In the middle of dinner service tonight I felt my phone ringing in my back pocket. It was an unexpected call from Station Lead. I inadvertently hung up on him and sent a quick text to let him know I was working. He called me after work and it was nice to catch up. After the old restaurant closed, he found an opportunity to be the head chef at the restaurant right next door.
Anyway, it would seem that his small team was having trouble, a conflict between his sous chef and a line cook. In the end the sous got fired and he’s putting out feelers for a new sous and additional line cooks. He asked me first if I knew anyone looking for a job… but then he asked if I would be interested in quitting my current job to be his sous chef. I didn’t know what to say. I was flattered and honored, but ultimately I had to turn it down. I have a good thing going here, great opportunities to learn cool techniques and to climb the ladder within the restaurant empire. Plus, I’d want to stay for at least a year so that my 401k matching will vest. He understood and was dumbfounded that I had a 401k. “Are YOU looking for a line cook??” he jokingly asked, willing to shed his hard-earned title for better pay and benefits.
We chatted more about gossip among the old crew – drama among Panda, Sous Chef S, and himself. He also bragged about making a salmon terrine in half the time it used to take me. I sarcastically thanked him for the reminder when he said something that resonated in me: “You have to remember where you started. Just two years ago, you were running computers in an office. And now you’re working for one of the best chefs in the world. You should be nothing but extremely proud of yourself.”
After last week’s drama, I needed to hear some words of encouragement like that. And his job offer gave me a bit of an ego boost (after all, wouldn’t it be amazing to earn that title so early in my career?); even though I’m not taking it, it still means a lot that he thought I would be deserving of it. It also made me miss the old crew. They weren’t just coworkers; they were my friends. This kitchen now is so big that it’s hard to really connect on a deeper level with any one person the way I did with, say, Pastry Girl. Oh well, all in due time.