Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's always when you're not looking...

... that the right one finds you.

I went to happy hour tonight with the intention of catching up with a friend and eating some delicious goodies at one of Portland's best restaurants, and I walked out of that restaurant with a stage (tryout period)! I had no intention of asking, but a series of fortuitous circumstances landed me in the kitchen talking with the executive chef about my past restaurant experience, my present culinary school, and staging in their restaurant. Hardly five minutes later, I walked back to the table, totally in shock, half-laughing and half-mumbling, "Ohmygod, what the hell, I start staging here tomorrow, what the f*** just happened??" I'm still numb, but I'm completely ecstatic.

What is staging, you ask? Firstly, it's Frenchified, pronounced "stahhhj-ing" with a soft "j". It's basically an unpaid tryout period where you get a chance to see how their kitchen works, and they get to see how you work, your knife skills, your cleanliness, your prep speed, your general sense of urgency. If you seem worth your salt, they may hire you. Alternately, if it doesn't work out, no harm, no foul. The hope here is that it works out, obviously.

I'm convinced the universe is paying attention to my thoughts; I've been thinking for several weeks now that I should really start working in a kitchen, just to get a feel for it. You know, see how I do and if it's where I want to be, as we're starting to pin down our externships for Term 4. More importantly, I've been noticing more and more that my fellow classmates who work in kitchens outside of school are faster, cleaner, more efficient, and have more tricks up their sleeves than myself and my fellow students who have never worked in a real kitchen. They know how it really works, and that sense of urgency that is so important in a kitchen just comes naturally to them.

I want that, and this stage is the perfect opportunity. And I start tomorrow after school! Seriously, WTF?!? I'm still in shock.

I think there was a little bit of hesitation from the sous chef because of my gender; the sous asked me if I had a thick skin, and my reply: "I know I look sweet, but..." Heh. I figure if I've been able to handle the guys at school, many of whom work in restaurants, and none of whom make any effort to clean up their language or spare me from teasing because I'm a girl, I can handle these guys fine. Now it's a matter of seeing if I can cut it in the kitchen.

And a big, big thank you, you know who you are ;).

I must admit that I'm nervous as all hell, but this is truly an amazing opportunity, and my intention is just to learn as much as possible and drink it all in. Universe, you really know how to take a girl by surprise.


ariel88 said...

Congrats!!! That's so exciting!

Brian said...

Congratulations!!! That is very exciting

ml said...

nice! how long does a staging period usually last? a few days? a week? a month?

im at home in NC right now and was just telling my mom all about your culinary school adventures!

Tonya said...

Good things happen to good people. Just proof that karma works. *smile* You're going to knock 'em dead!