I'd like to tell you a story today, so please grab your beverage of choice and snuggle up.
There once was a pastry cook (technically: commis de pâtisserie) freshly graduated from culinary school. With a head full of dreams and a wall full of awards, this young pastry cook set out to turn the culinary world on its head.
Her school credentials landed her an internship with a prestigious restaurant. On her first day, she rode the subway with dreams of spending vacations lounging at the owner's Tuscan villa; sipping cocktails and dreaming up exciting menu ideas that the New York Times reviewers would gush over.
Pictures of how she would pose for her Pastry Art and Design cover danced in her head as she tried to determine her best angle photographically.
Upon arriving at work, she was greeted by her chef, a freshly transplanted Parisian with a thick accent. A very, very thick accent.
The way he pronounced his vowels was unlike anything she had ever heard before. To make matters worse, the constant background clang and clatter of the kitchen muffled his voice.
He asked her to go downstairs and do something that involved "mushcht - roooums."
Not wanting to look like an idiot on her first day, she dutifully ran downstairs and came back with a flat of mushrooms.
"No" said the French chef - I said "we have no mushcht - roooums downstairs....get some muscht - rooums for me"
"You want me to get you some mushrooms?" asked the commis.
Chef: "no, no....we have no muscht -rooums - I need you to make muscht rooms"
Chef: "bah - just go - no...no champaginon*!"
Commis "You want champagne? Hold on!" **runs down stairs** and reappears with a bottle of Champagne. "Chef! I brought you some champagne!"
Chef: "Ah! Chef.... I tell you we have no muscht - rooums and you think I say champaginon, then you get champagne... AGH, you are hopeless!"
The reader can repeat this comedy of errors as many times as they feel comfortable. The commis certainly felt as if it repeted millions of times.
It was a humbling beginning to what would prove to be a rude awakening into the reality of kitchen work.
As it turned out that the chef was saying "we have no much room" or 'we don't have any room downstairs,' and by extension, the commis was supposed to rearrange the refrigerator in order to make room for new products.
Though the first nine months working for this particular chef involved daily tears, the commis still looks upon this time as one where she grew professionally and in unimaginable ways.
The moral of the story? You have more to learn than you realize, stick out the difficult times and they will probably teach you the most.
* Champaginon: French for mushroom