Channeling Positive Energy


I was pretty upset by the time I got home today but then I spent a solid three hours poring over recipe websites, YouTube videos, and my Charcuterie book/bible frantic with inspiration. The story unfolds…

See, the Pantry Boys got totally reamed by Chef again today during service. They were taking so long to push out some of their tickets that Chef, in his impatience, left the pass and personally started plating some salads. He enlisted my assistance, having me gather the ingredients he would need while he worked at my station. Eventually though, I had a few tickets to work on, so he had to fetch the final garnishes himself.  Upon closer inspection of their station and its disorganized mess, he completely lost it. “This is a joke!” he shouted. “You two are not fit to run your own station! At this rate, you’ll be spending the next two years on Pantry at LEAST!”

I felt bad for them; Musician Stage especially seemed to be taking it pretty hard. But at the same time, it made me think again about asking Chef for a raise. After all, things like that don’t happen under my watch. I work hard, I am focused, and I care a great deal (certainly more than these kids who don’t seem to give a flying you-know-what).

I approached Fish Guy for advice since I know I can trust him. I told him that I felt it was time I moved up from the starting rate, especially when I see how the new kids are under-performing. He confided that he knows how much everyone makes and he told me that, actually, the Pantry Boys had managed to negotiate higher day rates than mine. WHAT THE HELL. I felt more than a little slighted, and Fish Guy reminded me that Chef is first and foremost a businessman — in the interest of keeping costs down, he’s not just going to offer me a raise out of the blue even if I deserve one. I’d have to ask for it and present my case. So, I reminded myself, it’s nothing personal.

Honey Bunny was kind enough to let me rant to him, and after I got the anger out of my system, I channeled my energy into researching my next charcuterie project. (I’m generally a positive person, so I was grateful for a distraction to put me in a better mood.)

I’ve been wanting to bring in a whole pig’s head and make a coppa di testa salumi, a delicious Italian cured meat that Honey Bunny and I tracked down at a tiny hole-in-the-wall salumeria in Boston. Browsing through recipes, however, I stumbled across a related forgotten favorite — Vietnamese gio thu, head cheese that is essentially the same thing as coppa but with a different spice palate. I take for granted that charcuterie is a part of every cuisine and culture; until now, I only thought of fancy French pates and Italian salumis. For example, I was mind blown when I realized that Chinese sausage (lap xuong or lap chong) is, too, charcuterie. Anyway, I am finally caught up on my mise (and well-stocked with terrines, garnishes, and pickles) so I can make time to take on new projects or start learning salumis. These are just a few ideas I’ve been considering. I think this forum for creativity is why just about everyone who has worked this station loved it.

Money is just money. Even if Chef says no (assuming I work up the courage to ask), this learning opportunity is incredibly unique. There are not many restaurants that do their own charcuterie and even fewer willing to teach. You can bet that I will be honing these skills for the rest of my culinary career.

Life is too short to be angry, so for now, I’m going to continue working my ass off and practicing the new techniques I’m learning. After all, everything works out in the end, right?

PS: I don’t think I mentioned it, but Honey Bunny and I went to see the movie Chef the other night. It’s a hilarious movie, enjoyable for anyone but especially relatable for those of us committed to Kitchen Life. I really liked it, although I did not find it quite as life-changing as Fish Guy had hyped it up to be. For those who have seen the movie (or even just the trailer), I leave you with this:



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