Friday, June 10, 2011

Adventures of a Kitchen Slave pt 9, the Emancipation

The Emancipation of a Kitchen Slave

Twelve months ago, I set foot into a professional kitchen as a paid employee for the very first time. My pristine chef's coat (among other things!) gave away my inexperience. I can't help but giggle when I look at it now, stained & showing my every battle with avocados, tuna, and worse. My arms look different now, scarred with multiple burns, which I've grown to think look pretty bad ass. My feet? I try not to look, just let my pedicure lady do that for me, show the wear of ungodly amount of hours spent standing. I wanted to find out if this crazy life that I read about in Kitchen Confidential was for me. Turns out, I'm just psychotic enough...this fast paced demanding job and ridiculous schedule, coupled with balls-out celebration after a job well done, is something that I can do, and do well.

Comparing my first day to my last is comical. I spent hours organizing the walk-in or making pico de gallo, something I can hammer out in 30 min now. I wasn't even confident in operating an industrial opener. My last day, I held down a busy station on a Summer Saturday...with a smile on my face. Yep, surprised me too.

I am in love with my completely crazy co-workers. I have encountered nothing but kindness, a willingness to help, a capacity for teaching. I am forever grateful of the amazing people I've met a Hotel Laguna...those who complimented me on improvement, those who helped me when I was "in the shits" (it was called "in the weeds" when I was a server in college, but I truly think this is a better descriptor), and those who nothing made happier than hearing me say naughty words (you know who you are). It was a far cry from Gymboree, but an amazing ride!

I accomplished more in the last year than I ever thought possible, on a sheer number of hours basis, and a growth through learning one too! I must admit, though, my honeymoon in Hawaii did something to me...made me realize there is a world out there that I've been absent from. I'm taking this summer, between semesters of culinary school, as a bit of a sabbatical...a chance to be a newlywed, to travel, to eat, to cook MY food. My enthusiasm is growing, not waning. I'm honing my skills on my break. I will continue to cook, to eat, and write (blowing a kiss in my mind to Tony Bourdain).

Sometimes, love manifests in strange ways. Deserving of the "whip cream special", my last night was nothing less than memorable. I'm aware of this restaurant tradition, and even brought a change of clothes. But, nothing prepared me for hearing "blue team, go", just before getting attacked from both sides.

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