This is my journey as I return to school and work in a profession I once dabbled in as a means for funding an after college 7 year long ski trip...not as a viable career choice. I hope I entertain, enlighten and learn something from any readers I may attract.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On getting run off

Today I am broken-hearted. I had to quit my job this weekend. It is quite a story but I'll share. First a little background. I was working at a catering company. I loved it! The hours, tasks, and pay were not a problem at all. I walked into this field knowing about monotonous tasks, 16 hour days, and small paychecks. I had done it all before, and none of that bothered me. I really dig cooking and the satisfaction of a job well done. I work well under deadlines, and can get along with most anybody. That is under most circumstances. Last week, I had to work on an event with the regular cast of charecters. No problem, right? The menu had baby carrots on it. I noticed a coworker was panning up a tray of said carrots, when I noticed they were filthy. Like out of the garden filthy. My personal philosophy is to act like every dish will be eaten by you and your loved ones. If you wouldn't give it to your Mom, don't give it to a customer. I discretely said to her, "hey those look a little dirty, want me to rinse them for you?" She rolled her eyes and put a drizzle of water over them, and called it good. I let it be at that, figuring I had done all I could and the exec would see them and correct accordingly. More about that later. I didn't realize that being discrete, and not tattling would still press her buttons. I moved on not realizing the fatal mistake I had made. This apparently was wrong. And now, I had hell to pay. Timeline-wise that is when it all changed. I believe she thought I was being bossy or something, when in reality I probably should have told the exec. After this very quiet and simple exchange, I became a dead woman walking. I had no idea! This lady then took every chance she could get to be in my way, and boss me around. Arrgh! Dirty looks and interruptions became part of her MO. I had had enough. After watching her sit and watch me do a task we were all assigned, I decided one more time and I was gonna have to do something. I didn't want to involve the exec who already knew I was tiring of X's behavior, but rather act like an adult, and take care of it myself. It took no time for it to happen. X and I returned from a break (2hour) to finish prep and do the event. There were things that had to be done post haste. I had completed one task and had my sights set on another. I was at the walk in furiously searching for an ingredient when she stuck her arm in front of me, forcing me to move, so she could grab some lunch meat for her own personal consumption! After a 2 hour break! Not even an "excuse me" or anything.Here I am doing a work related task when X feels the need to serve herself instead of helping with what everyone else is busting their asses to finish. I finally had to call her on it. I could take no more. So I did. I spoke as calmly as possible, using specifics, and appropriate language. I really hate confrontation so I was shaking like a leaf. her reaction was to throw her hands in the air and walk away. Now before we go much further, Yes, I do know it is a kitchen, not cotillion. Still. If X had reached in front of a stranger at the grocery, she would have said "excuse me"....right? I use coarse language at times, no problem. My coworkers show up hung over and dragging, that is okay by me. There are times manners and civility get pushed aside in a rush and I do understand. Consistently being rude is what is not okay. When someone makes it obvious that there is no room for any sort of respect for others, that's when I have a problem. Respect is universal. I understand that respect is not always given, that is fine. It does have to be earned but I am talking about just normal decency! If you have to move someone out the way to get something for work, do it. Try to say excuse me but if you don't you don't. If you have the time to saunter to the fridge and feed your face, you can either wait for the person to move or just say pardon, or excuse me. I realize I just entered the grey area of situational, but I feel like I am not far off the mark. Sometimes we all forget to say excuse me and that is not what I am ranting about. It is a consistent disrespect that is why I am jobless. Upon her throwing her arms in the air, I could stomach no more. So I hastily took off my apron and said "later" In retrospect, it was not the right thing to do but I was shaking like someone with a seizure disorder and felt like breath was not coming fast enough. (Did I mention I hate confrontation?) I walked outside to "cool down" and then asked to speak to the exec. She came out and I immediately told her I was wrong for what was basically quitting and lamented about how I said that in haste and really regretted it. I went on to explain to her that I had had all I could take and had not wanted to trouble her with going to battle for me. I reiterated that I did love my job but could not handle a rude person sidetracking me constantly. I still did not "rat X out" or take any other low road. I felt that I had shown my dedication by being on time and on task. I even came in at 6:45 one morning when the exec had overslept with a breakfast due at 7:30. I was not scheduled until 9 that morning but did not mind the jump start to my day. We had even discussed my future with the company and shared similar visions. I could not believe what transpired. The wedding coordinator, who really knew nothing about what was happening or the back story, told exec to send me home. Still I understood. I had screwed up after all, and her actions made sense to me. This is the OMG factor. I was told as I left that I would talk to exec on Monday. She would get in touch with me, she said. At 5pm Mon I had heard nothing,so I called. Of course I had to leave a message but I put on my professional attitude and said I would still love to talk to her and discuss other things not appropriate for a voice mail, thank you, and blah blah blah. Did I get a call back? Hell no! All I wanted was common respect in the workplace and a healthy dialogue about that. It became crystal clear that a hard working dedicated employee was not what they were looking for, and that poor behavior gets rewarded. That lady still has her job and will continue to run off good hard working employees because they will continue to let her. Again, I was not totally right in how I reacted but I certainly never saw this coming. If they chose to part ways with me, fine. I will be okay. The part that stinks is that nobody even had the courtesy to call as promised and tell me to go to hell or whatever. That would have been fine. So, what is the lesson here? I need to not speak in haste. I have learned that. I have always been told to work out problems with whomever I have the problem with. The exec is not a referee. I get it. I will now have to evaluate better when to just involve the chef and trust the right thing will be done. I hate tattling but I like what I do. I realize not everyone is going to get along. That is okay, too. I don't have to be friends with everybody. I just don't need dirty looks or your hand in my face or your instructions on what I need to do after I finish whatever task I have at hand while you sit and watch me work. Ask anyone, I am always asking what is next?Obviously based on the chain of events, respect is not prized at that particular environment. The coordinator's disinterest in the whole story, both sides, led to her keeping a problem employee, and basically rewarding her behavior. Too bad for them. One day, I will be the competition and they will be serving dirty carrots.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I really don't care

