Boy, do I have some Tales to Tell...
Sunday, August 04, 2013

So... I am officially a Brooklynite.  Well.  Maybe not.  But 13 days ago, we moved to Brooklyn.  Specifically, Brooklyn Heights.  So far, it's been wonderful.

There's still stuff we have to get done:  like hang art, get a couple of pieces of furniture, get rid of a couple of pieces of furniture, figure out where to store things.  It can be overwhelming, but I am not letting it be.  It's just nice to be home.  And that's what we bought.  A home.

In the midst of it all, we are both still working.  I took a few days off but jumped right back into work after one day of post-move rest. 

I suppose I am very lucky to have work even during what is considered the second slowest month when it comes to catering work.  I actually met my income goal for the month.  But the SLOWEST month of catering is August.  So, let's see if I can meet my goal.  I do have gigs lined up already, so it's looking positive.

It's been a positive past month.  The move went smoothly.  The transition is working.  Work is happening.  And someone called to ask why I am so skinny in pictures.  Not that I am skinny but apparently, I photograph skinny.  Good times.

Maybe moving to Brooklyn was the key.  Maybe moving in general was the key.  Maybe what I needed to do was change some life parameters to get some things moving.  So far, it's been wonderful.  Later.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

As a freelancer, a significant amount of my "free" time is spent looking for work.  Nowadays, that means sending out emails.  Sometimes, they include my availability.  Sometimes, they include questions that I have been meaning to ask.  Sometimes, they are just simple hello's.  All this to keep all five of my bookers thinking of me.  That's it.  Just thinking of me.  Because when a new job pops up, I want to be at the forefront of their minds.

And it works.

It works so well that four out of the five companies I work for have me as part of the core group of go-to cooks.  It's a great feeling.  And it helps prevent me from worrying about where my income will be generated.  Or if there will be any income to begin with.

Which is why I am convinced that a lot of my fellow freelancers are lying when they say that they do contact the bookers for work and claim that they are never given work.  I am especially convinced because there are a lot of people getting work who are not as skilled as the ones who say they are overlooked.  There are a lot of times I get asked to do double shifts.  There are a lot of times I have to turn down work because I am already booked or my week is too full.

I am truly convinced that a lot of my fellow freelancers are lying because one of the companies we all work for sends out an availability form before the beginning of the month.  I fill it out promptly.  I get work often.  I find it baffling when others say that they haven't filled it out and it's the second week of the month.  Really?  I guess you aren't strapped for cash as badly as you say you are.  Weird.

I guess I have to be thankful for these folks.  If it wasn't for them, I may have less work.  Because, no matter how good you are, if you don't follow up on work, you won't get hired.  No matter how good you are, your booker has no idea if you are available to work.  No matter how good you are, if you don't spend time looking for work, you'll be spending a lot of time "free".  Later.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

I've never subscribed to the "customer is always right" code.  Mainly because they aren't always right.  And partly because nobody has the right to everything.

I worked a gig last night in the god-forsaken area called Queens.  Just to clarify, Queens is impossible to get around.  The street labeling makes no sense.  The areas that most people need to get to are nowhere near the subway.  And the people who live and work there hate it, refuse to admit they hate it, are overly protective of it, and are super-sensitive about it.

But this isn't a post about Queens.  I'd hate to dedicate that much time to it.

This is a post about customers who are demanding but have no idea what they are demanding.  It's a post about customers whose anxiety level is so high that they act irrational.  It's about customers who's lack of self-esteem factors into their decisions.  Who's fragile emotional state makes everything they do "an emergency".

Last night, my team was accused of making fun of the event we were working.  We couldn't make fun of the event we were working because we had no idea what the hell the event was about.  We were making fun of Queens.  We were making fun of the fact we had so many cooks working what we thought was an event that one person could have worked.  We were making fun of how none of us liked Queens.  And we were mistaken for making fun of an event.

We were approached about that and we owned up to what we did.  But our event planner is so new that she had no clue how to react to it all.  And the customer was so insecure that she took it all personally.  She is so insecure that she cannot trust that true professionals are in control of what they are doing.  I found this out because after the chef served the main entree, she approached him and said that she was glad that the food was good because she had big doubts about him cooking whole fish and portioning it table side.  Seriously?

This is a chef who runs a renowned restaurant.  A chef who makes the same dish in his restaurant every night.  A chef who has run the same restaurant for years.  And you don't trust him?

