Vancouver is known for its temperate climate and greenery. Vancouver is also known for it's long stints of rain, thus creating a false idea that we all have umbrellas surgically attached to us to protect us from the elements. Well, this past week has been anything but temperate. Apparently we are setting a heatwave record with 6 days or so of unseasonably high temperature values couples with even more unseasonably high humidity levels. This is the 4th day in a row it has been above 30c and the humidex reading suggests that it feels like 36 or above.
I wouldn't normally start my blogging, after almost a year off, with this topic, but it obviously has some affect to me directly as I work in a restaurant kitchen. This choice in careers, well not really a choice but a "falling into", brings up the old saying - "If you can't take the heat, get outta the kitchen". Well, I doubt this saying began during an outrageous heat wave. If it is 30c outside and feels like 36 or 40 on the humidex rating, imagine what it feels like in a small kitchen without any airflow.
The heat is taking a toll on everyone. My cooks are sweating faster than they can drink water which ends in splitting headaches, poached brain matter and cranky attitudes. This of course includes myself, as I sweat like the rest of them. Being the altruistic person that I am at work, I choose the hottest spot in the kitchen, in hopes that it saves my cooks from going down at any point thus leaving me short staffed. In turn, I am the crabby Chef, barking once in a while, trying to understand the mind of servers and their interesting codes and garbled excuses for their mistakes. With 6 fans crammed in our 20' x 10' line, heat spewing equipment, open flames, hot deep fryers and blowing convection oven air, not including the compressors pumping out heat trying to keep our coolers cold, and the air circulation at a minimum, it's no doubt there will be a bark or bite once or twice or ten times a night.
When a comment is heard from the front of the house about how hot it is, I want to grab them and place them directly in front of the broiler with all 4 burners on, and ask them if they are hot now! A friend of mine working in another bar down the street actually took a customer, complaining about the wait for his food, into the kitchen and stood him by the grill and said to him, as the 4 cooks stared down this smarmy beast, "Would you like to complain now, man? These guys are sweating their asses off for you! Are you hot enough?" Perhaps a bit of a drastic move, but the customer was probably deserving of the whole incident.
The humidity can create quite the weather phenomena too! On Saturday, a lightening storm hit Vancouver and during the storm, as the sun set over the mountains and ocean a strange effect occurred. The sky turned orange for about 45 minutes! Absolutely incredible! All the while, lightening forks shot down creating a stupendous light show for the thousands of people entering the downtown core for the HSBC Celebration of Light. Fireworks and lightning...quite the show!
This heatwave is occurring during the busiest times in Vancouver with the fireworks festival, Pride Week and numerous other events. Everyone I know in the industry is not only working long hours, but also trying not overheat in this heatwave. Our kitchen is at least 15c hotter than outside and most places aren't air conditioned. I'm not alone when I want to eat out, as no one wants to heat up their apartments. My thermostat says 27c. I of course, have a guilty feeling every time I eat out, so I try to eat at home as much as possible. Salads are a good bet and fruit.
When the heatwave will end? No one really knows. Hopefully soon but I bet once the rain starts to fall, people will forget about the summer we had and complain about having to open up their umbrellas again.