Thursday, January 03, 2008

things to love about working in restaurants

I was reading over my post of New Year's Eve and feeling as though it gave restaurant work a bad name.

The fact is, I love working in restaurants and I always have. On a good night a busy, smoothly run restaurant is an amazingly fun, energizing, lucrative place to work. And in their best incarnations, restaurants lend themselves to a community-oriented working environment that is unparalleled in the world of cubicles, flourescent lighting, and desks, more akin to hanging out in a fun club-house with your weird friends than working your blue-collar job.

In light of this, I thought I'd list some of the reasons that I love working in restaurants, and will be loathe to give my notice when my big break comes, no matter how rich and fabulous I have become:

1. Interesting people work in restaurants. It is difficult for ex-convicts and illegal immigrants to get jobs in offices, but usually not much trouble at all for them to find work as bussers, line cooks, chefs, and waiters. Some of these people live shrouded in mystery on the margins of society, sure; but they often have the best stories to tell.
2. You get to be around food ALL THE TIME. As a former fat kid, food and I have had a tumultuous love affair. As a restaurant worker, I have been able to cultivate this relationship a positive friendship.

3. Waitressing is an instant, free education in food and wine. Good waitstaff must familiarize themselves daily with the stuff that self-proclaimed "foodies" dream about. Plus, if you start in the business at the tender age of 16, like I did, it is high probable that some of the talented young cooks you used to work with, or maybe even your former roommate, will have marched up the culinary ladder to the very prestigious position of Chef de Cuisine or Executive Chef, by the time you are 28. Then you can tell all your office-worker-bee friends as Will Farrell did in Elf: "I KNOW HIM!!!"

4. Waitressing is the ultimate PR education. In both professions, you must learn to spin or die trying. It is also great for building up a thick skin, and learning to know in your heart when you've done your job well, no matter how ornery, cranky, or crazy your nightmare table is, and to pat yourself on the back for your work, regardless of the size of your tip.

5. Restaurants are deliciously unprofessional. I am an ultra-liberal lady who strives to be as politically correct as possible in real life. It is nice to have an alternate work environment where I can tell an obnoxious co-worker to go f*** themselves every once in a while. As necessary, of course.

The fact is, I live precariously balanced between the world of restaurants and offices. Like an immigrant who has lived for twenty years on new soil but pines for her home country every night as she falls asleep, I feel completely at home in neither. I'm not really sure how this blonde is going to handle it once every night of the week is mine again, and all of that free time stretches out in front of me like a string of dark, blank pearls.

Oh wait a minute, yes I do. I will spend that time writing posts for Blog 365.


Anonymous said...

Nat Schlesinger killed his brother Jack, he stole all his money and then burned the place down

Simon J. James said...

You ever read any Anthony Bourdain (I think the spelling is correct), try Kitchen Confidential, it's pretty raw.

b.kiddo said...

i absolutely love the analogy at the end
as for the biz, needs too much balance!