Boy, do I have some Tales to Tell...
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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Thursday, March 08, 2012
So many choices

 One of the perks of working out at a gym in the City is the eye candy that is on parade.  Unfortunately, the eye candy at my gym location is non-existent.  Once in a blue moon, you get a hottie working out.  But that's about it.  It's slightly disheartening.

Don't get me wrong.  I still get a workout in at least 5 days a week.  But truthfully, it would be more of an incentive if I had something nice to look at in between sets.  And, as they say, you can't improve on what you do if you have no inspiration.  I think that's what they say.

I worked out at a different location yesterday and was pleasantly surprised by the "inspiration".  Of course, this location was in the middle of the gay ghetto.  Just sayin'.  And, of course, the clothes were tighter, the bodies were harder, and the boys were not ashamed to show it off.  It was fun.  It was entertaining.  And it certainly provided incentive.

Maybe that's what I need to do:  start going to other locations.  Mine is just downright depressing.  Truth is, one of my membership perks is being able to go to any location in the City.  I should take advantage of that.  Later.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Letting it go

...sign and done!  Thank goodness.

I just Fed Ex'ed my tax information to my tax accountant.  It's now in Fed Ex's hands (or trucks) then my tax accountant's.  I had to fill out a worksheet sent to me by him and attach all necessary documents.  I had four extra documents that I didn't know where to report.  But that's why I use a tax accountant.  Plus, I have so much more paperwork than ever.  All due to the fact that for the past two years, I have been putting money into various retirement accounts.  Mama is making sure she's got a nest egg.

I actually loved doing my taxes.  I am such a math geek that I find joy in making all the numbers happen.  All I ever cared was that I got something back.  As long as the Federal and State netted out to a return, I was happy.

The other thing I love is going to the dentist.  Which I did this morning.  I love the sound of the drill.  I love the feeling of having super clean teeth.  I especially love finding out that the issue I have been having is nothing that requires any type of surgery.  Just a result of some prior work that is not at all bad.  I just have to live with the fact that as I am getting older, some of my teeth are getting sensitive to temperature.  At least no cavities.

Lots of my friends think I am weird for various reasons but the fact that I enjoy doing taxes and going to the dentist might be the top two reason.  I'm just different that way.  I have thought about why I am one of the few people in this world that finds joy in things that most people abhor.  Not that I find joy in seeing people in pain.  Maybe I've just been able to look at things like taxes and the dentist in a rationale way.  And not let it have power over me.  Thank goodness!  Later.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Makes me wonder

Every day that I leave the apartment, I get to witness how our society has just stopped trying.  Get on the bus and you'll see someone who acts like they have never gotten on public transportation.  Yes, you have to pay a fare and those gigantic machines on the sidewalk that everyone else used is where you pay it.  You really should have asked the people standing around.  Not just feigned knowledge of what the fuck you are doing.

Go to work and you'll meet people who would rather watch you make a mistake than help you.  I used to think that it was because people were being malicious.  Now I think it's because they just really don't know and have not taken the time to try to know. 

I worked a gig last night where I asked the guy next to me if he had done the task I was doing.  I told him it was my first time working with this company.  He told me I was fine the way I was doing it.  After getting half way through the task, the lead chef told me I was doing it wrong and had to fix it.  Luckily I could.  Seriously?  Why didn't the guy next to me, who supposedly had done all of this, correct me?  I just felt he was not trying.  And it was obvious throughout the night when I would work on 4 different appetizers while he worked on one.  ONE!

I'm not sure what not trying does.  People don't try to find out anything anymore.  People don't try to fix problems anymore.  People don't try to help others anymore.  Is it fear of failure?  Is it fear of being considered ignorant?  Is it fear of being rebuked? 

I'm trying to understand this all.  But maybe that's the problem.  I'm trying.  Later.

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Monday, March 05, 2012
Gimme, gimme, more

Sometimes it's all in the perspective.  Or the timing.  With just a little bit of luck thrown in.  Plus it doesn't hurt to know people.

I just got called to do a gig for a huge catering company tonight.  Very last minute but I will take it.  Plus they pay quite well.  This all happened because I happened to be by my phone yesterday when a fellow cook texted me to see if I was available tonight.  I was.  So, she set it in motion.  I emailed the booker and... boom... bang... pow... I am working tonight!!!  And not that far from my home!!!

