Katie Buckley, LeftField's Restaurant Manager has been taking care of her flatmates during lockdown in the best way she can; with food, drinks and her own warm brand of hospitality. It's about time they started tipping her.
I’ve accidentally become a chef at a restaurant in my neighbourhood. It’s super convenient for me, I walk 3 metres to work every day. We’re open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and loads of little meals that I hadn’t been aware of before now. Second breakfast. Pre breakfast fruit plate. Coffee and cake (available at all times of the day, including after our customers have brushed their teeth for bed).
The same three regulars come every day. You would think this would make them generous tippers, but not so much as a brass farthing has been left on the table after a meal. I wouldn’t mind so much if I wasn’t the waitress as well. And the barman. And, most gallingly, the KP. What my regulars lack in financial generosity, they make up for in love. Every meal is a delight, no matter what it is. And while I’d like to put this down to my newfound culinary genius, I think it’s got a lot more to do with the fact that we have nothing else to look forward to.
I’ve always loved food, but now I need food. Food is the structure and whimsy of my days rolled into one. Anchovies swim through my dreams and appear in my food in an unending array of disguises. Me and Francesca, my joint head chef and best friend (a combination that is tested more momentously as the days go on) go foraging in the woods and come back with handfuls of what we think is wild garlic. It’s not, it’s wild leeks, but we’re ecstatic and spend two hours making Vietnamese Kimchi. I have time and the smell of green on my hands and I feel as though the way time works now is measured only by the clock in the kitchen. Hours can be spent on making meringues, cookies, and tiny pickled onions that look like seed pearls and will be useless as a garnish. Minutes can also be spent making microwave popcorn because you read the news, lost your appetite, and want to lie in bed and read that book that makes you feel safe.
When this is all over, I hope I remember that everytime I eat a meal, made by a real chef, in a real kitchen, that there was a time where the act of making food and eating it was the one of the only things that made me feel whole. I miss LeftField, I miss our customers. But the thing that makes a restaurant special, is love. And I know that we are all keeping that alive, in our little local bistros that we call our kitchens.
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