Week 28: Work-Life Balance


My weekend is finally here! Wooooooo!

Today was intense all-around. Prep kept me busy with marinating a batch of wild boar pate, buttering three chicken liver mousse terrines, cooking two pork liver and truffle pates, and assorted small tasks to get ready for service. When I popped out the chicken mousses, all three came out perfectly – super smooth and with little to no residue left in the mold. It was a sight to see! I excitedly told Chef these were my best yet and he replied that they were the best EVER and congratulated me on a job well done.


We were all in such a rush to finish our prep and get set up for service that no one made family meal. Sadly, when that happens, it really means no one eats. Well, not a proper meal anyway. A few fries here and there, perhaps Pizza Guy K will fire an extra pizza, the last few strands of pasta from a dish on Hot-Apps… I found a tray of brioche buns that didn’t proof properly so Pastry Girl had deemed them unfit for service. I popped one in the telly (microwave) for a minute and ate it with some pastry cream; it was just like one of those sweet buns from the Chinese bakeries. I was a happy camper. (Don’t worry – I made up for the lack of calories by devouring a bacon cheeseburger and criss-cut fries from Carl’s Jr. after work.)


Speaking of “after work,” I was so ready to break down my station and get my weekend started…. until Bartender Girl came in to tell me that Honey Bunny was here with his BFF Z and wanted a chicken liver mousse. “Tell him no, he can’t have it. I’m going home!” I teased. But just after I made it and sent it out, a charcuterie board checked in at 9:55pm. Okay, no big deal, I thought, working at lightning speed to put it together. I was just about to throw my soapy bucket all over my work station when Station Lead announced that there was a VIP table and we need to send out a board, a peach salad, and a tuna tartare. WHAT? I looked at the clock… 10:10. Don’t they know we’re closed?? Sous Chef S and Front of House Owner got into a heated debate over it, but I figured I would just go ahead and build the charc board anyway. The sooner I finish, the sooner I can GTFO. Somehow, I had mine done before the (three!) Pantry Boys finished their two dishes. Embarrassing for them.

Anyway, I waved to Honey Bunny from the Hot Line where I could peek at the bar guests between bottles of liquor. Off we went to start our weekend!

But back to the title of this post. Tomorrow, Chef is going to be a guest chef at a dinner event at a Michelin starred restaurant where he spent four years as Chef du Cuisine. The dinner is celebrating the restaurant’s 15-year anniversary by inviting back the head chef’s protégés for a tasting menu. Anyway, before Chef left tonight, he turned to me and said, “I don’t know if this interests you at all, but I’m cooking at an event tomorrow…” I told him I knew about the event and that it sounded great but I can’t afford the $150/head price tag. He replied, “Oh I was going to ask if you wanted to come along and work in the kitchen with me and [Sous Chef J]!” I was speechless and he was in a hurry to leave so he just said, “Well, think about it and let me know. We meet here at 3.”

I already texted Chef to thank him for the opportunity but decline. Honey Bunny and I have plans with friends tomorrow and I already spend so little time at home (and with him) as it is. Though I am determined to someday work in the kitchen of a Michelin starred restaurant, this particular Sunday is not going to be that day. I can be a very impulsive person and part of me wanted to jump at the opportunity, Sunday be damned. But I think this is a very important lesson in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I have read about so many struggles of Kitchen Life and perhaps the biggest is trying to make time for your significant other. So many get sucked into doing anything and everything for their job (although this applies to any career really!) at the risk of destroying their personal lives. I am determined to put Honey Bunny first because his love and support means so much to me.

There will be other opportunities, and I’m grateful that Chef even considered me. As far as I know, he did not ask anyone else other than his sous chefs, so I feel honored as it is.

Anywho, now I’m off to relax and enjoy the weekend. Till next time!

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