Sunday, December 5, 2010
Flashback: November 2010, waiting for a call. Any call.
At this point, my perception of the restaurant industry, and chefs in general is not exactly at a high point. Some of these guys made big-headed architects look positively humble, and with much less justification. Although some people I talked with were straightforward and correct, never promising to recontact me or otherwise stay in touch, others were poster boys for case studies in bad human resources management.
Before, I considered chefs in local non-chain restaurants to be artists exploring new culinary frontiers, delving into fascinating flavor combinations, and living for the joy of bringing great, unique food to hungry people. I thought they, like people in other industries at a management level, would act professionally, with courtesy and respect for others. Or at least go through the motions of doing so.
I naively thought that chefs would want to hire people passionate about food, regardless of their age. That in fact, someone who had traveled, sampled other cuisines and cooked in other parts of the world would be seen as a valuable addition to a team. That kitchens had at least some minimal degree of collaboration and exchange of ideas, like in that video about El Bulli (yes, comparing El Bulli to Sacramento's dining establishments is like comparing mud pies to beef Wellington, but still...)
Now, my opinion of the norm has shifted. I see many of them as poor managers imbued with a large dash of arrogance. People who don't look for broader skill sets than someone able to stand upright, brunoise a potato or julienne a carrot as fast as possible for the least possible amount of pay.
Worse yet, I'm beginning to think that I'll never even be given a chance. That this whole culinary arts thing is a waste of time, at least as far as actually working in this industry goes.
People tell me not to give up, that I just haven't met the right people yet. That a place exists where I could contribute something and be accepted as a comrade instead of a nuisance.