Category Archives: Kitchen Stories

Got the Job…So What

Well…

I got the job. No surprise there. Apparently knowing more than the managers is critical for this restaurant. The managers want to collect the living wage pay check for knowing absolutely nothing about the business they’re in while the people who do have a clue are forced to work for nothing. I refuse to work that hard to be that poor.

I’m not taking the job. The wife and I did the math last night and after Uncle Same took his cut and I paid for gas I’d be bringing home less than $20 a week.

This has been absolutely maddening situation for me.

I’m absolutely willing to take a job to help build up the funds I need to convince a bank to give me a loan but I’m absolutely not willing to work for nothing.

That seems to be the direction corporations are heading now a days. They want to do more with less. Cut down the number of employees, pay them less, do more, get more profit… It’s sickening really.

I have this crazy dream of opening a restaurant and have no expectation to make money. Now let me tell you why:

  • I want to pay people a decent, living wage.
  • I want to help people go to school.
  • I want to help people grow as individuals and be a part of helping them achieve their dreams, whether that’s in the restaurant industry or else where.
  • I want to help feed the poor in my area.
  • I want to provide opportunity where none would otherwise exist.

That’s just some of what I hope to accomplish.

It would seem, however, that in order to get anywhere, I’d have to be as greedy  and demanding as other businesses. But I can’t. It’s not in my nature to crush a human being to line my pockets with money.


Really?

Do you want to know the definition of exasperated?

Exasperated: Dealing with a flat tire on the morning of an interview, racing home to get the other vehicle to make it to the interview on time. Arrive on time. Management not ready to interview. Wait 20 minutes. Have management ask if you know how to make things from scratch, specifically pie crusts. Ask management if they use butter or lard and they have no idea what you’re talking about. Further more ask if they use a fork or hand crimp the edge of the pie crust. Again, management has no idea what you’re talking about. Management can’t explain what or how they make their food-only offer a vague explanation calling it quote: “Weird” end quote. Management asks what you’ll do if it snows, if you’ll be reliable and dependable at work. Really? I had a freaking flat tire this morning was still on time for the interview and you weren’t ready! This, this is the definition of exasperated.

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Apparently I expect too much out of General Managers. Apparently the expectation that they would know what and how foods are prepared and what type of pie crusts they make is just asking too much.

Apparently it is just too much to expect that management would have a freaking clue about how their restaurants operated. I have ran into for the past 2 years and quite frankly it’s driving me insane.

If you’re going to be a manager you’d better be crossed trained in every single aspect of your restaurant. You’d better have a clue about how to make things from scratch and you’d better be able to show me you can manage your time. If you don’t manage your time, why should I?

It almost feels as though folks want a restaurant, get one, think that if they open the doors it’ll just run itself and damn, are they sadly mistaken. Blood, sweat and tears go into a restaurant folks. BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS. If you can’t answer basic questions about your operations don’t have a restaurant. You’re just pissing off people who know what their doing.

Oh and by the way, I talked to your servers. They hate their job.


Feeling Defeated

Figuring out the various business aspects of a restaurant has been very trying. I’ve taken a Small Business Management career diploma program to give myself the much needed basics of business but now as I start the process of writing the business plan…

Bang Head

 

I’m realizing now that there are college courses I need to take but of course that would cost an additional $3,000 to the top of the $30,000 I need before the bank will even consider looking at my proposal. I love how I have to prove to the bank that I don’t really need the money in order for them to loan the money.

I suppose if something is worth having it’s worth having regardless of the headaches one runs into.

This economic recession has made it practically impossible to get a job that Aaaarg!would not only give me a living but would allow me to save money to be able to have the $30,000 grand needed to be taken seriously by any bank. It’s also compounded the issue of trying to get a bank to want to loan money…never ending cycle.

 

I’ve almost considered asking for investors…but who am I kidding. Who would take seriously a dude with no business degree or “formal” culinary training. Very few would pay attention to the fact that I’ve been in the industry for 10 years and was trained by 2 classically trained chefs. For some reason people put a lot of a stock in a piece of paper that says someone knows something about anything.

It sucks knowing exactly what you want to do, why you want to have a restaurant and having so many barriers in your way to get there.

I’ll keep trucking but damn I’m feeling defeated.


Food or Something Like That

Doing the research for a business plan is really interesting and social media has made the job much easier.

