Archive for January, 2010

Dusting off the keys

January 2, 2010

Wow, four months, how the time flies.

You know, I promised myself I wouldn’t update this until both my temper and my financial situations cleared them selves up and I just totally forgot about this blog. Granted, I don’t have the same industry followers as I did before but really this is more for my own amusement and learning than anyone else’s.

Primarily I wondered if I could still call this a “Chef” blog as my title is most certainly not a chef any longer. But I got to thinking, I know a few chefs from school and the local industry that hardly warrant the title and yet they pass out glossy business cards with that moniker on them. After a bit of research and my own soul searching chefdom is not something that can be awarded to you solely but a business or an award ceremony. It’s more a frame of mind that comes with those that tough it out in the industry.

But it is good to be at the keys again. I’ve missed this, truly I have. I wanted to post earlier and pen my tales but like I mentioned I wanted time to adjust and prudence has proven wise as more story has unfolded in the ensuing weeks than at the time I lost my job. Not fired, not quit, not outsourced, but laid off. It is a new and unfamiliar feeling, one I’ve still not grown comfortable with. Never have I been part of a company that was so financially unstable that we had to terminate folks to save money.

When I left I though AGA to be doomed, another casualty to the fickle depression driven clientele and my previous employers’ improbably pricing. But sure as the date I pen this there are events on the books and food still leaves those quiet halls. At first I was jealous, I’ll fully admit it, irked at the fact my own toil was insufficient enough to warrant retaining my services full time or even on call. But after hearing of the conga line of chefs waltzing through that place, each fairing worse than the last under the same conditions I worked under for over a year it warms my heart for her to learn that it’s no where near as easy as she thinks or I make it look. Both known individuals being previous chefs for the same company that didn’t work out! (That would be my first big warning that things would go south.)

One, an alcoholic fired for his addiction and the second a well placed Seattle chef with excellent skills and only one hand. I’ve had many a stiff drink and cynical chuckle over loosing my prestige to “the one armed man” and will remember it always. As events continue to go out late and equipment is broken I feel sorry for the network of on call staff we use for serving part time. Surely they did little to lose their jobs? Makes me glad that I have a complete compendium of all the recipes amassed when I was at the helm of that company. That way one small piece is preserved when the range stops producing the smell of delicious food and instead serves cobwebs and dust.

But I have moved on, quickly at that, all thanks to Steve my Sysco rep. who mentioned off hand about a position down town for an experienced line cook. I spent a whopping 17 hours unemployed from the time I handed in my keys to when I got the call I should report in the next day for orientation. And while it cost me a long time associate I actually like not being the head honcho. The previous three chef jobs I had have shown me that I am not a leader of my kin, at least not yet and serve our industry better in a support role than one in which I must contend with ignorant owners instead servers that can be educated or cowed or both.

The food is fresh, most of it fabricated in house and made to order. The staff have proven (for the most part) competent and well meaning. The management is distant enough to not tread on my shoes but close enough to give support when I’m getting ready to snap. The most interesting development being that I earn almost exactly what I did as a “chef” (due largely to the automatic tipping system all cooks are part of) only here I work LESS than 40 a week and plan to spent a long warm week in Florida here in less than a week. An actual VACATION!

I may not have the title.

I may not wear my whites everyday.

But by god, it’s good to be appreciated again!