Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:53 pm
Before I got into cooking professionally I entered the family business. I was a funeral director and embalmer. The job was one of the best AND WORST jobs I ever had. Rewarding, with some pretty horrible experiences that will haunt me forever. I distinctly remember I was at work one day and I came into the office and smelled this wonderful smell. BBQ. Charred, a little woodsy and was just taking so permeating. I was excited. I lived in a small town- my grandfather's mortuary was renovated from an existing home and had a spacious kitchen for families to cater and have food if they wanted. When it was slow my Pops would occasionally pull out the smoker and smoke meat and BBQ in the garage, so he could keep an eye on it while he was working around the place- it made the whole place smell like a BBQ joint. In retrospect, this is pretty weird, but growing up around that and judging by all the people who ate that brisket it never bothered them that it came from a funeral home. He made the best brisket and I knew for sure dinner was going to be awesome that particular night! I started looking for him and eventually found my way to the prep (embalming) room door- the only entrance to the garage from inside the building. I opened it up and there I found my grandfather and the county coroner hovering over the source of my mouth watering smell. A car accident victim- burned alive in the car, basically melted to the still attached seat, smoldering on the embalming table. This was the source of the tempting, inviting smell. Horrified that I had actually gotten hungry at the smell of burning flesh, I promptly threw up in the sink. Upon thelling them the reasoning, they both laughed until they were crying! My grandfather still messes with me whenever he pulls out the smoker- normally, "Hey chef, why don't you run up the mortuary and get something nice and fresh for dinner!" To this day, the smell of a smoker makes me quiver for a second- before the chef in me comes, reassuring me that whatever I'm eating isn't human. I'm glad I cook now...
Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:57 pm
I have been in the Culinary industry since I was 13, and I am now 26.
I have to say without a doubt, that the worst job I ever had, is chalked up to the EXPERIENCE of it, and not exactly the job itself. I have always believed that even if you don't love you're job, you should make it you're own, and do your best at it. It's just the type of worker I am, always able to adapt, and move forward and make progress.
My worst job came in the form of being a line cook for a famous steakhouse franchise, that shares a parent company with a famous AUSSIE steak joint. I am going to "Tarantino" this and give a small back story:
I acquired a job at a Ma & Pa Steakhouse that had a HUGE following around where I used to live. It was one of the premier places to eat located in a quaint and well trafficked little town. I started out there making salads, and within ONE YEAR, I was the leader of the kitchen, and eventually the Sous Chef. I had it made at this job, and worked my a- double -crooked off. I was well on my way to easily obtaining a Chef de cuisine, OR even a Executive Chef position upon any dismissal or exit of the current chef. At the age of 22, that is a huge deal. What really sealed this off, was the fact that I was an ACTIVE musician, and was a man living TWO of his dreams and balancing them perfectly, not to mention I was in the budding stage of the relationship that would eventually lead to my marriage later this year (2013)....
Unfortunately the economy took a dive (this was after GW's recession speech) and then a high end steakhouse that used to have a booming crowd every nite, slowly trickles down. It was a long drawn out downward spiral, and ultimately much to my dismay, I had to jump ship as people weren't getting paid, and I had suffered that unfortunate circumstance in my position for three weeks too long. My loyalty and dedication gave way to racking debt. I had interviewed for a sous chef job at the aforementioned chain establishment BEFORE leaving my dream job, and here we go...
I was informed by them that I didn't have enough "high volume chain" experience to be a sous chef there, but I could start on the more advanced areas, and then see where it went. I agreed because it was not something I had any chips to negotiate with. The pay matched what I was making before (Not A LOT but decent money for my age), and I looked at this opportunity as a true chance to climb another latter. I was also unable to be an active musician due to the hours, and my now fiancee was going to school in Denver, so we had a long distance relationship 3/4 of the year.
The morale of the place was something I had never previously experienced. Very unfriendly and non-family oriented. Added to this, there was no creative room for anything because all of the recipes were handed down from "above", and had to be stuck to religiously. I had no problem with this initially, because ANY learning experience is worth something, however, I was trained by people who have worked there for 10 years, and taught me the TRICKS, not the RIGHT WAY. I had zero drive at this job, I was working exhausting hours, and not able to go anywhere in the chain, because I wasn't qualified, even tho TWO sous chefs had been hired in my 1 year at the establishment. I remember calling in favors so that I could get another job, but they never panned out so i had to fight through working there.
Maybe it was just a low point in my life, and that's why the memory of this job is so negative, but I definitely chalk it up to my worst job ever. Just no life or opportunity to it. I realize that's the nature of these establishments, but it wasn't for me and I was STUCK. Looking back I can honestly say the most satisfaction I got was rolling up my knives at the end of the day, they truly are like old friends.
Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:00 am
Working parking control at a county fair
Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:01 am
Making Pizza Crusts on an assembly line next to a 700 degree oven.
Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:34 am
Working at applebees! It was only my second job ever cooking and I did it just to leave the place I was at.. after becoming certified at all 5 spots in the kitchen and serving I became a trainer for all the two but assholes that walked through the door. Worked 55 hours in 4 days a week of complete mayhem. Waiting list from 30 minutes after the doors opened till 10 or so at night. No prep was ever done so it was a constant struggle in the weeds. God am I happy to be gone
Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:44 am
Military ... I was in a part of the military that just supported the main guys.... so my experience was always considered less than theirs.
Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:54 am
vic7012y wrote:Military ... I was in a part of the military that just supported the main guys.... so my experience was always considered less than theirs.
Vic, I thank you for your service!
Last edited by Jeff B
on Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:55 am
Working in the produce section of a whole foods really sucked the life out of me on a daily basis. I do much better in situations where the employees number in the 10s or so rather than the thousands.
Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:19 am
It's marketing sales. I couldn't stand to lying to my customers to sale stuffs. Therefore, i switch to learn cooking. i can cook good foods to people.
Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:46 am
Probably my current job. There are some really dumb people here. (raw chicken goes above cooked fish, just incase you are wondering) No one can think for themselves and common sense is a rarity.(you mean its not ok i told you i don't have enough of said product for my station when i ran out 10 mins ago?) but Hopefully this all changes in the weeks to come as i am looking for a new job.
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