Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Journal of a Culinary Student


CityCook
 Share

Recommended Posts

Good policy, chezlamere. Unfortunately, they used the wrong serum for flu shots this year, and the flu strain that they didn't make shots for was the worst I've ever had. Stay well, everyone!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Weekend 12

No spectacular screw-ups or impressive accomplishments to report this week, although one important revelation included my realization that I'm paid to play with food, alongside my lesser rote tasks. I realized this when a co-cook was trying to put together a parmesan crisp "bowl" for the restaurant's caesar salad. I came up with the idea of using a section of PVC piping and a funnel, rather than just a funnel, to promote stability at the base, as well as wrapping a dark green leek stalk around the base for color contrast. I had fun thinking about this; let me repeat that so it sinks into my tired, dumb brain: I HAD FUN THINKING ABOUT THIS, AND IT WAS PART OF MY JOB.

Thanks; it's good to hear that. Makes me remember there's a reason I'm willing myself into poverty and back-breaking work.

It's past time to list a few new lessons:

11. Get all shit out of your way if you're not using it at that moment.

12. Know enough about physics to realize when something's going to tip over.

13. Some fuckers will never get it. Don't make yourself feel better just because you're better than them.

14. You can work faster.

15. That soup could taste richer. That sauce could be smoother. That piece of meat could be more flavorful and more tender. Figure out how.

JJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Weekend 13 (for real)

It's been a long time since I've drank so much in a night that I feel the effects throughout the next day. The only thing I can think of, since I really didn't drink a heroic amount, is that my fatigued body, after three nights of the kitchen immediately followed by several mixed drinks, decided to teach me a lesson. Very well, body; you win this round.

We got a baby deep-fryer in the dessert station, and the chef encouraged us to play with it , so I've been plotting a deep-fried dessert involving dates and wonton wrappers. I hope to bring the unfried desserts to the restaurant on friday or saturday to see how people react, but I've got to do some extensive testing at home first. And then I have to eat the tests. Then test some more, then eat. Maybe it's not the best idea for me to be a dessert cook.

Maybe it is, for now. I don't want to stay out in the cold, though, bt I haven't trained at all on the line. What I have been doing, however, is observing very closely. I think I can do it. There are some core principles about fat amounts in the pan, searing, plating, seasoning, grilling, building and maintaining a wood fire, that I'll need to learn by heart.

OK yes, fuck you, everything, I need to learn everything.

JJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Weekends 14 and 15

Less drastic changes than previously reported. I continue to get a bit tougher and faster every shift. Learning about cleanliness and especially efficiency; main motivation remains, however, not getting yelled at. Maybe sometime soon, this will change to a pride in work and a drive to create innovative and beautiful food, which, while certainly present, is honestly not why I usually try so hard. I just don't want to get yelled at. Yelling remains one of any exec. chef's most valuable tools, I guess. I wonder if there are chefs who successfully manage their staffs w/o it.

JJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...

great thread. glad you bumped it back up.

it will be enjoyable keeping up with your futher culinary education, so please continue to post. you write very well, and i look forward to a vicarious cul-school rush. (i took pictures when i was going...lots and lots of pictures, and they do serve to refresh my memory when i look back on them, but your blog is very evocative!)

happy b-day to you. (that is not me singing. you don't want to hear me singing. even my own babies didn't want to....never mind.) you will suck the juice right out of chez panisse! i hope it's stellar.

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll continue this posting with regularity.  I no longer want to be a chef, though I've become very comfortable in the kitchen.  I'm leaner, stronger, and I've got a moderate complement of burn scars on my hands and forearms.  I haven't cut myself with a knife in quite a while. 

Ooh, my birthday is Saturday; my girl's taking me out to Chez Pannise.

I might wet myself.

CityCook, great posts. V. funny and great to read. I am new to the world of professional kitchens and all of your postings, anxieties, and lists (from earlier posts) are RIGHT on. I'm curious--why have you decided that you no longer want to be a chef? What made you change your mind, and are you leaving culinary altogether? I look forward to reading more... :biggrin:

"After all, these are supposed to be gutsy spuds, not white tablecloth social climbers."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I didn't forget about you, emilymarie; I've had to reinstate my membership, etc etc.. anyway, I'm back.

To answer your question, I've decided that though I can see myself putting in the work to become a successful chef, at the end of that road is not a life I would like to lead. Also, I have some background in writing and publications, and I'd like to find a job that uses all of the skills I've developed over the course of my life, rather than pursuing a career that uses only my newest skill set.

I also want a life outside of the kitchen. Spending every holiday away from my future family would be poo.

