Most of my posts are the result of both recent and long past events, thoughts, and observations of this chef’s world. This however is a glimpse into the future.
A chef’s life is often a here and now kind of life. We react to current situations like heavy or light reservations, strong weather, events in our towns like graduations, festivals, and various holidays (St. Patrick’s Day is slow for some of us, crazy for others).
Then there are the times when we cannot predict current events. The dishwasher or a cook doesn’t show up, the power goes out, unexpected walk-ins, a 12-top doesn’t show up (speaking of graduations), a delivery doesn’t arrive, or a piece of equipment shits the bed. A good kitchen manager will react well to the unplanned occurrences and the diners won’t know about any issues behind the scenes.
Working in the here and now is easy for an experienced chef. We wake up with a pretty solid plan for the day, we know what the reservation list will look like, we know what staffing will be, and what products are expected to be delivered.
What about the future? What am I as a chef planning for my kitchen, in my home, and for my writing projects?
I’ll start with home since it’s perhaps the least related to being a chef. My work requires a lot of hours, but not as much as some might think. If you’ve got a good kitchen crew with a solid sous chef then your life can be almost normal. After almost four months back at The Wine Bar I am confident that I finally have a solid team in place after sifting out some less-than-acceptable characters. So, I can start to do some Spring projects around the house, get the garden tilled and planted, fix up the fence around the yard, as well as paint the tool shed, the garage, and the front porch. I also need to put up a hammock for my Sunday naps. Easy and rewarding stuff when your work life is manageable.
In the kitchen I am constantly working on training my new staff, menu tweaking, and organization, and gearing up for the summer season. Starting this weekend we’ll start running specials that reflect ideas for the summer menu (free-range veal rib chops this weekend). I’m also getting a new inventory and budgeting system in place so I can more closely track food cost, labor cost, and have better control of overall expenses in the kitchen.
In the writing department I’m continuing to post my usual drivel about being a chef and life in the restaurant business. It’s a good way for me to convey my thoughts and put some things into the light of day. That’s beneficial to my sometimes fragile mental health. I’ve also started developing a piece of fiction. I have a basic premise and an outline for a story. I’ve begun developing my character list based on some of the more colorful characters I’ve worked with over the years. I’m also going to include many of the memorable customers from some of the restaurants I have had the pleasure or displeasure of working in, as well as some folks associated with the business like salespeople, bloggers, critics, and those folks who are simply restaurant groupies of some kind. I hope the story is as good as I think it is, but the most fun for people locally will be trying to figure out who each animal character is it the real world. Some will be flattering, others not so much. Some will be subtle, some will be obvious. I suppose it depends on how much you’ve cause me to respect and admire those of you that I decide to include.
I also have a very important personal project on the drawing board which has unfortunately slow-moving as of late. Now that I finally have the solid and committed team in my kitchen that I require, I can get it on the move again. Chefs 4 Chefs has been stuck in the planning stages, but it’s time to get it moving. Many of you who read this blog know my story. If you’re a new reader then here are a few links that can get you caught up. link 1 link 2 link 3.
In a perfect world I would never have issues with depression, anger, anxiety, and alcohol again. I’ve been doing quite well on most fronts except for anxiety and alcohol. I did quit drinking for a while then tried to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer after work on Saturday night. Then I was able to justify a couple of beers on Sunday because it’s my day off, and a beer after work on Friday because we had a great dinner service. That’s where the trouble starts.
Chefs 4 Chefs will be an organization locally where restaurant workers can get support for all the ills that are a part of restaurant life such as dealing with alcohol, depression and other mental and emotional issues, stress, drug use, career advice, wage disputes, and so on It hasn’t taken shape fully but I do have commitments from some people in our business who want to help, as well as people in the law profession, web design, advertising, and social media promotion. I’ll be getting on this soon, so expect a call. Experienced chefs and other professionals: If you think you can help out some of the younger cooks in our industry let me know. As I get this off the ground I’d like some input and help creating a network of mentors that can be part of this program. Contact me at email@example.com
I won’t go into the issues plaguing the restaurant life as I’ve covered the topic thoroughly. I will tell you however that our business is made to be tough when it doesn’t always need to be. Life in the kitchen can be more gentle, more caring, and a good place to be. It should be a place of personal development, creative outlet, and accomplishment while earning a fair wage and being treated with respect.
Cooks: If you’re feeling down, unhappy, having trouble with anything at work or just want to pick my brain on any subject I’d love to help. PM me through Facebook, or email me. firstname.lastname@example.org I’ll make time for you.
This thing is in the early stages but I’ve got some people on board and I think this thing will take shape and be something that can really do some good.
That’s it. That’s what I’m working on. Stay tuned.