On Twitter and Facebook I’ve been asking people what gets them to go to a restaurant. The answers are similar in such things as appetizer selection, colorful foods, healthy foods, vegetarian options, etc. What I’m finding most amusing is the answers I’m getting from local folks are consistently the same: colorful food, healthy options, and unique chicken dishes but yet the majority of them are still eating at, well, I’ll just call it “Local Diner” (aka, a disgusting greasy spoon that serves crap from a fryer and veggies from a can…).

Folks just keep eating at the same restaurants here because they are there but it seems, at least in my town, no one is demanding different foods. Do you want this stuff or not? If you want different foods than the slop you’re being offered from the freezer of “Local Diner” why are you still eating there? If you want different foods say so! Oddly enough, money speaks- quit buying the crap from “Local Diner” and you’ll get your colorful foods.colorful food

I’m finding that with the “Food Network Culture” that has been created people are actually wanting to eat real food- fish that looks like fish rather than a square, golden brown deep fried thing you pick up at McDonald’s and “Local Diner”. This is exciting for me since I like to feed people actual food, ya know, the type of stuff their great grandmother would recognize to be food.

fish square

Anyway, the adventure continues.


Planning

Radio silence on my end for quite a while now. This thing called life got in the way.

I started working at quite possibly the worst restaurant that one could ever work in and shortly after starting, I quit. Oddly I don’t believe people go out to pay for institutional food. I have this idea that people go out to eat because they are searching for dishes that they can’t make at home, that they are looking for foods that don’t come out of a can or from the freezer and strangely enough I believe people are looking for variety in meals.

Try explaining this to a restaurant owner who was only a server, has no cooking experience and absolutely no leadership skills… Beyond frustration.

For about 3 years now all I can think about is having my own restaurant. My own place- a place to learn, to laugh, to love and grow. Variety! Flavor! A place that helps employees move up and a place that reaches out to the community.

Sadly, because of the economy being the way it is and admittedly, poor financial planning on my part, I’m stuck and can’t get the financial loans from the bank I need to launch a restaurant because they insist that you prove you don’t really need the money before they will loan you the money.

*Pounds head against wall*

Well until something gives I’m working on a business plan. Perhaps one day things will pan out.

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The Thanksgiving Meal

Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and bread stuffing as traditional to an American Thanksgiving meal as… Well, believe it or not, these items weren’t served at the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621.

While there is a chance that turkey was served, historians don’t have an actual record that it was- more likely than not, it’s just sort of a nostalgic thing for Americans to eat turkey at the holidays. I’d wager Benjamin Franklin’s desire to make the turkey the national bird might have something to do with it but that’s only conjecture.

The Norman Rockwell lay out of the holiday feast doesn’t quite fit the historical picture of the 17th century. The Wampanoag Indians brought deer and being on the coast, fish and shellfish most certainly would have been on the menu. Served along side would have been plums, melons, grapes, cranberries, leeks, wild onions, beans, Jerusalem artichokes, and squash. And to wash it all down, water. Apple cider wouldn’t have existed in 1621 America- no apples yet. And beer? Unlikely. While barely had been planted, it takes awhile to brew. English crops like cabbage, carrots, onions, sage, thyme and such also could have also been on hand.

How does your feast measure up? Traditional or Americanized? Mine will be Americanized, last about an hour instead of 3 days, and will be spent with my ever expanding family.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all.


Providing Comfort

A half deaf chef walks into a retirement village to cook….

No, it’s not the opening line to a potentially bad joke, it’s the actually situation I’m finding myself in.

With the economy so rough, I’m looking at taking a second job with a retirement village. This is an opportunity that if it pans out, actually has me excited for a number of reasons.

First off, the set up for this particular cooking gig is rather unique. I won’t be cooking institutional food like one might thing for a retirement home. Rather, I’d be cooking more home style- ya know, making actual food instead of warming something from a can.

Secondly, the residents can choose to cook with me. This will make my life so much easier- ya can’t complain when you’re helping the cook!

Beyond this is the opportunity to get to know the people I’m cooking for. That is part of the fun of cooking- knowing who you’re cooking for. Cooks, in their own way, become counselors, sort of like bar tenders do. Our therapy is really good food rather than liver disease…

If everything pans out, I will have the opportunity to help give people comfort in a strange environment and I will be able to do it with food.

I’m looking forward to this opportunity and hope that I can excel in this position. Who knows, I might just like it enough to make a career out of it, with writing on the side.