SUMMER IS COMING
Summer is Coming.
Each year around this time there’s a feeling in the air that something is approaching. I feel like Ned Stark when I sense the summer months coming in the same way the House Stark motto states: “Winter is Coming”.
It’s no secret that people don’t eat out much from January to March. The cold winds, the snowy and icy roads; and no one wants to put on twenty pounds of clothing to go out for dinner. No, it’s easier to make certain that the fridges and cupboards are stocked and you have a warm blanket wrapped around you with a tv series to binge watch.
Then April hits and as the snow melts there’s an energy inside people that starts to build. There’s a renewed vitality as the sun stays out a little longer and you don’t need to wear layers of sweaters and scarfs to go outside for only a couple of minutes. The brisk air is actually refreshing, the longer you decide to be outside you know that brighter and hotter days are ahead and it makes you feel good.
There’s always the one random week in April where the temperature finally hits the 20-degree mark and restaurants start rushing to set up their patios. Hell, anything after the weather gets above 10 degrees, we Canadians are more than happy to drink and eat on a patio with our early spring attire on. Then, once the weather finally decides what it’s doing, the masses come out from under their blankets after watching The Office on Netflix again to swarm the first available patio they see. Or they take advantage of the beautiful weather and being out all day in the sun can make a person quite hungry and parched.
Now, for us in the industry, it means it’s time to tighten up those belts and make sure that we prepare ourselves for what’s to come. January to March has been slow no doubt, I mean there’s still Valentine's and Family Day to keep us on our toes. Those are the days where we run around like maniacs for those that come out of hiding for a night on the town—yet the rest of the time during those months it’s dead season because people don’t really dine out in the winter. What April starts to show us, is that the time doth cometh for us to prepare thyselves to be in the constant juice.
May is when we see the busy season begin to rear its head. Every year around that time, I think that I have my body trained for what’s to come, I’ve done it for long enough it doesn’t come as a surprise anymore, yet it still kicks me in the ass until right away until I get reaquainted to the demands of summer cooking. Even though I feel I know what's about to come, the first wave of consecutive big nights hit, and (holy shit) I realize how this time of year always hits me like a ton of bricks. My body aches a little more than I’d like to the next day, prep lists get much bigger and the shifts become longer to keep up with the demand.
It’s always been interesting to see how easy or quick the transition from slow season to summer happens. Sometimes you have more time to get mentally and physically prepared. The hours that have been cut short during the winter start to build up again, or maybe it happens right away and the staff goes from working 3 shifts a week right into 5 or maybe 6 while pulling in overtime. Each year when the season's change, do tell a completely different story.
This year, I’ve thought about how to take better care of myself. I’m 30, and my body ain't getting any younger. It’s absolutely true what Toby Keith once said: “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once, as I ever was”. Perhaps it’s time for me to take up yoga or some kind of a trikonasana stretch to loosen my body up before and during service. In the near future, I’m going to explore this more with the help of my yogi friends to help understand our bodies better and the effects the grind puts on us so that we can take better care of ourselves.
Drinking less after service will go a long way with stamina carrying over to the next service. No one likes working hungover and especially feeling like a bag of shit when the temperatures are hitting over 50°c in the kitchen. There’s something to be said about knowing when to call it a night so you don’t feel like crap the next day for service. I encourage anyone, if you know you have a big service the next day, do the smart thing and pace yourself throughout your work week. It’s probably one of the most important things to keep in the back of your mind as you work your stretches. There’s plenty of time to have a good time, you’re only going to benefit in the long run by taking care of yourself during the extremely busy summer months. Trust me, I gotta take heed of my own advice on that one too!
Another aspect of taking care of myself that I’m going to focus on this summer is STAYING PROPERLY HYDRATED. This one is a biggie since I’m always a sucker for having a couple of Pepsi’s or Ice Tea’s throughout the night and it ain’t doing me any favours. Obviously, I balance it out with water on my station but the goal is to eliminate all that bad shit out of my shift completely. Perhaps I’ll have one at the start or reward myself at the end of service, but the end game is to eliminate it entirely. The game plan is to find ways to make water FUN! Some lemon and lime to flavour it up or perhaps cucumber and mint. Once I find the perfect combination of flavoured water I’ll share with you pals!
In all seriousness doing what we do, both Front and Back of House takes a huge toll on our bodies. The constant hours on our feet, running around along with the lifting and bending are small examples of what our bodies go through and all of that strain is multiplied exponentially when working in the hot sun and feeling those kitchen temperatures rise.
Preparation for the summer season is so important both mentally and physically. This year is no different. The seasons each tell a different story in the industry, but there is always one constant; Summer is fuckin’ busy and you gotta be ready for it when it hits.
Until next time, Have a Good Service.