Tuesday, February 26

Why I Went to Culinary School

I have spent one third of my life in the restaurant industry.  Most of which was dedicated to front of the house (FOH) operations and the challenge of mastering the relentlessly tricky (dare I say masochistic?) art of hospitality.  I have worked in some pretty shifty places and I've also had the pleasure of working for some really great places.  Regardless of the caliber of establishment, you can always be comforted by the fact that the people are always the same. 

The Employees: They will range in accountability, but you can rest assured that the beloved stereotypes will emerge.  

The Managers: They range in both their people skills and general ability to manage, but once again, you can count on the classic characters to be casted for the role every time.

And last, but never least, The customers: This charming bunch will run the gamut from overly entitled foodie to modern day caveman and please believe, they never cease to surprise.

From a FOH standpoint, there is nothing more challenging and exciting than controlling the guests’ experience.  Oh yeah, incase you aren't on the "in" we don't call them customers... Lord NO!  They are respectfully referred to as guests, and henceforth you will do the same.  Sorry, you are in my world for the moment, so get used to the jargon.   Either way, no matter what you call them, they are indeed your guest.  From the moment they type their name into the reservation box on OpenTable and get their booties into the seats at one of your tables, they are all yours.  

As your guest, their experience is now in your hands.  In the hopeful scenario that you have pride in your job, you will take this seriously.  At the very least, you put yourself in their shoes and do your duty, as a decent human, to give them their money's worth (even if they are ripping you off by ordering water with extra lemons and splenda on the side.... you know who you are).  They decided to take a moment out of whatever kind of life they are leading and put it into the hands of you and your colleagues.  They are looking to you to ensure that the hard-earned money that they are about to blow is on something worth looking back on and feeling good about.  When you look at it that way, it puts a whole different spin on the sitch.  Sometimes, it's a first date, maybe the first of many.  Perhaps you provide such flawless, authentic service that is become an experience they aspire to repeating on every anniversary.  Other times, its an extremely lucrative business deal that you are essentially hosting.  Both situations, being polar opposites with respectively equal importance, are yours to command.  It is your duty as the facilitator to have the intelligence, social savvy, and flat out skill to provide the same standard of excellence despite the party you are given.  This is a big responsibility and a proper employee sees it as such.  However, with all that being said, the fact of the matter remains... to the majority of guests, all FOH efforts pale in comparison to the end goal; eating great food. 

Very rarely do people go out to restaurants, with no regard for the food, just to have a nice server bother them for a couple of hours.  Nor have I ever heard of someone wasting weeks planning a special evening with only the decor in mind.  That never happens.  The ambience, the friendly face at the door, the free coat check, even the tasty pre-meal cocktail, will be a fleeting memory if the food falls short.  After the stomach is satisfied, then and only then will the guest truly enjoy the experience.  In the end, the ultimate goal of going out to eat is to eat.  The ultimate goal is to indulge in something delicious.  The ultimate goal is to treat yourself to something so spectacular that you can't even imagine making it at home.  Sure, the overal experience is what you strive for, but let's be honest.  How many times have you returned to a restaurant with great service but bad food?  Probably not too many times if you could control it.  Now, how many times have you returned to a place that has mouthwatering, amazing, life-changing food, but a craptastic staff?  Yeah, probably a bunch of times.   And the poor bastard who owns it, doesn't even realize the service is crap because people keep coming back.... But hey!  That's my point!  You go out to eat, to eat.  Anything else is secondary.  

As "the face of the restaurant" you project the illusion of having control over the restaurant's success, but it's just an illusion.  It's a facade by which people are so often tricked (hence you getting mad at the server when your food is cold... not her fault people, she's not in control!)  It's the individuals in the kitchen that are really, honestly, legitimately running the show.  Many a time, I have ran to the back and started fights with the kitchen because of that.  More often than not, the people in the back don't realize their power and that would make me mad.  Put in the wrong hands -lazy unmotivated hands- that power can destroy a restaurant.  However, when that power is placed in the right hands, artful, relentless hands, dude.... the sky is the limit.  The power of crafting something so scrumptious that people will have dreams about it, that's something else.  Knowing that you make things that people crave and schedule their life around, that's something else.  Having the power so strong that people spend all day, teetering on the edge of their seat until they can rush to your table and bite into that whatever it is you make... that's something else.  That's a feeling you can't get from serving up someone else's art.  Approaching tables with a smile and reciting nothingness over and over again, that's not going to give you that feeling.  Serving is a skill but cooking is an art.  Creating great food is a matter of mastery.  It requires natural talent, but more importantly, there must be discipline, hard work, and a desire to always be better. Natural talent belongs in your kitchen at home where friends and family can enjoy.  In order to created beautiful food the belongs in beautiful restaurants requires more than natural talent.  It requires you to dedicate your entire life to the cause.  

