In three months I’m planning to be back in Israel and it seems like a short time. I’m starting to think what am I gonna do when I come back. I’m thinking about what I like about my job right now and what I like less.
Before getting to the restaurant:
I hate waking up early. But after a small test I discovered it’s not only early, I just dislike waking up at any time so that can not be prevented. I have to wake up but I developed a technique to get ready as fast as possible. I set the alarm 15 minutes earlier. When I wake up I can only think about my urge to go back to sleep, so I get ready very fast so I can have my 15 minutes back in bed after coffee, dressed and all ready to go (but shoes and coat). Soon enough these 15 minutes turned into 20 minutes and even 25. What good about working in the kitchen is that as soon as I come in, I change to my uniform. I can’t wear jewelry or a lot of makeup what makes it easier to get ready in the morning, saves a lot of time and I can still enjoy dressing up whenever I go out and in the weekends (I guess the girls can understand that aspect better). The way to work I still can only think about wanting to get back to sleep again. Why didn’t I go to sleep earlier last night?!?!?
As soon as I start my first task of the day I’m calmed down. I don’t think about wanting to sleep that much. I usually start enjoying (unless I see boxes of lettuce coming in the morning, see explanation below).
I like doing a lot of prep work like peeling and cutting vegetables, chopping herbs and shallots, fileting citrus, picking mussels out of their shells, making mayonnaise, measuring ingredients… Certain jobs I like less: manually squeezing citrus, slicing the bread (because it’s too high for me), cutting slimy snails in two and did I mention washing the lettuce? If it’s a small amount, I don’t mind, but when it gets to be a half day sort of task then it bothers me. Sometimes there’s 6 different types of lettuce: frisee, romaine, rocket, iceberg, radicchio, oakleaf, spinach, you name it… each has to be washed and dried separately and then picked by hand. I think it’s reasonable to do this once in a while but it’s very exhausting to do day after day. Sometimes it’s really nice having to do a task in a small group, two or three people. It makes it fun and faster, encouraging each other and instead of snoozing off, makes me focused and faster. But there’s competition. When the other person makes it worse then you do, the average job’s quality goes down. When it’s the other way round, you are the one doing the slower, uglier work, you feel disappointment, but at least it’s covered by the other part. It’s better to group up in the boring long jobs that can’t be screwed up, than the more delicate ones. The problem is: I’m not the one who decides when am I working alone or in a group. I like having a new thing, a job I wasn’t given before. It takes longer time to finish the first couple of times but I enjoy it better. Sometimes I get to do something new but the chef or whoever it is, won’t show me how he wants it to be done. Then I’m working un-confident, asking if it’s okay, hoping to get it right.
Of course I prefer plating and being part of the service, but as a stagiaire sometimes I’m still doing prep work while the service is going. I really like taking part in plating. I guess it’s everyone’s favorite part of the day. It’s a great rush. Nonetheless it’s the most stressful time, so there’s the darker side of the service. people can get really mad during this time, even if they’re really nice otherwise. They often call me the wrong name. When there’s too many people trying to plate all together the same dish, they tell me to do something when there’s nothing I can do. Sometimes I just move the plate a little to the left. I don’t like it when I’m asked to do something, I do it, and then whoever asked me to do it decides that it’s not good enough and do it himself the same exact way.
I don’t like spending hours cleaning, especially cleaning after a mess I wasn’t part of. This is something I can’t stand when I am working in La Grande Verrier, I’m only doing prep work the whole day, nothing that has to do with the service, but when the service is done, the chef, sous-chef and commis are going to their own business (office, break,covering small little containers with film really slowly) and we, the stagiaires, are told to clean after the whole kitchen. It usually takes around two hours to clean in the end of the day there, while the chef patrolling, finding new corners that needs to be cleaned as well. With two products.
I like better working in a kitchen where it feels like a team effort, the chef, the sous chef, commis and stagiaires working together from beginning to end, there’s no job that the chef is too distinguished to do. I hate these people correcting me about cleaning techniques. Of course the first few days in a new place you learn how it’s done in this certain place, but no, I don’t have to move the sponge in a specific circular motion to get it done. In Etc… the big cleaning is after the lunch service and it takes less then 30 minutes. Once every two weeks there’s a bigger cleaning, maybe 45 minutes, but everyone helps, stepping over the stove to get the ceiling cleaned, doing the floor, the ovens..
I like it how the last month I was working less hours, 7-8 hours a day. I got to do many other things. Cooking at home, meeting with friends, going out dancing, seeing the city, walking home, dinning in restaurants, taking pictures, writing in my blog, watching movies. Soon I will have to start working crazy hours again. It’s something I must do in order to work in Ledoyen’s gastro kitchen, but I doubt that I can manage these hours for long. After 1-2 months planned like that in Paris, I don’t really want to work 14 hours a day regularly when I come back in Israel.
What are my plans…
I’m really not sure if I can fit all this positive love of cooking and blogging, with the minimum of the aspects I don’t enjoy that much, as an occupation back home. I’m thinking about working for a while in a restaurant to get experience in the hot kitchen and all the necessary local cuisine know hows like how to find suppliers, tools and ingredients how does a restaurant functions back in Tel-Aviv. I have no idea. The second option is to find a part time job that doesn’t have to do with cooking and to establish a “dinner club” part time as well, together with keep writing about it in my blog. The problem with the first option is that for what I know the chefs of restaurants in Tel-Aviv don’t have a lot of appreciation for the diploma I have so it means shitty job as a lettuce washer all over again. And do I really want to work in a restaurant back home? I don’t think I can do it full time. The problem with the other option is that I probably don’t have enough experience to pull something of my own right away. I know it’s a big investment and can’t tell if I can live up to it. Even if I do, I doubt that I can make it profitable. Also it takes a lot of planning, research, trails and help.
So this is it, one of the less pictured yet more invasive posts I had so far. I’m getting closer to this fork on the road when I have to decide which path to take. As much as it’s exciting it’s also scary.