A new customer

It’s a glamorous life being a chef, the other day at about 8 pm while the restaurant is gleefully packed to the gills and orders are flying in fast . My new dishwasher a frumpy uninspiring though not entirely useless girl approach’s me saying she’s “really scared” to which I some what insensitively reply “why , what’s happened ” her hand haltingly raises towards the dry storage . Where I can easily see a large brazen raccoon fruitlessly attempting to open a can of anchovies. You see the first cook complaining of the heat had opened the back door some hours ago against my better judgment I allowed him to.

Remember it’s stinking busy! I quickly pick up a mop and race towards it hoping to scare it out back into the alley (what to me is the only logical course of action) , I’m followed though by the head chef shouting “no no poor thing it’s hungry” and wielding a chicken parm sandwich . The first cook a pretty useful but now entirely overwhelmed young man who’s still learning English is now alone on the line orders are pouring in what does he do? well of course join the animal services party in the pantry . So now the entire kitchen staff with the exception of the kitchen helper who’s off you know presumably doing something useful in the prep kitchen. Are crammed into the dry storage in the middle of dinner rush  while a bewildered raccoon tries to make sense of why it is simultaneously being hidden from, threatened with a mop , given a meal as big as it’s head and questioned about it’s species in broken English .

Meanwhile customers are wondering where the food they ordered 20 minutes ago is and the servers are praying no one asks for a tour of the kitchen .

hungry raccoon


3 female chefs ?!

I am proud to tell you all the infrequency of my posts in recent weeks is due to my starting a new job as sous chef for a small but busy downtown restaurant.

As some of you may know the restaurant industry is sadly a still a mans world female line cooks are rare and often have to fight hard to be considered equals to their male counter parts . Female chefs are even rarer . So you can imagine my delight to be working along side a capable Female chef as her sous , what’s more than that I was hired to replace her current sous a short English girl much like my self .

About a week into my training there came a fervently busy night on which the 3 of us were working together , the only men in the kitchen being in the dish pit . As orders bleeped in and pastas flew out the server station with precise and dizzying speed all in the puffing dragon breath heat of the half dozen burners and belching ovens. A customer peered in the window of the semi open kitchen and exclaimed “Is that 3 female chefs? I ‘ve never seen a female chef before !” It was hard I must admit for us not to burst out laughing at his crudely put though largely accurate observation. Instead we all answered quickly and almost in unison YES!

busy female chef

So I put it to you have you ever met a female chef ? perhaps you are a female chef if so all power to you may we see more strong women at the helm of busy restaurants everywhere.

Like what I’m doing now check out what I was up to before all this @ http://thegreathardwooadventure.blogspot.ca/2014/06/headed-south-beautiful-blue-ridge.html

10 types of anoying cutomers

Like it or not everyone in the service industry has dealt with them at one point or another , I doubt if they even know how rude they’re actually being . Maybe we should video tape them and run it back for them before the tip option on the P.O.S. machine anyway that’s a musing for another day. Today I give you the 10 most common types of annoying customers.

  1. The argues over the price one – I hear this all the time ” but the girl last time charged me less than that” I do not know what the other girl charged you nor do I care . In the category or things I do know , The price ! I work here and I have a fancy computer system that is so simple that even a brain dead monkey could figure out your tab.
  2. The stays forever one – You’ve been here for 4 hours and only bought one small coffee that my friend is why you can’t have yet another free refill.
  3. The comes in 5 minutes before closing one – Yes I understand that you don’t necessarily know when we close , that’s why I warned you when you came in ! If your not aware it’s extremely annoying to have to make a full order when the door is practically locked already and what’s more than that then you want to eat in . Let me reiterate I’m closing in 5 minutes , If you can eat a club sandwich in less than 5 minutes by all means be my guest in fact let me film it I’ll put it on my blog.
  4. The non tipper – The tackiest of the tacky , I’m waiting on you , making your food and bringing it to your table if anything you should tip me more than a bartender or conventional server yet because it’s a café you think this somehow exempts you from tipping . News flash café servers live off their tips just like all other servers.
  5. The talker – You know the one who goes on and on about their kids or their job like this mind numbing information is of any interest at all to a complete stranger.
  6. The too much perfume/cologne one – You have to coke back gagging just to wait on them and even after their hopefully swift departure the over powering cloud of odor hangs in the air resilient against futile attempts to remove it from your workplace.
  7. The awkward not funny jokes person – They think they’re the funniest person ever ! which presents any good server with a conundrum , it would be rude not to laugh so you end up doing this smile and fake giggle thing of course this only exasperates the situation though as now they think their joke actually landed and will plague you with other witless banter in the future.
  8. The cuts you off one – I’m asking you a question about the first part of your order we’re not on to the next item yet , slow down and listen ! I am not just talking for the good of my own health.
  9. The low talker – The mouth is moving but no words appear to be coming out , you would think by the third time I’ve asked you to repeat your self and I’m craned over the counter trying to make out what your saying you’d think hey it’s noisy in here maybe I should speak up . It’s a coffee shop not a library people .
  10. The doesn’t listen one – They ask you a question then promptly ignore the answer, only to ask you the same  worded slightly differently 2 seconds later. If you’d just listened to me the first time you’d already know .