I decided to go to culinary school because I wanted a piece of that.  The secret glory that come with being one of the unsung heros.  That excitement is completely different than anything experienced out in the Front of the House.  They are the army reserves and in the Kitchen.... you made a commitment to the marines.  You have dedicated yourself to a constant bombardment from the enemy.  They are going to make special requests.  The "computer" is going to mess up orders.  Your beautiful food will get sent back, because some idiot didn't know that reading was required when browsing a menu.  You are going to be tired.  You are going to be pissed.  You are going to deal with things you never imagined and what do you do?  Get mad but still pump out great food, because in the end....  you have the power.  You can turn any situation around with the flip of a spatula (no pun intended...well kinda) .  All you have to do is whip up something "special" and send it to the table.  Even better, take a moment to visit and guests feel like they've met a movie star.  It's a bizarre flop between being a rockstar and being the red headed step child, but the instability and drama is your fuel.   I thrive in that borderline abusive environment and I love it.  I love everything dysfunctional about the restaurant business in the way actors accept the destructive nature of Hollywood.  When you have that in your spirit, a regular career path won't suffice.  You have to answer the call. 

A little less than a year ago, I decided to make the switch.  I am officially a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and my path is only just unfolding.  I plan on keeping you all posted.  From here on out, I am going to dedicate my blog to a more gastronomical approach.  The purpose will be twofold: I will be held accountable for cooking at home and expanding my knowledge base by reporting back to you guys.   Also, you guys will still be able to follow me through the adventures of my life because I promise not to turn this into a lame food blog i.e. compilation of recipes and pictures of random food products.   I'll leave that to other people... they've got that quite under control.  Until my next entry....

Keep it gangster my lovelies!

Thursday, February 21

Makin Moves Once Again.... Kinda

I did it!  I have completed, yet another, bout of education.  Now I can say that I am a classically trained chef.  The only problem is, I don't work in a kitchen.  My claim to fame at the moment is that I am a home cook with really great knife skills!  So don't jump to calling me Chef Lisi just yet.  (Industry peeps would laugh in my face!)  As of right now, I still have to pay my dues before I can earn any cool titles!  Ain't no shame in that!

So, let me tell you what's really going on...

It was right around New Years.  With the passing holiday season and my culinary school graduation approaching ever so quickly, I was growing restless.  Restless with  my job, with life, and OH!   How could I forget??  I turned 25!  YUP FOLKS.... the big 2-5.  I am officially a quarter of a century old!  And what brought it home for me was the fact that I have legitimately been in the workforce since I was 16!  Which is awesome.... but at 25 that puts me at a grand total of 9 years in the food industry and what?  I am now figuring out what I'm doing with it!?  Bahh....  So it made me anxious and emo and I quit my serving gig, in an overzealous effort to "stick it to the man".  I mean there was more too it than a snap decision and me skating by the office while tossing my two week notice on a desk.  I had good reason.
I felt, as someone who has worked in various establishments (some nice and some not so nice ::cough IHOP cough::), it was clear that my former employer was getting reckless.  Now that I have an "in" into the Big Apple, I didn't have to deal with the shenanigans that were going down.  I.e. messing up paychecks and general hospitality blunders.  I have invested time and energy into this industry and my path should be down grander avenues if you will.  So with that in mind and an immense need for a life breather, I decided to throw in the towel on my serving career.  I said suck it (respectfully of course) and threw up the deuces on that chapter.

So right now, I am currently on hiatus, living it up.  I mean.... that's a nice, polite way to say, I'm bummin it.  I am unemployed of my own accord.  I've never been without job, literally.  Usually I have at least 2 jobs at a time, plus school or some other activity happening.   Not this time, nope.  Currently, I am allowing myself to rest.  Take a moment to soak in the scenery and plan my next move.  It's quite nice.  I've been doing it for about a month now.  I haven't gotten tired of it yet, but there's not much to do so I know it's coming.  I wish the weather wasn't well.... winter.  If it were summer, that would be another story.  I would probably commit to this effort for the span of the summer, but being confined to the workings of indoor life, I will soon suffer at the hand of cabin fever.  I can only be in a house doing relatively nothing for so long.  So, to prevent my imminent psychosis, I am applying to baller internships at various reputable restaurants in the city.  Since I can support myself for a while without a stable income, I'm seizing this opportunity to scour the earth for teachers willing to lend their services to my culinary advancement.
I am particularly excited about that part.
In the meantime, there is something to be said about just chillin in the house and vibing.  I have been reading up on topics of interest to me.  Cooking up a beast of a storm.  I have also become a vegetarian.   A bad one, but one nonetheless. (That was induced by my boyfriend's interest in a vegetarian cookbook and we took to it very well.)  That was an eye opening experience, actually.  I know I love veg, but I really didn't know what to do with it besides make it a side dish or just stuff u throw in the mix to satisfy  demands of the nutrition pyramid.  However, now I can expertly craft entire meals of veg and you will feel just as satisfied as if you were munchin on a side of beef.  That's a little bit of an exaggeration, but it's kinda true.   Enough of my vegetarian tangent.  I'm just taking this time, to live life before I start breaking my back and disappearing into the bowels of the food industry once again.

