Sunday, February 20, 2011


Friday, February 18, 2011

...or am I?

Week of highs and lows. Highs: the Rampage class was fantastic, smooth, faster than expected and the guys had a blast. We were on the local news--there's a possibility my interview segment will be played tomorrow, and if so I'll definitely record and post it. I have pics of our trial run which I'll put up shortly.

Lows: after not hearing from Tom and Laura for the week, I emailed them Thursday inquiring about how things were proceeding. The thing is....they never said "ok you're hired." They said they liked what they heard, and we went off our separate ways. It was only through a slow, gradual process of coming down off that "squee I have a future!" buzz that I realized that I did not in fact know if I was hired. The email response was indecisive as well; they're still "considering." And all of a sudden I feel like a dummy for even mentioning this job to anyone, let alone shouting it from the rooftops like I've been doing.

I didn't even have a chance to rest after the Rampage (which took HOURS to plan, finagle, organize and clean up) before the next alarm began flashing for Olives Ole. It's just relentless. I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed, and the discouragement of not knowing where I stand with the Bakery is not at all helping.

Can I just say that 90% of the stress of this week would have been completely avoided with better communication?

a) We were double-booked in the lab for the Rampage event. Everybody needed the lab and nobody had told everybody else that they needed it, we just all assumed we would be able to use it. I found this out AN HOUR before they showed up, when we had already begun setting everything up for the class. So it took Chef Will squeezing his class into a different lab and letting us use his to resolve that.

b) Why didn't I think to ask Tom at the end of our meeting, "so what is our status right now? When can I expect to hear from you again?" Answer: because I have done exactly one job interview from outside the company; everything else was an internal promotion or was no interview required. I just didn't know. I assumed because they needed a GM and here I was, willing to do everything that they needed, shazam everybody wins. Very silly of me. There's no reason he should have known that I would leave with mixed signals due to my naivete but argh! Wish somebody would have thought to say something sum-up-ish.

c) One of the teachers at our campus is also doing demos on "health & wellness" for Olives Ole. All week we have been trying to get to her to find out what lab she is using--because we sure learned that we can't assume the labs are going to be open just because we desperately need them to be!--and what recipes she is doing because I have to include her ingredients in the requisition that should have been finalized a week ago. That's all. And all she's managed to respond is "my guys are taking care of the dishes, don't worry." THAT'S NOT AN ANSWER. I need the ingredients or they're not getting purchased. It is beyond frustrating to have my reputation on the line for somebody else's failure to communicate.

Can you tell it's been a rough week? At least my weekend responsibilities are minimal; I'm going to try to catch up on my rest and come back recharged next week.

(I will post the Rampage pics and video if we get it, because it really did go well and it's important for me to take time to dwell on my successes too.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'm taking it!

Meeting with Tom and Laura: check.
Mission I can believe in and commit myself to: check.
Bosses I can communicate with: check.

Yep, I'm taking the job.

*happy dance happy dance happy dance*

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Counting my chickens

As of right now, I am finishing up my Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management degrees. I have 1 more class in each category to take over the summer/fall and then I will graduate. I have also been intending to apply for the Baking & Pastry Arts program which would have me done with St Philips in Spring 2012. It's competitive-- about 80 people apply for a class of 16. But I'm confident that I would be accepted because *brag mode engaged* I am well-known in the department, I have excellent grades including in the pastry classes I've previously taken, and once I get that pesky little detail of not having any professional references straightened out, I write a pretty good application essay. Plus my good friend Marnie will kill me if I don't apply for it, because she is too.

Well, Marnie may be killing me.

Have I mentioned that Chef is consulting on the side for a fellow who is opening up a bakery? Probably not. This week I took two bakery-related field trips with Chef--Monday we went and picked out and paid for restaurant equipment on the South side of San Antonio. Boy do I need to learn Spanish. Chef told me straight out that if I went in there speaking English, I would get a different price quote. But that equipment is built like a tank, yo.

The second field trip was getting it delivered to the location, which he has already purchased. It's in Leon Springs on Boerne Stage Rd and I-10, which is a pretty great area. Of course it was the day that San Antonio decided to be 20 degrees, but whatever.

So the long and short of it is, this guy Tom has the business plan and savvy but he needs a general manager, effective April or May of this year. Chef thinks it should be me. Tom seems amenable--at his request I have already sent him my resume and we are meeting sometime over the next week or so to discuss employment.

If I like what I hear, this may be my entrance into the culinary world.

I mean, when else can you graduate from school and have your first job offer be the GM position to start up a new business? Especially one that is being consulted by Chef who certainly has the years and experience to back up his confidence in what Tom is planning.

It's kind of scary and awesome. But I want to be sure that I believe in what Tom wants to do and my role in making that happen. I've had enough "jobs" to know that I am happiest and I work hardest when I'm part of a mission. I'm a crusader. That's why I'm enjoying my work with Chef so much; I see every part of it as a chance to do something great, and it's really rewarding for me. He's got to make me a believer, or I'm staying the course with school.

