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From Short Order Cook to Chef and back…II

01 Mar

What sets a career in the Food Services and especially restaurants apart from others is the feeling of family and camaraderie that can occur. Many hours spent together in a hyper intense atmosphere, direct contact with the customer who can give instant feedback create this unique environment. Stressful, emotional, physically demanding and instantly rewarding! It’s like being on a sports team, every day is a new game to win or lose, and like being part of a team a good coach can make all the difference between success and complete disaster!

Welcome to the land of the Gourmet Burger

II… Whiskey a Golf Cart

My next step seemed perfect. With the help of my buddy Porto, I accepted a job working for his mother at the Beekman Country Club in Upstate New York as a PM Short Order Cook. Free golf was a perk. I started work at noon, relieving the AM cook, Ned. We served breakfast and lunch to hundreds of hungry golfers, most escaping their wives for a few precious hours of golf with the boys. The menu was mostly burgers and hot dogs, fresh salads, sandwiches, and yes, of course, the dreaded turkey club…which I had still yet to master!

Ned was great. He was an old rocker, a bit washed up, but a hell of a short order cook. He had a frightful habit of pulling a chef knife across his tongue, using the back side as his trick, fully freaking out anyone who would watch!  He took me under his wing and trained me so I could handle the busiest of days. It was in his best interest, because as soon as I could stand on my own two feet, he could head off to the golf course, and then the bar and drink whiskey till his heart’s delight! Hence his nickname: Whiskey a Rocker Roller, or “Whiskey” for short.

Of course it wasn’t all fun and games. Driving into work on the weekends you could see the parking lot while cresting the hill. If it was a nice day the lot would be jammed. If it rained all day the place would be dead and you could look forward to peace and quiet and some much-needed cleaning. The dreaded combo was; a nice hot day, with a sudden downpour. That meant a stampede of hungry, wet golfers, wanting their food fast so they could jump right back out as soon as the weather let up. On those days Ned and I would work together until things were under control.

The days of free golf...

This was the perfect situation for me. I was learning how to cook on the line, having fun, and playing golf for free everyday with Porto! I mastered the Club Sandwich. The food was simple, but the pace was fast and furious!

The best thing about this job turned out to be that I had joined a work family. Porto’s mom was the matriarch of the business and she had put together a staff of loyal hard-working people who were dedicated to their work and having fun while doing it. This was a new experience for me. I felt like I was part of something. I was learning how to be a good line cook and how to be part of a team.

There was a chance I could stay on in the winter at Porto’s moms restaurant, which was down the street. I would only be able to get a job their if I proved myself over the summer. So I worked my ass off and was offered the job as assistant chef. There was a catch though. Davey, the star chef of Christopher’s, had left a year earlier. The place had been in a bit of disarray since with a constant stream of chefs falling on there face.

I couldn’t wait to get there!….


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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in Food & Culture

 

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