If you are not keen on my current life situation and/or don't see how this could be a positive influence in terms of my personhood and general aspirations.... don't fret.  What's the worst that could happen?  I'm a hustler.  I know how to squeeze a dollar out of a dime and if it comes down to it...
I could always just be this guy.....

He seems to have it all figured out... and I'm already on the right track with the hair.  I got this!  

Keep it interesting my lovelies!

Friday, August 10

I only had 2 days left!!!

That was my face!

So yeah!  I got the job at Mercer Kitchen!  At the end of my second interview the manager told me to put in my 2 weeks and promptly begin employment on August 13th.  Da Da Daaaaa! ::glorious trumpet sounds::

That brings us to this morning.... there's two days left to the Hyatt reign of terror and i'm on my 8th day in of work in a row!  They really know how to send off their employees, right??  I've been doing really well too!  I even went early the other day!  So for the last 7 days i've been on point with my attendance.....then today happens.  I wake up peacefully, the bittersweet lyrics of bachata waft through my room, the fan floats chilled air towards me, i sink further into my cloud of a mattress.  For a moment life was good.... i was enveloped by the still early morning serenity..... but that was just for a moment.  You know the saying "too much of a good thing is bad" well yeah.  When you wake up so peacefully something has to be wrong!  I  jumped into reality, fished around my bed for my phone, and found out that it was 6:30am.  I was supposed to be at work at 6!   What the hell?!?!  I knew i enjoyed my life too much when I woke up!  GODDAMNIT.  I hope we are all on the same page here when i explain... that this was not a good situation.  Not in the least!  I immediately called my job and to a shitty twist of fate and my extreme displeasure.... my fav manager was not working!!

Let me get this straight, no matter what job you find yourself at, there's always one higher up that's considered the "cool manager".  Sometimes it's because they don't give a crap about rules and employees enjoy running a muck.  Other times, it's because they have a decent grasp on the balance between stringent policy enforcement and understanding the human condition.  I've been lucky enough to learn the importance and difference between those kinds of managers.  In a building swarming with managers and MC members (Hyatt for managerial elite), there's only one person at that place that I consider a real person, capable of human compassion.  He was not there.... instead I got the one that is so concerned with policy and procedure that she doesn't give a crap about what's going on in your life unless it directly effects the company and it's progress.  Oh btw.... this is the manager I told you about in my last post.

I'm not into giving ultimatums and when an honest conversation can't even gain respect, what the hell else are you supposed to do?  This is not my first rodeo... I know when someone's being pushed out and that's what was happening.  So fine.  She's the one that answers the phone and I knew what to expect.  There would be no mercy, no sympathy, no exceptions given.  I was getting canned.  I had one more strike left and it was used up.  They were finally getting what they wanted lol  No one said it however.  She just  told me to still come in, and so I did....

I rush through the halls of the hotel and clock in at 6:56am.  I say hi to everyone and head for the manager's office where my pink slip awaits.  I get to her office and she tells me to wait in the cafeteria because nothing can be done until HR gets in...... um.... what?  They don't get in until 9 in the morning.... why would you tell me to come in at 7?  That makes no sense.  You just want me to wait in the cafeteria for 2 hours for no reason?  Cool. This would be the pièce de résistance of my hyatt career... i put in my formal resignation and still get fired (but only after I am strategically paraded around for that last dose of humiliation). 

Oh well!  You win some and you get prematurely terminated from some!  At this point it's really nothing.  I finally got to go down to HR and spoke with the director.  She gave me tons of bull crap lines and kept reiterating how i'm terminated for attendance.  I was beginning to get the feeling that she was trying to make me have some bit or remorse.  It wasn't going to happen.  However, what did happen was me telling both her and that manager that's so fond of me, not to misinterpret my calmness with arrogance.  I knew what was coming and I brought it upon myself.  hahaha  What did they want me to say?  I knew exactly what they wanted me to say.... and instead of rollin up in, poppin off at the mouth, and crypt walking out..... i followed up with a series of backhanded comments, thanked them for the opportunity, and graciously walked out.  I knew that what I had originally planned, walkin in and lettin them know about themselves, wouldn't do anything.  I needed to maintain composure and play their game.  It was successful.  They got the point. 

