Friday, January 28, 2011

A dilemma, resolved

Betcha didn't even know there was a dilemma, did you? That's right, because I hadn't told you about it yet.

This week was momentous. I finally met a segment of Les Dames d'Escoffier, the network of culinary ladies who among many other things are the ones running Olives Ole. Among them, we have Rosemary of the RK Group (that's Rosemary Kowalski, as in yes, that Rosemary) which rules the world in San Antonio catering; Jenny of Incarnate Word and Susan of Trinity Universities, respectively; Dianna whose husband owns Earl Abel's, a staple of San Antonian old skool restaurants. (Perks: during the meeting, she had us served awesome fried chicken, fried pickles and pie. I love my life!)

During the meeting, I took copious notes on Olives Ole, where we stood right now, the general shape of the event, what still needed to be done, etc. I am in possession of nowhere near enough information to compile an operations manual for this event in years to come, but it's a start! The ladies were lovely, very friendly and warm and encouraging. And I contributed to a dish that was missing a certain something by suggesting pepitas. It's my claim to fame!

After that, I was able to take the recipes that we will be preparing at St Philip's and scale them for the number of portions we needed (generally 600). Then I made a shopping list with the total amounts of ingredients. Very fortunately, Les Dames are having all the food donated! That helps when we're working with 300 chicken breasts and 15 pounds of unsweetened chocolate and 7 gallons of olive oil (it IS an olive oil festival).

The dilemma came later in the week. Last year around Thanksgiving, Chef Will informed me that the Cooking School which is run out of HEB Central Market (aka the GucciB) had some turnover and was needing applicants. Mary Martini, also ones of Les Dames and a friend of Chef Will's, asked if he had any good candidates. He named me. I was ecstatic at the thought of interning in the Cooking School, which would help me learn not just a constant variety of techniques as various chefs passed through San Antonio and shared their specialties with anyone from the community who wanted to pay to learn; but also their teaching techniques. It's really quite a perfect fit for a culinary student who aspires to do everything and teach in particular.

However, she had to fill the position before my internship began.

So Tuesday, I received an email from her informing me that one of her employees wants to go part-time, which means she again has availability and wanted to know if I were otherwise committed. Oh boy am I committed. I'm a one-gal committee. But there's conflict! I ask Chef for guidance.

Chef's first response is the same as mine: argh! But she's missed her window of opportunity. I write an appreciative but apologetic reply to Mary expressing my hopes that we will find ourselves available at the same time in the future.

(I was actually very glad to get this response from him because I really believe in what I'm doing right now! I've put in about 25 hours of work on these projects which isn't a ton in the grand scheme of things but it feels colossal. And I've planned out the rest of my semester around these events, and I know how much I'm helping Chef, and I just didn't want to abandon everything I have going already! Plus it felt nice to be appreciated as part of the team.)

Chef's second response, later that night: Cancel that. I need to email her back and see if there's still a chance, because ultimately interning at the Cooking School ---> a job offer at the Cooking School, and as my mentor he has to think not just of me in terms of this semester but my long-term success as well.

And I understand. I do. He wants what's best for me in the long run. But all I can picture is the person who finds a wild animal and cares for it, raising it in his home. And then one day there comes the moment when the person realizes he's doing a disservice to the wild animal and he takes it out to the edge of the forest and tells it, "GO! Go on!" and the animal just looks back at him with a confused, hurt expression as if to say "But we're friends! I want to go with you!" and the human is trying not to cry and eventually throws sticks to make the animal go back to the wild where it belongs. And that was how I felt.

After tossing and turning all night, I decided my fate was set and I was not going to fight it. I was sticking by Chef's side whether he wanted me to or not! Fortunately he didn't fight me on it, having come to much the same conclusion himself. And life has resolved back into its regular patterns.

(During one of my melodramatic fits this week, I had to pause mid-angst and say to Tavis, "Man, my life is SO hard. Woe is me, I have too many job offers, everyone wants me. Good grief, my problems are so white collar." A much needed laugh at self was had.)

In other good news: I did not in fact have to wake up to do Cowboy Breakfast this morning. And the Rodeo Luncheon in February is canceled; I compiled the shopping list for that event and emailed it to the guy in charge and he couldn't afford it this year. So my workload has opened up and I have more time to focus on Olives Ole and the Original Mexican handbooks. Huzzah!