About the Post

Author Information

Buffet Madness!! (part 4)

This is another part in the story that will be a virtual word tour for my internship site. You however are in the middle of the story if you want to start from the beginning you can fallow the link to the first post called Fire! (Part 1)

We drive up the golf cart only road to a very innocent looking blue privacy fence; this is what I like to call the Club’s “G” that has just fallen over. The snack bar area is the top of the “G”, the spa the back and the beach club making up the bottom and tail, with a patio area in the middle of it all. Now a word of warning the snack bar is an extremely fast-paced place and we may lose some people on our way through, it is very important that we move forward and not stop to help them or you too will be lost to us from then on. I’m not joking, the snack bar is a dangers ground that is still part of the kitchen but is very much not our turf. There are so many things going on at once that if you can’t keep up you had just better get out-of-the-way or it will get ugly real fast. We don’t have to worry just yet but because of the speed inside there we are literally going to run through with our head down and our eyes peeled sharp for dangers. This is every man for himself and the weak should walk through the gap in the fence that you see off to our left that takes you to the members’ patio and we will meet you if we survive this part of the tour. The rest of you are welcome to follow me through the gate in the fence and remember to watch your step less you trip over the small step up. This is the calm before the storm as it where and a brief bit of rest before we plunge into the madness. This little open court-yard is where the freezer, dry storage, and walk-in’s, are all located. They are all free-standing buildings with a sidewalk leading to and from them. Behind the snack bar is a small table and chairs for the workers who have passed out. Leading away from this over a dune into the bush is a small foot trail that has a sign saying “do not enter private property.” Since we are already in an employee only area I am very curious what goes on over this dune, but have never been able to find out.  As we get closer to the metal screen door leading into the snack bar we walk under the roof and it gets dark as if almost warning us not to continue forward into the madness, but onward we must trek for we have come too far now. Before we enter I want to point out that everything is the same painted white wood slats and brick tile with black grout as was in the golf house. But I’ll give you a general lay out so that you don’t get lost; it’s a long room with two counters, one about waist height in front for trays that the food goes on, and one about shoulder-high that blocks the line from view. That also acts as the whole window. We will enter past a prep table that holds dishes and a meat slicer, the closet for mops and such on our right and left respectfully. Next we will run past the one rack dish machine, with a two bay prep sink with shelves above and behind it to allow for dry goods needed at hand to be kept and the salad chopping and dressing station. There is a gap here to allow access to the front and back lines as well as to the front of the snack bar itself. This is where you will see the cash register and order computer. To its left is the salad ingredient display case that the members use to pick out what they want chopped into their salad. Then it is a straight shot down the line to the far end where the sundae window is and the ice cream chest is backed up to the soda dispenser and ice tea makers on the outside counter for the self-serve soda the members can get. Watch out for the hands of people grabbing at ice cream shakes and sundaes as we go past for you might not make it out if you get caught and forced into making sundaes. Alright, are we all ready to run forth and get the experience of a rush and ready to notch it up to eleven? OK take a deep breath because her we go! Alright everyone, let’s run. You know from my quick explanation that the salad station is right in front of us along with the ice machine and floor to ceiling double reach in for the salad station, watch out if it’s being opened and don’t run into it. Quickly jump around the GM who has his suit coat off and his sleeves rolled up running a chopped and dressed salad out to a member every twelve seconds. We plunge past the Panini cookers and heat lamps for fries off the sandwich station. Look out they are turning around with a knife to grab a grilled cheese! Quickly, past the toaster into the calm dead zone of the oven and flattop before we get to the grill where burgers of all types and hotdogs are flying up to the window faster than they can be cooked or plated. This is the sundae window I was telling you about, watch out for the ice cream zombies trying to get you. Don’t trip as we round the corner and climb over soda syrup boxes and CO2 tanks and make a mad dash for the exit that is at the end of this long front counter. Past the cookie trays and soup warmer and out into the window member filled area where orders are placed and lines for fresh chopped salads are waiting. There is a cabinet that has snack type items on top of it for the members to eat and a lone podium for people wanting just chopped salads to write their name down. All the while you are hearing the chop of salads, the shouting of orders back and forth across the counter, every other word is “order up” Let’s go meet up with the people who didn’t want to risk the fray outside of the snack bar we can see them through the wall of windows that is the front of the snack bar. I can’t wait to see if everyone is here we have to keep moving…

