It is official. I am starting my very first culinary job in November 7th. After finishing the program at the ICC in California, My classmates and I were faced with the task of finding our first culinary jobs. It was pretty interesting to see where people were taking their culinary careers. Scott Kunis dove right into a catering business and he is making that happen. Another two of my friends decided to take the corporate dining route and they are doing very well. Johny Moreno is working for a big corporate kitchen serving over 900 covers daily, and he is doing great. My other friend, Travis Cone, has been working for Apple, and though he is doing well, I have the suspicion that he will not stay there for too long. Travis has a passion for BBQ you see, and they don’t serve pork at Apple. My prediction is that he will end up somewhere down south studying with the BBQ gurus. I hope he does. My Friend Jerry Wu is part of the crew opening “The Sea” by Alexander’s Steak House. He is experiencing opening a restaurant from the ground up. It can’t get better than that. He will be on the line from day one as well. I am really excited for them! As far as the rest of the class, they are still taking time finding what the next move is. I wish them all good luck. You may also be thinking why I include first and last names here. There is a good reason for that. I believe that each one of these individuals is going to achieve great things in this business. They are all very talented, and overall, they all have a deep passion for food and cooking. Me.. well I also have my first job and it is a pretty sweet one.
I will be working for Manresa. Yep, that’s right. My first job out of culinary school is a 3 month internship at Manresa. It all started with a meeting with Nicole from career services almost at the end of my program at the ICC. We were discussing what was next for me and I mentioned I would love to work for Manresa someday. She literally said “okay, lets make that happen”. A few emails from Nicole and I later, and I was in front of David Kinch interviewing for the job. To be honest I didn’t think I would even get a chance to stage. My interview was brief and to the point. “So… this would be your first kitchen job?”. Questions like that were the order of the day. I had been at the restaurant for no more than 5 minutes before the interview was over. Chef Kinch then asked me to come back for a 12 hour shift to see if I was a fit for their kitchen, and if I would still like to work for them after working with them for a day.
My 12 hour stage came and went in the blink of an eye. In those 12 hours alone I was exposed to more than 5 products I had never seen before in my life. And those are the ones I was aware of. I am sure I missed a bunch. One product that stood out for me, mainly because I am Mexican, was ground cherries. They look like tomatillos (green tomatoes), but instead of green husks, they have brown husks. They smell very similar to tomatillos, but when you taste them, they do taste like cherries, though you can still discern a very faint taste of acidity similar to the taste of tomatillos. And ofcourse the color is different as well. It was fascinating. I worked with beautiful beans and sea weed. I helped prep beets that had been dehydrated, then re-hydrated, and then sous vide. I even plated a dish called “into the garden”, which has over 40 ingredients. And though It was an amazing experience, I was constantly reminded about how much I have to improve. All the chefs working in that kitchen are amazingly precise and fast. They serve beautifully plated dishes with great speed and accuracy. The presentation is spotless, and they do it all in a completely silent kitchen lead by Chef de Cuisine Jessica Largey. At the end of the day, I really thought there would be no way they would call me back. I really thought I didn’t work to the level they were expecting. As you know, this is a trend with me. A few days went by and I was sure I would not get a call back, but then I received an email from David Kinch letting me know they would let me work with them for the next three months. It is extremely exciting and scary at the same time. I really hope I do a good job, and though I know I may not stay there to work full time, I hope I make a good enough impression on both Chef Kinch and Chef Jessica that they may consider me for a job some time in the future.
And so I leave you with something that has been rattling in my head for the past few months as I run through scenarios about what will and won’t happen to me in the culinary world. I would rather be the worst cook at a Michelin Star restaurant, than the best cook at a mediocre one. I don’t have a problem being humbled by the amazing talents of others as long as I can learn a thing or two from them.