Or thoughts of food, as the best and worst jobs I had were in food prep.
I love working with food; nothing I have ever done is as gratifying as making good-looking and tasty food. It appeals to almost all of the senses. It can be beautiful, delicious, smell fantastic and have texture pleasing to the palate. I come from a long line of good cooks and married into a family of good cooks; I am a certified, (and maybe certifiable), FOODIE.
The first full-time job with food I had was good training in time-usage, making-do and public tastes, but it was a bad job. I cooked in the deli department of a major grocery chain. I won’t go into too many details, but suffice it to say that the harder I,(and others) , worked, the more was put upon us; the goof-offs were given light duty. I received a major burn,(from which I made a truly miraculous recovery),I was put on duty that was admitted by the boss to be a two-person job, I was expected to be in THREE, places at once: cooking, working the counter and also to be back in the cleaning area where I could not see the counter, which I caught heck for not minding…I was back there to clean what were considered MY pots and pans. When I was told to also do inventory, I asked the boss why. I was told that they felt they could rely on me. I replied that obviously I was being punished for being competent. I finally left when I had a major order for a group of fully-cooked turkey dinners on top of all the other work. That in itself did not cause me to quit, but I gave notice when they pulled the turkeys half-cooked out of the oven because the bread baker said the loaves were ‘proofed’ and could not wait; SHE needed the oven .I wanted no part of possibly giving people food poisoning.
The best job I had was working for a small bakery /restaurant. The boss there gave me free-rein to stretch my wings and encouraged confidence in me. I helped him in his work,(even though I hated doing the early morning doughnuts), to doing whatever I wanted to with fancy desserts, custom cakes, cookies and pastry. A world famous movie/TV producer lives in the small town where the bakery was,( his wife was the building’s landlady),and we’d get calls that said VIP’s had arrived and what did we have on hand? (We never knew who they were, although sometimes famous faces were seen in town, and we heard rumors afterward.)
When that boss decided that he did not want to continue with the venture, my niece and I ran the bakery/restaurant for a while. We really cut loose with whatever our fancies felt like trying. We had special-order, custom designed cakes, we continued with the tradition of a soup du jour for lunch but made our own signature styles. We made deluxe salads: vegetable, fruit and pasta. We did well with fancy box lunches for tour busses-full that came to see the producers’ mansion and shop at his wife’s antique store… the tourists would come in afterward to buy more of the pasta salad and fruit compote and also try to wrangle the chicken-salad recipe from us. My niece made killer ice cream and we had really good business on Sundays with carry-out dinners, as well as a few full houses of eat-ins, (tiny as the place was). Although turkey and meatloaf dinners were requested and made, we pressed our luck with the customers and succeed with non-Kentuckian dishes such as lasagna, Chicken Paprika, quiches and baked spinach puff . Breakfasts were a hit as well, with homemade biscuits and sausage gravy,(a southern staple that I learned to make after I moved here). We quit the doughnut business and put in more muffins, fruit breads and full-line breakfasts. Our breakfast burritos had a faithful following; we even had them as the contest prize on a morning radio show we sponsored. We put in flavored coffees and had card-holders in our coffee club.
Alas, we needed to relocate and before we could, our house of cards tumbled. Every area of our lives was hit with some problem or another. We tried to plan new strategies for a few years but….
To be honest, we’d still like to think that one day we can open a bookstore with a coffee shop and serve my cookies, mini cakes, tea breads, my niece’s cherry bread and her biscotti-to-die-for. Maybe we’d serve lunch…we’d have discussion groups, book signing…yeah, well, maybe when we win a small lottery…sigh…
Would you come? Did anything I mentioned sound good to you?
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