Outside of the snack bar is a calm sea of blue umbrellas over white tables and chairs with a sand-ish white colored patio broken with red brick outlines around a heated Olympic sized swimming pool and hot tub, and I use tub very loosely as its as big as my room is at the very least. This whole area is gated off by a painted blue wood privacy fence that runs up to the back of the spa and over to the beach club area completing the big “G“ shape that I talked about before when we first got here. This open patio after the blue privacy fence leads both, down to the beach terrace and with a ramp or stairs leading up to the beach club patio and sun room. The beach club patio has an outdoor bar that is opened for events. Generally all or most of the glass doors that make up the patio and sun room walls are open and eating is set up in a combination of couches and tables on the patio for cocktails; moving inside to the sunroom or beach club dining room for meals. There are also the times when we turn the sun room into the buffet area, or have the dining room area turned into a service station style buffet. Maybe it is also covered with a tent over the whole patio for a plated dinner or dance. It doesn’t matter how this glass ocean view beach club is set up, you are constantly seeing it in a new set up each night. The only thing that stay constant are the white ceiling fans with the lights above them whose shadows will give you vertigo if you’re working a serving station. And the shadows are everywhere… Oh and the white doors and wood floors don’t help to prevent the shadows from coming after you when you happen to be doing anything from running food to the buffet setting it up or breaking it down. Or you can look out at the blue waters of the ocean through the huge picture window and watch the sun set, you get jaded by it because that’s when the rush hits so when the sun sets you know it’s about to start. The walls are coral orange in the main dining room with old black and white photos of the beach club and snack bar area, which have been the same since the start of the club, surrounded by black frames giving a nice contrast to the room. The entry foray is wallpapered with a pink-ish and white palm tree pattern with the return of the vertical white wood slats from the golf house on the half-door style bar door and member’s bathrooms hallway. There is always a round stone table in the entryway and then white horizontal slatted doors close off the server station and kitchen doors from view. Lastly we come to the monstrous plants that are always trying o steal food from trays or buffet hotel pans, if you don’t let them have any they will reach out and block your view or slap you in the face. The plants are always moving, so with the shadows of the past and the moving plants I think it is time for us to go back to where the world makes sense, to the kitchen with us….

When we enter the white slatted doors from the front of house area of the beach club we are presented with a dark but wide as the door hallway blocked off by a more standard set of kitchen doors. This little area is where the servers have their computer terminal to put in orders. There is also a chair and linen closet on the left as we enter the area, but really this is just a teaser of a space before you get to the real server station that is through the kitchen doors. When we walk through you will be able to look down and see the whole of the kitchen as it stretches out before us. The right side is always less cluttered as it is where the doors are so they make room for people to walk in and out. This area has a table and shelf to put paper cups and other small items on but is really used as a staging area for the server’s drinks and other small snacks. Then we come to an open alcove in the wall where the server’s linen baskets are kept right before you run smack into the dish pit. The left side of this first part you will see a small alcove that leads to the coffee makers, sugar caddies, cups, and other beverage-like items. There is a small sink with filtered water nozzle that buts up to a beat up and cut up ice machine. This is locked in its place by the server’s cold item floor-to-ceiling refrigerator, and has had to have part of its mouth cut off in order to allow for the space constraints. Coming out of this alcove we are presented with another wall of glass racks that are full of glasses I never see used. I mean, really, what do we need so many glasses for anyways?  This wall of glass racks protects a set of closet doors just like up at the main club but since no one can get into this one because of the wall of glass racks, what it holds behind it’s door have and shall always remain a secret to me. In front of us, but still on the left, is where the servers set trays of pre-dinner or after dinner cookies and crackers and the pop-over’s warmer. I like to call it Silver Island, because this island is nothing but drawers and drawers of silver wear, and maybe this would explain the ghost in the kitchen. Oh, yes, there are ghosts in the beach club, sometimes things will just fall off shelves or turn off for no reason. You will hear things when you are working up hear all alone on prep for one of the parties, and the furniture changes shape overnight or even in the space of an hour or two. Once we get past Silver Island we come to another floor-to-ceiling freezer, and this holds our frozen items just like it should, but you might also find delectable items as well if the ghost sees fit to put them back in there.  This freezer is guarded on its right by a tall wire shelf that is blue in color and holds the results of a mad scientist experiment with his shrink ray. These shelves are filled with miniature condiments of all types, like Tabasco bottles as big as my thumb. Now we are at the gold mine of the beach club and that is the ice cream chest that is right next to the blue shelf and under the microwave oven. Why is it a gold mine you ask? Well to put it simply it’s hot in the beach club, all the time. For some reason it is always blazing hot in the kitchen, we have an ac unit in one of the back windows, but maybe it’s because it’s a small kitchen with no windows that can be opened or that the heat has no place to go because it is blocked by the two set of doors to the front of house. Maybe it is the ghost of a chef who caught fire here years ago and the heat is his way of telling us that he is still here. Whatever the reason may be it is abnormally hot in this kitchen all year round, and the occasional ice cream is a gold mine to escape from this ghostly heat. I would have to say that the only place worse to work is in the dish pit where it is still just as hot but it’s also wet, and you just feel gross after you come out from behind the front dish line where we drop all the dishes and silverware. This area is almost caged in as from the front dish line runs a metal table that leaves a gap for a person to get into the dish pit and then is met by another table that blocks off the back side. The dishwasher takes up the whole wall area inside this metal cage of water and heat, and its clean dish table feeds out towards the table blocking off the back half of the dish pit. Directly across from the dish pit is a long table that runs the length of the pantry lowboy and shelves, and is where the runner sets up both the cold and hot food to be run. On top of this table you will see a small rack for specialty silverware and the server’s main call box to buzz them and let them know the food is coming out. Under this table you have extra storage space for plates and trays. Then we are at the pantry side of the line and, besides the small table on the server’s end for us to plate up and send out desserts, this area is all the lowboy and its selves. Oh, yes, there is a long table running against the walk-in wall, but this table is covered with plates for service as well as a soup warmer and then finally a little shelf that is built to hold the ticket machine. This area is tight and makes it hard for two people to work this station together without bumping or dancing around them. The ghosts of the beach club like to open the doors in our lowboy at random times, or have the lowboy freeze to ice even though it is set on its lowest setting. When we are standing at the end of the pantry station you can reach out and touch the expo table for the hot line and since this is where it is the hottest please remember to put on your anti ghost heat suits that just make you sweat even more…

