May 9: More firefighting

I’m afraid of the kitchen at the restaurant. I’m quite happy to pop behind the bar, and I don’t even mind going down into the pretty cavernous basement, but the kitchen… it’s not my territory. Everything happens too quickly, everything has to be in the right spot at the right second, and any move I make in there gets right in the way. For Michele and Joel of course the kitchen is like a second home; they are constantly in and out, checking, tasting, changing, cajoling… Michele is a terrific chef and she’ll put on her whites in an emergency. But usually the kitchen is the lair of Massimo the chef, a sous chef, and Tee, the plongeuse, who can also cook.

The other night there was a bit of a ruckus with a new sous chef. Let’s just say maybe he didn’t take the medication that night, and took a joke about his lemon tart a bit too personally. The two together pushed him out of his comfort zone – or, I should say, out of Massimo’s comfort zone. Michele “escorted” him out, and Tee is now referring to her as Action Woman.

The chef and his wife

Fortunately, Massimo’s wife, Julia Roberts lookalike Adriana stepped in to help. This is a situation that probably wouldn’t happen in the UK. He’s from Milan, she’s from Brazil. They have a baby daughter who has been left in Milan for a week or so with Massimo’s grandma while Adriana looks for a job. Meanwhile, why not help out in the kitchen? They’ve driven to Milan to pick up baby AND her great-grandma as babysitter. I’m very interested to see how this story pans out. Sometimes Massimo comes to the restaurant in the morning looking downhearted, saying ‘C’est la guerre’ (It’s war…). Let’s hope that doesn’t transfer to the kitchen.

A canadair scooping up water

Meanwhile, my Never Go Out Without The Camera policy paid off yesterday. We went to Villefranche for an end-of-week drink, and Canadairs were picking up water in the bay. Canadairs are amphibious planes that are used to waterbomb forest fires. They come in incredibly low at terrifying angles to sweep over the water scooping up around 5000 litres at a time, and then they fly off to drop it on fires. It’s quite a sight. Of course it’s sad to think they are leaving the peace and beauty of Villefranche for something horrible happening just a few miles away, but I read about the fires in Nice Matin this morning – no one hurt.

The canadair negotiating the cruise ships in Villefranche bay

Nearly 5,000 words last week! A little bit behind schedule, but I get a day off on Mondays anyway, like Joel.

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About Suellen Grealy

In 2011, a series of coincidences led my husband Joel, our cat Ted and me away from London, where we lived quite happily for 30 years, to Nice, where Joel grew up. While he and his sister ran their restaurant, I wrote a novel. Family being family, Joel and his sister no longer work together. Writing being writing, the novel lingers on... Meanwhile, we've found ways of living a completely different life from the one we had in London, including running our own restaurant together, 7 Villermont. The only constants are our Ted, our now-battered Peugeot, and each other. Everything else is a complete surprise
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