Raise-in in the Sun

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Sous Chef J's "just because" project: a dessert terrine

After a week (and today’s torturous morning) of havering, I finally worked up the courage to ask Chef for that raise. (Havering, as I learned from the song 500 Miles by The Proclaimers, is a British colloquial term for hemming and hawwing.) Today was his first day back in the kitchen since his hand incident, and he seemed to be in good spirits despite undoubtedly getting word of last night’s dreadfully slow service. I had a few opportunities to confront him in the walk-in, but, either due to the cold or to my lack of guts, I chickened out each time.

Instead, I went back to my prep list, which was pleasantly light. I like having extra time to help other stations, like back when I used to help Singing Hot-Apps Guy make pasta and pinch raviolis. Today I portioned out braised octopus for Pizza Guy J who was alone on Hot-Apps. My work area was soon covered in pint cups each holding 3 ounces of tender, purple cephalopod, three or four adorable pee wee potatoes, and a small handful of bright green shishito peppers. Good times.

Anyway,  just before service, I saw Chef step out for a cigarette break. Usually Sous Chef J joins him but this time he was alone. It’s now or never, I thought to myself. I went outside and asked him if he had a moment. In retrospect, I don’t think I sounded very confident… something along the lines of, “I wanted to ask about the possibility of my getting a raise.” I started to make my case, indicating that I am still making the “starting wage” and so forth, when he interrupted me and said, “You absolutely deserve a raise.” I was so excited that I just thanked him and went back inside.

When I returned to my station, I realized that I didn’t know what the raise was exactly. Knowing my window to continue the discussion was quickly closing, I scurried back outside and asked him what “the number” would be. His reply was, “What would you like?” I told him my number, the higher end as Fish Guy suggested so I would have room for negotiation. He readily accepted, which now makes me wonder whether I hit the nail on the head (with the exact same number he had in mind) or whether I under-shot and he just jumped on a good deal. Based on his character and on the intel I’ve gathered on typical wages, I think it is the former. I would be making the most that someone on the Cold Line (minus Pastry) could earn. Mo’ money would require time on the Hot Line.

But the point is, I got the raise I wanted! Woohoo! It made me feel better that it really is just business. Chef was not just going to offer me more money out of the blue because it directly affects his bottom line, and if I worked hard and earned it, I still have to proactively ask for it. It’s nothing personal.

I was so nervous for most of the day and then excited for the rest of the evening after receiving the positive response that I still have butterflies in my stomach. Chef had said that they wanted to make sure that I was a good fit and that I was also doing something that I would enjoy… I think he agrees that I add value to his kitchen and that, because I had to give up a lot to do this, I am more passionate about this than some other cooks he has or will hire.

The other highlights of the day include Dishwasher G starting his first day on Pizza, though because of his minimal English speaking skills, Sous Chef J and I stepped in to help him coordinate tickets from time to time. I also got to spend a good amount of my Late Night shift talking with Sous Chef S to plan out my head cheese terrine.

Tomorrow is pig head braising day and I am so freaking excited.

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