Stepping out from behind the pantry station we are presented with the Chef’s expo table where he keeps his garnishes and ticket machine. To the left we have the walk-in and pots and pans table, but we will get there soon, first we are going to walk-in front of the line and stare into the heart of why the beach club is so hot, or plate warming cabinet of melt your face off doom. I’m not joking; here we have a cabinet that is chest height and opens on to very stiff metal doors that hold extra hot plates or all of the hot plates for service or a plated dinner. This thing is so old that in order to light it you have to get down on your belly or lay on your side with a burning long stem match or flaming paper towel and stick your arm under it into the flame jets and turn on the gas. You have to do this for both sides of the cabinet, and sometimes it puffs out a burst of flame first and you will lose your eyebrows. Standing up again you are looking at the window that has a heat lamp built into it and, on top of this, another shelf for holding additional stacks of plates for service. This cabinet and Chef’s expo table are the whole length of the line and looking at it like this it doesn’t sound very big. It really isn’t that big, but with the amount of volume we do out of it and the sheer quantity of food we push out through that window is staggering sometimes. The narrow walkway between the pantry and dish and hot line is still present as we walk to the three bay pot and pan sink pressed up against the clean dish table and the outside line, it has a window and it’s a very nice window for the view it gives us of the ocean, where we will see sharks jumping and boats far off the coast, or the occasional sunset. This window is our little glimpse that the outside world is real, and time is indeed passing, and that outside of this haunted burning kitchen is freedom. At this point we are at the line, and for the most part it is a smaller version of the main line just like the main club. We have a small space for a speed rack that can be used to hold food for firing in the double stacked convection oven. This oven is fun to say the least, the top doors don’t stick closed on one side so it pops open very freely, while the bottom oven is very stiff to open and you have to jerk them with both hands, and in this small space that is tough to do without burning yourself sometimes. Then we are at the sauté station, and just like at the main club it has twelve burners and two ovens under the range. There is no salamander this time but a shelf that runs across the top of the range for pots and pans that, neatly enough, are already warmed by the range and oven heat in the air. Then we have a fryer, but no baby bath of doom, and a smaller grill range and oven combo than at the main club. But here we have a large broiler/salamander combo and a nifty little top compartment that doesn’t turn on or anything. This little compartment is just built and insulated to hold onto heat from below so it acts as a self-warming hot box. Then we come to the actual hot box, and this is a new feature to the line. It’s very nice for parties and buffets for keeping done food hot for the buffet and service. The front of the hot line has a double wide lowboy station on the sauté side and then the metal steam bath table that leads over to a half lowboy station on the grill side. The hanging death trap is, if anything, lower in this kitchen to the point that it can sometimes block the view of the grill guy and you have to reach through the tools dangling on spikes to hand them anything. At last we come to the first really open space in this kitchen, however at the same time it is very cluttered and full of stuff. First we have a walk-in that matches the style of the main club but this one is where we get a work out. I say this because the ghost likes to move the tables completely around in the front with the pantry lowboy station up against the walk-in wall and the tables pushed together. If the ghosts have done this, then the work out walk-in will have upwards of 200-400 salads that will have to be carried 4 at a time for plantings. Let’s not forget building and putting the salads in there the first time. I have seen this muscle room full in every corner with salads or prep and backups of dishes that will be used in just three days. Then there are the times when we do a buffet and this walk-in will have to be filled with platters and sheet trays loaded with cold buffet items. Moving the amount of stuff we do around and out of this walk-in is a great upper body and arm work out, as we grab salads or platters of cold food. Outside of the walk-in along the wall are a set of four windows that allow us a brief glimpse of the outside world, and a walking path between the spa and beach club. It’s only a glimpse because in front of all the windows is another shelf with dry goods and extra spices, then our dirty towel and apron hamper, and then we come to the table of chaos. This table has everything you could need in a kitchen, a can opener, pots, pans, fish tubs on shelves above it, a sink, trash bags, and sterno fuel. All of this is crammed into a counter top and shelves about seven or eight feet long. The kitchen cart we use to help cart items up and down the ramp that leads down from the back door. Before we do walk into the 3 door entryway or back door of the Beach club I want to point out that the hot box is plugged into an extension cord that runs under a floor mat and the sink to an outlet right above the sink. Oh, and did you see that the wall it’s backed up to, has the phone and fire extinguisher under it? We are now presented with the three door entry or exit I talked about before. The door in front of us is a white half glass windowed door that has the ever-present screen that is on all of the kitchen doors. This door seals very tightly and doesn’t allow anything, even sound let alone heat out, good job carpenters… Now we get to the most haunted part of beach club: the rooms on the right and left. The left room is a small closet that has had shelves installed so that it can be used as a plate closet. It has a pull-out-of-the-wall sliding door that doesn’t work, so it’s always closed. Inside is, well, plates, but also a light that will flicker and blink or even just turn on. It seems all based on the person who turns on the light. The room across from this or on our right as we stand now is a storage closet that is always creaking open and revealing a different configuration of chairs or objects that it stores. This has happened in as little as a few hours. It’s very interesting to see just how it will look this time. It’s growing late and we are all hot from being in the kitchen for so long so let us leave by way of the back door.

