Quick Musing: Restaurant Life (part 1)

Today in 2009, the foodie culture is in a perpetual rise. I feel we are in an era of renaissance of food awareness and admiration. Walk in to any book store and food sections are filled with books with celebrity chefs’ faces hemming it up for the cameras, books celebrating four star restaurants and books promising you that with ease you can be a five star chef/baker/mixologist etc. and it will be all glamorous and super fun. The same goes when flipping on the tv and you find yourself on channels like the food network, travel channel and fine living. This all fills most people’s minds of how fancy, it must feel to run a successful restaurant, have people perpetually give you the thumbs up and how awesome cause people to gain massive amounts of weight and empty their pockets of money at the same time. It is…but its not all at the same time.

Even though growing up in restaurants I knew that food service was far from glamorous and not full of jovial plump chef’s like emeril lagasse and mario batilai, in the beginnings of Momiji I suffered a period of lets just say a minor state of delusion….ok more like a detour that when its too late, you realize you aren’t driving a road anymore but you are plummeting into the grand fucking canyon.

In the beginning I thought working at the new restaurant, Momiji was going to be a different and more elegant endeavor then the front counter of the hot and ever so busy Great Wall Kitchen, the restaurant of my childhood and the other restaurants over the years. Momiji, “the sushi restaurant”, the restaurant of my mid twenties, even though it has much more improved ambiance than that of the Great Wall, it has had quite inverse effects on my lifestyle. Today, I will only go briefly into the aspects of “the lifestyle” in running a restaurant.

The hours.

One simple word, LONG! 12 hour days are the norm and don’t be surprised if you log in more.

The diet.

People tell me wow it must be so nice to get to have all sushi and healthy good food here. News flash, restaurant folk rarely eat the good stuff, its usually reserved for the nice paying customers to get to enjoy that. Staff meals at my restaurant are nice but I always miss dinner because I am serving customers typically past closing in my section of the restaurant. So by the time I unlock the door to let the last party of late diners out. The last of the staff meal is finished or has been thrown into el basura  by the dishwasher. Then fast forward to me finally getting home to the typical restaurant worker’s fridge which is typically full of a whole lot of nothing and a few random prepackaged dry goods. Even if i had fresh ingredients that is the last thing I want to do when i get home, cook…. so ramen is my gourmet choice for dinner.

The repetition.

You end up forgetting what you do and what don’t do each day because you may have done it the day before or the previous day. Did I buff my glassware today? did i refill the waiter stations with plates and utensils? Do I have enough juice purees, limes, lemons? Did I make that alcohol order? Did I lock the register?

The insomnia.

You get to go home when everyone else is done having a fun night out, but when you get home its time for you to unwind.  Unfortunately when you get home its late and you end up relaxing into the early morning taking care of all of your things when most normal people are asleep.  This all ends up causing you to sleep when normal people wake up to clock in at their jobs.

In the end its only that I was part time in partaking “the lifestyle” in my childhood restaurant, for there was another man who endured the brunt of “the lifestyle”, my father, which with everyday I work, I understand and am more grateful for.

At the end of the day for me, the only pay off is not the money, the coolness of bartending and serving pretty looking food, its just knowing that today the establishment that I work at, even if it is just for a moment made someone satisfied with what they put in their mouth.

And just with writing that last sentence, i can only feel like I phrased that awkwardly and it somehow just gonna be turned into a dirty joke.

So I’m gonna cover my bases and say, “thats what she said”.

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