1st week of work – exhaustion

Last night represented my seventh consecutive night of work.  Fortunately nothing extraordinarily noteworthy has occurred during those seven days so I’ve just been able to focus on learning my station and prep work.

Simply put, the first two or three days were difficult.  A person with thinner skin or a bigger ego would probably have left.  Not that the guys were that hard on me, it was just the adjustment to an extremely demanding job, a new vocabulary, sleep deprivation and occasionally getting being told I fucked up, or even being told I was doing a good job.

One of the more exciting or interesting things for me – though probably not for some people – is that we do all our own prep work.  For a lot of the guys I go to school with their stations are already set up when they get to work.  Not for me.  This means cutting potatoes, preparing calamari, peeling 5 pounds of ginger to pickle it, making stock and all sorts of items that we need.  I get in at three each day and focus on these tasks for about two hours, trying to hone my knife skills.

Around 5 I’ll get the mise en place for my station in order – various garnishes, vegetable mixes for salads, making sure there’s enough bread cut to toast for the night; basically all the shit that I’m going to need for tonight’s service needs to be ready to go.

At 5:30 we open but like any place the start is generally slow.  There may be a few orders from the $3 tapas menu which runs until 7:00, but generally prep work can continue for a while. 

Just so you know, my station includes salads, cold foods & cheeses, grilled items (we have three, all on a skewer, so this isn’t exactly rocket science), and desserts.  I think my favorite salad is the beet salad we have.  It’s pretty cool when it’s set up.  My favorite dessert is probably the flan just because of how easy it is to get done, while in contrast our banana dish is a pain in the ass because of the time it takes to assemble.

Once service gets going I’ll generally focus pretty much on service unless it’s slow (like Sunday & Monday).  Though last night we got hit at the improbable time of 10:30 which sucked beyond belief and Sunday was too busy to do much prep work at all.

On Friday & Saturday’s there are two people on my station which this past weekend was a really good thing since I’m still coming up to speed.  They actually had me pretty freaked out about Saturday, which was indeed busy for a while but we managed to keep up.  I did feel a rush of excitement when it was all over and hung around until two and had a couple of beers to unwind, then came home and had a couple more with Erin.

The physical nature of the job is also something I’m adjusting to.  Within the first hour of work last week the callous at the base of my right pointer finger had become a blister while I was cutting potatoes.  The general lifting and carrying things (our walk-in is downstairs) has made me sore, not to mention the kneeling down for the reach-ins.  Little cuts and knicks have made my hands just generally sore with a constant stinging sensation.  And then there’s my feet – I must get some new shoes in the coming days. 

I’m sure all of this will get better, and I hate to complain.

If anyone has any specific questions that may be the way to go.

A new class began this week in school – Hospitality Supervision which looks to be pretty easy.  We still don’t know our grades from the previous two classes.  All in all I’m pretty antsy for the end of school, which is now just under 9 weeks away.


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