Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Changes and questions

You may have noticed the photo in my title header at the top of my blog. Blame laze for not having a header image until now; it's something I've been meaning to do for several years. Yesterday one of my best friends in the world, Patty, showed me her new blog about her life as an actor in LA, and I was inspired by the photo in her header to take the time to look in my photo library for an appropriate image.

The current image is a photo my friend took of me two years ago during a marathon cooking session, chopping up a storm and breaking down chickens and whatnot. Now that I cook for a living, it seems rather appropriate. I'm not sure I dig the size of the photo, but I'm tweaking the html so bear with me. I'm also test-driving some new features around these parts. Change is good.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering if there are any cooks out there who have advice about the wrist and finger pain I've been having due to kitchen work. Have you experienced this? Barring painkillers, are there any ways to alleviate the pain (stretches, wrist supports, etc)? Are wrist supports even practical in kitchens? Any help would be much appreciated.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008: The Hard Way

I titled this post as such because although it was an awesome year, one of the best by far, it wasn't an easy year by any means. It seems especially fitting since I closed out 2008 going down in flames at work. Rough night of service, New Year's Eve. Though all of our guests were happy as clams and the menu was fantastic, I was behind on prep the minute I walked in the door, still prepping well into dinner service, and I cooked a record 53 steaks to order, not all of them to the proper temperature. Goes without saying that it didn't exactly go smoothly. I felt really terrible, but in order to refocus I tried not to beat myself up too badly during service. I saved the self-beating-up for today instead while nursing my weird work-thrashed hangover. Heh.

(I should clarify that none of those improperly cooked steaks went out to customers. Neither my chefs nor I would ever send out something that wasn't up to the high standards they've set. We got only positive comments from the customers and front of house staff that night, but hey, every cook has their rough nights.)

Worry not, kiddies, I did manage to turn it around at the end of last night, following my chef's orders to "finish strong", and enjoy a sip of champagne with my coworkers as the clock struck midnight.

2008 itself as a complete year, however, was an absolute dream.

I moved to Portland into a great apartment.
I reconnected with long lost friends, and made lots of new ones.
I enrolled in culinary school.
I landed a kitchen rookie's dream job.
I "found" myself in the kitchen.
I set a record for most finger cuts and arm burns in a year.
I worked my ass off like I've never done before... and loved it.
I bonded with my family, visiting them in faraway places, and honored the ones I missed the most.
I met my new family: my fellow cooks and coworkers.
I gained amazing mentors, from my culinary school instructors and especially my chefs at work.
I turned 28.
I successfully completed culinary school and my externship.
I ate some amazing meals.
I made some pretty good meals myself.

Me in school uniform
March 2008. Look at me, so naive...

I hope that this year will be the year I focus on the path I want to take, and make my family and my school and work mentors really proud. I owe so much of my growth this past year to them, and I really hope I'll do their teaching some justice.

So happy new year, everybody. Here's to life-changing, course-altering moments. Can't wait to see what happens this year.