On Wednesday night I worked a shift in the #MEATEASY kitchen. Not so much as a cook, they already have a team of chefs; what they really needed was a Kitchen Gimp. I embraced the role. The structure of the kitchen goes like this: you’ve got your Grill Boss who obviously manages the grill, your Fryer in charge of um, frying stuff and then your Burger Bed Prepper plus various other brilliant people in between. At the bottom of the food chain, you’ve got your Kitchen Gimp. That’s me. Turns out I was born to play the role and I fully entered The Zone.
My first task as part of General Gimping was to cut the buns. It’s an important job, people, cutting those buns evenly. Cutting your hand is optional, and to be honest I wouldn’t really recommend it. Next it was onion ring splitting – actually quite difficult and described by my teacher as “the most annoying thing in the world.” I wouldn’t go that far, as I rather got into it. Any membrane must be carefully removed because if it gets into the batter it’s a right nightmare to get out and increases the danger of the onion slipping out of the ring and sticking to your chin and burning it. Now that’s the most annoying thing in the world.
Other duties included weighing out that all important beef. The smell! The smell of the fresh meat was beautiful. I weighed, rolled into balls and stored ‘em just how Grill Boss likes ‘em, ready for him to flatten out on the grill. I made up Petra’s gorgeous chocolate fudge sundaes which consist of brownie, ice cream and hot chocolate sauce, which I once squirted over a woman’s white jeans when working in her Chocstar van. You know when things seem to happen in slow motion? The horror.
So I basically did anything everybody else didn’t have time to do, which is the whole point of being Kitchen Gimp. Washing up and fishing manky bits out of plug holes featured frequently on my list of duties. I rotated around my various gimp tasks, pausing only to take a swig from my ever present Meantime beer, drink a shot, or eat a wayward chicken wing deemed not crisp enough to leave the kitchen. Every now and then my razor sharp focus would be interrupted by a call for “MORE FORKS, GIMP!” ’cause #MEATEASY really doesn’t have enough forks.
Working in that place is exhilarating. The energy is just so, so high. You’d have to be dead inside not to be caught up in the magic. It sounded like it was going off on the other side of the passe; I couldn’t see the customers but I sure could hear them. We saw the first contender for The Chilli Challenge: eat a chilli burger, chilli dog and chilli fries in the fastest time possible. Subsequent challengers tried and failed to beat him and I believe the record stands at somewhere around 5 minutes. The prize is to jump the food queue for as long as your name is top of the leaderboard. It’s like Man vs. Food, in New Cross.
I’ve volunteered myself for on-demand Gimping because it was just so much fun. Apparently I’ve set a trend, everyone wants to get in that kitchen. Perhaps they want to spy and steal the secrets behind the best burgers in London? Well I know some and I ain’t telling.
The atmosphere in the #MEATEASY is electric and that can only come from a bunch of people who are doing something from the heart. In a rare moment of Gimp rest I pause to look at Yianni and think back to August 2009 when I first got my gob around a Meatwagon burger in the middle of a car park in Peckham. It’s been a rocky road but look how far he’s come. I sink my teeth into a fresh Dead Hippy and wish him all the success in the world.
Read my interview with Yianni and Scott Collins from Capital Pubs here. The top photo of me gimping was taken by Chris on his iphone. The amazing pictures from that point forward were taken by the brilliant Ben Brown. Check out his #MEATEASY set here.
316 New Cross Road,
Category: Meat, Restaurant Reviews, Street Food | Tags: #MEATEASY, best burgers in London, Capital Pubs, chillie dog london, Dead Hippy, dive bar new cross, Kitchen gimp, meatwagon fund, New Cross, pop up restaurant new cross, Scott Collins, The Meateasy, The Meatwagon, the meatwagon pop up restaurant, triple chilli challenge, Yianni Papoutsis 12 comments »