How are you doing on this fine day?
I am doing just fabulous thank you.
Today's post is very dear to my heart/extremely important to me.
So let's go ahead and begin shall we?
Would you take just a moment or two to imagine.......
... that you're a part of a crew that is going to open/just opened a brand new restaurant in your city.
(I'm sure a great deal of you are familiar with restaurant openings and the hard work/sacrifices that go along with it, but bear with me for those who've never done it before).
... the pressure that rests on your shoulders to do a good job, produce good food, and make people happy so the business will succeed.
... testing a recipe that isn't working out right - reformulating the recipe then re-testing the recipe - finding out you have to reformulate it yet again - testing that recipe etc. etc. etc. until you finally get it right. Then it's time to move on to the next menu item that just doesn't jive right, and do it all over again.
..that the entire restaurant you're working in is literally the size of most kitchens alone.
.. being one of 6-11 people in this tiny kitchen at all times.
... having zero personal space to call your own.
... learning how to gel right with other cooks in the aforementioned matchbox kitchen.
... making food for people all day long, and not recalling the last time you yourself had a bite to eat.
... working eighty hours a week in a 100+ degree kitchen.
....not being able to recall the last time you bought groceries, did laundry, updated your food blog entitled 'Chronicles of a Curly head' (lol), paid your bills, hung out with friends, or set aside a little "me" time.
... making every single menu item from complete scratch almost every single day
... learning more in one single week at this restaurant than you did in the entirety of culinary school (real talk).
... coming in early before the shift to prep, and staying late after the shift to prep yet again.
... that cleanup only takes 10 minutes at the end of the night because the kitchen is so small, on opposed to an hour and a half like most kitchens :)
... feeling like your hard work actually makes a difference in your community.
... practically stumbling into your car at the end of the shift, not because you're drunk (although sometimes we cooks would like to be lol), but because your so exhausted from all the work you just put in.
Imagine that even with all of these hardships and woes (some of the hardship factors I actually enjoy to be quite honest lol) you still absolutely love your job. You love the waitstaff. You love your chef. You love your boss. You love the food your putting out. You love the atmosphere. You're even happy to go to work early in the morning and you're mildly sad to go home at the end of the night. You're even happy to come back the next day to do it all again.
I'm sure you've caught on by now that I've just given you a small glimpse into my working life at Olive........
Did someone say work? Hell - I don't even remember the last time I worked. I've been going to Olive to hang out with my friends every day and it turns out that I'm actually being paid for it :)
I've never been so exhausted and so happy in a kitchen before in my career (which has been fairly short one....but it's a career none the less lol). I honestly can't recall the last time I was this excited/proud of the food I've been making in a kitchen.You must be thinking "but Jenna, you just listed a ton of negative things, how can you love your job? It seems to me as if you hate it." If you had to ask this question then it is clear you're either A.) not a part of the food industry B.) Not a chef/cook C.) You don't eat food. D.) You're an alien.....let's face it - it's probably D.
Most cooks/chefs have a love hate relationship with food. We aren't always "Oh gee gosh golly I love cleaning! I love remaking food that I just spent twenty minutes on! I love burning/cutting myself! I love dropping things! I love dealing with unruly customers! Oh goodness I just love having absolutely no social life outside of work!" I would love to meet someone who had this sort of outlook on the kitchen lol, because I have yet to meet a chef that loves every single aspect about the industry. I've seen first hand that if you love it - you somewhat hate it too. That's just the way it goes.
A majority of cooks/chefs hate dealing with unruly customers, cleaning, dealing with attitudes (we have absolutely zero drama/bad attitudes at Olive btw), running out of food, working extremely long hours, waking up early, forgetting to order something, not having much of a home life, etc. But the fact that we love to make food, and create something for others to enjoy, completely and 100% overshadows any negative feelings we have towards all of the idiosyncrasies that go along with the restaurant biz. This is my life path. This is what I chose. Sure it's tough at times, but I love it nonetheless. Not to mention (and I'm sure every single chef/ cook would agree) you have to be somewhat crazy, insane, or completely out of your mind to be working in a kitchen.
