Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Final Final

Sorry for such a gap in posts, but I've been really wrestling with this one.

Because, it basically amounts to something along the lines of "count me in with rest of the Cooking School Dropouts."

Monday, I took my last final at Fine Technical College, and I won't be going back Winter Quarter, because I have a job. A non-cooking kind of J-O-B, which starts January 2. Back to Cubeworld and the hurry-scurry of corporate life.

I would so be lying if I said I was going to miss culinary school...well, okay, I'd so be lying if I said I wouldn't miss it, because I'm definitely going to miss the folks who've suffered with me the last 12 months. I've enjoyed my classmates (for the most part!) immensely, and I know I've learned as much from them about cooking as I've learned from my instructors. The Chiclet, Mother Hen, Big Stuff, the Omelet King, and even ol' Dimmer Switch have all added something really special to the experience...I may have to get back to you on what exactly Dimmer added, but you get the picture.

I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend culinary school this past year, but I've been having a lot of doubts about whether this was the right path for me, especially the "continuing in school" part...and another part of the doubt involves the household finances. (Yes, honey, I know we're fine, but still...!)

So, I'm going back to Cubeworld to earn some dough and sock it away for a rainy day, or another run at culinary school. It's so weird that when I found the job posting, I wasn't really looking for a job...who knew Yahoo! had job listings? (Apparently, everyone in the free world except me.) So, when I clicked on the Jobs link and threw in a few keywords and had this position pop up, it felt kind of like kismet or something.

I had an interview with them 3 days after I submitted my resume, with a call back for a 2nd interview within an hour and a half after leaving. That was looking good, considering I hadn't interviewed for a job in many, many months, and it really started the whole idea percolating that maybe it was time to go back to Cubeworld. (I know, I know, there are several of you out there scratching your heads and thinking about how nuts I am to want to go back to a Dilbertian existence, but if this blog has taught you nothing this past year, it should be that culinary school ain't all Food Network!)

For the callback interview, I was requested to prepare a 10-minute presentation on anything. Since the job involves going to customer sites and interacting/presenting/training them, it stands to reason that the company would want to find out if you can actually speak in front of a group and convey thoughts and ideas before they invested any time and energy in you. They said that anything goes as far as topics, and they just wanted to learn something about whatever subject I chose.

I first thought I could do the presentation on Pacific Rim cuisine that the Chiclet and I put together for Regional Cuisine last quarter, but then I got the insane idea that I could demonstrate how to do a stuffed braided bread. I had the pictures from when I did it on the blog in May, and I've been doing it every week, multiple days since April, so I have the spiel down and could do it in my sleep.

But, while pictures can be worth a thousand words, give or take a couple hundred, an actual demonstration is worth its weight in the precious metal of your choice. Logistics, logistics, logistics of how to actually demo bread dough were sort of daunting, until my friend Kimma suggested that I use a fabric model. Brilliant!

Then, I think about how it would be cruel to tease them with this idea of a yummy tasty braided bread and not have one, so I decided that I would take a cooked one with me and serve it after the presentation.

We cut up some bits of fabric for the ingredients and practiced making it, and it seemed to be a good model for demonstration...it would get the idea across without me slinging flour around their conference room.

The presentation and demonstration went over very well, and it was really cool when I pulled a cooked one out of my magic bag of tricks. I think I got some major points for being inventive. They called back 2 days later with an offer, and here we are, employed once again.

I'm not ruling out ever going back to culinary school and/or Fine Technical College, because I'm a firm believer in not burning your bridges. I think I could do some part-time catering work with Chef Pantry, who seemed very sincere when he said "stay in touch." Chef Banquet actually hugged me when I confirmed to her that I was leaving, which kinda surprised me--I guess she likes me after all. Plus, I'm still going to try and work some nights/weekends at SS to keep my skills honed.

Mother Hen told me that I wasn't getting away that easily, because she still going to call me for help. So, I'm going to get the textbook for the Garde Manger class and having her give me a copy of the syllabus. It won't be the same as actually being in class, but it will still allow me to kind of keep up with them and provide whatever assistance I can and keep learning. (Garde Manger is the cold kitchen stuff--salads, forcemeats, etc.)

I'm also really excited and a tad bit nervous about re-entering the corporate world. I can see it now--someone will ask me to do something, and I'll respond with "yes, Chef." Won't that be a hoot? Plus, my co-workers will know I've been in culinary school for the last year, so the bar is going to be set a little higher for company potluck dishes, too. Won't be able to get away with dragging in any old thing from the deli.

Thanks to you all as well for hanging out and reading my ramblings, yammering, and whining about the trials and tribulations of omelets, chicken fricasee, and mother sauces. I'm not giving up the blogging, and I'm planning to keep it food-oriented and maybe travel-oriented since the job will involving wandering around the country at some point.

Stay tuned!

6 comments:

curlytoppoodles said...

You are the first blog to have a place to sign up for a google account, so I can comment on these blogs that now have the google/blogger check point. They were not letting me comment, even though I used by correct blogger info. Okay so enough about that:o)

I am going to miss your posts about school, they were so interesting. Glad your happy about the turn of events and hope the new job works out well for you. I will look forward to more food posts.

Lin said...

(Beta.Bogger.com is not working right. I could not log in.)

Congrats on your new job! I know you will miss your friends at the Fine Technical College, but I think you will find that cooking will make a better avocation than a vocation. Cooking jobs are hard work for low pay. (They get away with that by employing so many women and minorities.) You can still keep your hand in with catering jobs. Meanwhile, you'll meet new people at your job and maybe get to roam the world some more. Have fun!

Lin said...

P.S. But how well did you do on your Final?

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new job! This has really has been an interesting chapter in the book of life. Thank you for allowing us to read along and be there with you. JTig

Matt said...

Congratulations! I hope your new job rocks. I've really been enjoying your blog, so please keep writing!!

Anonymous said...

Mary,
Congratulations on your new job. I have loved reading about your cooking classes, etc. I know you will do well in your new "cube"...
Hope the New Year brings help and happiness to you and the Man. Life is good for me...Annb