Like what I’m doing now check out what I was up to before all this @ http://thegreathardwooadventure.blogspot.ca/2014/06/headed-south-beautiful-blue-ridge.html

museing about unemployment

As some of you may know I recently quit my job , for a supposedly better one that just didn’t end up working out , not in an over all terrible manner I had one foot out the door already and it may even turn out to be a good thing.

Anyways I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of work and unemployment and their relationship with our over all quality of life.

I have worked my entire adult life , I started when I was 14 and other than a couple of months here and there I never stopped . A few years ago for the first  time I was unexpectedly out of work. During which time I wrote a book , trained 2 dogs, took a photography course, painted a new series which showed and actually sold a painting and made my self a certified master of the Edmonton drop in and food bank circuit. My point is I filled my time I was actually busier last time I was unemployed than most of my working life.

I had always been that way, chasing the next thing diving head long into a new project always working or partying, always in motion . Then I burned out I started having panic attacks and on doctors orders and with the help of some very awesome friends and family members I learned to relax . To take time to appreciate , really appreciate my family and my alone time and hanging out in sweat pants with no make up on. A concept that up until that point I would have considered unbelievably lazy and unappealing .

Now to most of you who are supposedly a modicum saner than yours truly , the idea of having to learn how to relax is probably absurd but I had to and it was hard . Now it’s like my favorite thing ! Which brings me to my musing about unemployment the second time around granted it’s only been like 4 days but I noticed my self sort of starting to freak out . When I had a job all I wanted in the world was, to be home with my husband and my dog ,  even on my own playing video games or spewing seemingly mindless nonsense at you fine people. After a couple of days though , I mean yes it’s still amazing to have all the free time but I started to feel stressed , like something was missing some part of life that I underestimate even make fun of .

Before all I wanted was to not have to work now all I want is a job. Why ?

Has learning to relax caused me to bypass the importance of having steady work of structure ?  Is all the other stuff as meaningful without a career or even a steady pay check ? Does the longing I experience when not relaxing define the quality of the relaxation period ?


you can’t trust anyone but yourself

I was recently offered a pretty BIG job a real honest to God, grown up job with a well known and reputable company who shall remain nameless because unlike them I have some class and self respect.

I met with the vice president of the company he seemed like a respectable honest character a person someone like me could look up to in the shape shifting world that is the food service industry. He said I was impressive an ambitious young woman, things I had never been called before let alone ever thought I was. I stressed to him that if I was to take the position I would need to give ample notice to my current employer as I did not want to inconvenience them anymore than necessary , we talked a little about my current position and he informed this would not me a problem. I went home from the interview on a high happy that even if I didn’t get the job at least I was being considered.

The next day the company’s executive chef called me, I was honored I was being short listed. After a short phone interview , he bid me goodbye and assured me I had his recommendation and would pass this on to the company . He assured me I would know within 48 hours if I had the job.

48 hours came and went no word came. I let it go assuming I hadn’t gotten the job I continued my search attended another interview where I was shortlisted for another fairly prominent position.

A couple of days later I received an e mail welcoming me to the team with instructions to reply to the e mail to let them know if I would be willing to start in a weeks time, if so the e mail stated that I would receive an employment offer within 72 hours. I replied positively. It was the most excited I have been in years the most excited I have ever been over a job, but I did not let it over come me , I waited until the employment offer came before putting in notice at my current job.

This of course left my current employer with only a couple of days before my last day but it couldn’t be helped and though it saddened me to put them in an uncomfortable position, I had to think of my self and my family . This as I’ve said was a big job we needed this right now, times are hard and good jobs don’t grown on trees you know .

I also received an offer from the other job I had interviewed for I respectfully declined telling them I was sorry but had accepted another offer.

The next day 1 day before I was scheduled to start at my new job I received an e mail from the vice president. Remember the guy I had thought to be a stand up guy a role model even. It read something like this .

FYI chef and I have not entirely decided on your position so we wondered if you would be willing to switch to a position not in your field with a starting wage well below your pay grade (basically minim wage) , we are trying to accommodate everyone . kindly let me know your thoughts.

Well I’m pretty sure you can guess what my thoughts were . Something along the lines of Fuck you, you back stabling bastard how dare you tear down honest peoples hopes because you think you can sit behind a corporate veneer and look down on the world that made you all you are. How dare you behave in such a false and disrespectful manner to your fellow human beings , how many times, how many ambitious young men and women have you done this to? Is your mother proud of you ? Do your children look up to you ? because they shouldn’t  . People like you deserve to be put in little boxes tied up with string and left there for a month.

That of course is not the reply I sent because unfortunately for me it seems , I was raised to have basic human decency. This is the reply I sent.

