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January 25, 2008


Bright indeed

So bright, in fact, I gotta wear shades.
You should too.

Of course, nowadays they're prescription shades.

Bravo Bravo Bravo pour ton courage et ta ténacité.
Mon père dit toujours quand on est épuisé, découragé et que l'on a pas fini de faire, décider des choses :
"demain il fera jour".

Je suis d'accord avec Katia sur le fait que tu suives ton intuition car elle t'a conduite et porté sur ton nouveau parcours et cela fonctionne trés bien.

Bon, l'ambiance dans les cuisines des "grands restaurants" se révèle globalement être plutôt "bof "voire exécrable : cela confirme ce que tu avais vu dans tes stages et ce qui transparait sur les reportages TV (ces cuisines sont remplies de "petits chefs" à mon avis prétentieux et caractériels sauf dans quelques rares restaus; ton parcours et ton bagage professionnel est une menace pour eux car tu as la maturité qui te permet de refuser d'être le souffre douleur que doit être chaque nouveau recruté dans leur équipes). Mais tant pis, ce n'est pas une raison pour se faire martyriser !!!

Fais ce qui te parait bien pour toi mais prends ta décision sur une semaine.

Biz et à binet^t dans ton bistrot épicerie???

Francoise de Lyon

Paul / Cagnes sur Mer

Hi there,

I too, am a mid-life career changer, serving a stage at a Michelin restaurant and this is my 2nd month after gastronomy school. And I too, left a well paid job running 3 TV companies for 22 years, at the age of 52, to start a new career in the kitchen. My aim is also to open a small gastronomic B&B or guest house, either in South Africa (my home country) or in Mauritius.

Just keep in there, I know exactly what you are going through. When, on a Saturday night at 11.30pm you are being yelled at by the chef de patisserie because you brought him the wrong cacao beans or you didn't roll the ice cream into a proper round ball, I think: "Do I really need this &*^%^ in my life? On a Saturday night I used to be enjoying myself and this is not pleasant." Especially when the chef is a 26-year old prat who wants everything done one way only - his way. No variations, no creativity, no suggestions for improvements. Just do as I say! And then I would think, maybe I should just take off my apron right now and tell the owners to shove it. I was much happier making TV documentaries and I changed my career to be happier in life. But being yelled at near midnight because of a scoop of ice cream is not worth it.

I have followed your blog for many months, the training days at ESCF, the speed, the necessity for perfection, etc and it was inspiring. As a South African in France (with very limited grasp of the language,) it has been very hard.

However, this is my point. I take out of the restaurant what I can - the learning experience. What are their good points? what would I change from an organisational point of view? (I was in production, TV direction and management), how would I change dishes if it were my restaurant? what else could I do with this or that recipe in a small boutique restaurant that I want to run? And the next day I wake up and it doesn's all seem so bad.

At 52, I too feel the strain on my body working from 8.30 in the morning until 11.30 at night with a 3 hour break between services. Then I fall asleep because I feel I've been hit by a steam train!!

My stage ends in 3 months and then I will go to a patisserie school but the stage is the hardest I've had to work in years, not mentally, but physically. However, the politics in the kitchen, the snide comments from the other chefs, the jockeying to work on the grill or to work on the more complicated dishes is a story that is just like yours. The chefs, the sous chef in particular, is not that interested in the sob story of a stagiare and it's the best to grin and bear it. Bite your tongue and say, just another few months.

Kind regards and keep up the struggle. This life change will be worth it, I keep on telling myself. And you will be happy, it's all in the mind. (Would like to meet you some time to swop misery notes!!!!)


Always look at the bright sight of life!!!!!!

Nach der houle der vergangenen Wochen, scheint das Boot ja jetzt sicher in dem Hafen zu sein......
Freut mich! Und, was die Aktien angeht, kaufen kaufen!!!!!


Francoise, merci pour ton encouragement. La decision est deja prise, suivant mon intuition et je me sens tres tres bien avec.

Paul, I am always touched to get those type of emails and to learn about regular readers. So it seems I am not the only crazy person out there ;) Thank you for sharing your story. Only people who have made experience in the business can really know what I am going through, from outside this is not imaginable. Are you by any chance looking for a partner to run your gastronomic B&B ? If yes please put me on the waiting list as a candidate ;) !!! I would definitely like to meet you too, so let's stay in touch by email. Will send you a note.

Katia, na ja das Leben ist halt nicht jeden Tag "bright". Aber im Moment bin ich sehr zufrieden ;)

Paul / Cagnes sur Mer

Thanks Ulla, and don't lose the focus. I often wonder why I'm doing all of this (at my own expense and time!) and then it takes one excellent service period in the kitchen to put everything into perspective again. Please e.mail and we can chat privately further!!




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