I had hoped for the odd tantrum, the saucepan flying across the kitchen, the outburst of swear words. After all it would make great copy. Don't famous chefs have a reputation for this sort of behaviour? Maybe not. I was in the kitchens of Pierrot, the French restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental. Chef Francis Chauveau, his two assistants and a load of Provencale produce had flown in a few days earlier from La Belle Otero, the two Michelin star restaurant in Cannes. And I was at the Pierrot, not to have lunch but to watch them cook it. This is how it went. 12.25pm: All is calm. Chauveau stirs a huge pot of bubbling crayfish. This is the base for his signature dish, Cappuccino of Crayfish. He appears pleased with its progress. Gliding over to the stove, he tastes a foaming beurre blanc-type sauce, flavoured with orange and cardamom that will be served with scallops. This is for the amuse gueule, a little appetite-whetting treat for the customers. The cooks at the cold section are busy paring gossamer-thin slices of radish and dicing microscopic pieces of celery. There is a surgical precision to their duties, and the concentration is intense. Nobody talks. The cooks, all 11 of them, go quietly about their duties. Chauveau takes a moment to adjust his apron, has a sip of water, and admires the view, which from the 25th floor kitchens is quite spectacular. There is an air of anticipation. 12.40pm: Enter a waiter. The first order is in - four people at Table 2. The kitchen springs into action. A regular guest wants goose liver which isn't on today's menu. But two little slabs magically appear from somewhere. The amuse gueule of scallops with orange and cardamom sauce is arranged carefully into little bowls. I taste it and love it. Fat scallops in a rich, oily sauce, cut with citrus tang and exotic cardamom, topped with a chiffonade of mangetout. 1.20pm: At least half the orders are in. The kitchen is hopping. The six cooks in the hot section jostle for stove space, oil sizzles, flames dance, and beads of sweat appear. 'C'est chaud,' Chauveau says. He is a master of understatement. Chauveau inspects each dish before it goes into the restaurant with an eagle eye. He is a man of detail. An appetiser of scampi salad is returned to the cold kitchen; someone forgot the almond garnish. The kitchen reverberates with the lost almonds. The baby onions are not caramelised enough. The mini courgettes are not quite fanned to his approval. Chauveau positively nurses each dish, correcting and adjusting until he is happy. The chef is also a stickler about greasy fingerprints on the large rimmed plates, and wipes them incessantly. 1.45pm: The heat is on. The waiters whizz in, chasing orders. The cooks work with energy. I'm beginning to feel so much a part of the proceedings, that even I am getting anxious. Chauveau, though, is calm - is he on valium or something? There seems to be a problem about whether an order was scampi salad or scampi soup. The kitchen pauses as six chefs and Philip Bru, the Pierrot manager, sort it out. It was the salad. Bru exits and comes back a few minutes later. He demands: 'Is Table 4 ready?' There must be some pretty important customers at Table 4. 2.10pm: The party at Table 6 is ready for their main course. Being a big party of 11 people, they've ordered set meals. The main course is veal fillet with marjoram and lime jus. Eleven plates appear and begin to fill up. Even forgetting the initial preparation and cooking of this meal, there are 12 different elements that go on to each plate, I counted. Six cooks huddle round the service area. First a brunoise of root vegetables is set in a ring mould on the plate to form a sort of patty. Next the veal fillet is laid atop the patty. This is topped by a slice of bone marrow which is sprinkled with coarse pepper and salt. Chanterelles and marjoram leaves alternate round the plate. A veal jus is spooned round the plate. Some olive oil is dribbled in. Strands of lime rind are twirled over the dish. Each marjoram leaf is dabbed with olive oil. I worry that it is all getting cold. Chauveau wipes the plates. I hope the customers enjoy it. 2.40pm: Chauveau goes into the restaurant to chat to the customers. The party of 11 applaud rowdily. Table 4 (that's the VIPs) appear delighted with lunch. The hot kitchen unwinds. The action moves to Chef Faileschi over in the dessert section. He is tres serieux, economical of facial expression and obviously meticulous. Amazingly delicious confections are constructed. I refrain from pinching the odd profiterole or stray raspberry, only because I think he will slap my wrist. 2.50pm: About half the cooks have gone. The rest prepare for dinner when the whole exercise will be repeated. I go home exhausted. Chef Chauveau is cooking at Pierrot until June 15. If you go for lunch have the salmon pancakes, followed by the rack of lamb with Provencal herbs, and then berry and rhubarb charlotte. Take it from me. I was there.