Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Elbow Deep

My hands are finally starting to heal, but it still stings when I juice a citrus fruit of choice. Being a dishwasher is no joke. I was only washing dishes for a week but I have the battle wounds of seasoned veteran. Blades will indeed cut you- especially when they are hiding at the bottom of the sink filled with dirty dish water. The strange thing is that I somewhat enjoyed dish washing. If I was getting paid for it, it wouldn't be bad. It fit me and my social retardedness quite well. Washing dishes is a system that takes learning in order for you to be efficient, but once you get it down, it is pretty simple. I was able to learn the system, and produce awesomely clean dishes in a fast and orderly manner. All of this without having to deal with a single customer. The best part about dish washing is that you don't have to deal with customers, and you can just do your thing and be left alone. As much as I enjoyed dishwashing I wasn't exactly a fan of doing it for free.

I was supposed to be working at a pretty well known local restaurant/cafe here in town. I got home from Germany on a Wednesday and started work at 6am on Friday...only to be told at the end of the day that I would be an intern for them while they trained me and would re-evaluate me in two weeks. This news sucked..but I was willing to wait it out and decided it was worth it just to learn how the kitchen operates, how the food is prepared and so on...but everyday after that I spent my days elbow deep in dishwater. If the "Chef" did decide she wanted to teach me something she talked to me like I was retarded. If she wanted me to cut broccoli she would teach me how to cut broccoli...step, by step. If I had to use a food processor, she would teach me how to plug it in, how to put the lid on, and how to turn it on. Trying to let her know I was completely capable of these things was impossible, she simply didn't listen. When she  spent too much time teaching me how to plug in appliances, cut vegetables, and pick my nose she would get flustered and stressed that nothing would get done. All I could think about was the dishes that were piling up on the sink...knowing I would have to rush to catch up and get them washed. 

Another disappointment is that I had always loved this place because I thought that their food and baked goods were all homemade and of superior quality. ( It should be for the prices! ).  To my disappointment, not only is their food not the highest of quality, but most of their baked goods come in a bucket. They order their muffins, and scones pre-mixed or made and scooped them into muffin tins and sold them off as made from scratch. Their sticky buns are made from frozen pastry dough layered with butter and sugar and then rolled and baked. 

There is an on-going joke with the rest of the kitchen staff as well about how the "chef" prides herself in her food and recipes that she calls her own but then when it comes to preparing the day's food she pulls out The Joy of Cooking and bakes or cooks straight from it. She has recipe books filled with ripped out pages from magazines. How can she call these "her own" recipes? 

Another observation that I made that could potentially be a bit more serious is how she prepares and stores her "Gluten Free" baked goods. She creates "her own" mix of gluten free flour but the problem is that she uses the same equipment and instruments for her gluten free goods as her regular gluten containing products. This might produce just the slightest amount of gluten contamination but for real celiacs this could be dangerous. Even foods sold in the grocery store can not carry a gluten free label if they were manufactured on the same equipment as gluten containing foods. She needs to be more careful or at least let people know that there is a slight risk of contamination. 

Frustrations aside, I ended my "internship" on good terms. ( unless they read this blog ) For once in my life I actually had the balls to speak up and talk to them about the situation. The chef said she wanted to potentially have me as a prep cook but that they just didn't have it in the budget to pay me, and when they did it would only be a couple days a week. So who knows how long I would have been their free dishwasher. 

Long story short... I am now back to job searching. I will miss the kitchen staff though. I really liked the people that worked there, but there was a lot of drama...I don't even know how much longer they will be there. 

Let the search begin. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Acting Stupid

Sometimes I let on like I know less than I know. I guess you could call it "acting stupid" but I assure you that it is purely accidental. Unfortunately, acting stupid whether on purpose or accidental doesn't really get you where you want to be in life.

I started my new job last Friday at a little eatery in town called Tsuda's. I am helping in the mornings with baking, and washing dishes (mostly dishes)..and pretty much anything that they need. Minus the new job nerves it went quite well. I enjoy the people, the atmosphere, and everything about it. Everyone is really nice, and willing to help out the new kid. The only hurdle I can't get over is my lack of confidence.

I will be in training for a couple of weeks (unpaid) until I get used to the ropes. My only fear is that they will find that I am not cut out for the kitchen due to my lack of a backbone. I was training with another new girl who is about to graduate from Le Cordon Bleu's baking and pastry program. I definitely felt under qualified. She was sweet, always willing to help me and I am really thankful that she made me feel really comfortable...however, this also allowed me to play dumb.

Tsuda's specializes in gluten free baked goods, vegan baked goods, and just overall deliciousness. What I failed to portray was the fact that I know more about baking than they think. Especially about gluten-free baking- something they don't cover in great detail in culinary school. I have done a lot of my own experimentation and research when it comes to gluten free baking, bread baking, vegan baking...everything. But for some reason I feel the need to act like I know nothing. I guess one of my biggest fears is coming off like an annoying cocky "know it all". I definitely don't know it all but I know something. I need to grow a backbone, learn to communicate (easier said than done ) and let on that I have at least some knowledge if I want to be handed less dishes and more responsibility.

My biggest downfall is always second guessing myself. Even with everyday tasks that I wouldn't even think about if I was doing it at home. I can separate egg whites with my eyes closed at home, but at work I was afraid to mess something up and looked like a moron. I have a hard time telling the difference between being cocky,and from being confident. Whenever I try on the confidence coat I always feel like a cocky asshole. But maybe that is what you need to make it in a kitchen?

Food is my passion, and I know there is no place I would rather be than in the kitchen. This is what I want to do for my career and will do everything I can to improve in all aspects of life in order to get where I want to be. Praying for confidence. Help me God.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Was It All A Dream?

It's my first day back in California...and it feels like I just woke up from an extremely long dream...

My dream in review...

Starts off with some shrooms

Enchanted forests

Noble steeds

Winter wonderland

Toon town?




Kill rooms...wake up time.

It is good to be back, and I am streaming Hulu, and Pandora simultaneously just because I can. ( These are not available in Germany ). I am also experiencing jet lag at its finest and can't think if my life depended on it. The side affect is pronouncing all my w's with a V sound, and blurred vision. So for now enjoy my trip in review.

Oh California how I missed you.