When I heard her say that, I watched her walk away and noticed her wide hips and panty line.  First of all, don't wear tights if you have wide hips.  Cause you won't find an appropriate thong and your panty line will be visible.  And frankly, I don't want feel like I should be assaulted by your big ass.

And if your big ass is the the source of all your insecurity, then work on it.  Don't let the rest of us suffer for it.  Don't hide behind the "customer is always right" code because you cannot separate one's disdain for the area you are in from the bullying in your past.  Get over it and work on it.

And while you're at it, work on that muffin top as well.  Later.

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Monday, February 04, 2013

I don't give myself enough credit for what I do.  Actually, for what I am capable of.  And for what I always do.  It's frustrating to be one's biggest critic.  You're always considered being "a show off" if you talk to anyone about it.  But the truth is, you're not.  You're not because nobody but you recognizes that you can actually out perform some of the folks that you work with who are given more credit than you.

I have a new work friend who I have lunch with a every week or so.  He's a nice guy.  Not as exposed as I thought he was.  Actually a bit underexposed.  Not sure if that's the correct word.  Maybe a little less experimental.  He definitely thinks that he's worth more than he is.  Nice guy but not as good a cook.  And certainly not as strong a cook as I am.  His confidence is certainly his strength.  Certainly more than me.

I also just worked with someone who has been in the industry longer than I have.  She gets work as a lead for a big company.  Are her skills better than mine?  Not at all.  She actually quite the mess.  She's known to cry during events if things aren't going well.  She's not a strong leader.  But yet, it's her confidence that gets her jobs that I should be getting.

Then there's my colleague who is a sous chef for a major corporation.  Very level headed.  Great personality.  Smart.  Can cook.  Can I do better on all levels?  Yes.  Has she accomplished more than I have?  To some degree.  So, why I'm I not where she is at least?  Confidence.

Maybe I need to learn how to create more.  Maybe I don't want to create more.  Do I really want to go beyond what I am doing already?  I am not sure.  I'm still trying to figure it out.  But it's hard because I am happy with what I am doing.  I get paid decently and I have very few responsibilities.  I see that I have opportunity but don't really strive harder to take advantage of it.  It's confusing for me.  I know I can.  People know I can.  But I just don't.  Something to think about in the next year.

For now, I will build a stronger reputation during 2013.  Maybe after, I'll feel that I deserve the credit.  Later.

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Thursday, January 03, 2013
One of my work friends recently got fired from his job as a sous chef.  I happen to work at the same place as a freelancer.  I actually heard of the place because of him but got the job way before he even applied for sous.  He worked there for under a year before he got terminated.  I was asked if I was going to leave because they terminated him.  It took some effort not to laugh.

My dilemma right now is that, although I don't want him to go hungry, I don't really feel comfortable recommending him as a worker.  He is a great cook.  But his work ethic is somewhat sketchy.  His habits are things that I think he should have grown out of years ago.  I also don't think the company was wrong in releasing him.  I know for a fact that he is given a lot of chances.  Most straight white males are.

I finally got a chance to communicate with him this past week.  Not much was exchanged about the place of work.  We talked more about what he was going to do going forward.  He wants to do the same thing I do so that he can make some money and control his schedule.  He also doesn't want to work weekends.

And this is why I am hesitant to recommend him.

I guess I'll just give him some contacts and tell him to go from there.  Unfortunately, lately, dropping my name at some companies is guaranteed employment.  It just is.  Hopefully, he'll clean up his act so that my act stays clean.  Later.
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
Looking forward.

It's a new year and for some reason, my body has decided to get sick.  I think I caught it from a guest at our traditional New Year's Eve quiet evening with friends thing.  Damn her.  So, here I am trying to flush out my system with tea, vegetable soup, bread, juices, and ice cream.  There's got to be some sort of reward.

So what does a new year bring?  I don't know.  I started by kinda worrying that I don't have a lot of work lined up.  Until this afternoon when I booked 5 gigs for the next two weeks.  I really need to stop worrying and just letting it happen.  I get asked to work for a reason.  I need to understand that I will get asked first when work opens up.

Have I really entered the forefront of most of my employer's minds?  Maybe.  Or is it because I continue to update them on my availability in a methodical yet gentle way.  Maybe.  Or is it my skills that have them asking me to be part of their events team?  I hope.  Or is everyone else just away?  I'm fine with that.