I visit a blog I love on a daily basis. I am a fan of the blogger, and really enjoy the intelligent, and spirited comments that follow. Lately there has been alot of abuse on what is otherwise a pleasant spot. People really believe other readers enjoy their abuse of the comment button. I mean that's the conclusion I have come to. I have recently learned a new term, "clog the blog" and on my favorite, there seems to be a need for a little draino. I am sick of hearing about fellow student you feel are inept and then feel the need to defend your position.if you are inarticluate then maybe the written word is not your best forum.No need to experiment or waste my time.Waffling sucks! State your position and stick to it. I don't care about who you have supposedly met on, and I am sick of off topic posts for your personal pleasure. Yes, I like when you give us appropriate background that helps define where you are coming from, it gives perspective necessary to appreciate your posts. I do not care about your cat unless it can read and discuss what ever is relevant. I hate people who endlessly add comments one after another. Yeah, there are times when we all hit post only to realize further articulation is necessary. but come on! Gather your thoughts and don't keep coming back with one more thing...EVERY TIME you post. Also I have learned, if no one answers your comment, move on. It is not personal, just not on the forefront of other's minds. I have also heard about name changing. If you feel the need to change your name, consider why. Is a snappy new nom de plume gonna change the ass you are? Not so likely. to be honest, not many folks are fans of that tactic, and will catch on to an old jackass in a new dress. Also, if this is not clear, try to stick to the topic at hand. I do not need your resume unless you need a job from me. Then, if I can see crazy in your eyes when you come to drop it off, I probably won't need it then either! The bullying! UGGGGGH! I watched a very nasty incident last week where a legend in his own mind chose to basically harass a regular, appropriate contributor. he would not let her go. Jeez dude. If this guy really was as important to everyone alse as he believes he is, he should have been on part of his month long vacation, counting his dollars to ascertain that he had in fact hit 6 figures instead of putting down a smart confident relevant contributor. Humility gets people to the strata he described, not the assininity (a word my mama made up to describe another family member) he displayed.
If you need to say more than is appropriate on another person's blog, then get your own damn blog. I have a tendency to tangent, and that is why this very blog exists! It is my world, and I can go for miles without bugging anyone else. I am not trying to turn off any readers who stumble upon this blog, just being truthful.
This my friends is why I have my own corner of the internet. I am not gonna be the one they all hate due to my commandeering of someone else's blog. I can do that here and not come off as an ass. And you, gentle reader can tell me I am off base or dead on. But that's just it! This is my blog and you are here, listening to what has already been defined as rantings which by their very definition are not always reasonable.
Thanks for reading if you actually made it this far. I needed to purge myself of some thoughts that had been swimming in my head. I feel better, and hope you will add to this suggestion list. I know what bothers me, and seems to annoy others. How do you feel? What is your take on other posters behavior? What makes you need to rant?
Rant on y'all !!!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Pubic enemy number one...Tony The Tiger

Work is going very well. I actually love my job. No rants 'bout that.I am not in school this summer, so until I try to get in the classes I need , no rant there either.