I regret to hear this new development, I was under the impression upon receiving your employment offer that this was a sure thing.
It puts me in an actionable position seeing as I have all already given notice to my current employer and also turned down a apposing offer in my field  based on what I had believed to be a secure offer in keeping with my ample experience and desire to continue my career.
Given these inconvenient circumstances, I would require a measure of assurance of the hours discussed previously and advancement to a position more befitting my career track in the future before accepting a different position within the company.
Please inform me ASAP if you would be amenable to this.

They retracted the offer. So this my friends is why I urge you to never trust anyone but your self and your closest friends and family , because good working class people get stepped on every day and it saddens me to think that one of them could be you .

sad cook

Fortunately I was offered another new job which I will start on Monday with my wits about me and my heart decidedly not on my sleeve.

If something like this happened to you and you need a shoulder to cry on or you just want to vent or have some thought s of your own on the subject please share them with me I’m always interested in others opinions.

Like what I’m doing now check out what I was up to before all this @ http://thegreathardwooadventure.blogspot.ca/2014/06/headed-south-beautiful-blue-ridge.html

Some things potential owners should know before opening a restaurant


  1. Everyone who works for you will steal from you in some capacity, be in food , falsified hours , petty cash or any number of other scams, a good employee is one who doesn’t rob you blind.
  2. Equipment will break down at the most inopportune moment possible.
  3. New kitchen equipment is a rip off you can buy the same thing used for a third of the price. Restaurants go under all the time take advantage of it and buy their barely used equipment cheap. Of course sometimes you need something like now! And it’s worth the rip off !
  4. If a restaurant was in the location your considering before you and failed the location is what we in the restaurant industry call a burned location and your chances of success there are slim to none. Unfortunately humans are creatures of habit and it will take them years to get over the image of that location as a no go eatery mean while you will be stuck there running out of patience , money and resources.
  5. When it comes to suppliers and service people the squeaky wheel gets the grease, chef yelling at phonewondering why you get shipped sub-par product , get deliveries late , are waiting forever for the repair man. That’s because other chefs and owners aren’t , they’re screaming and raving down the phone line threatening to close their accounts , trust me it works!
  6. Firing people sucks but is a necessary evil, what’s worse than firing people who are obviously terrible at and unhappy in their jobs is stringing them along until there is no possible option but to get rid of them in an abrupt and excitable manner. If you own or run a business some days your going to have be the bad guy get used to it.
  7. The neighborhood and city , in my experience good restaurateurs, know the cites and neighborhoods their businesses  are in inside out , they have their figures on the pulse are always well informed about what’s trending , developing and generally going on in the food industry as well as in their specific area.
  8. Linen service is great! in no way is this ever a waste of money here are the biggest reasons.
  • Cooks are obsessed with cloths , it’s a good thing! they need them on mass and believe me washing a 100+ filthy rags yourself every night is not the ideal way to celebrate the fact business is booming.
  • Kitchen staff are bad at remembering/bothering to wash uniforms , not to mention even if they do remember to wash them, they will never get them as clean as the linen service.
  • You will spend a fortune on laundry detergent , washing machines , bleach and water bills before eventually deciding to go with the linen service. do yourself a favor and just get one to start with.

Regarding cooks

  1. Line cooks will call in sick because they stayed up way too late doing drugs , drinking and generally getting into trouble, make peace with it if they’re good it’s worth it if they’re not fire them , either way chances are if they’re calling in you don’t want them there any more than they want to be there .
  2. Moral is very important , cooks are like pirates moral gets too low they’ll mutiny have nopirate cooks doubt about it if they don’t feel it’s worth their time they will leave you high and dry often many at the same time if anything they’re are loyal to their chef not the owner.
  3. Don’t touch their personal knives same goes for their specifically set up stations or mise en palce there is a reason they have it set up the way they do and if you move something 2 inches to the left their liable to get thrown off by it .

like Order up! check out what I was doing before all this


Also feel free to leave me comments about your own kitchen experiences I’m always interested to hear them.


5 things customers think they are (but aren’t)

  1. Comedians – It’s an unfortunate fact of life that most of us think we’re funny. Spoiler alert ! We’re not ! Please stop telling service people awful jokes , believe me their not landing and they never will !
  2. Friends – Amazingly just because you come to the same place all the time and we’re on a first name basis does not mean we have a lasting friendship or even the groundwork for one . Sorry.
  3. Interesting – This is another one of those unfortunate facts of life most of us are not that interesting . Amazingly though your daughters ballet recital may be a thrilling topic of conversation to you and yes you get points for at least being a good parent , it is mind numbingly boring to me .
  4. Helpful – Please don’t try to help service people , I know your heart is in the right placedish stack but we do things the way we do them for a reason. So please don’t bring your plates to the counter or build strange monuments with your dishes to supposedly make them easier to carry , If you want to help when our finished your meal you can slide your plate to the side of your place setting so I don’t have to lean over you but past that please just leave me to do my job.
  5. Charming – If your hitting on a waitress while she’s at work and unable to tell you to get bent , YOUR NOT CHARMING! I have never once in all the time I’ve worked in food service heard of waitress say ” I went on the most wonderful date with this cute charming customer I met at work the other night ” . It’s rude and embarrassing to both you and her just leave it out !