Whatever it is, I think I deserve it.  I've worked hard this past year in establishing myself in the New York City catering community.  I've taken on many positions at far less than what others would.  I went out of my way to help companies when they are in dire need of help.  And throughout all of it, I've remained positive and supportive.  I am glad many companies are seeing that.

So what lies ahead?  I need to be more aggressive and assertive in getting what I want.  I need to build more confidence in my skills as a catering event lead chef.  I need to get better at networking and establishing myself as a freelance cook with clients who pay in a higher echelon.  I need to get a business card.

There is much to be thankful for this past year.  I am truly grateful for all the good stuff that came my way.  Despite the lousy first couple of days.  Later.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2012
For real?

I'm a freelancer.

What that means is that I only make money when I work.

What that also means is that I compromise a lot in order to make money.

But what that also means is that I come at a price.  A price that I demand.  A price that I will only change if there are reasons that warrant me changing them.

The biggest reason I will not change is because I am being lied to.  Or deceived.  Or given ambiguities.

I am not opposed to working or working hard.  I am also not opposed to donating my time for a good cause.  But I am opposed to not being told the truth up front.  I am opposed to being given ambiguities when it comes to whether or not I am going to be paid properly.

What makes people think that I would be interested in "donating" my time to their cause?  Why would anyone think that I am unreasonable for wanting to get paid for what I do for a living?

It baffles me.  It baffles me that people would think that I would do what I do for a living at a compromised price.  It's weird that someone would be willing to compromise my livelihood.

I'm a freelancer.  But I'm not free.  Later.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Mixed feelings.

I can check something off the bucket list. 

Not something that I thought I should put on the bucket list.  Nonetheless, I can check it off.

I was in a room when the sprinkler system went off due to big ball of fire.  Yup.  A big ball of fire.  Check. 

Nobody was seriously hurt.  Thankfully.  But it was still a moment.  I wasn't in serious shock.  But it was still quite shocking.  We tried to put it out with an extinguisher.  But the sprinkler system beat us to it. 

Just so you know:  the water that comes out of the sprinkler system is not clean.  Just saying.  And just so you know:  we continued with the party and none of the guests seemed to even care.  It was pushed back an hour.  But it didn't seem to phase anyone.  Except the workers. 

It's weird being in a situation where you think you may catch on fire.  It's even weirder feeling the sprinkler system raining down upon you.  You feel simultaneously relieved and disgusted by the whole situation.  Not that I would want it any different.  It's just weird.  Weird enough that one of my coworkers took me outside and made me take an moment and breath. 

She wasn't exactly my favorite person in the world.  But after today, I see her differently.  A bit less of a bitch.  Weird.  Later.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stay in the box.
I'm doing it again.  I'm moving forward too fast.  I need to reign it in.  I may have to make sure it doesn't get too far ahead.  Or it'll just be the same thing again.

I have this knack of making people in charge think that I want to be in charge as well.  I can't help but feel that they think that I am interested in being part of the people in charge.  I am trying to just work.  A little more pay is nice.  But I'm not always interested in being responsible.

Suddenly, I am being put in situations where I am in charge.  I'm sure it's because of my work ethic and demeanor.  It's quite flattering.  But sometimes, I just want to show up and work.  Not necessarily think.  Just work.

I am giving myself 2 years to keep doing what I am doing.  Cooking.  Just cooking.  Making money cooking.  Then I'll go from there.  But until then, I just want to work.  Not necessarily be in charge.  I don't mind taking charge.  But I don't need to have the title.  You know.  Later.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

This past Sunday, I volunteered to help build and march the rainbow balloons during the Gay Pride Parade.  I had a blast.  Although there were some hiccups during the beginning, overall, it was just so much fun being surrounded by people who understood what they were doing and why.  And proud to be there.

It's always difficult for me to understand why people just cannot be proud of what they are doing.  Or why there is so much negativity that surrounds what they are accomplishing.

I work for a particular catering company that seems to breed this in their kitchen staff.  Don't get me wrong:  there are always a ton of negative people when it comes to the kitchen.  There is a lot of ego and self-doubt that goes on in a kitchen.  So much so that I have chosen to ignore it and just work.  This particular catering company certainly creates an atmosphere where the staff talks about how much better they will be once they move on.  Yet, here they still are.  Not moving on.