Now, I'm not turning my back on the culinary world at all; it continues to engage me, and it holds the promise of a lifetime of learning. I am just trying to look at my life in a holistic way. And I have learned an amazing amount about work and discipline by learning to function i na kitchen; I believe that these skills will help me wherever I go, whether I'm trying to finish recipe specifications on deadline or getting apps ready for a party of 50.

Make sense?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the order of actually posting some news, I did one thing for the first time last night, called teambuilding. It's where my school whores itself out for an evening at $100 a head to corporate types can pretend they're learning how to cook in the structure of a given theme (last night: the Iron Chef "competition"), with cooking students "directing" them. The problem: they get tossed beforehand.

There was one guy last night who was helpful, but so much so that he wanted to take over my station. There were a couple of people who just wandered off with their drinks. The remainder were dicks, who wondered, after trying to get breadcrumbs, cheese, vinaigrette, garlic, and cilantro all into one chicken dish (an airline breast where the first thing they had me do was remove the skin and cut the bone off), who, after all this, wondered why their presentation sucked so much compared to that of other groups.

I don't like this side of the industry.

I'm all for teaching people about cooking, as long as they're receptive. They can even be drunk, as long as they listen.

God knows I could teach the class drunk.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't forget about you, emilymarie; I've had to reinstate my membership, etc etc.. anyway, I'm back.

To answer your question, I've decided that though I can see myself putting in the work to become a successful chef, at the end of that road is not a life I would like to lead. Also, I have some background in writing and publications, and I'd like to find a job that uses all of the skills I've developed over the course of my life, rather than pursuing a career that uses only my newest skill set. 

I also want a life outside of the kitchen. Spending every holiday away from my future family would be poo.

Now, I'm not turning my back on the culinary world at all; it continues to engage me, and it holds the promise of a lifetime of learning. I am just trying to look at my life in a holistic way. And I have learned an amazing amount about work and discipline by learning to function i na kitchen; I believe that these skills will help me wherever I go, whether I'm trying to finish recipe specifications on deadline or getting apps ready for a party of 50. 

Make sense?

Absolutely, CityCook. It's interesting to hear people who work in the industry talk about it. One friend said he wanted to work as much as he could even if it meant not sleeping and another person I know who is exec. chef/co-owner at a restaurant has called people insane, maniacs, and psychopaths when they've told him that they want to be cooks. When people say things like this it begs the question--well then, why do you still do it? There are ways to cook professionally but not in a restaurant kitchen. Or is it just run of the mill complaining? Probably both. But I am convinced that there is something so inherently powerful about this industry that keeps a lot of people in it, despite all of the drawbacks. It's why I am pursuing my dreams now. Check back with me in 5 years (haha!)

But as you say, spending every holiday away from family would be poo! :biggrin:

And I wish you all the luck in the world in your quest to write. I've met many a nasty magazine/book editor who cared little about my talent and knowledge but rather that I'd paid my dues, worked in the industry and had a certain mysterious something that they thought I needed to do the job (maybe no pride in myself??).

Rant over! I look forward to reading your posts...

"After all, these are supposed to be gutsy spuds, not white tablecloth social climbers."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hell, the reality is that a lot of people are in the industry because it's better than jail. Don't kid yourself; it's not all magic in there. The inherent power you're talking about must be yours, because it simply won't jump out at you unless you're messed up enough in a specific way to resonate with the magic that does lie in the kitchen.

I worry about people who think about the industry in overly flowery terms (not necessarily saying that you just did that).

Yes, there are tons of ways to cook outside of a restaurant: be a caterer, personal chef, corporate chef, culinary instructor, etc. But the kitchen's where you get your hard-core experience, and that's probably where those nasty editors are coming from. I wouldn't hire a food writer who's never worked in a kitchen either.

I think, though, that non-restaurant work can actually broaden your horizens, because what you learn in a restaurant (if you're not the chef) is just how to prep for and cook that menu really well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hell, the reality is that a lot of people are in the industry because it's better than jail. Don't kid yourself; it's not all magic in there. The inherent power you're talking about must be yours, because it simply won't jump out at you unless you're messed up enough in a specific way to resonate with the magic that does lie in the kitchen.

I worry about people who think about the industry in overly flowery terms (not necessarily saying that you just did that).

I'm in love with the whole idea of working in a kitchen now, though I can appreciate what you've said about some of the people who find their way into this line of work. How many people just fall into it without knowing what they're getting into? I guess those people get out as quickly as they got in.

I can be overly flowery, I admit it. I'm still very green and inexperienced (In fact, someone told me that my couple of days of work at a restaurant each week is play). But I'm hopeful and motivated. I'm going to go to culinary school and take seriously my two days of work. I'd be destined for mediocrity if I didn't, wouldn't you say?! The only thing I need now--balls and the agression of a NFL defensive lineman. GRRRRR?! :biggrin:

"After all, these are supposed to be gutsy spuds, not white tablecloth social climbers."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...