Sunday, July 10, 2011

Life After School

I've graduated from culinary school, now looking for work, and I've been thinking about my resume. I've been constantly updating, tinkering with it, and still find it amazing that such well-known, upscale restaurants have been calling me for interviews.
The thing about school is that it is so intensive, it leaves you ravenous for more information, even though you've been bombarded with it all year (I took a year-long program in Baking & Pastry). I have a stack of 25 books from the library, most of them about cakes, desserts, and baking. I opened one this morning and though I didn't think I'd like anything about it except the pictures, I was immediately drawn into Johnny Iuzzini's introduction (the book is Dessert Fourplay). By 26 he was working at a four-star New York restaurant as Executive Pastry Chef. I can't even imagine that now, because I am so much older than that in culinary graduate years. Because I'm just getting back into the business, I am light years away from what he is even talking about.
Of course I keep telling myself, "You should have started this career so much earlier!" But . . . I did! I started in my 20's. I was a server, then cocktail waitress, then a bartender. Then a server again a few more times, a few more locations. That was how I did it. I job-hopped, but never got into the cooking side of it. Eventually I slid into office work and probably wasted some years doing that. I also worked extensively in the arts: singing jazz, freelance writing, theatre work.
Now I'm ready to cook; ready to start at an entry-level job, which is best, really, because you don't want to miss anything on the way up. I'm probably different from a lot of my classmates because I don't want to open my own place. I want only to cook here, in Portland, and keep improving and learning. That's where those library books come in. And the interviews. I've already learned so much from the interviews. Wish me luck.