I don't even understand why people don't move on.  Especially when it comes to freelance work.  I am a freelancer.  I work for 5 caterers.  There are thousands of caterers out there.  I can name 3 in particular that I could send my resume to right now and get hired.  So, if I were miserable at one, why would I bother accepting work there?  This is the question that I continue to ask at that one particular catering company.

I don't think it's the company.  I think it's the people.  I think that at some point, we forget to look at what we do to contribute to our misery.  There's a lot of stories we create for ourselves to justify our misery.  There's a lot of falsehoods we hold on to make ourselves feel better.  There's a lot of energy we waste trying to make everyone else feel as bad as we do.

It's sad.

Especially because once you let go of all of that bad feeling, you realize that it's just work.  It's just life.  And it really isn't that bad.  It's actually quite good.  It's actually quite exhilarating.  And when all is said and done, it's something to be proud about.  Later.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

One would think that with the amount of technology available to keep us all in touch, it would make for more accountability.  But one would be wrong.

Very few things piss me off more than people who flake on me.  It just irritates me to the n'th degree.

You see, I'm fine with being cancelled on.  Just shoot me a quick note saying that you are not feeling well and would like a rain check.  I'm also fine with you giving me plans well in advance and not confirming BUT showing up for said plans.  I'm even fine with you giving me no reason to cancel our plans.  I'm fine with it all because there are times, I do the same thing.

What I am not fine with is you being all gung-ho about getting together, rescheduling me a couple of times, saying that you definitely want me to come hang with you and your posse (for which you state that I am a part of), and then only contacting me, after I text you, to tell me that you are already there.  REALLY?  So, at no time in your entire day were you able to send  me a note saying to just meet you at the place at the designated time?  REALLY?

I'm pissed.  I'm pissed because most of my plans are designed to fill in friend time with work time.  It's a factor of being a freelancer.  I don't get the same times off as the rest of the people I know.  So, I tend to accept certain jobs just to fit other people in.  I like my friends.  I want to spend time with them.

Maybe I need to re-configure some friendships.  Later.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A few years ago, I decided to embrace the fact that I am good at teaching.  I never really embraced the fact that I am.  It's weird because I have had tons of teaching positions since college.  I was picked out as a teaching assistant for a technical writing course.  I worked as a fitness instructor for 15 years.  I was an educator for a major organic grocery chain.  I also taught cooking classes while there.  So, about 3 years ago, I totally embraced it and accepted that I actually know how to get people to learn.

So, it bothers me immensely when people don't teach me what to do.  Because if you ask me to do something, I'll ask you specifics.  If you fail to communicate them to me, then I'll do it the way you told me with slight adjustments which I consider necessary to create a better product.  And it bothers me immensely, when you come over and have an attitude about it rather than just ask me to do it the way you previously did not communicate.  And it really bothers me when the person I am working with, who supposedly knows what is going on, doesn't correct me, and co-signs with the person who did not communicate with me properly.

Last night, I was tasked to brown some chicken.  I asked specifically what steps were being taken to finish the product.  The response was very inaccurate.  So, knowing that we had a huge amount of time, I decided to brown the chicken carefully.  Because I was asked to get good color.  A fellow cook, who has about as much tact and class as a nail, came over and said that I was wasting time and this is how I should do it... blah blah blah. 

I guess I'm bothered for three reasons:  one, we have so much time; two, none of the lead cooks complained to me about the way I was doing it, and they both checked on me twice; three, my fellow chicken cook, who didn't do it properly the first time, and was corrected properly by one of the leads, co-signed with the asshole to make herself look like she knew what she was doing. 

Seriously, we had so much time for this event that we sat around for 45 minutes waiting.  Guess, I had time to waste.

The two lead cooks, were fine with the way I was doing it.  NOBODY, including my fellow chicken cook, said anything to me.  I'm adult enough to take criticism.  And I love when people correct me if I am doing it wrong.  Don't be such a pussy about doing it.  But then again, my fellow chicken cook is a female and they notoriously lack any confidence in the kitchen.  Most won't say it but they definitely feel it.

I know she definitely has been put on the spot at events.  I know he definitely been put on the spot at events too (one instance actually involved me).  But here is the thing:  I've been put on the spot at events before.  My goal is to help others not be put on the spot.  My goal is to also teach my fellow workers how to cook properly for the company.  Not berate them and make them feel small.