I'm sure some of you parents out there can agree that your children drive you crazy. They back talk at times, they don't listen, they run around naked, they hit people, etc. But do you hate them? Well....I sure hope not lol. They get on your nerves but you love them all the same. That is the best way I can describe food/working in a kitchen.
Why have I decided to talk about the hardships of the kitchen........?
Because I've come to find that the satisfaction of making great food is not always the reward for all of the hard work one puts in whilst working in a kitchen. Sometimes the reward is much bigger than that.
Sometimes your boss/restaurant owner recognizes how many hours you've been putting, and how hard you've been working, and does something amazing. Sometimes your boss approaches you and tells you she has a surprise. Sometimes she tells you t0 meet at the restaurant on Thursday at six, have four hours free, dress nice, and come hungry. Sometimes you're like "What the hell is going on? We get a surprise?! I love surprises! What's the surprise? OOOoooo tell me tell me tell me!" and sometimes your boss Kimberly is like "No Jenna you have to wait and seeeeeeee!" and then you're like "awwwww man. ok". And then sometimes you show up on that particular Thursday at six o'clock with no plans for the rest of the night, dressed nicely, extremely hungry, and eager to see what's going to happen.
And sometimes you look out of the window at five after six and you see a limousine, and you're like "Say WHAAAAAAAAAT? Is that our limo??" and your boss is nodding with a big smile on her face all like "Oh yea. By the way. You're getting chauffeured to your surprise in a limo. Get in. The driver knows where you're going" And then you're thinking "Oh my God this is so exciting and terrifying at the same time. What if we're taking to a back alleyway and shanked? What if we're going to be dropped off in the middle of no where and the surprise is that we have to find our way back home? What if it's some extreme limo cooking challenge? Oh my goodness the possibilities are endless." And then sometimes you get in the car, drive twenty minutes, step out of the car, and have one of the greatest dinners of your entire life.
"Sometimes" happened to me last night.
This dinner was so special, unique, and personal to our kitchen staff that I do not wish to discuss it on CCH. But I will say that I owe my boss Kimberly big time for the lovely limo ride and for being such an awesome lady over the past two months.
And I owe Chef Tom Fecke (who I've only met once in my life prior to this event) a great deal more due to the fact that it was his idea to take us to a special dinner at one of the best restaurants in Dayton, talk to us about the industry for hours, and buy us practically every single thing on the menu. What an extraordinary person. Chef Tom met us for the very first time last week, and here we were last night being wined and dined like we've known him for years. I will not soon forget this night that Chef Tom made possible. And I make a promise to do the same thing for young budding chefs when I am a big timer. Every young hard working person deserves to be reminded why it is that they do what they do.
Or else - what's the point?
The blogger inside of me shouted "Take photographs! Show your readers! Remember all of this food!" but the young chef inside of me screamed at the tippy top of her lungs "Remember this. All of this. Soak in this rare experience. But do not cheapen it with tons of photographs. Take one picture of each food item and have that be the end of it." Which is exactly what I did. They are not perfect blogging photographs, but you must remember - I'm a cook first, blogger second. I refuse to let my food go cold and/or warm trying to get the perfect shot. It's just ridiculous.
::End side note::
Dinner at Rue Dumaine.......
These are frog legs.
I tried them for the very first time last night.
They are delicious.
The bathroom and the mirrored hallways are absolutely beautiful.
I had to photograph them.
This is a giant portrait in the hallway of the Rue Dumaine chef - Chef Anne Kearney.
This is both eerie and awesome all at once :)
End of the dinner......
I have a new found love for food.
Quoting James Beard seems like a wonderful way to end todays special post:
"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch."
" I don't like gourmet cooking or "this" cooking or "that" cooking. I like good cooking."
"Too few people understand a really good sandwich."
"Americans have more food to eat than any other people and more diets to keep them from eating it."
"I am not a glutton - I am an explorer of food."
"The secret of good cooking is, first, having a love of it... If you're convinced that cooking is drudgery, you're never going to be good at it, and you might as well warm up something frozen."
"There is absolutely no substitute for the best. Good food cannot be made of inferior ingredients masked with high flavor. It is true thrift to use the best ingredients available and to waste nothing."
"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."