Pang Pin Lee, known as Sam, is the executive sous chef at Hakkasan, the upscale Chinese eatery in Emirates Palace. He is one of 32 chefs who produce hundreds of meals each night and cannot afford a single mix-up.
I wake up and have breakfast. Sometimes I cook for myself and sometimes I go out. I cook sausage, eggs sunny side up and bacon. On my day off I go and buy all the food and keep it in my fridge to cater for the whole week.
I leave for work. The company provides transport. I live near the Muroor area. It takes about 20 minutes.
The first thing I will focus on is receiving the food. We have to do forecasting with our suppliers. At the moment it's challenging because of the summer. We have to control the quality because it's so hot. We have to receive all the items at the right temperature. There are always different issues. There was the Japan earthquake, which affects us. Our signature dish is the duck salad. We ran out [of the salad leaves] because the municipality banned all the shipments from Holland and Spain. Now we have got a new supplier and we will get some products from Australia. But the pricing is double and it is going to affect my costing.
I have to work together with Emirates Palace HR regarding all the issues from our back of house. Also we have to do the submissions for all our staff for the monthly payroll.
I start in the kitchen. There are so many sections: barbecue, pastry, dim sum, woks. I have to monitor these. In my team, I have seven sous chefs. All the signature dishes are done daily, and these take a long time to prepare. We spend four hours doing all the preparation, including the boiling, sauces, garnishing, deep-fried items. We check the reservations to see how busy it is.
Sometimes we create new recipes. Then we have to try everything. We'll get comments from our whole team and we will try to adjust.
We have dinner in the staff canteen.
The kitchen briefing starts. We go through the daily report. We will revise what happened yesterday and I let the team know what our daily revenues were for the day before. We discuss any problems anyone is having. This is very important because we're a big team. We don't work solo.
Everyone is back at their stations. The restaurant opens. We only open for dinner, not lunch. If we are really busy, I can tell you that everyone will cook in a line for five hours and we'll never stop. Our career is very tiring.
The restaurant closes.
I catch the bus home.
I take a bit of time to sit down and relax, take a shower, drink a hot milk, and I check my e-mails.