer, here's what I think happened during that time: he went to check the bread I'd made in the cool room and thought that instead of making the bread from the dough, I'd probably taken a crap and put it in the box as the bread looked no worse than described. He looked around for me in the kitchen, ready to scream at me until his lungs explodes, but can't find me anywhere. He asked the other bakers and they told him that I was in a rush and left straight after. Yes. I bailed so that I wont get yelled at. Please don't judge me.

Two days later I returned to work and expected the worst, something the lines of the head baker ripping my intestines out and making me jump rope with it. But before I entered the kitchen, my mum told me that the person who made the order never came and the bread were all thrown away. I looked in the kitchen and saw the head baker working as usual and not worrying about me ruining the whole company's reputation. My thoughts? "F**k yes."

ps: happy new year!

new years resolution: By the end of the year I shall no longer refer to myself as a struggler.


  1. HAHA nice. you/your job reminds me of the anime Yakitate Japan if you haven't seen it already... but the guy in there makes some pretty cool bread haha

  2. haha its actually one of my fav anime and what got me into baking in the first place. if only they didn't end the anime so early..