Due to an overlap in employment as well as some potentially personal and political reasons, the hours at my previous job were cut severely in favor of more time at my new job – also a restaurant. It’s new, casual, accessible, loud, crowded, arguably low-brow and well, just…really different than where I was before. It’s nice to be able to wear jeans rather than high heels and it’s also been nice to talk casually with tables or tell blue jokes without whispering or containing giggles but man do I miss the old place. I miss those heels and stifled belly laughs much more than I thought I would. I miss keeping up with food trends and information. I miss being around such talented chefs and absorbing the effect of a new dish, the crackle of creativity and vicarious excitement of diners experiencing something for the first time.
I miss my friends there. I miss laughing about our first world problems (“what’s for family?” “duck. AGAIN”) and hiding flattery as diners took pictures of our food. I miss the feeling of knowing I worked somewhere world-renown and for such a nice, ego-free chef (how often can anyone in the industry say that?). I miss it.
Funny thing is that I’ve fallen into something I wanted to do when I was an idealistic teenager. I’m helping to open a cafe – and on someone else’s dime. I get to build a menu. I picked out the stands and baskets we’ll use for display. I trained a few people. I made a schedule. Inventory and purchase sheets are being completed as I type this (special thanks to my spreadsheet monkey). I set up some pastry tastings and am pretty sure we found a fantastic bakery to provide us with some excellent eats. But… it’s not mine. The vision is ultimately, someone else’s to dictate. The staff has to wear a pre-determined outfit, for example, something I would never do were it my own place.
It’s a step up from running coats up and down the stairs or pulling chairs and tables out for guests to slip by. I am no longer on the bottom rung of the restaurant hierarchy as a lowly host, this is true. But in not working there now, something slipped out of my grasp. The joy of seeing new dishes walk by, of talking to the cooks and chefs about them while they work them out, the specialty of it. It’s gone from me and it’s sad. That restaurant and its food became so much more than a job for me, never a mere paycheck. It fed me – and I’m not talking about family meal, even if it is duck again.