I guess that's what makes me a good teacher.  Later.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012


In my line of work, I meet a lot of cooks who are in the same boat as I am.  We all freelance and are basically competing for the same jobs.  Truth is, there is work somewhere out there.  You just have to be diligent in finding it.  And like all other freelance work, it's feast or famine.  That being said, I shouldn't be surprised about how some cooks act when it comes to work.

Here's a typical interaction:

New Cook:  So, who else do you work for?
Tim:  Here, and (big catering company) and (small local place).
NC:  Oh, is (bcc) hiring?
Tim:  They probably are.  Send them your resume.  Let me give you a contact there.
NC:  Thanks.
Tim:  Where else do you work?
NC:  Just at (other big catering place).
Tim:  Oh, I've heard of them.  Do you have a contact that I can reach out to?
NC:  I'll ask if they are hiring.

Seriously?  Is that what you are going to do for me?  How about you do the same thing that I just did?  Give me a contact name and let me send them a resume.  And let me deal with it from there.

I asked a trusted friend about this type of interaction.  She said that it's because they are scared that I am going to take away their work.  Really?  This trusted friend has gotten me gigs at the same places she works.  And she has never lost a job because of me.

I considered not giving out contacts anymore but the truth is, I don't live that way.  I find it very tiring to feel that someone may "take away" my work.  I just work as hard as I can and leave it at that.  So far, it seems to work.  Is it others lack of confidence in their work that forces them to be this way?  All I know is that I don't want to ever feel like that.  I see no problem in helping people find work.  If I lose work because of that, then it's my fault for not working hard enough to keep it.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

 Sometimes I feel that I am not that good a friend.  I really tend to spend my free time doing nothing when I could be spending it doing things with friends.  But really, what does that mean?  One can only eat out so much.  And the weather often gets in the way.  And it's not really cheap to do most things.  And my work schedule is opposite of theirs.  Are those just a bunch of excuses?  What is one to do?

I am very grateful to have a partner of 14 years who's company I enjoy.  But I really don't want to get to a point where the only friend I have is him because I have ignored everyone else.  I don't want to be one of those friends that schedules their life around the partner.  I hate those type of people.  What is one to do?

I am grateful that the friends I consider the closest are more than happy to meet at a moment's notice.  I am glad that they indulge me when they can.  And I think I try my very best to indulge them as well.  I hope it comes across that way, because I really do.  But there are times that I feel that I don't.

Like now.

Because I have been working so much, a lot of the other things I feel are necessary are being neglected.  I need to dedicate time to making sure the home is organized.  I need to find time for the gym.  I need to get my personal stuff done:  haircuts, retirement investments, potential employers, possible catering business.  And because of all this, I let spending time with friends fall by the wayside.

Am I wrong?

Maybe I'm thinking to hard about this.  Maybe part of it is that I am suffering from allergies.  Maybe I am feeling some sort of doldrums.  Is this what it's like to be depressed?  Is the feeling that you have no control and the feeling that no matter what you do you cannot catch up... is that feeling depression?  I don't think I'm depressed.

Maybe my body is telling me something.  I had a fever Friday and left work early.  I came home and just slept.  Maybe it's my body's way of saying slow down.  Unfortunately, my mind tends to work overtime when my body is trying to slow down.  Maybe what I need is to spend some time laughing with friends.

And when is that going to happen?



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I feel so unattractive lately.  Not really physically.  And not really to people.  Just to myself.  I don't feel like I am doing anything to make me feel proud of who a I am physically and emotionally.  But I need to clarify that.

Am I happy that I am back in the kitchen cooking?  Absolutely.  I am good at what I do.  I can make money at what I love to do.  And I am working at places that are more than just tolerable.  One of them is even a place where I learn a lot about cooking.

Am I happy about my relationship?  Without a doubt.  I don't think I could have been any luckier meeting the man I am with.  It's not perfect but I don't expect it to be.

So, why don't I feel proud?  I just feel that I am not moving past what I am.  I don't feel like I do anything that makes me grow as a person.  I don't go out to experience new things.  When was the last time I went to a comedy club?  Or some off-broadway play?  Or an art installation that makes me think?  I cannot remember because it has been so long.

And what am I doing physically?  I've been held back by my foot problems.  So cardio has not been kept up.  So, I feel fat.  I feel unshapely.  I still lift weights.  But I need to do something new.  I don't feel comfortable in my skin.  I feel like I am so not in the shape I could be.  Maybe I need to take some new classes or get a training session of some sort?  Pilates?  Yoga?  Don't know.

