Living the Dream
Last November I started a job as a SQL Server developer doing ETL for the company’s Data Warehouse. It is a pretty good job and there are many things I like about it, but I am not as happy as I thought I would be. It is a large company and there is a lot of the typical politics and red tape that goes along with that. I started to think about finding a new position, but realized that it would most likely be the same thing in a different place. I enjoy technology and I am starting to get involved in the SQL Server community, but I decided to take a hard look at what I really enjoy in life. I enjoy spending time with my family, I enjoy reading, I enjoy running, and after last year I can truly say that I enjoy cooking. When I head in to the kitchen and put together a meal that I know I (and others) will enjoy it is calming. There can be stress related to getting the meal done just right, but everything else fades away while I am working on a delicious creation.
It was this realization that led me to take a big step in changing my career. I decided that I would take the oft heard advice and “Do What I Love.” The money will follow, right?
I decided to become a professional chef. With my lack of experience I knew it would be difficult to get into a kitchen at a good restaurant. My skills are very much at an amateur level, but there was one place I knew all the recipes on the menu and had cooked them at least once. I decided I would give Mitch and Cynthia a call and ask if they would let me work at Hell’s Kitchen. To be honest I didn’t know if I would be able to handle the pace of a professional kitchen or be able to learn things quickly enough, but I wanted to give it a try. I had to do something to escape being trapped in a Dilbert cartoon for the rest of my life.
After my big party last year Mitch joked that I could cook in his kitchen any time I wanted to. Time to see if he was serious.
Long story short – He was serious and after signing a bunch of legal papers and getting some kitchen clothes I was put on the line for a trial period. For the last week instead of going in to my SQL Server job I have been going in to work and train at Hell’s Kitchen as a line chef. Hell’s Kitchen has a reputation in the Twin Cities for being a great place to work and after just one week I can see why. It is hard work, but it has also been a blast. Everyone there is willing to help me out and point out when I am doing things wrong. Boy, do they like pointing out when I am doing things wrong. I’ve developed a lot of bad habits cooking in solitude, but they are whipping me into shape.Even with all the hard work and the heat of the kitchen there is always a feeling of levity. People enjoy working here. What we are doing is creating great food and the audience for this creation renews itself about every two hours. It is incredibly rewarding to listen to all the compliments about the food and know that I had some small part in making it.
My shifts so far have been the “easy” ones according to everyone else. Weekdays get a burst around lunch time, but I am usually heading out as things really start to pick up for dinner. In a couple months Steve says I might be ready to work during brunch. The other day I cooked over ten dozen eggs during lunch just for all of the Huevos Rancheros being ordered. I’ve been assured that this is nothing compared to a brunch day. I can hardly wait.
It’s definitely a strange new journey I have started on and I’m not exactly sure where it will take me, but I am having the time of my life.