Saturday, July 14, 2012

Can't go back might as well slog ahead

I have been knocked off my high horse and landed in a swamp.

Last fall I started helping an old friend with a food business.  I had long ago retired from professional cooking.  One of the last places I worked burnt any desire for the business right out of me.

I was a lead saute cook for a huge Italian place, running a 24 burner gas range.  They worked me 6 splits a week, 11-2, 4- whenever dinner slowed down. Obviously that left me no life but the restaurant, which was good because it didn't pay for much of a life.

Before that I had several long terms stints as a kitchen manager, always cooking on the "hot" side, expediting, etc.

I tried a couple times to get back into the business, but found I had no tolerance for the job anymore.

Until last fall, when I came out of retirement to help a friend.  I spent the off season helping develop new markets, playing secretary, designing menus, fixing food costs, and actually preparing food.

We barely scraped through the off season, I found myself facing a horrifying financial position in July. Out of the blue I had a call from a place I worked years ago. I readily agreed to go back.

My friend dropped me like a hot potato. I couldn't be available 24/7? Bye!

Then what happened? The new job was right out of kitchen nightmares.  I had worked the place for 7 years then a co-worker bought it 15 years ago. The changes were not all for the good.

I think it could all be blamed on the menu.  Enormous menu. I was told people had walked out because the menu was too big. Whether customers or employees or both I forgot to ask.

The menu was not several things done different ways. A good menu would offer haddock for example, fried, baked, broiled, chowder; then chicken, shrimp, you have a few ingredients to use different ways to keep product fresh.

This place it seemed every item on the menu required three or four things specific to that item. Now times that by 100, and you can imagine the amount of storage you need for all those ingredients. So he added many refridges and freezers.

Along that philospohy of more is better, the kitchen tools had been breeding for the last 15 years.  dozens of inserts for all those fridges- scoops, spatulas, spices. The place was stuffed to the ceiling.  That left a 18 inchgap to pass food to the waitstaff.

Most of the cooking equipment had been downsized to make room for the fridges. One busy breakfast they had to break out an electric griddle to cook pancakes- and they still took forever.

The owner and designer of the menu rarely worked in the kitchen. Only if he was called down if the line was busy.

Most of the help were relatives.  The son in Law seemed to worked endless days and hours without a break and it quickly became apparent that was the status quo.

I was hired for the pantry/salad girl position, and I hated it. I got to run the microwaves, and root out all the ingredients from the freezer and thaw them in the nuker for the hot side all the while making salads out of the cheapest nastiest produce on the market. 

The other hot side cook was 23 years old and spent the shift questioning everything I did from if I was sure the baked potato was done, to a fried chicken tender I dropped for him when he was in the weeds, to criticizing the size of my chopped tomatoes.

If he was an accomplished chef I would not have been so offended.

I lasted almost two weeks.

Finding myself once again in a financial jam, I heard the farm where I used to work was short on help, so I swallowed my pride and sent an inquiry about possible employment.

It turns out the boss is still holding a grudge from a year ago over my questioning the amount of shavings on a concrete barn floor used for horses.

I still refuse to budge.

That's three bridges I have destroyed in a month's time.  I just hope there's a few pieces floating around because I am up the creek without a paddle.

Any good energy or prayers sent my way will be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

1 comment:

*~*~*~*~Tonia said...

I am sooo Sorry and Will be praying for you.. I worked in Fast food years ago and HATED it! I dont think I could cook for a living I like to cook but would quickly become bored cooking the same thing over and over.. Hoping something comes through soon!!!