Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Adventures With Faux Chefing

With regard to faux chefing, things have been quiet on the Big Pointy Building front so I've joined an agency and I've been a chef-for hire. (I was going to mirror the gun-for-hire thing but no chef tool sounds cool. A whisk-for-hire? A spatula-for-hire? A wooden spoon-for-hire?).

Anyway, I've picked up a bit of work and it's been interesting. I'm out of my comfort zone and I'm having to bluff for real now. It's okay at The Big Pointy Building because, as Leonard Cohen says, everybody knows.

But these new people, they don't know that I am not a chef, but rather than being up front about it, I am now willfully acting like I am a chef. I have to. These places are hiring freelance chefs, so I have to be a freelance chef.

My life of deception was going along fine until this week I was hired for six days by a large, very serious catering company... who from henceforthwithforth shall be refered to as The Very Serious Catering Company (VSCC).

The VSCC is located... oh it's located everywhere, but the venue I'm booked for is big to say the least. This is major league, kick arse stuff, and on the first day I'm running not quite late but sort of kind of getting into the red zone. It's a hike to get out there, and this massive stadium... it just feels empty this time of the morning. And I cannot for the fuck of it find this secret underground security entrance I'm supposed to enter through.

By blind luck and tippping my head in different directions to read the You Are Here bit on the map, I manage to find the underground entrance. I buzz for security. Affable security guy gets me to sign in, gives me my security wrist band.

"There ya go," Affable security Guy says, nodding me on.

"Right. Thanks - but go where?"

"Oh you've never been here before? Right. Haha. 'K. Go out here, hang a right, blahblahblahblah. Blahdy blah blah where you should find Bay 16."

I head off, by now deep into the red zone of being late, without technically as yet being late, and it quickly becomes apparent that the little underground road I'm following is the circumference of the stadium. I've had to go halfway around the damn thing on ground level to get here, now it feels like I'm walking the other half to form a complete circle.

I find Bay 13 and Bay 12 and it appears that I've been heading in the wrong direction. Fuckity fuck. I head back and back and pass the security entrance and keep going and going until I see some cleaners on a golf buggy and I ask them where Bay 16 is.

"Oh, it's back that way... it's a long way but you have to go back around...

You get the idea. By now I am definitely going to be late, I just hope it's not going to stand out too much.

Bay 13, it turns out, is the bay I should have been looking for. This is the catering entrance. I'f I'd just walked a bit further along I would have seen evidence of catering, like the signs on the doors saying things like 'Catering inside'.

I see a loading dock guy with a chef's apron on and ask him where I have to go. He takes me inside and it's the biggest, shiniest kitchen I have ever seen. I smack my gob. Seriously. My God.

Loading dock guy hands me a white frilly thing and tells me I have to have it. It's a strip of frilly paper. I have no idea what it is. I ask what it is. He smirks and pulls it apart and I realise I have to start the chef deception thing. I go oh riiight, and pull the frilly thing apart and put it on my head, hoping that it is indeed a hair net.

The guy takes me through these massive, empty kitchens to a couple of doors while I briefly wonder where the other chefs are. He send me through the doors and into the middle of a room of attentive chefs, maybe 60 of them. They all look impeccable in their chef whites and they listen to head chef concluding a rundown of the event as well as asking some pop questions about food handling.

They have all turned to look at me as I quietly sneak into the room dressed in my cargo pants and cammo hoodie, my kit slunbg over my shoulder. I squat down at the back of the room because there are no chairs left, and I listen to head chef go into so much detail about his demands and expectations and I realise that I am possibly very deep in the shit now. It feels very much like those dreams you may have had where you turn up for school not wearing any pants.

But this is so very real. Time slows as I wonder, really, what the fuck am I doing here. The room is so white with all this chef gear that it may as well have been a flamingo that just walked into the room. I think very seriously about bailing as soon as the meeting is over because I am clearly in over my head.

And then I wonder if I'm even in the right place. Maybe there's more than one catering facility at this massive venue. There must be. Maybe I should be at Bay 16 after all.

Back in the days when my insecurities fully had their way with me I would have been crushed. But mostly robust me was howling with laughter on the inside. It was too perfect a fuck up. But I also wondered, how the hell did everyone know about this meeting and that they had to be changed into their chef gear? Why was I the only one who didn't know?

Found out later in the day that it happens to a lot of newbies. The agency just doesn't know or doesn't bother to tell first timers.

Anyway, it was an up and down day but I seem to have gotten away with it. For two days now. Two down, four more to go.


Margarita Milonguita said...

"By blind luck and tippping my head ...."

Is this a typo or is that EXTREME tippping of the head?

The grammar nazi strikes again! Great post Lee.. as always.

Thaydra said...

How hilarious! And I happen to like whisk-for-hire!

Kathryn said...

Oh, the hilarity of forgetting to wear pants. Even if you didn't and just thought it.

Chef white seems like it should be a paint color.

Keep it up, double 0 cheffing. :)

Lee said...

Typppo, MM. funny little keyborad and dodgy eye.

Whisk-for-hire sounds good, Thaydra, in a not tough way.

You didn't ever have one of those dreams, Kat? Did anyone? Is it just me?

Should have used Double 0 Chefing in the title.

Kathryn said...

It's just you.


Of COURSE, I've had those naked awful dreams! The worst...but such relief when you wake up and it's not true.

This may be quite wrong of me but your word verification for this is: Pedsmall

And the first thing that came to my mind is a Pedophile Mall. Gross.

Margarita Milonguita said...

I have started blogging again.. starting with fluff and going to build up.. read if you wish. If not, nay bother...

Lee said...

Good on you, MM. I will drop by from time to time. Truth is I've been pretty slack with the blogging thing myself lately. Haven't been writing or reading nearly as much as I used to.

Oh and Kat - my word verification is bedness. Weirdness.

Y said...

Gotta love those first days at work. How did the rest of your time there pan out?

Lee said...

Indeed, Y. The rest of the week was okay. Not a job I could do all the time. It's like The Big Pointy Building but on a much larger scale so there's loads more mundane prep work. There's also less passion fueling the machine so the food quality is not there which takes away any job satisfaction. You start thinking well if no one else cares, why should I?

And after two days of wearing my groovy new little cap the executive chef decided it wasn't good enough and made me wear one of those dicky paper chef hats. Bastard.

Guyana-Gyal said...

How about 'buns for hire'? Haha well, look at it this way, chefs bake buns, don't they?

Why white aprons, I always wonder. The grime shows up quickly, why not black or dark blue? Or even shocking hot pink?