Category: chef life

Eulogy for a Celebrity

I don’t understand how a person who could inspire so many people, who possessed the single-handed ability to stir up so much passion among the masses, a person who inspired an entire generation of cooks, chefs, and hospitality industry personnel, could hate themselves to such an extreme extent that they end it by self-strangulation. This contradiction is so unfair that it sucks the wind out of my sails, leaving a feeling of discontent stillness, a feeling of what the fuck?  How could he not feel the joy that he gave to so. many. people?

I am not alone in not being able to understand this dichotomy.  True, he was not a pinnacle of stability: he was a bad boy, went against conventionally constructed rules, he unapologetically bulldozed his own path, but nobody thought his mild on-camera destruction was indicative of a very deep level of self-destruction.

In his narrative, the underdog is always the hero.  In his narrative, the humblest of foods are the most complex.  Food is life, and no one explained and demonstrated that better.  He did not laud the best chefs in the best restaurants, he did the exact opposite.  He went into the streets, into people’s homes, he interviewed the outcasts of the culinary world.  He opened up a new social consciousness by exposing culture, both socially and politically, through a bowl of food.

His other impact, one that I personally encountered, was his strong influence on this generation of chefs and cooks.  Every single person that I know, every colleague, has been greatly inspired by his books and were continually impressed by how he rose above kitchen stardom to make food meaningful on a large scale.  Everyone wants to be him and he remains a role model for an entire industry.  His original viewpoint on what makes food great, his eloquence with words, his ability to take the industry and completely change it with a simple book is what makes his career so impressive.  His passion reached into our hearts and ripped them open with a sheer love of what food represents and what it gives.

I, like everyone else that I know, am weirdly affected by his passing.  Yes, I did meet him once, and yes I read his books.  And yes, they definitely helped prepare me for the restaurant world:  I do not think I could have thrived in the professional kitchen without his tips. His premature exit of this world has left a large void forcing us all to realize just how much his work has affected us.

I want the focus of his legacy to be his belief that food should not be taken too seriously.  Food is a reflection of a larger thing.  It is an experience.  It is tangible love that you share with people that you care for.  Truly, food is not about the newest restaurant with the trendiest flavors.  It is not about your dishes in magazines and likes on Instagram.  At its core, food is a reflection of people, it is a way of life, it is an artistic expression of a person’s surroundings.

Anthony, you affected more people than you could ever imagine on a deeper level than you ever intended.  I am sorry that we did not tell you this in a way that could make you happy.  Food sustains life, it should not lead to destruction.  You of all people know this the best.  The tragedy of this story is hard for me to swallow.

Advertisements

Announcement Here

I know how much you all love Marigold, and I get it, you are starting to wonder- where is the food?  You used to post so much concerning this wonderful topic!  Get a glass of wine in this girl and she literally never shuts up about it!

Well my dedicated readers, I have heard you.  My food-loving fiends, I have not forgotten about you.  My ever hungry audience curious for more from this mastercraft of the whimsical, I am not ignoring you.

I am tickled to announce that a new food blog has already been born.  Marigold has a sister, and it is all about cooking!  While still under construction, this blog is more than a concept, it is a metaphorical location.

Stay tuned, and stay hungry.

Hypocrite

I have a secret that I haven’t told anyone- not my lover or even my mother.  I don’t even want to admit it myself.  I have talked so. much. shit. about the restaurant life, about how pastry is underrated, how it doesn’t pay, how I am never going back.  My goal for 2018 is to get out of the professional kitchen and find a more comfortable way to make money from my love of food.

Not even 2 months into the year, and I am starting to have feelings again.  My mind has developed a wandering eye.  I don’t miss the late nights, I don’t miss the stress, I don’t miss having to babysit coworkers, but goddamnit I miss making desserts.  I miss making beautiful plates.  I miss thinking creatively about new ways to do things, new ways to serve them, new plating styles.  I miss the excitement of selling dishes that I created.  I miss trying to make them look pleasant and curious.  I miss playing with a range of flavor and combining them in surprising ways.

So there, I said it.  I miss it.  I do.  I even find myself looking for job postings, dreaming about jobs that are too hard, promising long hours and a long range of requirements, most of which is not the fun part of creating.   Because there is still a small part of me that believes that I could do it.

But then I realize that I get to have a life and freedom to do all the other things that I want to do.  Which is a lot of things.  Normals things, like cooking at home, and drawing, and writing.  And being social.  This I would miss.

As for now, I am enjoying the easy life of unemployment, all the while feeling restless, feeling guilty, feeling like I should be contributing something more.

COnflicted and a hypocrite, that’s me.

-Marianna

Career Advice

My coworkers, rather my ex-coworkers, when I lost my job, their immediate heartfelt reaction was to not let this minor inconvenience get in my way of pastry domination- a catchphrase that came out of my lips multiple times on a daily basis during my reign as a Pastry Chef at two top Chicago restaurants.  Pastry domination, taking over the Chicago dining scene, being one of the best pastry chefs in the nation, making pastry relevant again, was my dream.  I worked so damn hard at pastry domination, at being successful, at making badass dishes that people loved and remembered and talked about and Instagrammed.  I was in multiple magazines, I was on television, I sold a rather large percentage of dishes, I was for a brief moment successful.

