Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Busy Life in a Laid Back Country

So with the holiday season ending it was time to really start moving on getting stuff done, and that's exactly what has been going on. This is also why this blog has experienced it's longest black out since I started writing it. Every time I would think about sitting down to write something I just couldn't justify it, because I had a meeting to go to, or some cooking to do, or pricing spread sheets to work on, or something else that I should be doing. In fact even now I really should be arranging lists for the upcoming International Food Festival that will be taking place this Saturday, but that can wait until tomorrow anyway.

So what's been going on?Well of course the restaurant is still the big focus. The floors are in, the granite counter tops for the bar and service windows are being cut, the stainless steel counters and shelves are being manufactured and many of our interiors are coming together. We even have the sliding window for the bar apparently figured out. Also Kim arrived back from the US just this last Monday and so I've been trying to spend the little free time I do have with her.

In addition to the physical space coming together we are also getting the the word out by catering events here and there, and next we will be participating in the previously mentioned food festival that is sponsored by the Himalayan Times, representing the US. The menu was kept fairly simple with dishes that we thought would quickly have cross over appeal to the Nepali audience. So we are doing Cajun fries, beer battered onion rings, Buffalo or BBQ wings and burgers with the option of chicken/beef/veg. I'll be putting together large amounts of ketchup and mayonnaise from scratch for the burgers, rings and fries as well as the Buffalo & BBQ sauces. I'll also bring a bunch of the bottled products to sell, including the chili, hot pepper sauce, Buffalo sauce, and BBQ sauce. All this combined with the normal cooking for the markets has left me spending about half my week in the kitchen, and we haven't been able to find any staff to start training, so I'm still at this essentially by myself.

Due to budget and a lack of local experience with foreign restaurant set ups I've been wearing a lot of hats on this project. I am defiantly the establishments chef, so I have no problem embracing this roll, but I am also at times acting as our general contractor for the building site, the companies representative to other parties, our graphic designer for the menu, logos, and product packaging. At times I'm designing the bar space and kitchen set up, other times I'm programming spread sheets to calculate product costs from a database of suppliers products. I rush from one location in one role to another location in another- all the while wondering how I got so busy in a country where it takes weeks for even simple things to get done.

As always the differences of how things are done here as opposed to what I am accustomed to in the US makes things just that much more difficult. Coordination of events and times are very haphazard and every day I find  out something that I didn't know before about what is going into our floor of the building. Still things appear to be moving forward which is good and we'll get from point A to point B it appears even if that line is a horrible zig-zag instead of a nice straight arrow. The latest set back is that the building may not have power until some time in January, but even this can be worked around. It's just a matter of working with what you do have before you, and not dwelling on what you wish you had.

All this said, I hope when people one day sit down and enjoy a bacon Swiss burger with a strawberry daiquiri   cheesecake for dessert they'll appreciate the sheer difficulty of what we have accomplished by pulling all of these elements together in Nepal. Because I can attest that setting this up here hasn't been a piece of cake, but as they say, if it were easy everyone would do it.
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