Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cooking for Fun and Profit

Last week I was able to get past the gatekeeper at a local, high profile seafood restaurant for an interview. My long standing relationship with a vendor paid off when he gave me a call about an open chef position at the restaurant and agreed to forward my resume to the General Manager. As it turned out I had worked with one of the front of the house managers in a previous life and was taken aback when I called her expressing interest about the vacancy.
'It didn't even occur to me that you might be interested in the job' she exclaimed.
By the time I had gotten to the interview the GM had two glowing references before I had said a word. The interview progressed with a comfort level usually reserved for a long standing friendship rather than a potential employee and suddenly I watched the stars align as he asked me to come back on Friday and cook for the owner.
He confided to me that they had received 551 resumes and I hadn't even seen the posting. He had gone through about 125 before his eyes started to glaze over and he realized that words on a piece of paper do a poor job at representing someone, no matter how well it's written.
I heaved a sigh of relief. His experience showed me, all too clearly, how hard it is out there right now for anyone looking for work by just submitting resumes and going through the usual process, regardless of how diligent they are.
Gotta get past the gatekeeper somehow.
Friday morning I woke up, wrote in my gratitude journal and opened the book I have been reading, 'Change your Thoughts, Change your Life' by Dr Wayne Dyer based upon his interpretation of the Tao - the oldest book of wisdom ever written.
I read Verse Three:

'Putting a value on status
will create contentiousness
If you overvalue possessions
people begin to steal
By not displaying what is desirable, you will
cause the people's hearts to remain undisturbed

The sage governs
by emptying minds and hearts
by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones
Practice not doing....
When action is pure and selfless
everything settles into its own perfect place'

I laughed out loud, got dressed and focused on 'not doing'. When I got into the kitchen I took a deep breath, got centered and imagined 'everything settling into its own perfect place'. In an hour I had knocked out a couple of portions of Shrimp & Grits with a Watercress Salad and Chive Au Buerre, Sauteed Sea Bass with Grilled Asparagus and Garlic Mashed Potato with a Citrus Relish and finished the presentation with Yucca Crusted Grouper with Sweet Potato Hash and a Roasted Corn Sauce and laughed the whole time knowing that no matter how things played out after the tasting - for the moment, everything was perfect and in it's place.
And so was I.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Science of Hospitality

I've completed my first ebook called, The Science of Hospitality. For a month, I'm giving away a free copy to anyone who requests it simply be emailing me at cheflam@aol.com. Put the word 'Science' in the subject line and I'll get a copy to you right away with the request that, after reading, you send me your feedback so I can continue to make these ebooks something of real value for my readers.
Be A River!

Setbacks as Oppotunties

In my last post I waxed ecstatic about going to work at a small Italian restaurant in Boca. It was in the midst of a ownership change and I got involved through a friend of a friend. Because of the way I came to the job I didn't do my usual due diligence and it became a hand shake agreement. There was initially a little conflict in exactly who was going to be in charge of what but I figured everything would work itself out.
After the first week of working with the old chef cracks starting appearing in the organization; I took one person's word for how and how much I was getting paid even though someone else would be in charge of cutting the check and as the ownership change hadn't gone through yet I was left wondering how this was all going to get taken care of.
The next week the old chef started to balk at showing me all the recipes since the deal hadn't gone through; old school mentality - no money, no recipes.
I cleared all this with the money guy and he implored me to keep showing up and that he would 'take care of me'. Needless to say my check wasn't there on Friday as previously stated and I figured I would give it one more week.
The deal still hadn't gone through and the chef now wouldn't even let me suit up, so I cleared with the folks in charge and they told me to. 'take a job till the details get ironed out'; as if they're so easy to come by.
It's been a month and I still haven't been paid. I would make calls everyday and get more and more frustrated; my bank account now was upside down and the friend of a friend now pleaded ignorance.
How in the world could I have put myself in this position, I asked myself. The negativity of my situation was starting to color my outlook and even, heaven forbid, my self esteem.
My emotions scrambled, I decided to take the long view and wrote the following for ITB mangazine; I hope that this will serve anyone in this time of uncertainty to see that, even when things don't always go the way that we imagine there's still something to be gained:

Last month we went over the importance of energy as it relates to how our minds’ attitude affects our feelings which resonates with a particular pitch of energy – in many ways we don’t get what we deserve but rather we draw to ourselves what we most resonate with; what we resist persists.
We also went over how, given everything being equal between two operators, chefs or servers, the one that works at finding the best in the most daunting situations will be the one that will be successful regardless of money, talent or effort.
In his landmark book, ‘Power Versus Force’ Dr David Hawkins was able to calculate a hierarchy of emotions based on the science of kinesiology. Rage and Anger were towards the bottom of the list, he and his team were able to show scientifically how those types of emotions actually makes one weaker. Acceptance was the middle or neutral emotion with Gratitude being at the top of the list of emotions and the one that makes one emotionally and physically stronger; even above that of Love or Happiness.
It turns out that an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ is the emotional state that resonates or vibrates the highest amongst all possible states. If what we resists, persists then we set up an energy field around us that continues to reinforce the way we feel and can only bring us more of the same; that’s why constantly stating and feeling like something is missing or incomplete will only result in more of the same.
On the recommendation of a friend I took a handshake deal to work in a small restaurant in Boca that was undergoing an ownership change. I went three weeks without getting paid before I thought that I should stand for myself, friend of a friend or not.
Turns out that I’ve been chasing the principal in the deal for a month to get paid; calling sometimes three times a day, cajoling, pleading, shaming – I was ready to try anything to get paid. First came the promise of the wire transfer, then the FEDEX package, then – well, you get the picture.
The worst part of it was that I was starting to lose myself in the chase, not only was my bank account upside down but emotionally I started to feel like a fool, a failure or at the least a dummy for having allowed myself to get in this position. Every day I would start fresh, feel confident and by mid afternoon I’d feel mad, sad, taken, used, abused and a total sap for being so trusting in the first place.
Emotionally this started to affect all my relationships and before long I sounded like a broken record; one I didn’t even want to listen to anymore.
I had forgotten one very important thing – how Grateful I was for this experience.
I was suddenly and irreversibly thankful for this man for all the things that I had learned because of him; things which I couldn’t have learned any other way in such a way as I’ll never forget, nor in some cases one’s I never had the stones to ask: Who’s in charge, really? Where’s the money coming from? How well are they funded? Always have a written agreement, always be clear on the terms and you only have one chance to make the deal so strike the best one you can; one can never, ever go back.
No matter how bad things are, there are always reasons to be grateful – our health, our integrity, our families, our reputations and our possibilities. Even though I haven’t seen any money, it no longer matters so much to me because I ended up getting something much more valuable – wisdom earned.
My Attitude of Gratitude will inevitably bring me my perfect job, which I see as clearly as day and all the abundance I can imagine because, in my heart, mind and soul, it’s already mine and for that, I’m grateful.
Next Month; The Success Paradigm