I'm at a loss.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Is this a mid-life crisis?  Later.

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Sunday, April 08, 2012
Cloudy skies abound.

How do you tell someone that their negativity is always going to hold them back?  I don't think it's an age thing at all.  Because the three people that I know, who's negativity holds them back are nowhere near each others age.

I worked with a lesbian that was so negative that it stopped her most things correctly.  She was in her middle 50's.  She left a career in graphic arts to pursue a career in culinary arts.  She sucks.  No.  She just is not that good a cook.  And on top of that, she is always critical of everything she works on.  Why do we not add more lemon to the hummus?  Why would you marinate the shrimp that long?  Why do we use these environmentally-unfriendly platters?  And so on and so forth.  It's gotten so bad that people refuse to work around her.

Then there's a young head chef in his late 20's.  Who is super-talented.  Who at times is very nurturing.  Who has vision that many more seasoned chefs won't ever have.  But his need for perfection leads him to doubt his work.  It leads him to constantly think negative things are going to happen during events.  And inevitably leads him to sulk while cooking.  I have noticed that when he is surrounded by people who don't feed his negativity, he actually does calm down and appreciates the work that is done.  But when he is surrounded by anyone who feeds that negativity, it becomes a shit storm.  It's only a matter of time before people begin to not want to work with him.  And the first people to leave are always the talent.

Speaking of negativity, there is a catering cook who's lack of self-confidence renders her utterly useless.  She often "bites off more than she can chew."  And while in the midst of doing things that are basic knowledge to most cooks, her self-doubt kicks in and she begins asking questions that make me think she really has no idea what she is doing.  What do you mean you just want me to grill these for color?  Should I add more salt to this?  When is this salmon done?  How do you want us to make that thing we have done a million times? 

I just don't get it.  I work one way.  I review the menu.  Ask questions about how the food is to be cooked, seasoned, finished, and presented.  And get it done.  When I get to the point of finishing the food, I ask the chef to taste it.  Adjust it as needed.  And send it out.  Done.  If I don't do it correctly, I take a deep breath, fix it, and move on.  I certainly do not dwell on it at all. 

This is probably why I have always been successful.  Negativity and drama roots people.  It forces them to take their focus away on what they should do and place it squarely on what they didn't, effectively causing them to perform poorly, leading to more mistakes.  I just don't have to time or energy to do that.  Nor do I have the desire to tell most of them.  Not that I think telling them will work.  Later.

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Sunday, April 01, 2012

This past weekend, I got irritated at work.  I don't normally let stuff get to me in this line of work.  Especially because for the most part, I have my part to execute and as long as I do, nothing else bothers me.  Part of it is also age and experience.  I am to old to not know what my strengths are and how good I am.  Which is probably why I was massively irritated by a coworker.

This is not just any coworker.  She actually trained me in this kitchen.  I have come to realize that all her talk is basically self-encouragement.  She has utterly no confidence which to me means that she just is not that good a cook.  Don't get me wrong:  she can cook.  She just has so much self-doubt, it becomes an obstacle for her and eventually the rest of us.  I would consider her an okay cook.  But that's about it.

She is especially not a leader when it comes to the kitchen.  Which irritated me this weekend because for the third time in a row, she took over a position that she thinks showcases her to the owners and head chef.  The thing is, she becomes so flustered that she comes off looking like a mess.  Another coworker and I have realized that when she is not in the kitchen, the head chef leaves us to run the place.  Interesting.

So, what is one to do?  I think the next time she works a party with me, I am going to ask that she work the less stressful side.  I know she will have an issue because she once told me that she feels that everyone is trying to steal her job.  Issues!  It doesn't help that my head chef tells her how smooth things are when I work parties.  Not helping!  I guess I'll just say that I want a chance to work the more involved side; even though I already have and the head chef is confident in my skills.  Whatever.  She'll have to deal.  Later.

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Monday, March 26, 2012
Who made this?

Let's say that you are a skilled cook looking for work.  Just something to make some cash because you have no other job.  Let's also say that you have no other commitments except room & board, some bills, and your fun lifestyle.  And finally, let's say that you have no issues working at different hours.  So, why would you be unemployed at all?

