When I first started out in the restaurant business, my big brother told me he would make me his Assistant Manager in his Sambo’s restaurant after learning how to do everything.
And I do mean everything.
From the parking lot, trash dumpsters, dishwashing, mopping, I mean I did not get one break from Ed.
I didn’t expect one.
I have always wanted to rise to the top in things that matter to me, and I am a fierce competitor.
So I ascended the ladder and became the Assistant Manager.
I left to go play soccer at UNLV and since I did not have a full ride, I had to keep a 3.0 GPA and make the team.
After two months of training and readying for Summer League, I got into my one and only NCAA soccer match. In order: I got an assist, I scored a headed goal in the top right corner of the old potato sack, and I tore my Achilles for the second time and my athletic career reached its early denouement.
Not to be.
However, for extra spending money, I took a job as a drone for the Chef at a major Las Vegas casino. I did all the glory jobs, mainly cleaning and fetching. It was easy money as far as I was concerned, and as a member of the Culinary Union, we were making that long union pay.
The chef was European and was delighted we could carry on our conversations in French. He wanted me to train to be a chef.
“Based on what?” I asked.
I was at the bottom rung in the kitchen and I was just looking for money I would surely waste in my never-ending hedonistic pursuits.
“You are clean, detail-oriented, follow directions explicitly, and take pride in everything you do.”
“L’argent,” he smiled.
Guilty as charged.
It took a while, but I was finally convinced to drop the Hotel Restaurant Administration program at UNLV and go for a formal apprenticeship to become an Executive Chef at a major Las Vegas Hotel/Casino.
Just three years earlier I was contemplating acting as my career.
I’m a hell actor.
When the Executive Chef who hired me was still wooing me to “join his team,” I saw several gorgeous card dealers and a showgirl (an honest-to-goodness Las Vegas Showgirl) come and go through his office. Drinking whiskey.
The chef had a whiskey tasting party going on and he was treated like The Man.
I signed up the very next day.
The biggest pain-in-the-ass for an Exec Chef was the union and their (your) employees. What used to be your biggest protections as an hourly employee were now your biggest nightmare.
You could not fire them for cause unless an outright murder occurred.
I shit you not.
It is so much more fun when you land in the right situation and find a great owner, because you are able to accomplish things much quicker with the right business dynamic in place.
You can tell I miss the restaurant business sometimes.
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