  • I do have something to talk about. I am sickened to hear that Kellogg's will quit marketing to children. What? Because they advertise their wares to the Sat. morning cartoon crowd, they are the devil. Hmmm When did a cartoon charecter peddling cereal become such a big deal? Is it the litigous society we live in that makes them fear lawsuit from 200 lbs Sally, the fourth grader and her parents? Or is it even more vile than that? Poeple are being freaks these days, please save me from myself! Why the hell can't a kid have cereal once in a while? Moms of the 70's were all over us fixing our own breakfast when we woke up at dark thirty on Saturdays. Standard procedure was Be Quiet, Fix cereal (usually out with an appropriately sized bowl so we didn't have to climb on the counters), Be Quiet, Go to Den and Quietly watch cartoons. We also had parents who let us eat cookie dough, and drink from the hose and curfew was "dark." I digress. People who blame marketing for obese kids are missing the point. Last I heard, parents were still responsible for teaching their children. I failed to get the memo when that changed. I mean, what are parents held accountable for these days?

I think it is rediculous that people honestly think that businesses are to blame for the lack of judgement used by so called reasonable adults. When did the kids become the bosses? If you cannot serve a balanced diet for your child at least 5 days a week, then maybe you need help. Seriously. like a nutritionist or dietician, or maybe that pediatrician you visit for every cold? I do not hold the utopian idea that this is easy, but that's why we have professionals. Also, ever heard of walking the kid to school or even biking to school? Another way to have a healthy kid. My Mama made my lazy ass walk or bike to school every clear day.She also provided us with healthy snacks and a great example to follow (other than smoking in of all places the grocery store, man times have changed, and Mama quit 20 years ago, now)

Nah these suggestions are silly. Why shouldn't we let a clown, chiahuahua, and a blinged out royal set our tables every night? We can kill an entire generation's interest in good, decent food and then 20 years from now there will be no chefs, just idiots on Food tv interested in make up and wardrobe rather than mise en place.. (another rant another post another day) All those yummy dishes the parents eat once a year on their anniversary will be as extinct as foie gras at Trotter's. Another save me from myself, that whole foie gras thing. Drunk driving kills innocent people daily, but let's crack down on a foodstuff that has no real side effect to the driving ability of one who may consume it. Let the frat boys pickle their livers at underage parties but I can't eat the liver of multi purpose animal.

I will conclude by saying something is wrong with a world where Tony, Snap, Crackle and Pop and all our other non threating cartoon friends are worse than the Taliban and actually killing American children?

Stop the craziness. Take responsiblity for what you purchase and present to your kids. Don't get crazy and make them the wierd kid who never has had a Happy Meal. Let them be kids, but remember let yourself be the parent.

Ahh great to get that out. Thanks for joining me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hi There

I realized how rude I am...Thanks for reading....

Monday, June 11, 2007

Entry level

I started my new job last week. I am cooking at a catering company.I worked on 5 projects in as many days. Lots of repetive drivel.I scooped out red potatoes, played with phyllo, and resisted all urges to make any of the dishes "my own" I worked Sat night outside in the hot, humid Carolina air. I smelled like goat and was sweaty and filthy with crab - garbage juice . I had no energy for anything after the function ended. I f'ing loved it!!! It was the first time in a while I felt like I actually was doing something productive. I think alot of new grads would have hated it. I made close to 4 digits an hour (both sides of decimal point) I was required to contribute to a team led by someone with less education and about the same amt of experience as me. I had to perform boring, repetitive tasks any monkey could do. I had to keep up with what I put in the oven. I had to focus and was going to be very nicely held accountable for my actions. I already told you this is not a get rich quick sheme, right? I expected worse.
My rant is ready to be served.
It seems that recently I am hearing more and more about new grads who are extremely disillusioned about where a chef's career really begins. For some reason entry level is not where they are supposed to enter. Why? I am not sure. When I returned to school, I was there to get an education, not a damn thing made me believe I was ever going to start in any better a role most great chef start in...that of dish dawg. (insert affection you guys!) A diploma does not ensure a track it? Are you loyal to your employer? Do you show up on time ready to roll in any weather? Cool start, now can you peel vegetables? Great and no complaint so now let's move on. Here is another responsibility for you and another test and on and on. See how easy that was. Yeah, another aspect of your new career, it actually takes work. At the end of the night no rank is excused from helping clean up. Every place I have orked, chef and dish washer had whatever equipment was at hand actually using it for a common goal...going home. Yeah..that thing about teamwork. You will be working with folks who did not have the benefit of an education like yours. Guess what, after 8 years, Mr/Miss Less-educated is the sous chef. She is reliable, humble, eager to learn, has an endless supply of elbow grease, volunteers to stay late, and can kick your ass in a skills contest anyday. Sous C. is who you should emulate. This person has worked their way up and can show you how they did it. Calm down...Of course one day you want to be Exec, correct. But for God's sake, you don't honestly believe your diploma gives you the right to even circle one of help wanted ads looking for an executive chef? Oh, I see! You are here cooking until your agent gets the final offer from Food tv.You don't need to invest any part of yourself in your job because its just a job until soething better comes along. Yeah, I didn't go to culinary school to be famous, I actually went there to learn how to cook. I guess Julia Child and Jacques Pepin just trotted in and got to show our moms how to cook in their own homes. Yeah, neither really had experience, or much practical knowledge just degrees.
Fools! Please quit your endless whine fest. I am disappointed that you are disappointed. What other 2 or 4 year course of study guarantees a top post? None that I have heard of. Think of your time doing the work you think is beneath you as a sort of grad school. You are honing your skills. You are finding out the best way to work with all sorts of people kind of like a masters in human resources. You suggest a way to cut costs to your chef. Sounds a little like accounting. Your constant repetition of cuts has you that much closer to surgical precision. You get the idea. Everyone has to start somewhere. You just don't start at the top!!! Please quit crying about doing what people have always done. Work your way up! Earned successes are the reality. This is not an industry where you can fake it. Take time to listen and learn. I love my job. When I leave I will know that place inside and out. Why? Because that's what I am there to do. Work. It is a job. Go out there and prove yourself. Earn accolades, don't demand them. No role in the kitchen is below the greats that inspire us. They all did it too. What makes you so damn special?