And now i'm done.  The Gods like me for whatever reason and helped me find a better opportunity with the most promptness.  Then I mess up as predicted ( regardless of self fulfilling prophecy or douchy management) and I end up with the reassurance that I'll never slink back into Hyatt no matter how bad i need a job.  Everyone is happy.  Ha!  I like to think about these extra days off as my vacation consolation prize.  And it comes at a perfect time!  My midterm is on Friday and I'm studying like a craze!  I'll keep you posted as my life unveils itself!!  

 Keep it classy my lovelies!!

Thursday, July 26

SoHo here we GO!

**News Update**

So my time at the good ole Hyatt is quickly coming to an end.  I don't think i can stress the word quickly hard enough...  Thanks to their ineptitude/blatant sabotage I am now 2 strikes down, 1 to go.  It's a matter of days until I mess up again and then get the ole boot in the ass!  You know how I get feelings about things?  Well, I felt this coming on.  I had gotten an email to meet with career services a while back, and it wasn't until last week that I actually sent an email to set up an appointment.  That decision couldn't have come at a better time.  I met with them on Monday, sent them my resume on Tuesday, and was receiving emails about potential jobs by Wednesday (yesterday). 

It figures that I would leave my phone at home, something I never dare to do, and that's when all the shinanz go down!  All morning I was receiving emails from career services, forwarding the conversation that was being had with my potential new home haha!  Basically, the amazing woman at my school contacted the Chef de Cuisine at Mercer Kitchen in SoHo.  She gave him the run down on my life force and he was into it!  He said he can take me on as an intern at any time and then forwarded my resume to the FOH (front of the house) manager so I can set up an interview for a serving job also!  AMAZEBALLS!  Imagine my pure joy and rapture at the sight of the emails.  Good thing I didn't have my phone on me at work!  I can almost guarantee that the unadulterated hope that these emails gave me would have sent me straight into the office to give my two weeks notice!  No lies.  

Oh!  Shall we discuss the business of resigning from my job as well?  It turns out that i'm not a conspiracy theorist after all!  Deez hoes is out to get me!  As I think you all are well aware of, a normal human being is allotted 2 days out of the week to enjoy life and forget about the indentured servitude that is a job (note I said job, not career.... there's a huge difference).  In addition to working 5 days a week, I have school 3 night a week for 5 hours.  In a sensible, logic-driven, thought process.... one would think that I would have my 2 days off on days that followed the school nights.  This would allow me (a human being with needs like proper sleep, time to do laundry, and general quality of life) to have a full 24 hours to recoup and get the most out of my days off.   I like to believe, and am open to dissenting opinion, that I held up my part of the bargain as a proper Hyatt slave and agreed to continue tap dancin for massah 40+ hours a week as long as I have either Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday off.  Nothing about my school interferes with my ability to successfully put in 9 productive hours a day at the lovely regency on the hudson.  However, when the two days I request to have off are constantly given to other people, for no damn reason, forcing me to survive with 3 hours sleep weeks on end....my productivity begins to wane, my will to live beings to evanesce and my ability to succeed at school beings to wither.  Everything beings to feel like its flittering out of control with no potential for triumph.

Sure, I could maintain and be mediocre.  I could slide by without anyone noticing.  Heck, I could even make a splash without raising a pinky!  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!   I've done it before.  It was called college.  But that's not what I am about now.  I want to exceed expectations and be awake enough to soak it all in.  I'm friggin 24 years old, not 42!  I need to be spry and ready to take on the world.....  That's not how I feel these days.  I had spoken to my managers of varying hierarchical influence and pleaded with them for some sympathy.  I never once asked for preferential treatment, just understanding.  There are two other girls that had school and their schedules were always respected.  Every time I asked for the same treatment, I was given some run around answer about how we schedule according to business demands... and then the schedule would come out and I would be on Tues, Thurs, and Saturdays at 5:30am.  Not right.  After dealing with that since March and losing my voice over pointless conversations, i said fuck it.  I had to pull the brakes on that catastrophe before I tied bricks to my feet and took a swim in the hudson! 

After being 30 minutes late for work on Tuesday, I spoke to my manager and asked what more can I do?  I don't want to be fired from a position I have held in a company for 4 years, but the way things are looking.... it's gonna happen.  I said, "All this can be solved with a simple solution that I've brought to everyone's attention time and time again. I'm beginning to think that the only thing to do here is resign, but I don't have another job lined up and I frankly can't be that irresponsible. I have bills to pay.  Maybe it would be better for me to officially cut my hours and restrict my schedule?"  That was the honest to God truth, what more was I to say?  The woman looked at me, pressed print on her computer, and says "There's no part time position open....here's the resignation form....let me know what you decide."  I literally stared at her in shock.  Then I put my Hyatt face on, played the games I've been taught so well these past 4 years, and said "Thank you so much, I'll think it over and keep you posted on my decision."  With a graceful exit I b-lined for my friends and cursed that woman's name. 

