Getting into Gordon Ramsay’s Restaurant!!!
A nostalgic recount on how I got what I yearned for…..
It's 2008. Global financial crisis was at it's peak. This was the year I graduated with MBA and came back to India. But No Vacancy situation had already reached before me. Though after MBA there was a chance to try new fields I still stuck to being a chef. Till today I do not have 1 particular answer to it, but that's what felt right back then. Like everyone,as a young chef I too was very facinated watching Hell’s Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay. I finally got a job as commi chef near my place in a 75 room property. I decided to take it as there were none other. Everyday I started learning something new in kitchen. It was a very basic set up so within 8 months I knew most of my part as well as others.
After 8 months things got very repetitive and there was nothing new I was learning. Shifts were getting lengthier and boring. Every night I would search for some new dish by Gordon Ramsay(as he was all over YouTube) and try replicating it the next day.
A year passed by and I realised that to do some great work I have to learn some great work by some great chefs. The frustration was so much that I didn't want to work anywhere except the best. I googled for restaurants owned and run by Gordon Ramsay. Out of all the restaurants Verre by Gordon Ramsay in Dubai seemed to be the achievable option, though I had zero clue how this could be achieved.
I spoke to my best friend who was working in Abu Dhabi and asked him if he could arrange for my tourist visa to UAE also if I could stay over at his place till I get this job. Could not thank him enough for agreeing to it. I then discussed this with my mom and told her about leaving my current job. With no hesitation she agreed because she felt the frustration and hunger build up in me. Sous chef at my work tried to retain me by promising me promotion but could not.
The next thing I was in Abu Dhabi with my friend Jehangir. I knew this was not going to be easy as I had no clue how hiring works in fine dinning restaurants and that to which is run in the name of the most famous chef on planet.
Jehangir advised me to give interviews at other good hotels as a back up plan and I agreed but deep down I knew I wouldn't settle for anything less than Verre by Gordon Ramsay. Back then the restaurant was a part of Hilton hotel in Dubai(Now rebranded to Table 9 )
It was my 2nd day in Abu Dhabi and without wasting days I travelled from Abu Dhabi to Dubai by bus. It was very difficult finding the address of the hotel. I had some money with me but wanted to save till the end of the month so decided to walk to the address. I remember it was very hot and walked almost 4 km to finally reach Hilton at Deira Creek. I was sweating, tired and thirsty. Thankfully was carrying a bottle of water along with copies of my resume and certificates. I reached the staff entrance at the back and spoke to the security guard. A huge Egyptian guy who barely could speak English. I told him I want to meet the Executive Chef and he asked me the reason. I told him I am looking for a job . He asked me if I have fixed an appointment with him and I denied. He refused to let me in he said I would need an appointment from HR department to meet with the Chef. This is the standard procedure and apart from this he refused to give any other information. He took a copy of my resume and kept it in his drawer and told me that he will give it to the HR department. If there is any vacancy they will contact me. This seemed like a lengthy process but there was no way he would listen. I decided to wait there but after some time I was asked to leave due to security reasons. I had no option but to return back to Abu Dhabi as I was tired and famished searching for the address.
The good part was at least now I knew the address and could come back early next day. 4 days in a row I came but the gaurd continued to follow his same practice and would not let me in. I even asked him if he could let me talk to someone from HR department but he refused I told him that I am on tourist Visa and left with only 25 days more, also tried calling HR department from Jehangirs phone but did not find luck.
I also found a mosque near to the hotel where I used to rest and pray for a breakthrough. On the 6th or 7th visit I saw one Indian origin chef who came out for smoking. I decided to talk to him and share my concern. He said his name is Daljit he was from Goa and working in another outlet (Coffee shop called Glass House). He said he cannot take me in but can take my CV and give it to the chef directly. This sounded like progress. I gave him my CV and told him that I will wait if he could come back and tell me what the chef said. He said he cannot promise if he can come back again as it was busy in his outlet. But he assured me that he will give my CV to the Executive chef. I still decided to wait back and see what happens. I waited for 4 hours but he did not turn up. Was not his fault as he had already informed me, it was my choice to wait back. I returned home.
Next day I reached Dubai waited at the smoking zone hoping to see Daljit but did not see him. Another Indian employee called Faiz told me that Daljit is off today. Faiz was the room service manager at Hilton and he too agreed to take my CV and give it to the Executive chef. This time I took Faiz number and requested him if he could come back and let me know what chef thinks. Luckily Faiz came back but told me that the chef is in some meeting so he kept the CV at his desk. He assured me that he will talk to Chef when he sees him. He insisted me to go back to Abu Dhabi as it was getting dark.
Next day before coming to Dubai I again tried calling HR department this time luckily I got through someone. I explained to them my situation and that I am very keen to work in Verre restaurant in kitchen. They told me that they have my CV with them and currently there is no vacancy in Verre so I have to wait.I felt sad but was no way ready to lose hope.
Next 2 days I did not travel to Dubai but made sure I called Faiz to check for updates.On the 14 the day I got the call from HR asking me if I can come down for an interview. I remember I was so happy at the same time nervous as I knew this is my first and last chance to impress.
I reached at the staff entrance this time the guard did not stop me. I guess he had the information beforehand. After his security formalities I was taken to the HR department. The HR manager was not there yet so the HR assistant took me to meet the chef in kitchen where the interview was scheduled. Finally I saw Chef Scott, Executive Chef for Hilton (A very energetic Gordon Ramsay protégé). I wished him. I opened my bag to give him my CV and he swears back saying he already has many copies of my CV. He ask me why I wanted to meet him when HR has already informed that there is no vacancy. I replied saying that "When there is no vacancy in kitchen only an Executive Chef can create some space". He smiles back. He already knows through HR, Faiz and Daljit that I am very keen in joining the team.
In the end, I wonder, after all these years, if I can pull off such level of commitment and energy....