Even though I am employed at 5 different places, I do spend some time combing the "want ads" for work.  You just never know what you may find that may catch your fancy.  I spend a lot of time looking at ads for food & beverage industry work.  There is a lot of work in New York City for line cooks.  They probably don't offer the best places to work but then again, they pay, so why not take a job?

I guess there is a need for good cooks out there.  God knows there are a bunch of people graduating from cooking schools all over this island.  So, why don't we take on these line cook jobs?  Because they pay shit.  And on top of that the places that would look good on your resume, pay worse.  Plus, the working conditions of some of these places are just atrocious.

It's really difficulty working in the Food & Beverage industry in New York City.  Most of the jobs are just lousy.  And nobody wants to change that.  Most employers just want to hire cheap labor.  It used to be that they could hire illegals easily but that is changing.  More and more, everything has to be on the books.  Even a friend of mine you used to bank on people accepting cash as pay is no longer doing it.  Too many people are reported and businesses fined.

So, what do you do?  I don't know.  I am lucky to be in a position where my skills have been recognized quite quickly.  I don't get paid that well but I also don't get paid less than $15.  It's about what the industry standard is.  For my own sanity, I do accept that rate.  I work hard for about 4 months, then turn around and ask for more.  I do work in a way that makes me invaluable by the end of 3 months.  Am I ready to walk if they don't give me the pay I want?  Remember what I said about working for 5 different places?

I find it sad that, as an industry, we won't change.  Not sure who's to blame.  Would it really destroy a restaurant to offer just a bit more money to the person who actually prepares the food?  If you think about it, no matter how beautiful the ambiance is, or how amazing the waitstaff is, or how cheap the food is, if it is bad, nobody is coming back.  So, who is in charge of that?  The cook. 

Maybe that's why so many cooks are unemployed.  Why bother trying to do something that you aspired to do when you really don't get appreciated for it?  Later.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012
Trees or forest?

Am I changing from a pessimist to an optimist?  Or does it depend on what I am looking at?  Or am I just mature enough to see situations for what they are?

Last night, I worked a "test party" for a new event space.  We had to serve a meal for 125 people in a brand new event space that has a brand new kitchen that is about 80% complete.  We also had to serve a brand new menu which had NEVER been executed in that kitchen by any of the cooks involved.

So, what when wrong?  Well, from the kitchen point of view, nothing.  The food was properly cooked and delicious.  The food went out on time.  There were a few miscommunications.  Everyone had a moment.  The guests loved the food so much that very little of it came back.  There was not an exorbitant amount of leftovers.  And the owners seemed to be so happy with the outcome.

So, why was the chef unhappy?  Because he is young and pessimistic.  And why is his most senior female cook cosigning on his unhappiness? Because she has no self-confidence as a cook and thinks the world is out to get her.  And why am I, Mr. Pessimistic, not playing along with their reindeer games?  Because I see it as a test of what we can do and a way of trying to improve the kitchen timing. 

Where there some things that needed improvement?  Yes.  We could have made more potatoes.   We could have cooked the lamb a touch more.  We could have had more quinoa tomato rolls.  The salad needs to be less labor-intensive.  We could have been prepped earlier.  Can all these things be changed?  Absolutely!  Are we going to change them?  Without a doubt.

Maybe I should be called Mr. Realistic, instead.  So maybe I am not as pessimistic as I think I am.  Maybe my reality is just too bitter for some to swallow.  No matter what or what view someone else looks at.  Later.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

I love vacation.  I don't even understand people who don't.  And I don't believe any of the excuses people make not to go on one.  It's just so rejuvenating. 

It rained almost every day I was in Northern California.  Sometimes, the man and I think that it rains on purpose so that the two of us slow down and do nothing.  Lord knows that we try to fill up our vacation time with way too much.  But if it rains, we just sit in our B&B/cabin/hotel room and relax.  It helps us a lot. 

This was my third time visiting Northern California.  And more and more, it is looking like we may want to move there.  The Man could definitely transfer his work there.  I could easily find a job in my industry.  We love the weather.  We have friends built-in.  We'd need to get cars.  But we could get over that. 

I had fun this vacation.  There were a few wrenches thrown in but we managed.  I am glad to be home.  I guess regardless of where I am, I eventually miss home.  But vacation is good.  I need more.  Later.

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I'm just writing down some of the things that run through my head.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Eating up the City before it eats me up. I'm a freelance cook who spends his free time working out, cooking for "my man", and wondering why the Right is so concerned about my bedroom.

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