Flash forward, back to today.... I wake up planning to email all the necessary people at Mercer Kitchen and instead, I receive a phone call setting up an interview at 3!  I was so excited I barely new what to do with myself!  I went online to do some quick research on the restaurant, jumped in the shower, and headed into the city!  The interview went well and everyone seems on board with the idea of employing me and also allowing me to intern in the kitchen.  Problem is, at such a respected establishment, with an Executive Chef like Jean Georges..... my scraps of experience at places like IHOP and Hyatt seem laughable.  They basically told me that I would start ae a.... food runner..... then work my way up if it seemed like a good fit.  My spirit died a little, but then I had to think.  I know I'm fully capable and it's only a matter of time before they see that.... so I'll put in work, show them what I got, and soon I'll be back to making the dollaz.  I mean.... Mr. Sean "P.Diddy" Combs didn't get to the top by thinkin he was too good to hustle.  Half of the most successful people out there were on that struggle for a while before they made it.  The thing about that is.... it's only scary if you're not confident in your abilities.  I know I got this.... so whatever struggles I'm about to embark on can't be half as bad as being stuck in a dead end job with people making you feel like you're the crazy one!  

I go back tomorrow to meet with the GM.... I bought a new dress for the interview and I'm fully intending on making an even better impression than I did today.  I promise I shall update as soon as I know what's going on and as soon as I throw the deuces up on good ole mama hyatt!

Stay Classy My Lovelies!

Thursday, July 19

Sometimes A Good Kick In The Ass Is All You Need

It's amazing how small the world can be!

 So I've been on that struggle lately.  I'm still trying to get a handle on my life and the  work/school death.  I never imagined that it would be this elusive....the balance that is.  That delicate, lovely line that one dances on whilst carefully orchestrating each hour of the day.  Assigning time slots to different activities, different responsibilities, different cities.... it can get the best of you.  I meeeeaaaan... let me cut the emo act.  It's not that hard to manage life, except for when you are catching static.  My static is called Hyatt.  WOMP.  

It's funny.  I'm going through the same educational highs and lows as I did during my 3 1/2 years at college.  At first, you are almost stricken paralyzed with excitement as you enter intro class after intro class, learning everything you need for a strong foundation.  Then, as the time wears on you exchange your gung-ho attitude for a complacent intellectually fatigued one.  It's right at the time where you are no longer pumped with brand new and exciting tidbits.  It's at this stage that you are working on refining and reinforcing what you learned and frankly.... becoming bored.  After that, you catch your second wind.  Most likely, the sight of the finish line is what acts as the academic espresso.  All the sudden you have all the energy you had at the beginning and all you can do is focus on the task at hand, working diligently til you reach the other side.

Where am I right now?  Well.... interestingly enough, my 9 month program has me expediting the emotional roller coaster ride.  I am almost at midterms and I was feeling the lull in enthusiasm.  I'm at the reinforcement faze of my education and the monotony has me gettin a little angsty.   Don't get me wrong... I LOVE WHAT I'M DOING!  No lie.  I haven't been this interested in something in the longest.  It's just that I get restless easily.  I'm a product of my generation.  Instant gratification or bust.  So i don't care how long the process is... when I know that I am midway through and I'm not making leaps and bounds.... my souls poops out.  

What is a girl to do?  Well..... AUDITION FOR A COOKNG SHOW OF COURSE!  My school sends a newsletter from Career Services weekly (or often enough). And in this particular newsletter, it mentioned an open casting call for a new unnamed ABC cooking show hosted by none other than.... Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson!  I had to be part of the buzz.  How else was I going to spruce things up in my relationship with food?  It was starting to get cold in the kitchen....so i brought the heat! lol (my sincerest and deepest apologies for the bad word play).   It was about to go down.

I spent about a week pondering what the hell I was going to make.  You had to make a dish, transport it to the Big Apple and then you were supposed to be given 5 minutes to plate and then a food expert would taste away.    I thought I had it in the bag.... cocky little son of a gun that I am.  I was like "Look, my food is delicious.  No one is going to have this dish.  They can suck it and just move me to the next round today.  No need for an audition."  LOL  The TV frenzy was getting so crazy amongst my friends that we were already talking reality show spin offs and jet setting to wherevs.  Not for nothin, but who wouldn't get entertained by watching the shananaganery that ensues around the crew and I.  I mean I WOULD SO DVR US.... and it would be my life!  I just know i'm so entertaining that it's worth living and recording and then reliving.  Just saying!

The day of the audition arrives:
 What am I making?  Well I crafted beautifully seasoned beef medallions, enveloped in queso de freir, then wrapped in platano maduro and grilled.  This was accompanied by a heart of palm, avocado, redo onion, and cherry tomato salad with a Cilantro Lime Citronette (idk y i capatilized that... for effect I suppose).  It was really pimp I must say.  I package everything and head off.  

