Damn, Do I Miss It.

Monday, December 01, 2008

every restaurant you work in leaves a mark on you. sometimes it's just a scrape, sometimes it's a scar, and sometimes it leaves you tattooed - changed forever. your scrapes are probably few. the impact of these kitchens may have hit you hard initially, but in time those marks will fade, along with your memories of these places. what were the dishes we were cooking there? who was that guy i worked pantry with? was there even a chef there? often these places were your stepping stones. these are the places that didn't necessarily inspire you or maybe they did, until you realized that maybe thai/mexican fusion wasn't your thing and you split. but no worries, these places don't remember you either. when you go by for a visit (if they're still in business) you recognize no one. the menu is full of the same stuff you were cooking years ago. the only change is that the floors are a little more worn, and the kitchen is covered in a new layer of grease. the lessons you took away with you seem remedial now; learning what the sanitizer dispenser looks like, what a 6th pan is, and how to brunoise pancetta perfectly, to name a few. you might even leave this place off of your resume.


a restaurant that scars you usually does so physically and mentally. i'm not talking emotional scars, although there might be a few of those. i'm talking about a change in the way you approach your work... that eventually starts to spill over into your personal life. your inner clock starts to adjust to your nocturnal lifestyle. when you walk the crowded aisles of a grocery store you say "behind you." your technique starts to come around, and you start to understand the language of the kitchen. spanish starts to pop up when you're talking to your friends. food looks different now. eating out, you can identify ingredients, techniques, and see a chef's style coming out. these scars are your foundation, and these years are the ones you refer to as the good old days. you pay your dues here, and come away with confidence, and hunger for the next challenge.

the kitchens that tattoo you are the most rare. these places hold a place in your heart reserved for family, your girlfriend, and anything else deeply important to you. after working here you talk differently. you listen differently. your very dna morphs into something new. and it goes both ways. you leave your mark, and you can see it rubbing off on others daily. everyone uses the same phrases, and holds themselves to the same standards. conversations ramble on and on about cooking. time spent out of the kitchen is still spent together, as a team, eating out or going to markets. on your days off you miss the kitchen. you look back on yourself before you came here, and that person is almost unrecognizable.

so the question is, how are you leaving your mark? is your impact something positive? are you contributing something? are you a part of it? or just skirting along the edges? do the other cooks mimic your style? do they listen when you speak? are you able to see the big picture - balancing the personal side and the business side? is everyone working towards the same goals? is everyone even comfortable talking about their goals? will your time spent here be something that influences and changes the other cooks careers?

i've made a difference.

and damn, do i miss it.

5 comments:

buttercup,  7:40 PM  

i know you miss it... you need to go do it again...

[oh, and... that's one of my favorite songs...]

spleeness 7:57 PM  

I haven't waitressed in over a decade and I STILL say "behind you" when coming up behind someone. And I totally kick a$$ at lunch when I need to carry 50 things precariously on a tray with one hand. Oh! And everytime I move through the house, I've got something in one hand transporting it elsewhere -- no wasted trips.

Those were some of the best years of my life, waitressing. But also HARD, standing for 12 hour shifts, lifting and scrubbing until the wee hours of the morning.

I think restaurants foster a good work ethic; you can't survive in one unless you're a hard worker.

BTW this would be a good essay, or maybe you can start writing a book on your experiences. There's been some literary works birthing from the restaurant industry as of late.

Blythe's Mom 11:04 PM  

go back and do it again!!!- yum yum

tony a.k.a. isweatbutter 11:11 PM  

if you only knew how many restaurant accounts i have documented... i think i could write an entire series. but alas, i leave that to anthony bourdain, because nothing i could possibly say could compare to kitchen confidential.

Post a Comment

HELLO FOLKS and thanks for reading www.isweatbutter.com! i look forward to reading your comments on my posts, but understand that some people have a tough time figuring out the "process." so here's a quick lesson for you: just type your comment in the space provided, and don't even worry about signing in... choose the "name/url" option and just type your first name or a nickname and then hit "publish comment." that's it, it's just that easy! thanks again for reading and for commenting!

  © Blogger template On The Road by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP