Sunday, December 5, 2010

Flashback: September 2010, Crush 29

grape No. 29.

On the recommendations of one of my chef instructors at school, I wrote out a resume and ventured forth to meet some chefs and test the employment waters. Little did I know that none of the people I talked to would ask for a resume. They go by looking at you and by what you put down on your employment application, apparently.

My instructor went beyond my initial question - which restaurants are good to work for - and actually contacted some chefs he knew (and he knows a lot).

The first contact was Darryl Madeira, at Crush 29 in Roseville, with a message: "have him stop by the restaurant and i can talk to him"

So, off I went, arriving at 3:00 pm when things in the kitchen were slow. We talked for about ten minutes. Or rather, he did. I managed to get a few questions and comments in, but the main conversation focused on how he did a favor for someone who couldn't take the heat and got out of the kitchen by leaving a note on Darryl's windshield and disappearing. Somehow it seems that I was put into the same boat as this person, who as far as I could tell did not even attend culinary arts classes before getting the job.

At the time, there were two prep positions currently open and I should talk to the sous chef when I brought back my employment application. He also stressed, as I recall in a life and death manner, that I would need to write my availability on the application and that, once written, it could never be changed for any reason. No. I must have heard wrong, although the application did have spaces for available hours. Restaurants really must do things differently, since I thought schedules were made and updated at regular intervals to adapt to conditions - not fixed in stone on an employment application.

I returned two days later at the same time. "Darryl is our running errands. Nobody knows when he'll be back." Huh? This was my first hint that restaurant management is different that what I'd imagined. I would have thought that since this guy runs the kitchen, he'd give a return time.

Employment app in hand, I returned several days later. This time, I arrived around the beginning of service time, figuring that he would be there. He was. He was too busy to talk so I gave him the application, thanked him, and left scratching my head. If he was so busy, what was he doing at the front of the house talking to the hostess?

I returned yet again, only to find that he was again out of the restaurant. I left a note with my name and phone number on it with the hostess and departed without ever even meeting the sous chef.

I chalked it up to this being a new industry for me, and that things must just work differently. The restaurant is obviously successful, so this must all be business as usual.

I tend to look at employment apps like messages stuffed into bottles and cast into the river. Some may wash ashore where they'll be read and acted upon; others sink into the mud (the bottom of a drawer somewhere) and disappear forever. Check off one message cast into the eddying water, spinning slowly away in the current as it passed out of visibility in the murky, silt laden water.

By the way, the song on their web site is "Une Belle Histoire" originally by Michel Fugain. Their version is obviously not M. Fugain, and I have no idea who sings it except that she has an accent.

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