As I walk up to the line encircling Flatotel on 54th between 7th n 6th I make eye contact with someone I know!  It was someone I had went to high school with back in Maryland.... Bel Air High CLASS OF '06! Woop Woop!  Yeah.... i'm getting old people.  Either way, I hadn't seen this person SINCE THEN!  How nuts is that?!  And here we are, 6 years later standing in a line on the sweaty streets of Manhattan, hoping for the same silly thing.  What a small world it is.  

The next 4 hours of line lounging were spent baking in the heat, talking to everyone around us, networking, catching up, and freaking out a little.  Finally the time came.  We were filed into yet another line and herded into room in groups of 12.  Me and my friend got to stay together, which made it even more fun.  So remember those 5 minutes for plating? SIKE!  They gave us 3!!  That's 2 less minutes than I was counting on.... rookie mistake #1.  When they set us free for the 3 minutes of chaos I freaked.  I had to slice up avocados and cherry tomatoes..... assemble salads.... spoon dressings.... daintily place wads of meat.  It was too much for my inexperienced baby soul.  
I look down at my plate and it's ass.  Ok, I'm being to hard on myself.  It was nice.....if your aunt served it to you!  I looked around and people's food was floating on weird angles, topped with beautiful swirly crispy things, crafted into perfect geometric shapes!  It was wild.  Then there was mine.....  It was like taking your big wheel to the park to ride bikes with the kids who don't even use training wheels!  It's embarrasing and you don' belong there.  I didn't belong there.... it's was blatant.  THE DUDE ACROSS FROM ME OWNED THE #1 STEAKHOUSE IN HOUSTON....yeah that Houston... the one in Texas, land of men who love steaks!  Some other guy made a lobster borsch (gross to think about after it had been chillin in a cooler in the sun for 4 hours, but still)!  It was extravagant too!  

The food expert cam around and tasted everyone's food. No feedback was given.  Then a producer came around.... she was super pumped up and super de duper fake, but what do you expect?  But yea.... she was going around... asking cool questions.... wriling people up.... then she gets to me.  You wanna know my question that's supposed to pump me up?  
 "So...stares at my file.... Where are you from?"   
I just blank stared the hell out of her.  In my head I was like, WHAT?!  That's my question?  I was prepared with so many cool answers and "Uh...New Jersey?" was not one of them.... but that's how I answered.  Shoot me!  There's a Jersey frenzy everywhere!  I could've rocked that shit... I could've fist pumped my way into the next round....but instead I answered it like an 85 year old with alzheimer's, just repeating what i was told to say in case i got lost.  "Uh... New Jersey"  Why did I say it like i wasn't sure lol no need for the inflection.   The producer and I both knew that was a wrap on that.  If I couldn't own my Jersey self, I couldn't own anything.  That's when my dreams of grandeur and celebrity chefness died.

Either way, I had a genuine blast.  It was probably the best day I've had in a long time.  I met so many people, learned so many things (buy plastic squeeze bottles for saucing for one), basically got hooked on auditioning for cooking shows, and got a new burst of energy for my cooking career.   I'm super gung-ho again about learning everything I need.  My new topic of interest is food styling.... cuz that's super what I needed!  I'm going to kick hyatt and it's death schedules to the curb soon and get a cooking job or an internship in the city.  I also put an application for a freelance writer for living social.  If that comes through, it will be supplemental income to support my impoverished student vibe i'm gonna be rocking again soon.  No matter what though, I am just grateful that I had the balls to go out on a whim and try for things like this.  I never actually thought I would get on the show, it was just to spice things up (like i said).  It for real for reals ended up being such a valuable learning and networking experience that I recommended it to everyone! 

I'll try to keep up on my blogging with my new cheffy experiences, now that I plan on having some hahaha  

Keep it gangsta my lovelies! 


Thursday, May 17

I'm Withering Away PEOPLE!!!

quality job.

I hope you are enjoying the really bad photoshop efforts that i am putting forth these days.  You are welcome.

Wow so I have been quite the busy little beaver lately!  I can barely keep track of how often I eat, let alone the 947,896,654,027 things i'm now doing a day.  Thank god breathing is one of those reflexes that just maintains for you, otherwise, i'd probably be dead right now.  My mind is a crazy, scary place these day but somehow i'm still here hahaha  So let me tell you a little bit about my life...  If you don't recall, I had written a blog entry last year about me being busy. Lies. I had no clue lol  I wasn't even half this busy when I was in college!  (Probably becuase I was the biggest slacker on earth!)  Working at the JC hyatt is significantly more annoying than NB hyatt cuz they are even more retarded with scheduling. I've been telling these people my school schedule forever and they still don't know what to do about it, thus scheduling me like an ass.

