By Popular Demand

January 5, 2014

Hello out there. If there are any of you left.
Well its been a long time. Life has had its ups and downs. I have finished culinary school, my externship, and now I am at a full time job as a Chef. What changes you can make just by making choices that are true to who you are.

My journey in school ended back in August. I was sad to leave the friends I made there and more sad to leave the Chef’s and the fun I had there. But I have to say I still keep in touch with some of the Chef’s because they are wise, kind and have a lot of advice that I will gladly take. I went from school to the top French Restaurant in CT. I have to say nothing could have prepared me for that. I was excited, confident and willing to learn. I have watched my share of Hell’s Kitchen, Gordon Ramsey screaming at people but you can’t be prepared for it until it is actually happening to you by a scary french man picking through the garbage asking why you threw away that tiny piece pepper when it could be in the stock pot.
  Nothing could prepare you for that. Yes I had those days there. I got called “retard” “idiot” I messed up a lot, I got walked all over. But I did not cry(at least not there), I did not give up, I kept showing up 20 minutes early and kept on going. I threw up the first day from the heat in the kitchen, but then went back to work and drank more water to keep up. I sharpened my knives at home for hours so that when I showed up the next morning I would not be yelled at or my awful brunoise cuts. No one could tell me I could not do it. I watched them like a hawk and I never ever gave up.

I worked with all men. There was a woman there but she left and said she could not put up with it there anymore, that was my first week there. I worked in a huge kitchen, they actually had 3 kitchens. I worked in the main kitchen in the Garde Manger section, which means salads, appetizers, oysters, mussels, ect. I was trained by two men. One who had gone to my school and the other who had no formal training. Both were great Chef’s. Both very different. I related well with the Chef who had trained at my school because he was a bit OCD like me about being clean, doing one thing at a time and was ultra organized, we will call him Chef B. The other was all over the place, but great under pressure and had great knife skills that I could never match, we will call him Chef D. They both were there for years and had “their ways” of doing things. The hard part about this is they both trained me. So I was expected to learn what they were doing, but when I was with one of them do it there way and then when I was with the other one do it there way. It was confusing and could pretty much set you up to fail. It took a while to learn both ways and to decipher which way I would do it. I was never complimented, ever. Only criticized which is normal for my line of work.

Chef B taught me a lot not by telling me or showing me but just by doing it. I watched him and wondered why he did something and then by the end of my time there knew why he did it and understood it. With Chef D he taught me over and over and over again. Till my last day. Even my last day he was teaching me something that I got taught the first day. I would tease him and tell him I know this Chef D you taught me this months ago. But I kept my mouth shut for a long time muttering under my breath if I hear this one more time I am going to go nuts. By the time I left there I understood that Chef D did this more for himself then for me. At the time I took it personally and took offense to it, which you are taught never to do that but its hard not to sometimes. Chef D was insecure, he wanted to feel important,he wanted to feel smart so he taught everyone everything.  It made him feel better. He is the one that called me names and put me through a lot. He would insult me and in the next breath give me compliment. At the time I hated it, I hated working with him, but one day I broke and let him have it. He was in the wrong, he yelled at me. Mind you I was not new anymore I had done my time there and had kept my mouth shut long enough. This one day he was telling me I was wrong and to just move out of the way in the middle of the lunch rush. I ignored him and kept going, got my shit done and the sous Chef thanked me later or my hard work. He yelled at me and told me I was wrong. I was not and would not apologize. I would find out later on that he respected me for that. Its one thing to know your place, but another thing to allow someone to walk all over you. It is a hard balance to figure out in a kitchen. He gave me a hard time, but because of that hard time I became a strong Chef. A stronger person. In the past I would have let him walk all over me, to get his approval, to get him to like me but not anymore. You go through too much in life to put up with that shit. Life is short and you have to look out for yourself as much as others.
My last day at my externship was a sad day. Everyone there did not want me to leave. They wanted me to stay, even the old french man that I never understood and will always be afraid of. They offered me a place there but I declined it for an amazing job I will tell you about in my next entry. And wouldn’t you know it, but Chef D, the one that gave me the hardest time bought a card for me and had everyone sign it and he personally wrote me a note telling me he was jealous of me, my leadership skills in the kitchen and my new job. He admired me for standing up to him and gave me compliments about who I am as a person and my work ethic. I read the note and my mouth was wide open for 10 minutes. The man who was hardest on me, believed in me the most, pushed me the hardest and actually thought I was good in the kitchen. Who would have thought.
Just when you think life is too hard, it pushes you to the limits you did not think possible there is light. Nothing could have prepared me for what I went through but I wouldn’t want it any other way. It has shaped me into who I am and has made me capable in more ways then one.
 I will be forever grateful for my time there in the French Brigade.

Here are some pictures of what I did at the restaurant. I did not take many because I was too busy trying not to get yelled at.  🙂

photo 1 (25)photo 4 (22)photo 5 (9)photo 3 (24)