Now This Is Life...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I have a job.

Correction. I have an AMAZING, fantabulous, blowing my mind job.

Last quarter, I was cooking away in Classical, looked up, and saw who I thought was Chef Kenny Gilbert who was on Top Chef Season 7- Washington DC. I dismissed the thought quickly, thinking I was just going crazy. Between classes, I was on the elevator and just as the door was about to close, I saw Chef CJ walk up to the Kenny look-alike, give him a huge hug, and begin talking away enthusiastically with him. When she arrived on the 3rd floor, she asked me if I was still looking for a job. I told her it depended on the job. She told me that she was friends with Chef Kenny Gilbert from working with him at The Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island and he was opening a restaurant soon and was looking for a Pastry Chef. She told him that she had some students she would recommend and told me to run downstairs and give him my resume.

I was already in a rush because we were finishing up cakes that week in my Advanced Pastry class so I frantically called Marc and asked him to email me a copy of my resume, dashed to the computer lab to print it out, and wobbled my way to the table Chef Kenny was sitting at to fill out an application and turn in my resume. Was I star struck? A little. If any of you have seen the season of Top Chef, you will know that Chef Kenny is extremely talented, and with extreme talent comes extreme intensity. I was beyond nervous to be approaching him, but I didn't want to show it. I am one of those people that doesn't believe in fawning over people just because they are "famous." That doesn't mean that I am not extremely appreciative of their skill, but I just feel like I, personally, would find it really annoying. Chef was a little stand off-ish when I met him at the school, but his two executive Chefs were friendly and approachable. I was a little torn as to who to speak to and what tone to use, but it must not have gone as weirdly as I thought because I got a call back.

I prepared for the interview with Chef Omar and Chef Trey by getting a portfolio all put together in a clear plastic folder with plastic sheaths holding 8x10 photos of my best work. The interview went well and I was offered a job soon after. Nippers Beach Grille was set to open in April but due to construction issues, it just opened yesterday, May 16, 2011.

I am now able to officially say that I am a Pastry Chef. I am living my dream. I am LOVING working on the line. There is this adrenaline rush that you get with every single ticket that prints out to get the food out quickly and perfectly. I am learning SO much and am working with some absolutely incredible Chefs. Chef Kenny had Kevin Sbraga, winner of Season 7 Top Chef, his Sous Chef, Jose Adorno, and Arnold Myint, also from his season. These wonderful Chefs helped whip us into shape and get Nippers up and running in time.



Let me say something here. If you ever are in Jacksonville, FL and want somewhere to eat that is absolutely gorgeous, has a fabulous atmosphere, tantalizing food, and want the novelty of eating somewhere that you KNOW the kitchen is CLEAN and the staff treats the food with the utmost respect...come eat at Nippers. I swear to you that it is the cleanest place to eat in Jacksonville and it will remain that way. Everything in that *HUGE!* kitchen is BRAND NEW except for ONE piece of equipment. On top of that, we DEEP CLEAN the kitchen EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. I'm not talking your run of the mill mopping the floor clean. Because we don't just mop. We scrub it down with deck brushes, hose it down, squeegee it off, and dry mop it. Yeah. Everything else gets the same kind of cleaning treatment...extensive. I love working in a place where everyone cares and respects the equipment and food this way.

I am awestruck that I have this opportunity in front of me. I have the rare chance to learn from a brilliantly talented Chef in a place that is beyond beautiful. (Did I mention that every time I look up while I am working, I am gazing out into a enchanting marina?)




I'm not going to lie. My life is extremely stressful right now. I am still a mother of two young children. I still have an amazing husband who I could NOT do this without, for sure. I am so thankful for him with all of my heart. He makes it possible for me to leave every day without worrying about the kids or the house. I know that I am leaving them in his completely capable hands and that the house will not only be presentable, but will actually be CLEAN, along with the laundry and the girls. Even at my very best, Marc makes me better. We are a team. I am still striving to maintain my 4.0 GPA, despite those Debbie Downers who tell me that it doesn't matter and that noone will ever ask what my GPA was in culinary school. That isn't the point. On top of that, I have now added a (in theory) almost 40 hour work week on top of it. I say in theory because I have been scheduled till 9:30 and be asked to stay until 1:15. So the next few weeks, especially, are going to be extra challenging. I will be taking my Ativan almost daily. My mind will continue to swirl with a mix of new knowledge being learned at Nippers, and things I need to work on for school. I will sleep every spare moment I can to make up for the days that I get up at 5am for school and won't get out of work until at least midnight, only to get up at 5am the next day and do it all over again. I will squeeze every last second that I can out of each day with my girls, since there are days I will not even see them. I will revel in the moments with my husband since there will be days that I will see him little more than for a hug and kiss before I pass out from exhaustion. Above all, I will do my best to savor these crazy moments, despite their difficulty. I will fight the feelings of guilt I feel every time I have to walk out the door and leave my girls in the care of their completely proficient father or our reliable sitter. This is what I have worked so hard for. This is what we have sacrificed so much for. In addition to that, we really need the income. haha.

I will probably not be posting much about my work at Nippers. The reason for this is that I'm not really sure how well that would go over. I'm sure there will be days that I am ecstatic and days that I am beyond frustrated. I don't think that any of that really needs to be out there on the internet for my coworkers or, more importantly, my bosses to read. This is such a culmination of everything that I have worked for, though, that I had to at least post SOMETHING about it. I've procrastinated on writing this post so long, however, because my heart is just too full of wonderment. I didn't know if I was going to be able to put it out there in words or if it would be trivialized. I don't know that I've done it justice, but I have tried.

I'm off to finish up some homework before crashing since tomorrow begins my "work week" beginning with Latin at 6:30am.

2 comments:

Greg R. said...

So proud of you. Can't wait to get down to JAX next time to try Nippers out....especially the desserts. Dad

katscrea said...

Wow, that sounds amazing! Congratulations!

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