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8am on a freezing Friday morning, the building is empty except for one camera-shy carpenter cutting skirting boards.

Empty is good – yesterday when the ovens arrived, there were so many people working in the dining room, and so much stuff cluttering up the place, that the only way to get them into the kitchen was to dismantle them and sneak them through the crowd. So it’s nice to see the room again, it looks bigger but that won’t last long once the furniture starts to arrive today.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling incredibly stressed about everything that had to happen during the day and the potential pitfalls. There were plenty of those, but somehow, at the end of the day everything on the schedule had been done. This morning, I feel calm…I wonder what that means and what’s in store today? Well for one thing, this mess has to be turned into a kitchen again –

That little baby sitting on the floor is the oven that the Paradiso kitchen was originally built around. It was 25 years old then, so it’s over 40 now and still the most important piece of equipment in the building. Some mornings it moans a little when you wake it up, but then it just keeps going and going, with a lovely even, dry heat produced by nothing more than gas and a fan. To replace its capacity, a modern oven would be 6 inches wider and another 6 deeper, with a dozen circuit boards telling it how to wake up and turn a fan. No thanks, we’ll be avoiding that for as long as we can keep this little one alive.

So what else today? Banquette seating, tables, fridges, steel worktops, doors, lights, some plumbing, carpentry, wiring and painting…and then, hopefully, this evening the chefs get their kitchen back and re-stock it with all the tools of their trade. After a short holiday, they’ve been around the past few days rewriting recipe books and dashing around town to pick up bits and pieces that got lost in the flood.

As a project, it’s been an incredible experience so far, but everyone is anxious now to get back to the day job. Nearly there…

Posted on: 18 December 2009

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