Friday, January 07, 2005

Restaurant Biz - Day One

As most of you who read this blog know, I have aspirations to work in the food service industry. Though the direction changes week to week, be it catering, restaurant work, hotel chef or personal chef, the passion for the vocation has not. In pursuing these ends, I decided to volunteer at a local restaurant (who shall remain nameless). Now, I know, work for *free*? Well, here's the deal. I have 0 food service experience, I'm a complete newbie. At this point, the only jobs out there for me are chain restaurants. So, yes, I could work at Olive Garden and get paid for it, but that's not the sort of work I want to do and it's not going to give me the knowledge I need to work in the sort of restaurants that I will, in the end, want to work in. So, with that in mind and following the advice of other newbies like myself, I decided to just pick out a restaurant I liked the just ask to work for knowledge. The place I picked out is a small restaurant with a large kitchen (less chance of me getting in the way) and is owned by one fellow, who seems friendly enough.

Anyways, they accepted my offer of free work and I started this past Thursday.

Things I learned:
*) about how many limes you need to press to make 10 cups of lime juice
*) the proper way to wash dishes ;)
*) how to make their guacamole
*) how to plate their chips & salsa dish
*) that I, surprisingly, *like* the frenetic atmosphere of a restaurant when it's busy. This bodes well.
*) how to chop lettuce into strips (granted, I already knew this, but I chopped *alot* more lettuce than I ever have)
*) a handful of the misc. food supply checks, rotation of stock, cleaning of tables, lighting of candles, etc.. that you do upon starting your shift

*) that no one quite trusts a guy who is willing to work for free

Well, I'll be going back possibly this Saturday. This whole volunteering thing is kind of weird, schedule wise. Because, since I am not getting paid, they obviously will not be relying on me to be there at any point, so I can *technically* come in whenever I'd like. At the same time, everyone else there is doing this as their means of making money, so I can't help but feel a bit like a visitor or intruder in their world. That I can go home before closing, while they do not have that luxury. At the same time, they *are* getting paid to close while I, on the other hand, would not. So it's odd, since I don't *want* to feel like I can waltz in and out at my leisure, but honestly, I can, and I'm fooling myself to think otherwise.