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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF… CHEF KARYS LOGUE

Imagine a chef at work, and you might picture someone in starched whites slaving away in front of a hot stove all day. But the notion that chefs’ only task is to cook is about as realistic as thinking they only eat fancy fare at home (they don’t). After factoring in the roles of personnel manager, businessman, inventory accountant, supply chain manager and more, there’s just about enough time in the day to get the creative cogs churning for menu creation and leading service. In this new series, we ask our chefs to let us in on a day in their life, from first thing in the morning when they hit the snooze button until it is lights out.

Juggling multiple outlets, overseeing a team of 20+, and churning out a constant cycle of new dessert creations is all in a day’s work for Chef Karys Logue. It’s a good thing our queen of pastry and Head Chef at Butter has energy to spare, with her days jam-packed with everything from inventory stock to logistics management and the labour-intensive work of baking hundreds of cakes, tarts and pies to be delivered across all of our restaurants—everything lovingly made from scratch, every single day. Below, she takes us through her typical routine.

6am: Alarm goes off, hit snooze once.

6:10am: Start my coffee brewing, walk back to the living room and spend a quick moment stretching while the aroma of coffee fills our small flat. Touch my toes, reach to the sky, repeat. By now our pet bunnies have noticed that I’m awake. Feed and love on Chester and Scout, then get the rest of my things ready for work.

6:30am: Hop on the mini bus from Wan Chai to Staunton Street.

6:50am: Arrive at Butter. I prefer to start my day with (or even before) my earliest team members. However, in the last year, the Black Sheep Butter team has shifted to a 24/7 production schedule, which means I am never the earliest, or the latest, but I do my best to cross paths with each section of the pastry crew.

7am: First priority is to check in on all orders: 1) those from 20+ BSR restaurants, and 2) Butter cakes (pre-ordered whole cakes, cakes for sale at our SoHo shop, and also the cakes which will be sliced for sale at our Landmark pop-up that day). We decorate everything very last-minute for utmost freshness, so many of these items are completed by the overnight team. I talk to them about how their production has gone during these late hours, any hiccups, and any unfinished products. Once these details are cleared, the overnight team gives high fives to the morning team, and the wheels keep turning.

7:45am: All Landmark items are loaded and sent to the slice shop. From here on, the focus of the team shifts to producing restaurant desserts. My AM sous chef, Natalie and I strategise as to which cook will handle which project, and we communicate to logistics about what our schedule will be for delivery. The happy work of making Carbone’s Cheesecake, Crown Super Deluxe’s Coconut Tart, Osteria Marzia’s Pasteria Napoletana and even Rajasthan Rifles’ doggie cookies are just some of the projects that will happen in the morning hours.

10am: I take a quick walk to Gelato Messina to check in with Daphne, the sous chef, who is doing a stocktake of the 40+ flavours of gelato we make for service each day. Taking stock in the walk-in freezer is tougher than it sounds, but Daphne and I are getting quicker each day at navigating the -20ºC deep freeze. We review the pasteurising and churning schedule for the day, and discuss upcoming Weekly Special flavours. These creative inventions are usually quite fun and playful, with more unusual flavour combinations (I always look forward to the weekly specials!).

12pm: Lineup/Extras: Perhaps this is the sweetest moment of my work day. AM team is in the groove, PM team is fresh-faced and full of energy. We all stop and hold a Lineup to check in on where restaurant orders are at, and divvy out remaining tasks for the day. It’s great to see the team select their own tasks, and frequently push themselves to learn new projects that they haven’t done before.

As part of this Lineup we do something we call ‘Extras’. Each day, one of us signs up to give a brief discussion on a topic of their choice. We’ve done things like: history of pâte à choux desserts, baking powder vs baking soda, quick career bio of Francisco Migoya, coffee cupping 101, 3 yoga postures for a healthy back, an ice-breaker question about what everyone enjoys to read, and even a donut tasting! Super rewarding and a great way to get to know each other better.

1pm: Restaurant desserts are picked up and delivered across Hong Kong, made just in time for dinner service.

1:30pm: Stop by Messina again to check in on the pasteurising schedule, see what will be churned for the night’s service, and attend to any special projects. Today we are working on some logistics testing, to see how we can best deliver our upcoming line of gelato cakes. By this time, front-of-house is setting up the shop and after a quick taste through some of my favourite flavours (Macadamia Crunch, Nicky Glasses, Tiramisu) we are ready to open the doors to our happy queue of guests. I have just enough time to grab a quick vegetarian wrap from Treehouse on my walk back to Butter.

3:30pm: Afternoons are a bustling time at Butter, as this is when we do most of our large batch production. Helen leads this team, and is incredible at multi-tasking the 4 ovens, 3 mixers and 6-8 cooks in the shop. It’s 40kg of triple chocolate cake batter here, 10 trays of La Vache! macarons there—organised chaos at its finest. I spend my afternoons usually decorating cakes for the following day’s orders, along with any last-minute requests.

5:30pm: I use this time for research & development. Right now, I’m building up a recipe book for our Weekend Special Americana desserts, available every weekend in SoHo. I’m also working on Christmas menus for Butter; it’s such a festive time of year and I can’t wait to launch our holiday treats like Milk ‘n’ Cookies Pie and Gingerbread Honey Pound Cake!

7:45pm: Check out with the PM team, ensure they are all set for the remainder of their shift and write a production sheet for the overnight team. Head out of Butter for the day.

8pm: On my way home, I’ll walk through the market and grab some greens and veggies from the stalls that stay open later. Then I’ll stop at the bakery that my fiancée recently opened. He works overnight shifts, so these few minutes are the time we get to catch up.

8:30pm: At home, my nights are calm and quiet. One thing that is really important to me is my yoga practice. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 2 hours, I make time every day to focus on breath, movement, and finding some quiet time.

9:30pm: I typically cook dinner quite late, but keep it simple. Some common meals that we rotate are soba noodles with baked tofu, broccoli quinoa salad, and spicy green curry with tempeh.

11pm: Do some reading (currently reading ‘A Long Way Gone’), have a glass of wine, and hang out with my pet bunnies.

12:30am: Call it a night!

Craving cake now? Stayed tuned for Chef Karys’ new seasonal special cakes here or get fan favourites from Triple Chocolate Cake to Lemon Meringue Pie delivered via GO.

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