November brought a drastic fall in temperature and number of clients alike. This is just as well however, as we are down to a skeleton brigade.
There are always plenty of things to do, though. If we are not serving customers then there are all the preparations to be made for the upcoming "fermature" - the annual closing of the château, when everything has to be scrubbed, cleaned and polished.
Everyone here is employed on a contractual basis, usually running for one year. By the time you read this, my contract will be at an end, Château Cordeillan-Bages will be closed for the winter and I will be wondering how to get a year's collection of artefacts (wine) into my car ready to come home.
As of now I am a free agent. I have been here for one-and-a-half years, a long time in catering, but it really has flown by. Nevertheless, I feel I have been away so long that my idea of fusion cuisine is salmon in a beurre blanc sauce.
As I sit on the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle under a cloudless November sky I can reflect on my time here. When a change in career is planned I think it is important to look back and take stock of what has been achieved (I got out alive).
Also I must ensure I do not make the same mistakes, and to reassess which direction I would now like my career to take. Cordeillan-Bages, with its one Michelin star, has not just been an eye-opening experience in terms of the professional cuisine, but also in terms of exposure to the whole French food culture.
It has always been my understanding that French cuisine relied on the very freshest ingredients. This I have found to be true from the restaurant right through to the home, where often the simplest of combinations can produce the subtlest of flavours.
As for where to go now - well, I don't know. I think a change of country is in order. I have applied to places that interest me so I will just have to wait to see what the postman brings.
I have had a lot of guidance and advice all year from Nicholas, the second chef here, who in the past has proved himself in the kitchens of Paul Bocuse and Gérard Boyer's restaurant in Reims. He has been encouraging me to go to a three Michelin-starred restaurant for the perspective one gets on food and perfection.
Que sera, sera!
John Homfray is chef de partie at Château Cordeillan-Bages, Pauillac, France