A week or so ago, I wrote this little bit over on my tumblr about this list of 50 things they never tell you about being a chef. Basically what that list says is that being a chef is really hard but if you love it you could never do anything else. What my little bit says is basically that exact same thing. And because the universe is a wrathful, wrathful monster, it basically was like "oh, you think being a chef is hard do you?" and made me walk the walk to go along with that. In true chef fashion, I spent all of last weekend spending the entirety of my disposable income on GREAT food and mediocre to fantastic alcohol. I went into work Monday still kind of recovering and proceeded to work one of the most physically demanding weeks I've worked in a long time. Possibly ever. I spent 2-3 hours rolling out pie dough each morning, no break. Just rolling out two pounds at a time, cutting it to the size I needed, moving onto the next two pounds. About 32 pounds worth of dough each day. Here is a thing I have learned, all repetitive motions sucks after two hours. Even when I was a chocolatier and the motion was just dipping a little tiny truffle. Muscles burn, joints creak and your back seizes. Rolling out two pounds of pie dough at a time is no big deal to me for about the first twenty pounds worth. Between pounds twenty and twenty-five I'd start to feel my triceps burn. Somewhere between twenty-five and thirty-two my shoulders would start to ache, I'd become acutely conscious of how I was holding the rolling pin, the pressure on my wrists and how to be ergonomically correct and my body was thinking something like "I hate you, you are the actual worst, why the fuck are you doing this to me. NOBODY NEEDS SAVORY RUSTIC FRENCH TARTS THIS BADLY". I know body, I'm sorry.
And then in the afternoon, I'd spend about an hour and a half mixing another 32 pounds of pie dough. I had no problem falling asleep early enough for my 4:45 am alarm this week. I was working 10-12 hour days and I was basically asleep an hour after I got home. By Thursday I was WRECKED. My boss would semi jokingly ask if I was ready to walk out yet. She and I talked about how we were going to make working with this client possible both in terms of how much time it was taking up and what I was physically capable of. The only answer was a sheeter. That's it. So I was given the option of coming in Friday or taking another three day weekend (I opted for a half day) and she pitched renting or buying a sheeter to the owners.
Obviously, the major plus side of this is that my hours have not actually been reduced. I also chose to come in on Friday and power through some stuff because I'm definitely in a "taking all the hours I can get now" mentality which I think is just the way the catering lifestyle has to work.
Today I got an email saying we had a mutual parting of ways with this particular client and I'm sure everyone is sighing a HUGE sigh of relief because it was taking over our lives and it was just incredibly stressful. Pastry for this client was basically entirely my responsibility and took over all of my hours (which meant the pastry chef was also working crazy hours having to get everything done for our other catering events all on her own) so the downside is, I might possibly be back in the boat of not knowing what my hours/paycheck are going to look like. We do have a lot of events this month and hopefully the combination of pastries for those and working onsite will keep me flush. Also, now I get to work on the fun stuff.
So I guess the moral of this story is:
A) Don't say something is hard and then expect it to just keep being the level of hard it normally is instead of astronomically harder because the universe is an asshole.
B) I did think about going to cry in the walkin, but I never once thought about walking away because at the end of the day I worked my ass off and I did it well, doing something I loved and, even though I will admit that I was dreading starting the whole process over again tomorrow morning, I can't imagine a whole lot else that would give me the same satisfaction.
So this is the life I have chosen. This is the life I keep choosing. And it's HARD.
But I'm harder.