Sunday, July 12, 2009


I'm not saying this to shake you up
I'm just saying this to wake you up
Its all good when we making love
All I ask is dont take our love
for granted, its granted
My love for you is real
Baby if you don't love me somebody else will
So baby girl don't you ever get too comfortable

So sayeth the all-too-wise Lil' Wayne in his track, "Comfortable".

(Yes, I just quoted Lil' Wayne. Stay with me here.)

Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows I have a place in my heart (and on my iPod) for so-bad-it's-good pop rap, and Lil' Wayne made it into the rotation about a month ago. I'll be sitting on the bus listening to this track, and every time I hear those lyrics I can't help but think that it's the restaurant kitchen singing me these words.

Crazy? Maybe a little. A kitchen will nurture you, but you're in danger the moment you become too comfortable. If you don't want it, "baby, if you don't love me somebody else will": there are hundreds of cooks ready and willing with deep resumes and sharp knives waiting to take your coveted spot. This is something I've constantly reminded myself of when I get down, when things get tough, when the everyday grind starts to feel monotonous.

A few weeks ago, I passed the one year mark of being at my current restaurant. I've loved and been loved, I've hurt and been hurt, and something keeps driving me. It's been an amazing journey, and one only needs to look about a year back on this silly blog to see how far I've come. I can't help but be a little proud of what I've achieved; moving from pantry to grill station within months of being in my first professional kitchen, being part of the team that garnered Restaurant of the Year from an influential Portland food writer, even the everyday stuff--putting up a perfect medium-rare and sending it off with the feeling in your gut that it's gonna make someone really fucking happy.

I'm still incredibly green, however, and I'll be the first to tell you that there is an untold amount of talented cooks out there who could do my job better, cleaner, faster. I'm working on becoming one of those better, cleaner, faster cooks. I'm eager to keep learning, progressing, moving forward, and though I've been through a lot in the past year, I know I've still barely scratched the surface.

Why all the waxing poetic? Well, I've been incredibly blessed by opportunity in the last few years, and a new one came to me recently to take a position that's opening up in another great Portland restaurant. It's a kitchen that I admire and frequent and whose food feels familiar yet exciting. Best of all, I'll be shaking up the comfort zone and trying something new. I'll be working at my current place for the next month and making my transition to the new spot in August.

Even more exciting news: I plan on taking a little sabbatical between jobs, wherein I plan on traveling to San Francisco and Los Angeles for a couple of weeks to eat a lot, visit friends, and stage in various restaurants. It occurred to me not too long ago that I've only ever staged in two restaurants, both of which I staged for employment rather than just for my own curiosity. I'm looking forward to seeing how other kitchens run, what the rest of the culinary world has to offer outside of Portland, and what the big deal is with the San Francisco culinary scene. Hopefully visit my internet buddy at Nopa. I've never actually visited San Francisco properly as an adult, and it seems highly overdue.

I'd love to hear some suggestions for dining and/or staging in SF and LA! Send 'em on, kids.

This summer is turning out to be an equally awesome, scary and exciting time in my life. I hope it stays this way.


ml said...

nice! you'd better come visit me when you are in LA!

LadyConcierge said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Richie said...

You're welcome anytime Ingrid. All I ask in exchange is you let me come bug you guys up north sometime.

michelle said...

One of the best things you can do is stage in different kitchens. Also, eat out as much as possible and travel as much as possible.

I don't understand cooks that don't travel and don't eat out and would rather spend all their money at shitty dive bars every night and/or smoke their money away.

I started in this town at $8/hr, paying as much as $500/month in school loans and still traveled, so it's possible.

Good luck at the new job, I'm pretty sure I can guess where you're moving to.

SexBrains said...

I liked Quince a lot in SF. It was too expensive, but the service was awesome and the food was tres tasty.

Michelle said...

Oh yeah-

Some suggestions for SF-

Incanto and Contigo. I learned about Contigo from David Leibovitz's FB and it was one of the best meals I've had in years. Chris Cosentino and Incanto are awesome. Check out his blog "offal good" if you haven't already and pick up some of his nduja from Boccolone. To the best of my knowledge he's the only one making it in the states.

Paikimin said...

I actually work in a restaurant in SF, and one of my friend works at Nopa too.
If you need anything while you'll be in SF let me know!
They are soo many restaurants, it is really hard to select only one of them. But I guess you should also check what's going on in Berkeley and Oakland, there are really good places there.