Of course, this inspired me to send out two more emails to get me some work.  Here's hoping my other chef, who I like, is kind enough to bring me in for a few hours on Friday to prep for the large Saturday party.  He's a new head chef, so budgets sit in his mind foremost.  I get it.  But I also need money.

Coming back into the freelance world has been a slow transition for me.  I have been a salaried person so long that I forgot that part of freelancing is emailing/calling/hustling for work.  I need to remember that what may seem like harassment to me is par for the course for company bookers.  This should especially be obvious because I was once a booker.  But for some reason, I have been slow to re-grasp this concept.

I think I am closer to getting it.  Later.

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Sunday, March 04, 2012
The things I do for work

"You can make shitty pay at a shitty place.  Or you can make shitty pay at a nice place." 

It's been a tough month with my chosen field of work.  It's turning around a bit but still tough.  Mostly because of the shitty pay part.  Truth is, it really isn't that shitty but when you work one or two days a week, it can feel like it.  I am thankful that the places I do work are very nice and easy-going.

Early on in my life, I decided that I needed to do something that I enjoyed doing.  Or else it was all just useless.  I definitely have found what I want to do for the rest of my life.  It's not easy work but it's certainly much more satisfying.  I also decided that life is way too important to deal with nasty work people.  I also realized that in a city as big as New York, there is always work to be had.  Especially if you aren't picky.

I think a lot of people stay in places too long.  Especially shitty places.  I never understand it.  Especially when the pay is not really that good.  Maybe I don't know their entire story.  They could be struggling emotionally.  They could have no legal papers.  They could have no other recourse.  I don't know.

What I do know is that everyone deserves to work somewhere they feel appreciated.  Some way or another.  We all have the things we value most.  Some are more material than others.  And that's fine.  I just think that we need to start believing that we, at least, deserve to work in a nice place.  And we need to stop supporting the people who run the shitty places and start supporting the nice places.

Maybe I'm wrong in this thought process.  Maybe the shitty places exist for a reason.  I do know that I don't have to work for them.  No matter how shitty I may feel it currently is.  Later.
Friday, March 02, 2012
Back into the brush

 I'm taking a step today that I am slightly unsure about taking.  I'm interviewing at a place of former employ.  I don't normally like to go back to anywhere I used to work.  But circumstances warrant it. 

Rarely do I feel that places of employ change.  The way you left it is probably the same way you'll find it.  No matter what the new position or management or what promises are made, it's extremely highly likely that it's still the same bullshit.  Except this time it's magnified because you know it's coming. 

So, why am I going to talk to them?  I am hoping that because my perspective has changed and because this new position will not involve me being a senior manager and because it will only be part-time, I can learn to detach my feelings, work, and go home.  Here's to hoping.

Of course, this all depends on whether or not the manager and I can agree on a schedule.  I always find it interesting when managers want you to have an open schedule but cannot guarantee you full-time hours.  Isn't that just screwing the employee over?  I guess it would not be that bad if the company did not claim to be a place that "values" it's people.

Nonetheless, I am going.  At the very least, it will supplement my income.  And without getting into specifics, it does have it's perks.  Later.

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Thursday, March 01, 2012
Time to start walking

This probably happens in all other industries but in mine, it's especially irritating because they barely pay full-fledged cooks a lot of money to begin with.  It's disheartening to want to work at a "name" place only to find out they want interns, who they don't have to pay.

I kinda sorta get it.  You want to put product out there while keeping your costs low.  But, as someone who has hired, trained, and worked with interns, you get a better product by hiring someone who is actually skilled and knowledgeable about your product.

I also know that a lot of culinary schools require their students to intern at a place for a specific amount of time.  I am convinced this is a conspiracy between these schools and the companies.  My culinary school didn't require an internship.  I just cooked at the restaurant which was part of the school.  And it was not just a learning process but a teaching process.  If you've ever interned before, you know that most of the time, you are not being taught a single thing.

Anyway, I am off to pound the pavement for part-time work.  I actually would not mind being paid off-the-books but, nowadays, restaurants are so wary of that they actually do hire on the books.  We'll see.  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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