It’s my second day of unemployment, a state I haven’t been in since 2001. Sure, I’ve transitioned from job to job, but rarely with more than a weekend in between. Even my vacations have been used to stage, or work for free, harder and with much longer hours than most of my paid positions. So here I sit, my second cup of coffee going down with ease, lingering in my pajamas.
So what am I doing with my days of no purpose?
Working of course.
I may not be punching a clock, but I can’t keep myself away from the kitchen. With my “free time” I am planning the menu for a barbecue party I was hired to cook for this weekend, complete with a birthday cake at the end. This kind of work seems like play though. Yesterday I visited the Columbia City farmers market researching what exactly I could build a menu from.
My time consisted of strolling through the crowd, petting two Alpaca’s (so cute!), and visiting my sister who sells stone fruits each year. I tasted, purchased a few irresistible tomatoes and flowers, and adjusted my radar for this weeks crop. And here I sit, no whites and checks in sight, sans shoes, and I am “working”.
However, there is a more serious side to this day, and that is in developing dishes for a tasting. This tasting, taking place next week, is comprised of desserts, and makes up the physical portion of a pastry chefs interview. Gaining a new pastry chef job is time consuming, full of various meetings and stages of inquiry.
It begins with the initial introduction, resume in hand. Then there is the get to know you chat, where you talk about yourself endlessly. It feels much like a first date, selling yourself, accentuating your high points in history while showing your individuality. Then comes the in kitchen walk through, where you interview them. Is this a kitchen you can function in? How big is the walk in? Where would the pastries be produced, plated, stored? Who do you order from, and how much freedom do I have in ordering? What kind of ice cream machine do you have, and would you be open to getting a different one?
Finally, provided that they like you, and you like them, it’s time to put the proof in the pudding, so to speak. Sure, you worked in some great places, you talk like a pro, and you are well versed in desserts. But what really counts, what makes or breaks you, is what everything tastes like. When everyone mouths stop talking, and take in that first bite, your job is either secured or lost.
So I am working on a tasting, showing a little bit of each side of me, custom fit to the restaurants profile. Me plus them.
I have been talking with 3 restaurants over the course of the last month, and all of them offer the same unique opportunity. Two restaurants in one position. Each operation has both a fine dining restaurant, and a casual restaurant that would function with one pastry chef. While I have narrowed the search down to just two, rejecting one restaurant because of a hefty commute across a 2 mile floating bridge that often takes an hour, I am still between two.
Luckily for me, both restaurants would be a great fit for me, and I can use the same tasting for both. Here’s the menu so far, consisting of two desserts for the casual restaurant, two for the fine dining, and a trio of petite fours, the final bite, an added touch that is delivered with your check.
Vietnamese coffee ice cream; espresso granite, cocoa sable
Apricot and cherry crumble; brown butter and toasted almond streusel, cherry stone ice cream
Peanut Butter and Jelly Tart; Raspberry pate de fruites, peanut butter powder, frozen milk, carnation raspberries, salted peanut sauce, candied rice crispies
Tahuya River Honey Parfait; Bruleed stone fruits, toasted financier, late harvest Riesling fluid gel, crisp honey leaves
Petite Fours; Coconut haystack cookie, white chocolate coconut truffle dipped in dark chocolate, chocolate caramel chew.
I’ll be working for the man soon enough, meanwhile I’m loving every moment of being unemployed.