Back to the chopping block

victoria —  June 6, 2005 — Leave a comment

Today is the first day of my summer session at NSCC. I’m taking Advanced Baking with Chef T, who is one of my two favorite instructors, and Hospitality as it is known in the program. It is actually a class on supervision in the hospitality industry, particularly managing a kitchen.

I am really looking forward to Advanced Baking. We’re doing cakes, chocolate and sugar work, sauces and plated desserts. All fun stuff, though I am curious how the chocolate and sugar work will turn out in the hot and humid Tennessee summer.

Hospitality is a required course and one I have not been jumping up and down and screaming hallelujah about. I don’t really plan on working in restaurants long term but I can’t escape the fact that if I want to have any cache as a personal chef or food writer that I do have to do some time in the trenches and having a management certificate, which this will afford me at the end of the session, coupled with my front-of-the-house supervision and management experience will make it a little more pleasant. I hope.

I still have to decide on what I want to do about my internship and where I want to work and find someone who will have me. I think I am able bodied enough to withstand the rigors of the full-service kitchen. I know that I am not good with being screamed and shouted out and that were I to find myself interning in, say, Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen I would probably be a blubbering shell at the end of every service. Criticism is something I have learned to take well and appreciate, but red-in-face, foul-mouthed or top-of-the-lungs ass chewing just makes me shrivel. I’m not proud; there it is.

I’ve been watching Beyond Boiling Point on BBC America and the new Fox show Hell’s Kitchen and I know I wouldn’t last a day under Ramsey. He is a brilliant chef and I do think that he has the power to turn his people into master chefs. The string of successful protégés emerging from his kitchen proves that. But I know me, I know where the bodies are and I know that at the end of the day my goal isn’t 17 Michelin stars and a large handful of restaurants. I’m not going to be Feran Adria or Heston Blumenthal.

And this in part, is why I am freaking just a bit about my internship. I’m competitive enough that I want to work in the best possible restaurant in Nashville for my internship. I believe that is Zola. I’ve heard the chef is a hard task master. She is perfection and she expects it from everyone on staff and chefs de partie going home in tears is not uncommon. The other place I believe would be amazing to work is the Capitol Grill at the Hermitage downtown. The chef there has gotten some big serious press and talk around town is that he’ll be leaving to pursue bigger and better things. I’ve also heard that isn’t as imminent as some people would like to think.

What it really comes down to, aside from my delusions of grandeur, is that I have limited time and the thought of spending a late night every night in the months leading up to Christmas again makes me shiver. Especially, if I keep the teaching gig at Ye Olde Pot and Pannery. So, I am thinking I may wait and do my internship in the Spring. I’ll be done with my classwork. It’s one hour as far as tuition and I can devote as much time as necessary to it. I’ll have to chat with Chef T and get his opinion on that one. But I think I would lose less sleep over it were it to be a spring thing and I could enjoy the fall and holiday season a bit more than I did last year working two jobs. This probably illustrates my laziness more than any dedication to the craft. But, I like being a mom and kissing my son good night. And that alone makes me not want to give myself wholly to a restaurant kitchen.



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