Champagne, the Happy Chef, and sage leaves in Czech.

I regret to inform you that the moment we’ve all been waiting for has thus far failed to materialise, a third of the way into the CELTA course now. Yes, sadly the eccentric chef has yet to freak out, and the details of what that glorious and much anticipated event might entail remain sketchy and hypothetical at best.

In fact, I have to say that I have found him nothing if not friendly and amusing. Yes, I can picture him going a bit Gordon Ramsey if too many things go wrong all at once, but so far he’s proving to be quite a pleasant background character in this current short chapter of my life.

Every morning, a cheery “Dobrý den!” (hello) and a “Hayley Coffee” (extra strong, black, and in the most enormous mug he has) await me en route to the first class of the day. Eccentric Chef (who I’ve now renamed Happy Chef… and no, I still can’t pronounce his actual name) now refuses to accept my helpless gesture of paying by simply holding out the unfamiliar coins in my hand and letting him pick out what he needs, and so I have to go through a tutorial in Czech coinage every day before I’ve had my coffee. I stumble cluelessly through payment, ask what’s for lunch, and place my order for what is generally the only meal I have time /remember to eat each day. At least it’s a hearty, healthy one. The Happy Chef sure can cook! He’s extremely passionate about food and cooking. In his breaks, you’ll often see him sitting reading through recipe books and writing down ideas. You could be wandering past the kitchen on your way to the library and get a spoonful of something unknown but delicious shoved at you for sampling purposes.

Today, he served us the most divine pork medallions with veggies and walnut stuffing. And also there is a special game with today’s lunch, he said excitedly as he sat the steaming plates of joy in front of our group of 6 hungry teachers. This is my new recipe, this, this… this filling. It is quite amazing, he added, not short of confidence. If you can taste it and guess at least 7 of the ingredients, I will give you a bottle of champagne.

Apparently no one else had been successful, and we were the last people in for lunch. We quickly identified the problem – the others had been working individually, when this task was clearly more achievable as a group! (This training is working.) We decided to join together our collective taste buds and varied cooking abilities, and share the champers in the event that we were successful.

Well. I have no idea what the point of this game was (it wasn’t a promotion, it hadn’t been advertised, and we’d already paid for our food), other than the cheerful playfulness of a Happy Eccentric Chef, but it certainly made for an entertaining meal. At one point, a tutor came down the stairs and looked at our table in blank confusion. One person was poking suspiciously at an unidentified grain on someone else’s plate. Three others were holding their forks up to the light and squinting critically at the food on them, as if they’d just discovered insects in their lunch. Someone else was exclaiming “what the hell is a sage leaf in Czech?!”. It really must have looked rather confusing to the unsuspecting bystander, to be honest.

The Happy Chef and his son checking our answers. :)

The Happy Chef and his son checking our answers. :)

Finally, the Happy Chef finished up with the lunch rush, pulled up a chair and assessed our much-altered and scribbled upon list. He was visibly impressed. No one else thinks about the eggs! he said, rather profoundly, and took off to some secret room, removing a very large key from his pocket. I can only imagine that there is some sort of magical hidden bar at the back of the photocopying area, for he returned a few minutes later with a bottle of champagne.

Ta-daaaa!

Ta-daaaa!

Sadly, we were not allowed to drink our prize, for we had 4 more hours of school to go, and the Happy Chef seemed suddenly worried that he might get into trouble for filling us with alcohol and sending us off to class. Our champagne is now waiting for us in his fridge, to be enjoyed in celebration on the last day of the course.

Or this Friday after school, whatever.

I like this place. :)

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