Oh college.
Whatever...i'm not gonna turn this into a work complaint fest because trust me. I COULD.   Anyway, SCHOOL!  Alot of you have been asking me to tell you about how school is going.  I can assure you that my approach toward education at the International Culinary Center is faaaarrrr different from my approach towards education on the banks of the ole Raritan.  I had quite the precarious handle on working, partying, and succeeding as a Rutgers kid.  It all worked out pretty well back then, but that was another time.  I was a whipper snapper with the wind at her wings and a limitless future.... LOL what am I saying!?  No matter the reasons, I could do it all back then, BUT NOW I can barely wake up after a rousing dinner at Friday's and a margarita or two.  After and hour or so, I'm yawning and scoping the sitch for the appropriate time to grab my coat n keys and dippin out!  The more sleep I get, the better, especially considering I get none!  The free time I have is spent doing homework. NOT COOL HOMEWORK EITHER!  It's reading and then rewriting recipes onto 3x5 cards.  Wack.  Not to mention, I'm pretty sure my text book is translated from French cuz the explanations are awkward and the grammar is strange.  Not that I'm a grammar nazi, but I could be, believe it or not.  Imagine the rando descriptions that  you get in a regular recipe and now imagine a recipe on steroids.  That is my text book.  Basically, I don't understand things until I get to class and Chef does a demo.  Then it's like, duhhhh that's what that stupid thing was trying to say with its horribly translated English.  And it's important to know what's going on cuz we do some crazy thangs up in that bish.
In the words of my lover, Drake, "Order a filet n tell em butterfly it, she'll love it. She's used to soda and nuggets."  Yeah.... Butterflying a steak is blasphemy but i would take that any day, even soda and nuggets compared to what we've been doing lately!  ORGAN MEATS!  RABBIT MEAT!  VENISON!  I'm not into weird origins, jiggly parts, or smelly woodland creature meats.  It's a fact... but i'm cookin them.  I am making them delicious enough to stomach for one bite, and then i compost the shit out  of them.  They will do more good contributing to the betterment of the earth than they would disrupting my gastrointestinal tranquility.  It's fine though, after 2 months of school I've gotten the hang of how things are working.  I fully grasp the importance of butter and veal stock in French cuisine and am starting to realize that everything they make is smothered in a variation of the same brown sauce!
A little over a week ago, I successfully completed Level 1 with an A!  Can I get a WHAT WHAT?!  1 Down 5 more to go!
Pimpin aint easy ::brushes off shoulders::

I am however, dying at work as previously and angstily described.  Thanks to their shenanigans i only have enough gas in my life tank to dedicate to my education.... as for them... well...
I got nothin for them.  They be having me do things like work 19 hours straight yo.  Hence the deliriously sent out pic messages like the one above LMAO.  Poor Perla and Juju  get the brunt of my crazy.  I'm gonna go postal on these hoes soon- hyatt hoes, not the ones i live with haha... stay tuned for that one.  It should prove interesting.

Anyway, keep it classy my lovelies.


Saturday, April 14

Sex and Jersey City

 Photoshop Swag.

Wanna know my life?  Come with me........  

::screen becomes wobbly revealing a scene::

It's 4:50pm and I'm rushing as usual.  It's no surprise that part of my daily commute into the city includes a state of urgency.  I'm notorious for being late and thinking there's more time then there is.  Fail.  As I run down the futuristic Exchange Place escalators, I'm thanking god that my moccasins don't have shoe laces.  How tragic would it be to trip over them and plummet 97,098 stories to my doom....
I honestly think this every time I run down those epically steep escalators, wouldn't you?
They are literally the longest in America.  Now imagine running down these and hearing the screeching wheels of the PATH train coming through the tunnel....  Ugh.  I can't miss it, I have my commute perfectly timed.... I run a little quicker just making it onto the train as the loud speaker lady announces that the doors are closing.
Phew. I made it. 
I look around the train and try to find a seat to rest my weary body for the next 5 minutes.  Success.  There's one seat.  I squoosh between two randos, nestle my bag into my lap and take a breath.  Life allows me a minute of tranquility and then....    "Hey Ma. U look like u in a hurry. Where you goin?"

Are you kidding me?  Are we really doing this now? Ugh.  I turn and look at the guy who I tragically chose to sit next to.  He's about 37, has the bizarre misconception that he's attractive, most likely works at Walmart, and for whatever god forsaken reason..... thinks he can hit on me.  If you know me, i'm sure you can picture the epic Bitchface i'm giving this man.
 "I'm going to the city. Same as everyone else."    
 I'm not into it and he needs to know.   
 "Thas kool, thas kool.... what part of the city?  Maybe we goin the same way, i cud keep u compny on ur walk."  
By the grace of God the train screeches to a halt as it pulls into the bowels of the World Trade Center station. "Uhhhhh.....I'm good thanks."  
 I jump to my feet and try to push through the wall of humans that are preventing a strategic exit.
"Oh ok.  Thas kool, thas kool.  U still byootiful mama."

