A night in the life of the Duck & Waffle chef, Dan Doherty
9pm. Leave home, walking through the streets of east London, some people bouncing from one pub to another, some finishing work late, others already drunk and ready for bed. The city ‘s in full swing, and I’m on my way to work. I arrive just after half past, the res team are taking their last calls for the day and the events team are staying late, piecing together all of the group bookings and events we have over the next 2 months. After changing and entering the kitchen, its rocking, the restaurant is full, the team in their rhythm; they are probably 200 covers into to a 400 cover dinner service. Its quite surreal, some have been in since 8am, but the machine never stops. A quick handover with my number 2 Tom, me having my morning coffee, Tom’s having a post service lemonade, he tells me we have a steady flow until 3am, at which point it slows a little, that’s where we get our walk-in trade so no worries there…1 Chef called sick, the boys all chipped in and all was fine. ..1 Trial no show…canapé tasting went well, and the owners are in town….
The next hour or so the night team arrive, and the sections start to get handed over, fridges re-filled from our basement storage, and we get ready for a filming we have at midnight for Stylist. They are doing a 24hour feature of London, and our slot is coming up. Soon after they arrive, film crew, photographers, presenters and others, we assemble the food that they are to take back to their offices to nourish the troops, and together Sophie and I cook a whole roast chicken.
By 1am it’s all over, and we are back to service. The restaurant stays full, Aretha Franklin on the sound system, the day team have all gone home, some back in the morning for Brunch.
2:40am, we currently have 14 Duck and Waffles, 3 pigs ears, 6 bacon wrapped dates, 2 roasted beets and 7 pollock on order…guys still pushing. Below the tower I can see the flashing blue lights on commercial road and I wonder what’s happening. As I look back into the restaurant, I see a footballer who really shouldn’t be there considering he is playing tomorrow, I consider telling him so, then think better of it. What happens at Duck & Waffle stays at Duck and Waffle.
4am and they guys start to form a list of what needs to be brought up from the basement for breakfast, bacon, sausage eggs, butter, the usual suspects. Craving a coffee, caffeine intake needs to be meticulously planned when doing sporadic night shifts, get it wrong and you’ll have a rough 3 days of mixed up sleep. I decide mint tea is the way.
5am is our window for cleaning, all 5 of us blitz the kitchen, with the night cleaning crew too, it’s now or never.
6am and the breakfast chefs arrive, the night team handover and the kitchen is spotless, set up and ready to go. Already we have 4 tables sitting, no rest for the wicked. I stick around until 7am when Tom is back, this is the surreal part. Now it’s his turn for coffee, but I give in and have one too. Nothing much to handover, other than he has 420 brunch reservations, then a 30 minute window until a 366 dinner service begins, at which point I’ll be back and we can have a coffee together.Tagged in: 24 hour restaurante, chef, Dan Doherty, Duck & Waffle, food blog, restaurant, the shard
Recent Posts on Dish of the Day
- Winter Warmer One Dish Wonder: Beetroot, Goat's Cheese & Harissa Fried Eggs
- The Reluctant Vegetarian: Roasted Cauliflower, Caraway and Crispy Sprout Soup
- The reluctant vegetarian: Super-Sized Fake Chicken Chilli Taco
- The Reluctant Vegetarian: Garlic Fried Samphire, Courgette & Chilli Lumaconi
- The Reluctant Vegetarian's Leek Fritter Stack with Colston Bassett
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter