Unless, of course, you'd like to try the cruel shoes – Steve MartinI’m working again.
After a 10 year hiatus playing Mr. Mom (and occasionally catering and teaching) I’m back working. Donned the togs and sharpened the knives. Playing with food once again. I’m working at Premier Gourmet - purveyor of fine foods and beverages, and very fine cooking equipment for almost 40 years.
Before Le Gourmet Chef, let alone Williams-Sonoma, there was Premier. Hard to find ingredients? Obscure equipment needs? Competent knives? Premier has it, and more. It also didn't hurt that it was attached to the liquor store with the finest wine selection in town.
There is more than a little bit of kismet at work here. I have a strange connection with Premier. My first Chef, Dan - the one who gave me a break at DACC’s and to whom I was Sous for about three years - ran the prepared food department here. Our weekend bartender, Rick, was Wine Manager here. I learned a lot from him.
While at DACC’s I met Howard. In addition to being a weekday news guy on our PBS radio affiliate, he’s been involved with the Premier Group as long as I’ve known him. I was cooking him dinners while he was courting his lovely wife, Diane. She went on to cook and bake at Premier. It’s little wonder that so many were convinced I had worked here before.
I mostly work in the prepared foods department. Sides and salads, and some home meal replacement. Food to eat in or take out. I cover occasionally at the deli and cheese counter, also in the café when needed. I’ve been assured that at some point they’ll put me on cashier duty upfront, just so I’m prepared in the case of emergency.
I’m certain I will enjoy that.
This is a good gig for me.
My love of food is about more than the preparation of food. I love talking about food; teaching about food. Sharing my knowledge and giving advice. I get that opportunity. In the short time I have worked here I have walked a couple through the purchase of a Food Processor. I think they’ll be happy with their choice.
I have suggested cutlery and condiments, and got into a lengthy discussion on the current thinking of the proper grilling of a steak (at least for this week) while picking out three beautiful strip steaks.
I’m not working on the line - cooking à la minute with my creative juices jamming. My offerings are not going to challenge Mike or Steve or Bruce or any of the other fine cooks in town. Not sure they would even at my peak.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
But that’s okay. I know my place in the culinary pantheon, even if that place is Court Jester.
The fact of the matter is that I’m 55 years old. I’m the father of two teen girls. I have a titanium hip and arthritis in my hands. My lungs and eyes are scarred by fire. Face it: I’m too old to be working on the hot line. I was probably too old when I started.
Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.
Still, it hasn’t taken long for the knife calluses to re-form on my fingers. The hair on the backs of my fingers and hand has burned off. I am having a tough time getting used to wearing gloves, and a really tough time getting used to not having control over the music. (Muzak!?!?). But donning the coat and pants, and sticking that Sharpie in the sleeve pocket feels pretty good. Pretty damned good.
I have a piano again. Maybe it’s a Spinet rather than a Grand, but I am playing.
So it goes.
Oh yeah: the cruel shoes. I wore my cooking clogs really for the first time in ten years. I’ve taken to wearing sneakers or crocs while catering. I got about two hours into my first shift and they started to dissolve. I had clear packing tape strapped around them to make it through the day. This is what they looked like when I got home.
I spent my first paycheck on a new pair.