So I am trying very hard to integrate into Cinebarre culture. It is not a culture I would regularly fit into. Populated with mostly college students, or college dropouts, they are not foodies. They are rap blaring, trend following, younger, and clearly there for a paycheck. Me being the people person you all know I am, am trying very hard to connect and identify with the people I work with. It has been more than a challenge. I got a bump in this department when I realized that we share a common interest….. STARCRAFT ….The universal language it seems.
A few nights ago at work was D-Day. It was our busy night (we end up on average serving seven hundred people between seven and nine PM). Everything went wrong. It was unmitigated chaos. These are the times when you feel like a deer in head lights.
I need to ask you a question. What’s the one piece of equipment in the professional kitchen that you can’t do without? Take a second and think about it. Go on I shall wait……..Most people are going to say stove, oven, or walk in fridge. The closest you may get is the flat top short order grill. Truth is as long as you have a decently outfitted kitchen I can work around any one of those things being out of commission.
The one thing that you can’t work around is your hood system going down. It’s the vent and fire suppression system over your cooking line. With out it you have a kitchen that does nothing but build up intolerable amounts of heat, and lethal levels of carbon monoxide. This was the first thing to go down. So with a massive set looming we scrambled.
One problem faced is OLCC laws. OLCC equals Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Commission rules state that you cannot operate a bar without serving at least five substantial food items. Substantial means includes side dish and is a full meal. Us being a bar, not being able to cook means that you will not be able to serve drinks. So we are looking at a full shut down. What do we have to work with? A toaster oven and a microwave.
We managed to pull together five items (which included toasted grilled cheese, and BLTs, all with sides of popcorn because that machine was still working at the time). With everything being done on two machines a lot of set out cleaning. I did what I do best, support. I ran from station to station, getting things they needed, helping things get sorted out. I was cracking jokes and making people laugh and keeping things flowing. I fit in for the first time.
It was intense but we got it done. Then disaster struck again as the popcorn machine over heated and the glass shattered all over our line. As we approached the next set another shut down looming we thought of one more solution (which was not necessarily legal). You see a tech tells us that the vent is working, but the fresh air intake is what was down. So they sent waitresses to the store to buy great big fans. Then we executed the normal set.
There was just one problem. We sent home half our labor because we were sure the next set was out of the question. So I did it again. Ran my ass off supporting and instructing. It was good to fit in to the team. It was good to lead a team again. After that we rolled into a closing and scrubbed the kitchen down. It was a challenge and we triumphed. Maybe there is hope here at this job. I just have to get over the idea of a life and it could work. At least this massive chaos day lead into a day off.
So three and a half weeks into my new job I seem to be hitting two cross roads. The first, I have been keeping strict daily logs in my head and on my Iphone. It seems that my average shift length is about ten hours. Two of those hours, again on average, will be spent prepping. That includes things like making pizza dough, or chopping items for toppings or grinding meet for burgers (so much fun!). An hour and a half is spent cooking, working the line during the busy set to make food for people. Half an hour is spent on a lunch break, which oddly enough usually comes around hour two of my work day.
The rest of that time is spent cleaning the kitchen. Mopping, doing dishes, and scrubbing equipment. I understand the merits of a clean kitchen, but come on. Is there not some one else, supposedly not a supervisor making more money than the rest of the workers, that can do this job? I hate to sound pompous but I did not work so hard to earn a culinary degree, just so I cam do the work of a janitor (No offense to any janitors out there reading this. I think your job is worth while and important, it’s just not what I want to do).
So I am heavily leaning towards seeking new employment. I am torn though as I feel like jumping ship might be a mistake. However taking the damned job in the first place has proven disastrous.
I actually want to hear from you guys, so thought of the day. Make a comment on this one guys (and ladies!). Should I be worried they hired me to be a bitch boy? OR am I making to big a deal of this? Should I suck it up and keep mopping, or seek employment that might better utilize my (I think) considerable culinary skills?