So how does one go about getting that delicious culinary job? A trail. My initial reaction of, "I love hiking!" was shut down by a brief explanation of an 'audition'.
Once I landed an interview with my sparkling, new culinary resume, whimsical cover letter, and genuine phone charm, I was looking forward to the experience. After meeting with the serious and all too familiar HR representative (who, with her grimace mug, eyed an empty water bottle standing on the floor next to the chair where I was sitting, in the reception area...but it wasn't mine! It was there when I arrived!The Seinfeld in me almost lost composure), I was escorted to the kitchen, where a very pleasant, young sous chef asked me a few questions and showed me the assignment.
I was to prepare a slew of tasks, from a one page long document, while being secretly observed and timed. Tournet? Blanch? Fabrication? I was amazed at the number of functions we'd just practiced in class the day before! Funny how things work out sometimes. I set myself up in a part of the kitchen and quickly went to work.
Everyone around was working on their daily tasks, preparing for a food service, and knew my position...as just some time ago they were all in my Danskos. Luckily, they were very helpful, pointing me to the spice rack, letting me know an oven is out of order (which remained arctic 20 minutes after I turned it on), and showing me to the walk-in fridge where the butter is stored. As I hacked away at the assignment, I was ecstatic about the experience. I'm in one of the best kitchens in the country, working along side the most prestigious chef and staff, in the highest-end catering facility in NYC...and I actually know what I'm doing!
After all the fancy cuts, finely chopped herbs, peeled and seeded tomatoes, and perfectly balanced vinaigrette [among others], the final step was to plate everything for the chef. My presentation consisted of a bed of blanched asparagus, topped with pan seared chicken breast-finished in the oven with a white wine sauce, carrots-glazed in pomegranate molasses, and parsley potato tournets-crisp outside with a melt-in-your-mouth center.
As the chef inspected my presentation, I was not nervous or jittery. My energy was positive, clear, and surprisingly calm. He asked a few questions (how did I know the chicken was done? what is the ratio of the vinaigrette? did I boil the potatoes ahead of time?) and all of my answers were quick, meaty, and confident-because I did it! "The asparagus is cooked perfectly", he said as he snapped one of the stalks. "The potatoes are great! I didn't have lunch today", as he went back for seconds and thirds. I was gloating inside at the praise and my speed of the concoctions...after all, this was my first performance with no rehearsal.
After thanking everyone for their time, saying my goodbye-s to the kitchen staff, and HR, I walked away with a smile. Even if there's no offer made, I thoroughly enjoyed my first audition and cant wait for more!