Finally, I break through and dip out, maneuvering through the crowd.  Should I have thanked the man, perhaps.  I mean... he acknowledge my lack of interest and let me know I was "still byootiful" despite rejecting him.  So maybe he doesn't suck as a person as much as I had assumed... but really... come on!  Why do people like that guy think they can get somewhere with me?  Is it because they've got nothing to lose so they figure they might as well?  Bahhh.  I would never!  I mean i'm completely normal and I think i'm attractive enough to approach a handsome guy without them running away, arms in the air, screaming..... but I still would never hit on someone randomly!  So what is it about these dudes that tells them.... yes. this is a good idea.  The world may never know.

My route continues as I emerge from the depths of the city and set off with the fastest pace my tiny legs can handle.... I basically look like marvin the martian.... dodging people, bobbing and weaving through gaggles of Europeans who have nothing better to do than stare at the skyscrapers in the middle of the sidewalk and block my passage.  BLAST!  
I'm thwarted by a angrily blinking orange hand.  I look around at the people gathering on the corner around me and I lock eyes with someone across the crowd.   He starts walking towards me and i begin to nervously fidget. Trust me, it's not what you think..... my wandering gaze has led me into murky waters!  I have just locked eyes with a PETA activist. CATASTROPHIC FAIL.  It's too late.... he's got me.  He walks close enough to extend his arm towards me and hand me a pamphlet.  My inability to be outwardly rude forces me to grab the stranger's offering.  Oh great, just what I wanted..... 4 pages worth of mutilated farm animals and sad kitten faces with flies biting at their angelic fuzzy little heads.  Awesome. o_0   As if the pamphlet isn't bad enough, the Gods thought it would be comical to stop me at the longest light in the city.  This gives the PETA creeper the perfect opportunity to awkwardly engage me in conversation.  While actively avoiding eye contact, he persistently informs me that it was nice that I took the pamphlet because he's moved here from the midwest and people are so rude in the city.  He's trying to spread the word and act as an agent of change and it's really difficult when people don't want to hear anything you have to say.  Hmmmm I can't imagine why that would be a problem for him since he wasn't able to identify that I was one of those people.  PETA continues to have a conversation with the side of my face which ends in....  "Maybe we should go for vegetarian together one night.  Can I have your number?"  My eyes widen and i frantically search my brain for an out.  VICTORY! The light changes.  I look at him for the first time in 2 minutes as I end our street corner rendezvous.  "I like eating animals."  His goofy midwestern braceface goes blank and I cross the street towards freedom. 

WHY?!  Why do things like this happen to me?! Can you please tell me that?! Sometimes I swear my life is a movie. Perla likes to make the joke that we are actually The Truman Show and the producers just do shit like this so that our viewers have good TV.  I think I believe her.


I've been watching alot of Sex and the City these days and it makes me laugh.  It's secretly me and my friends. The debauchery, the heartache, the romantic blunders, the candid conversations, and the camaraderie.  It's real.  It's scary actually.  Maybe this is just because I need something else to think about these days that isn't food and the hyatt... I've been marinating on this topic for a while.  On the same token, I feel like it's not just me.  Everyone around me has been thinking and talking about the same things.... We are all busy little bees, living in metropolitan areas and having the least success with meeting people.

My question here is:
In a city full of young people just like me.... how come there isn't a damn guy out there that I would date?  

I swear, if they exist, they are all hiding.  My friends and I seriously live in the hub of social happenings and I do not encounter a single person on my day to day that makes me go.... hmmmm i could love you. Hahaha. Nope. Instead I get train creepers and bizarro animal lovers.  I was talking to perla about this today.  Is it us?  Are we too awesome?  Are our standards too high?  What if that epic relationship of life we all had was the one?  What if that person was supposed to be your person and the timing was just wrong? Are we going to be those people that end up alone because we thought we were too good for everyone and passed up legit people? (Train guy does not count as one of them lol)  OR is there just no one out there and Baby Jesus feels bad for us so he worked it out n allowed us all to be friends...

Im voting nay on the prior question series, because a yes answer would be quite tragic.  But in all honesty, Sex and the City is a silly show but it's got such an appeal because it speaks to many truths.  How is it that being in the city makes it even harder to meet real people?!  Most everyone I know, that stayed in their hometowns have either a significant relationship or children already!  Now i don't want all that, that's for damn sure!! I've also had this discussion with Nate and Amanda and all my other friends who are feeling the same pangs of romantic isolation.  None of us are necessarily yearning for a relationship, or even have the time for it, but damn.  Having options here and there isn't a bad thing!

I leave you with an awesomely bad montage that I found on youtube.
Please Enjoy.

"Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with."