So when that unexpected ax came for my head, when my success wasn’t actually successful, I gave up the fight.

I did.  I gave up.  I don’t give up on anything.  I am a fighter, I am determined,  I don’t let anything get in the way when I have made up my mind on something.  But I did, I gave up.  I threw in the dirty towel.

I have been cooking since legally allowed to start earning money.  I didn’t have much background before that- I didn’t learn from grandma, I didn’t grow up in the kitchen under mom’s apron. But once I picked up that knife, I didn’t put it back down.  I have 19 years in food service.  I have been a part of every angle, in every corner of the industry, learning and experiencing the entire gamut of food service- fast food, catering, cafeteria, fine dining, modern casual dining, large restaurants, small restaurants, serving, busing, prep cook, line cook, pastry assistant, pastry chef, menu development, costing, management, dishwasher.  You name it, I have done it.

I thought that this would be important, I thought that this would prove to be an asset.  Everyone needs to eat, right?

Well yes, but as it turns out, people don’t really care about what they eat so much.  They care about fashion, they care about cocktails, they care about gossip, and movies, and politics, and social media.  People care about taking pictures of their food, but they don’t actually care about food.  Cooking and cleaning is a nuisance, and eating out is expensive.  So the people want something fast and cheap and easy.  This leaves me irrelevant.

Not only do I have the years of food service, I put all my eggs in one basket.  I gave up everything to pursue my dream.  I gave up making any kind of money.  I gave up having a life of my own.  I lost my friends.  I gave up holidays with my family.  I gave up on the physical self- I gained weight, lost muscle, stopped going to the gym, got veracious veins, developed asthma, had a bout of psoriasis for about 3 years, got acne, developed alcoholic tendencies, ran myself into a car on my bike which resulted in sever bruising but couldn’t take any time off work, got very sick many times but still worked my 12+ hour shifts, got burned, got cut, worked mornings, worked nights, worked the night and then the next morning, I got mugged on the way home from working a late shift, I got pink eye, I never had vacation, I could hardly even request a day off.  I had two full-time jobs at once multiple times so that I could pay rent.

I gave up my dignity- I got yelled at, verbally harassed, degraded, threatened, treated like a child.  I never got complimented, nobody ever said “good job”.  I didn’t get breaks of any sort, I ate my one meal a day standing up while still trying to get my prep work done.  I never had health insurance, (don’t even ask about dental, that’s hilarious) never had time or money for the doctor.  All for nothing.  All to be a servant.  I never made any money.  The most money I ever made a college grad would turn their nose up at, and say no way in hell would I work for so little, even at an easy job.

I thought it was worth it, but when that ax came down I felt like a damn fool.

My coworkers told me not to give up, they told me that I was very skilled, that I had something.  They looked me in the eye and said to keep going.

They still ask “where did you end up?”  I reply I am on welfare.

So I am not following their advice.  I am not following the path anymore.  I am going to carve out my clearing by giving up.

Just a Step to Side

Why am I not afraid of self-employment when really I should be?  Many people have tried, and most of those people fail.  I might too.  There is a good chance that I will fail in the quest for being my own boss and generating an income.

I am not afraid because if I fail, I don’t have too far to fall.  This is one of the perks of investing in a career that makes very little money.  The risks are lowered because I don’t have a large financial expectation from the get-go.  That means that if it takes 5 years to fully develop the business, I won’t be in dark in the lean beginning.

Just because I haven’t made money cooking, does not mean that there is no money in it.

One Year In, Self-Reflection And Confection

I know the right thing to do.  I know by now that I should have the confidence to do whatever I want do.  I mean, come on man.

I know I am not an expert, but I know that I an more than competent.

So what is holding me back from like truly believing in myself?  Why do I insist that I have so many short comings and so much to learn?  Why can I not after a year of being in leadership throw my weight around?  I constantly resent people because they do not respect that fact that they should listen to me.  I never demand that they listen, which is my problem, they just don’t get it.  My advice is not an negotiable item at an auction, it’s a highly refined opinion that you really should do.  I mean, come on, lady.

Anyway, harmonizing the nonchalance of adaptation with the hyper sensitivity of precision can be a bit of a tight rope stroll, if you catch my drift.  I gotta say, I feel like I have I met my match.  I work in a kitchen that has a strange balance of personalities and attitudes.  Maybe never has so many different people cohabited that same space and time, with timidly snarkly me caught right in the twilight.

Now that its over, more!

Good God restaurant week was the cherry on top of hell after the craziest 8 months I have ever known.

Then valentine’s day, the couples haven of romance and dining out.  That particular weekend was met with a mountain of challenges, a rant in which I will keep to myself.

Today is the day after, the day when I wish I could call in sick and hide in bed sheets all day, fogetting that I even exist.

No, instead I press on with much needed changes.

Goals to get done as soon as I can:

Pao  de queijo improvement project

Manioc crackers

Cassava Crepes

New 3 leches

New self bruleeing dessert

New fire cake

New pionono

Fry bread

Pan de chapa with cheese accoutremente.

After taste testing and making the recipes fool proof, then the staff has to be trained, details have to be written, then everything costed out.

It’s an unending circus of creating, and I love it.  Tiredness and loss of motivation be damned, we have to plan for spring.