Just my rant on the starry eyed work-phobic babies that went to school for all the wrong reasons and then bawl that the brochure lied.The only lying going on here is between you and yourself. Do your homework before you sign the check. Entry level is where you end up with your fancy diploma. If you can't stomach that, I don't trust your fish.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

More about the girl behind the blog or why do this?

I must admit, I feel very self indulgent here. Why do I believe I am worthy of a read? What makes me so interesting? To be honest, I am vain and find myself just delightful, and then there is the real reason. I have chosen to write this blog more to get your feedback. I am not new to my chosen field, but I do know that my point of view is rosier than most. Why? Because I genuinely love my new path. I am excited to have found a career in which I can can actually express myself (once I actually strike out on my own...the goal of all this), and grow. Of course the instant gratification that accompanies an empty plate doesn't hurt either. I like to live in a world of concretes. Good/Bad Salty/Sweet Whatever. I don't like alot of grey area and in my kitchen, there is not much of one at all. Either dinner sucks or it is great. Okay is not okay.I must be great. School is a giant battle to me. I hate the B's I get in most of my more academic classes. I want, no need all A's. In my kitchen labs I do very well but I always want to be the best. Therefore, I need this rant because I genuinely believe that as I rant, my more experienced (and level-headed) fellow cooks will put me in my place. Gently, I hope. None the less, I do need grounding as we all do. I hope that I will get new prespective, and learn something. Don't be mistaken.... I will rant about the rediculous and mundane from time to time but I really hope to make y'all think and then in return you will make me think. I know that I have alot to learn and do, and I am fully aware that I have more dues to pay than a boy scout with a broke mom. I do not want this to be a place where I am the penultimate expert. So not the case. I just want y'all to join in the adventure and laugh with me as I laugh at myself. I think I see humor in things that are not funny, and I feel like I have the right to rant when sometimes that just is not the case. Either way...You will help me either fall on my ass or make this great. I hope everybody is ready, tomorrow I start a new job. I may not have a right, but chances are a good rant is in the works. After outlook is not that rosy.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Here we go

This is the beginning of what I hope will be an amazing companion to my everyday life.I am an extremely opinionated culinary student in my second round of college. My story is simple...I got to return to college as a wedding gift from my husband. He had watched me suffer at an extremely snobby private school where coaxing a "please" out of a child requesting something could lead to ruffled Mommy feathers. Lots of these women never realized I was alot like them at the same places, enjoying the same restaurants, even driving the same damn Mercedes.All I ever wanted was for the parents to be able to take their kids in public without flinching. I felt like I deserved a little respect.....Where to earn that since obviously shaping, nurturing, and teaching little minds is grounds to smile blankly with no recognition when we meet on the street? The aha moment. I had worked in kitchens during a stint out west. The kitchen is a great equalizer. I have worked with folks whose parents paid for CIA with a check, and folks that see a high school diploma as optional. The kitchen could be one of the last places you really have to walk the walk. Hot pans don't care who they burn and diners don't care of you go home every night to your trailer and smoke your mind. Truth is it doesn't matter. This is a level playing field. Show up on time, and do your job without bitching. It's go time and the only way (as I see it) to earn respect is to give it. My mantra is "keep your eyes open and your mouth shut" I hope to do this with grace but as I said I am extremely opinionated. Therefore instead of ranting at work or school, I will do it here. For the entire world to see. Oh man! I hope this is a fun ride, buckle up..........