I had a stage (also known as a trail or trial or skill test or free labor) this weekend and it was pretty frakkin awesome. I know I did well doing the production stuff they had me do, because it was all pretty basic (muffin batter, scooping some dough, greasing and sugaring tins). Sadly, it was a slow night, so I didn't actually get to show them that I could in fact catch on to service (plating desserts) pretty fast even though I've been working in bakeries/chocolatiers. Afterwards the chef and I talked and he said he knew this was the first place I was staging and probably wanted to check other places out but to keep in touch and that we'd set up an interview with the owner/executive chef for later this week (unbeknownst to me when I got there, afore mention owner was the season 1 winner of Top Chef, so that's kind of cool and not at all intimidating). The job would be a pastry sous chef position, I would work with one other person and I would be the head of the pastry department. My main responsibilities would be production, daily/weekly production lists and seasonal menu development as well as developing a dessert special each weekend. Most days I would work from 9am or 10am until whenever I was done. Two days a week I'd have to cover service and work from something like 3pm until close (between 11:30 and 1:00am probably). Yes, those are long fucking hours and, yes, this is part of why I was a little not excited to get back in the kitchen. However, this job really would be the logical next step in my career. It would be a good place to transition from a bakery to restaurant work since it is a smaller pastry team and my job would still be very production heavy. I think transitioning to restaurant work is really the only way I'm going to truly advance careerwise. Most small high end bakeries are chef owned which means I will never be the pastry chef there, unlike restaurants where a few years working as a pastry sous chef and I could then get to wear the tallest hat, as we liked to say in culinary school.
But you know what the most important things is?
I fucking loved the five hours I spent there. I got downstairs to the pastry area and it had to be at least 85 or 90 degrees, the fans on the convection oven were whirring, and oh, the lovely lovely sound of a Hobart mixing. They gave me pants and a jacket to change into and I did a little happy dance in the bathroom. I think you could describe my facial expression at the moment as "squee!". So there I was, in a ninety degree room, sweaty, scooping stiff cookie dough until well past after my no longer baker strength wrist had started hurting, talking shop and happy as a clam. Well before the end of that five hours my feet began to hurt, in a way that it used to take at least eight for them to get to, and again, instead of being miserable. I was like "oh oh, familiar feet ache, I've miss you! Yay my feet hurt!". I know it's sometimes hard to tell with me (both in writing and IRL) but that last sentence was not in the least bit sarcastic. Then the garde manger guy kept passing me over things to eat and I had to try the desserts and there had already been family meal, so I probably ate the equivalent of a weeks worth of income at some of my previous jobs. Ok, maybe not a week, but possibly one to two days. It was seasonal, it was fresh, it was absolutely delicious. Seriously, delicious, I don't even like calamari and I couldn't stop eating the calamari salad.
Yes, it is a somewhat intimidating job, with a lot of responsibility and I'd probably be working well well well over fourty hours a week, but I think I could do it and I think it would make me happy. I hope I get it, but I've got a couple of other places with which to line up stages just in case.
First full weekend living in New York = full of win (For many reasons, but this is the only one you're getting for now)