As we leave the beach club we walk down a handicapped ramp lined on one side by the ever-present locked/gated-in roving dumpsters for the whole spa and snack bar area. However, here we have yet another danger in our cannibalistic dumpster department. A trailer-sized dumpster hides itself behind this fenced-in area with its mouth open just waiting for un-suspecting pray to wander in to its gaping jaw. The tables and chairs that you see are just lures to get pray deeper inside before it closes its jaws. Safely having reached the end of the ramp  we are presented with a very small, maybe two and a half car lengths wide, parking lot as well as a sandy area leading up to the back of the beach club. From the ramp moving to the right is the water heater shed and hose spindle. Next to this are the bathrooms, first the ladies’ and then the men’s, with brick steps leading up to them from the ground.  If you look back up the ramp you can see the half glass door that matches the cream-white that the rest of the beach club is painted, the ghost in the beach club can be seen vaguely in the window wearing his chef coat and hat, almost wishing us goodbye. We now are looking out at the back lawn of the beach club that runs up to where the beach starts and over to the member’s cottages. These are fenced off on the other side of the parking lot and dumpster area back here. In this yard are two tall palm trees that make for an, oh so perfect back drop for the end of this tour. There is a small joy of working in the beach club kitchen with its ghost and muscle-building walk-in. That small joy is that every night we are treated to watching the sun set over the ocean.

Well, my friends, this is where the tour ends. At this point all that is left to do is golf cart down the hill in front of us. Past both the member’s cross walk from the cottages to the beach club and spa area, and the daytime staff parking lot. As we come to a stop at the end of the beach club service road looking across at the red cottage on the corner and checking that we won’t get plowed over by speeding golf carts, we think back on all that we have seen and done and know that this has been a life experience unto itself. This tour, while it may have been a little bit different from what is expected, reflects that life down here is all-inclusive and immersive. We live, work, eat, play, and sleep here. We are always here, and once this becomes your world you see it in the same mysterious and wonderful light. Thus concludes our tour. Now, if you would please return all safety equipment that was issued to you at the start of the tour. Feel free to check out the Circle K off the island on your way out for refreshments.


<-Back                                                                                                                               Epilogue.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: