At the age of 38, I went back to school, and am halfway through my first year of the Culinary Arts program at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I’m 1 month in to my first restaurant job at El Vaquero, and guess what? You’re SPOT ON! Guess what I’ve been doing for a month? Yup, nothing but dishes and cleaning. Sure, I take my turn at cleaning at school, but I get spoiled there — te dishwashing machine’s a continuous-feed Hobart. Not so at work, where I’ve been manning an old school Auto-Chlor, the kind where you open it, load in a rack, close it, and wait around 90 seconds before you can load another rack — a rach which, if you’re getting good at this, should take you about 30 seconds to load, leaving you a minute to unload the clean dishes from the previous rack, plus ever 3rd or 4th load carrying all the clean stuff back to its place.
But it pays off. I’ve already been promoted and am training at the pastry station now — not my favorite station, as I’m a meat man, but at least now I’m only cleaning up after myself and the pastry chef, not everyone in the whole house!
Hey, its not glamorous. It’s not BAM! It’s hard work, dirty work, exhausting work. But how many people can say they get paid to pursue their passion — even if it means pursuing it through the greasse and the grime?