In exactly one week, I will be in Bolzano, Italy, for my Erasmus. In order to have something to do and keep a semblance of my daily rhythm, I am spending my last two weeks in Wageningen doing odd jobs in the catering sector. Last week, I worked as a barman in Ede twice, spent an afternoon helping out in a coffee house in Utrecht and a Thursday in Orion’s kitchen. After the litres of coffee I consumed in The Spot over the past four years, it was fun being on the other side of the counter for a change.
In the kitchen, however, tasks and deadlines are crystal clear
It felt great working up a sweat in a kitchen once again. I must often figure out what I’m supposed to be doing during my studies, and there is much room for one’s own interpretation. In the kitchen, however, tasks and deadlines are crystal clear. Moreover, cooks are entertaining people. If you have spent the past 35 years with your head under a suction hood set to maximum, all of the seriousness has been sucked out of you. Chef Paul spent the day singing about a missing thermometer. Normally a reason for surprised looks, but just part of the daily goings-on in the kitchen.
It was also nice to see that the focus on sustainability has reached WUR’s kitchens. The cooks weigh and measure all the ingredients for the sandwiches and wraps meticulously so that nothing is needlessly removed from the fridge. They also record exactly how much organic waste there is. The organic waste bin is set up on a scale, and there is a camera above it that automatically takes a picture of the item held over the bin. Thus, they also register what is being discarded.
Chef Paul spent the day singing about a missing thermometer
Around lunchtime, I was to serve curry. During the two hours I was doing this, I talked to some ten fellow students I had not seen in a while. They were as surprised as I was that I was the one serving up their vegetables and tofu in curry sauce today. One of them had a tip for my thesis, and I ended up having drinks at De Zaaier with another the very next day. So, all-in-all, a successful day in the university kitchens.
Oscar Delissen is a fourth-year Food Technology student. He is studying in Bolzano, Italy, for the next six months.