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LwaC: Long Time Cook, First Time Chef

Posted by on November 29, 2012

The title exaggerates somewhat- while I’ve cooked a number of things a number of times through my life, I certainly didn’t cook with any serious frequency when in my family’s labyrinthine kitchen, when living in a dorm full of men who couldn’t be bothered to do more than wash the plate they ate off of and stock the freezer with microwavables, nor when I moved in and discovered some of the benefits of living with a trained chef. Nor have I really technically earned the title chef in any fashion.

The thought is more relevant to my job; serving food to customers.

This is a bit new to me. I’ve worked in customer service, I’ve worked with phones, I’ve done every office chore under the sun, I’ve even had lower level tech-smarts jobs, served samples of drinks, and for a short while handled everything but the paperwork in terms of food stocking, storage, counting, and the like for a small US military camp. What I’ve never done, unlike what I seem to hear every other person middle-class or below has done in their teenage years, is work the McDonald’s, or other fast food joint. I haven’t cooked for a living, even be it just frying something up or assembling buns. I’ve cooked when Tabi is feeling unwell to where even making a meal doesn’t perk her up, or for myself when I was hungry and had the energy and creativity not to succumb to the male instinct to slap a bunch of things edible straight from the fridge with little or no microwaving together and chow down. But this was my first time really just cooking for people.

Well, standing at a food cart and preparing mac’n’cheese and chicken from boxes, anyway.

In my case, the skill of cooking wasn’t even an issue, though I had so many specifications and instructions that somehow even those things became a complicated task. The real job was to assemble both quickly and safely in a limited work space, immediately serve them, and then to attract and educate customers about the products the entire time. I was the demo-guy in a Wal-Mart (that’s right, guys do that too).

The experience was interesting. Despite that the job was cut and dry, simple, I really loved something about being able to hand out the little samples of this or that, see people stream over and chatter. Sure, I was on the job so I was sticking on the topic of the food and trying to convince them to purchase via a sort of “being your friend” method rather than pushing like a salesman) and doing a fairly simple task repeatedly. My only real ingenuity was doing both things at once without losing the ability to hold a civil, attentive conversation, tracking cooking times and preparing the next batch to be ready as soon as possible after the present one ran out, and doing it in such a limited space. But I was serving people. I even went out of my way to see what most people liked, offer opinions or suggestions (and encourage them to try the Tabasco I was also selling on their chicken, and idea most people liked despite that my manual said explicitly only put the Tabasco on the mac’n’cheese. Which only 2 people were willing to eat.) and be creative of helpful. It was sort of a simple, crap job but…

Somehow, I really enjoyed serving people, making something for them.

Silly as it is, I like to think this is a start of a brand new bit of insight into my wonderful fiance. I’m sort of eager to explore more of “her world”.

And have only now to hope that she’s tickled by that, not insulted by the comparison of my job to actually being a cook. xp



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