Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Final Days

Saturday will be my last day at the restaurant (and Sous Chef J’s as well). I wish it were the last day for everyone but it seems that the closing date keeps dragging on (no doubt in an effort to continue making money on this place before the other restaurant officially opens). We are all feeling incredibly burnt out. It’s funny though because while tension has been high and more arguments have broken out lately, they’ve also dissipated quickly because what’s the point.

On the bright side, I am very much looking forward to spending time with Honey Bunny during my week-long staycation and I am excited for the new adventure ahead. News spread like wildfire after I told Chef last week. On Tuesday, Front of House Owner shook my hand, told me it was “fantastic news,” and congratulated me on getting the job. Others have had nothing but good things to say about this new restaurant and perhaps more notably, about my ability to secure a position there.

Just two more days!

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Moving Forward

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It’s been a crazy couple of days… Friday and Saturday dinner services kicked our butts with over 300 covers each night. Pastry Girl summed it up well when she remarked that it has been so slow lately that when we do get slammed, it’s a shock and we all kinda suck from being out of practice. Exhausting.

At the end of the night on Saturday, however, the butterflies in my stomach were going nuts. I was planning how to break the news to Chef that I wouldn’t be going with him to his new restaurant. It felt like a breakup and I was starting to feel so nervous that I wanted to vomit.

I went upstairs to the office where I knew he was alone drafting up the new schedule  (probably the last!). I told him we need to talk, and he turned to look at me with the saddest puppy-dog expression on his face, as if he already knew that I had bad news for him. However, he really took it in stride and the conversation was quick and painless. I had been warned that he might try to guilt me into staying but he really seemed to respect my decision.

This is really happening.

(PS: pictured above is a delightful chocolate souffle from my lunch date today, catching up with a dear friend.)

Going For It

Okay guys, brace yourselves. On Tuesday afternoon, exactly 24 hours after my interview, I got a voice mail from the HR department of Fancy Restaurant’s hotel. I didn’t know until I had gotten home from work and I was so paranoid that they may have moved on since I missed their call. But with Honey Bunny’s support, I waited anxiously until morning to call back.

Then I heard the words I had been waiting for: we would like to present you with an offer.

I was floored that they acted so quickly. My mom thought it was a sign that I must have done really well at the interview. I think this is a confirmation that this new place is going to be a good fit, mutually.

I went in to do the pre-employment paperwork this morning and when the background check and drug test come back, they will let me know so I can give notice. This is really happening!!!

A New Hope

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Not the Star Wars movie.

I had my interview at Fancy James Beard Award Winning Chef’s Restaurant today. I was so anxious as it was my first job interview in this industry and really the first one since I interviewed for my office job almost 5 years ago. I had trouble falling asleep as I kept rehearsing my answers to the expected questions (tell me about yourself, strengths and weaknesses, etc.) and when I finally rested, I was startled awake having forgotten what the fifth Mother Sauce was in case they asked. (They are, by the way, veloute, bechamel, hollandaise, espagnole, and tomate.)

But I arrived, on time and nerves intact, at the loading dock behind the restaurant as instructed by the sous chef who had called me. I was greeted by a guy loading up boxes of produce who, with a southern drawl, informed me that I could not in fact park there and that the sous chef “done lied to ya, home girl!” Luckily I had some time to spare and moved my car to the underground parking structure.

In the building, I had to check in with Security who had someone escort me past the HR office and into the kitchen of the restaurant. There I met one of the other sous chefs, a friendly youngish female, and the chef of the hotel’s other restautant who both conducted my interview. I was told to expect this but it still surprised me that the very first question asked me what I knew about the James Beard Award Winning Chef. They were more than satisfied with my answer, saying that I “hit the nail on the head.” Yay!

Being part of the hotel (though functioning like a freestanding restaurant) meant that the rest of the interview consisted primarily of HR-mandated personality questions arranged in a worksheet that they filled out as I talked. Thankfully, they broke up the monotony by discussing more “normal” interview topics in between questions. Topics like perks and benefits. WHAT? It took all of my professionalism and willpower not to let my jaw drop as they mentioned health, dental, vision, 401k, and discounted stays and meals at the sister restaurants and properties in the hotel group.

I put my best foot forward and I think it went well. The biggest clue was that toward the end, the sous chef started phrasing things like “when you start working here…” instead of “if.” She also told me I should be hearing from HR with an offer later this week. Ahhh!

This would be an amazing opportunity to learn the crazy and cool techniques in “modernist cuisine” and really help build my resume to be affiliated with this chef’s legacy. I’m just worried that I’m getting a bit attached to the idea of working there, so I really hope the offer actually comes through. Trying not to count my proverbial chickens before they hatch. Wish me luck!

Arte et Labore

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So quick restaurant updates: on Wednesday I was scheduled to work Pastry which meant a long night for me waiting for the last dinner table to order desserts. On the bright side, we’ve brought back our old style of doughnut, with bourbon glaze and orange curd. Yum! Too bad the pickup involves grabbing fried dough out of 350 degree oil and swirling it in molten hot sugar. With your bare hands.

Today I made the first batch of chicken liver mousse terrines that contain 50-50 chicken liver to foie gras in what must be over 2 years, since before the ban. The ultra decadent pate even set differently as it cooked, just due to the sheer fat content. (Mo’ fat, mo’ jiggle.) It was at Chef’s request and I’m so excited to taste it. Be still my heart.

Okay, now for the exciting news. Last week I stayed up til 2am updating my resume and applying for a position at one of the city’s most prestigious restaurants owned by a James Beard Award winning chef. Well, today I got a phone call from a sous chef inviting me in for an interview! I am coming in on Monday and can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Meat Guy told me to make sure I do my research about the chef; apparently otherwise-qualified people have missed out on offers because of their lack of familiarity of the chef and his style. I decided to look up the Chef du Cuisine as well who is, coincidentally, a woman!
One of her bios mentioned a quote she remembers from one of her first culinary mentors. And it got me to thinking about what I’d say about Chef if/when I make it so big that online magazines start interviewing me for bios like that. Sure he has his cliché favorites like “Do it right or do it twice” and “If you have time to lean you have time to clean,” but I think the one I will carry with me is “Arte et Labore” which is Latin for “by skill and by hard work.” Sure it’s also the motto of a British soccer club (Blackburn Rovers, or for fans of The Beatles, “I read the news today, oh boy / 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire”) but it’s also a brief yet inspiring message. Funny, I always thought he was a Manchester United fan through and through.