December 7, 2008
Part of the requirement for cooking school is to complete approximately 24 hours of internship at the school. The Sunday brunches, held the first and third Sundays of each month, are the typical way to meet this requirement. I had already worked two events so this was the final one for me. I arrived at 7:00 AM for the 8 hour day. I was given a variety of assignments from slicing bread to dicing fruits and vegetables, slicing and cooking potatoes, cooking bacon, and cracking lots of eggs for omelets. By 10:00 assignments were given out and I was assigned to the “front”. The internship consists of working both in the kitchen and in the “front”, the dining room. Working in the dining room gives the culinary student an idea of how diners receive their food and the importance of temperature, plate presentation, and timing. Working with the line and waiting on the customers is a real education for a future chef. I understand the rationale, but still felt a little strange waiting on tables. You see, I once worked as a waitress in my parents’ restaurant, Mr. Ed’s, in Seaside, California, 1971-74. I also worked at Denny’s and the Officer’s Club at Reese Air Force Base, Texas. These jobs inspired me to get college degrees! I did not want to wait tables ever again, so here I found my mature self smiling and greeting customers and pouring water and tea. It was what you might call a humbling experience. The customers realize we are all chefs in training so they are mostly good sports, however I did get a little testy inside when one man made a comment about being sure to keep his ice tea full. It reminded me of all those customers at Denny’s demanding more coffee years ago, a PTSD flashback (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). All was well and I managed to get through the brunch service without tripping and spilling food. There was a record number of customers that day, around 80, and the clean up was hard. That’s another part of this experience–cleaning up, doing dishes, sweeping and mopping floors. To think, I paid $2800.00 to sweat in a hot kitchen, wash and dry dishes, and do floors. Well, no one twisted my arm to enroll in this school and I’ll have to admit I have learned a lot and enjoyed it for the most part. (I will never enjoy the clean-up)