A lot of my life has changed. The way I view it, what makes me happy, and what I want out of it.
Part of this may have had to do with my first "chef" position, how I felt throughout it, and how it ended.
What went wrong, really? I'm young for the restaurant industry, and only seven months out of culinary school, someone offered me a pastry chef position - to be in charge of a restaurant, a retail chocolate shop, and soon to be a second restaurant as well - how could I turn it down? I was thrilled. Honored. I had done a small tasting for the chef/owner and they had offered it to ME? Really? How badass am I! I sent a mass text out to everyone saying I got the job as soon as I left the building...and walked straight to my previous employers to turn in notice.
Well, what I'm leaving out is the fact that I didn't really go over details with this new employer. Details that have a lot of importance. Salary was agreed upon, (not really negotiated though..it was a lot more than I was used to so it seemed great) but it didn't go much further than that. Things I should have known were vacation policies. Paid, unpaid? Other benefits? Why wasn't all of this written up in some sort of contract or offer letter?
It was my first ever salaried position, and I made all the classic rookie mistakes. I would run things by my boss verbally, only to have her fuck my world up a few short days before I left for vacation. And there was nothing I could do about it, because I had nothing in writing.
The truth of the matter is that there's still a lot I don't know, and am still learning. Perhaps it was too soon for me to take on a chef position. But now that I have, I can't step back from that.
I never fit in to the kitchen. As anyone that works in this industry knows, all kitchens have their own personalities, generated by those that work in them and the way all the characters bounce off each other. There was a lot I saw that wasn't up to my expectations, and after a while I realized they were never going to change and so I saw myself adapting, and not caring anymore. Passive aggressiveness was something employed by all the managers, something that infuriates me, but I found myself almost doing the same after a while.
But, perhaps the biggest red flag I should have paid more attention to, was simply the fact that I wasn't making the kind of food I wanted to make. I took the position mainly to learn how to run a pastry department, not realizing that if you're not making the style of food you want to make, it will eat away at you inside. All chefs are adaptable and can make various styles of food, but at some point you just need to do what makes you happy.
Happiness. Happiness used to come from my life at work but nowadays, it's coming from my life outside of work. And so I've had thoughts of leaving the field...I could take an office job, be hated and looked down on by all my cooking friends for it, and have a nicer paycheck and hours than all of them. Spend my Christmas surrounded by family and loved ones, not exhausted and half asleep from a month of hard labor to get all the orders out.
I'm at a crossroads, and ultimately it will be my decision to continue on this path or not.