A slightly inappropriate funny. Chef and I were talking about my upcoming interview. I was expressing how nervous I am to ask about their expectations of me as the GM of this unknown business, and Chef told me I was going about it all wrong. Rather than letting Tom tell me what I was going to do, I need to tell him what I can do, what I will do, and what I won't do--namely, work myself to the bone and never see my family.

I surely looked skeptical with a hint of shock, because have I mentioned I'm a crusader? who were not known for their rich and thriving personal lives? so Chef took a different approach. "Treat the interview as if it were a request for sex. YOU have to be the one to set the terms. YOU set the conditions and be firm about them, and if he doesn't follow through, it's a no-go." He paused and added, "Just put your mind back in high school."

I dimpled and said, "Oh, no, married life is like that too."

Sad thing is, it made sense. And I feel more confident going in and changing my life. Possibly. This may all be very anti-climactic if it doesn't work out, but it's a fun milestone.

(In other weekly news, I finally finished the food requisition list for Olives Ole, put it in a snazzy format and am getting it proofed before submitting it. And I also turned in my ingredient requisition for the San Antonio Rampage demo next Wednesday. Tomorrow night, the aforementioned-future-assassin Marnie will come over with her son and sister-in-law and we will do a test run of the demo using the civilians as surrogate hockey players. Which means between now and then I need to buy the test run ingredients and finish the handout which is the basis of the entire class. I will need to hit up the Original for a bit this weekend but not actually for the Practicum--my Legal Issues class wants us to do a "property inspection" and check for any safety hazards/violations, so it's as convenient as anything. Well okay it isn't, because it's downtown which is a long drive and then I have to deal with parking nonsense, but I would feel silly inspecting a random other place.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

A week at a glance

Last week was snoozy. That's its official designation. I was lacking a sense of urgency, compounded by a general lack of communication with Les Dames. Fortunately this picked up throughout the week and Chef and I started a very tentative timeline of events. Fast forward to yesterday, a 3 hour meeting at the Botanical Gardens where we laid out the general schematics for the concessions booths and my fellow St Philips students got even more courses to prepare.

(Currently we're in charge of making:
*a Texas “Greens” Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Agave Caramelized Pepitas
*Peach Wood Smoked Chicken
*Tuscan Dried Cherry Farro Salad
*Hummus Three Ways (roasted red bell pepper, green olive, and toasted pine nut)
*Grilled Vegetable Pita Sandwich
*Triple Chocolate Chipotle Brownies
*Mashed sweet potatoes and a pomegranate & red wine reduction to accompany Persian Spiced Lamb Chops

and now the food that will be featured in the hourly demos:
*Italian-Mexican Pesto
*Cannellini Bean Salad
*Mediterranean Salad
and more of the farro and mixed greens salads)

It was a hugely productive meeting. Though Chef couldn't attend this meeting, I think I did a good job--I took notes and pictures and got all my current batch of questions answered. But boy was it a lot to take in! I sincerely hope it's easier for everyone next year.

(I also asked them to save all receipts pertaining to purchases made for OO this year because we have no list of the dry goods used last year, just various amalgamations of "oh, I'll need 2 flat top ranges for my dish" that need to be compiled. It's all over the place and that's not very helpful right now--we'll be ordering too much of some stuff, not enough other stuff, and again next year should be MUCH better. I'm already picturing a table with "Supplies" at the top, "Item," "Amount" "Used by" "Used for" which will be so easy to fill in and change to meet variations in the portions prepared/recipe used for future years!)

This week my task is to add the new recipes to the list of ingredients and send that to Rosemary, of the RK Group, who will be getting the food donated probably from Sysco. Then we'll start on the dry goods list. So that was work on Olives Ole.

I visited the Original for another 6 hour stretch, which again was very productive. I have plenty of fodder for the testing part of the handbook, that's for sure! I got more of a chance to talk with Jose, one of the two lodebearing cooks in the back, and it helped assuage my concerns from last week about "really, what good would a handbook do these guys?" (Answer: not much. But some.)

Today I am running errands for/with Chef, including going with him to where he gets restaurant equipment. I was going to meet with Larkin, the son of the Original's owner whom I met on Saturday's shift, and go over some recipes but we can do that via email.

On top of all that, I am a week away from teaching another demo to the San Antonio Rampage. I finalized my menu at least and am very excited about it, but I need to finish the handout to accompany the class, requisition the ingredients by Wednesday, and do a dry run with my friend Marnie and some victims (aka family and friends) on Friday so that it goes off without a hitch next Wednesday. The only problem right now is the time got changed to 2pm-5pm, which may conflict with our school schedule--I'm pretty sure all 3 of the labs that we have at school will be in use at that time, so there won't be anywhere to actually have the class. I'm waiting to hear back on this. So yes, a very busy week right on the heels of Snoozeville. That's just what I get.