Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Success with Honor

Well, after a trying night on Saturday, the Powers that Be arranged a respite for me. On Sunday morning I got in bright and early (yay four hours of sleep!) and had my station prepped, stocked, and ready for action! It's funny, I don't consider myself a morning person, but I much prefer the morning shifts than evening ones. Since I was so far ahead, I could actually take it pretty easy. I even had time for a cup of coffee beforehand. The lunch hour went smoothly, we were a well-oiled machine, and the previous night's meltdown was completely forgotten. At the end of my shift, I had my station cleaned up and restocked and ready for the evening crew well ahead of schedule. I was feeling good about things and no longer questioned my place in the kitchen. As a good end to the day, the chef told me that he'd just booked a party for Tuesday, which I was scheduled to have off, but would I like to pick up a few more hours this week? Hell yeah!

Monday, I was scheduled to work on the cold prep station. That's where all of the dessert prep, dressings, and various salsas are made. Again, the fates smiled on me, and when I got my list for the day I found that I didn't need to make any of my least favorite things. It's not that any of these recipes are hard, but some of them like the corn and black bean salsa (which is really good, by the way), are really messy and they take longer to make. I get along really well with the hot prep guy, Ray. He's a good guy to work with, he has a good attitude and is always happy at his work. We share ingredients freely between stations, so it's a real team effort. We both had a pretty easy going day of it, talking while we work, having a good time. A few days previously, I'd locked my keys in my car and he had tried to help me get it open. He didn't quite make it, but hey, he tried so I give him credit there. I got my pork loin seasoned and potatoes cut up and ready for the next day's party, and was out the door to enjoy the sunshine.

Today, I got to sleep in a bit, because I wasn't needed in until 9. When I got there, I took stock of what needed to get done for the party and got cracking. After conferring and confirming with one of the kitchen managers, I was ready to roll. It was a pretty small party, but it felt cool to be heading this one. The pork loins were already in the oven, I had already cut my potatoes so all I had to do there was steam, season, and roast them, and after that it was just the vegetable. Bang, bang, bang. I had it all done so that when my supervisor got there, all he had to do was walk around and sip his Red Bull. I felt good to have it all in hand, and for him to see that I could handle it. I had the plates and covers counted out and in the warmer, everything was ready for showtime. Plating went well, and I even got a taste. The new schedule came up for the week ahead. It seems I've proven myself to the chef, and he's giving me more hours, plus I got paid today. Life's pretty good, and I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be at the moment.

Then, as a topper for the perfect day, I faced down one of my fears. There was a hornet the size of my thumb buzzing around in my living room. After some general cowering, I opened the window, and for 20 minutes I tried unsuccessfully trying to coax it out. Finally, I summoned my courage and vanquished the interloper! Ha!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Do unto others

Sounds simple, right? But it irritates me that so few people bother treating their fellow man like a human being. I would've had a decent night at work, if a few people could've been less deliberately unpleasant. Now, I'm not saying that everyone should be all fake smiles and sunshine, being overly nice to a sickening degree, but the least we can do towards each other is act human! Why is it acceptable to cultivate such a poisonous work environment? I can't ask a question without getting a smart aleck remark, I can't make one little mistake without being branded the villiage idiot. Is this what it's like wherever I'd go? I didn't spend two years in culinary school to mop floors for sarcastic jerks. I became a cook because I love to cook and I love to learn about food. With people like these around me, it makes me wonder if I'm really cut out for this. I can't play their game, by their rules. I don't know how to think and act like that. When I say something, or ask a question, I'm being sincere, am I crazy to expect an honest answer to an honest question? Or to expect that maybe someone might listen to what I have to say? Or am I missing something?

Please tell me that there are people left in this world who aren't hateful towards each other. People who can pull together and work for a common goal. Is that crazy? When I started culinary school, and I told people my dreams and goals in the field, they warned me that I'd get broken for being an idealist. I guess they were right.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Keeping up

When I first discovered my love for cooking and serving people, my desire was to always give people something more than what they expect. But what are we supposed to do as people's expectations keep getting higher? People are becoming more and more 'entitled' than ever before, which makes it difficult to keep up. What used to impress yesterday is now expected today, and will soon barely suffice. Is the future of our industry to cater to the customers' every whim? How soon will it be that giving it our all will no longer be enough? In my time in the food service industry, I've come across so many people who seem intent that they be above being pleased. To me, that attitude is the epitome of ingratitude and put-on snobbery. I can understand when customers have a justifiable complaint or suggestion, but we've all seen them get pretty riduculous! I wish people could just be reasonable, is that so much for me to ask?

Strangely enough, this rant doesn't come after a bad day at work, I've been having good days lately in fact. This is just my little soapbox social commentary. Christmas is coming up, so this will see a huge influx of customers. I remember when I worked in a cafe in a mall around this time of year, people's attitudes would plunge lower than the wind chill. Let's all try to be civil to each other this year, shall we? Like I said, I don't mind giving customers what they want, but it really helps if they appreciate the effort we put in. That's all I want, really.