Goodbye LA..

February 22, 2016

I used to believe that.. If I worked hard enough, if I showed I was dedicated enough, my chef would naturally look out for my personal growth. That it would come naturally, in its own place and time if I was patient enough. Now I know differently.. that.. You don’t have to give everything you’ve got. And that.. my chef doesn’t dictate my growth. I do. And if that means not giving my 110% at my current jobscope in order to have something left to think and see something outside of my jobscope.. then so be it..

Maybe.. it sounds like an excuse for being lazy. But you know what.. I’m not gonna sacrifice my life for a chef who sees me as nothing more than another cog in his replaceable machine. And trust me, I have been that girl. Who is here earlier than you. Who is here during split shift. Who goes back later than you. Or at least.. not until a find a chef worthy of giving my everything and more.

So I guess.. it’s a bittersweet goodbye to my second home Les Amis. It has truly been a glorious year.

November 6, 2015

I pray that I am ready when it is my turn to be tested.

Looking back on a year (or so) in Les Amis

October 18, 2015

Wow. What a year it has been. And a bit late but better late than never. It may surprise some.. but I absolutely DO NOT regret stepping into this kitchen. It’s really been a year of pushing my boundaries. And I continue to.. although in different ways and pace.

PHYSICAL-MENTAL. I’m not sure what other experience might top the physical “pushing my limits” charts.. Maybe running that one 10K or climbing Mount Batur a year ago. But definitely had to convince and coerce myself into waking up that much earlier. Keeping my hands moving that much longer. The times in the middle of the night getting freaked out i thought: This is crazy. This is crazy. Omg this is crazy. But… I am already here and going home now work unfinished will not make it any less crazy or the hour any less late.. So……. The time when I semi-sprained my ankle. Going to work was a kinda hard decision. The time when I took out some stitches on my finger and fainted in the doctors office during break. Chef thought I had an abusive boyfriend because of the blue black on my eye. Lol. Finding ways to motivate yourself when you come earlier than everyone, leave later than everyone, work through break unlike everyone, and hear things like…. “guys we faster go break, got alot of deliveries coming today” that one was……. really a wow moment.

SOCIAL. This kitchen was the largest I’d been in so far, and it just keeps getting bigger. I don’t really like to talk while working.. just.. keep my head down and do my own thing. And it’s taken some adjustment working with all these boys.. some of whom really. Like. To. Talk. And I’ve realised that if you want people to work optimally, you gotta create an environment where they work optimally. And if some people can only work well when they are talking.. then….. Building Team Garde Manger was a challenge at the start. And continues to be a work in progress. I was frustrated tbh because.. I can do things, I can chiong, but I cannot MAKE people more hungry or I cannot EXPECT that everyone will be like me. Yet I cannot continue to be the one doing everything.. then what’s the point of hiring all these people? The period where it was not fun going for off days because there would be some horror story waiting for me when I came back. So, yes.. motivating others and getting them to surpass themselves has been a challenge as well..

Going forward. I am grateful for all the opportunities given. And the level of trust I am given in many areas. And definitely a big thanks to the person who took me in here. I do not know how long I will be here.. but I can only hope that I continue to grow at the same pace.

April 13, 2014

I am honing not just a skill or a craft.. but more importantly an attitude, a way of thinking, a lifestyle that will set the foundation for further growth. I know that I am lacking in some areas and I dont like that.. but I confort myself knowing that its only through the pain/discomfort of knowing that you are not good enough that you can get better.

This is not the first time a chef is leaving.. I hope that I will get to be a part of the opening team.. and I hope to be a part of that team that executes the 

vision that you really want. And I think.. I know its gonna be epic.

Thank you for taking a chance on me. Thank you every chef who has taken a chance on this wild card.. sometimes I envy those who have gone to school. Its seems like an easier way to get a better understanding of how to function and what to look out for.. and sometimes it feels like I am at a big disadvantage because of this.. but people who  have worked with me tell me that my knowledge is sufficient and my curiosity will slowly help fill the gaps.. I tell myself that what I lose out on, I gain more because I keep being humbled by the idea that thisnis a craft to be honed over years or a lifetime.. and that being able to so something doesnt mean that you can do it well.. or that you really understand why it works that way. 

These two weeks of nannying trainees old and new has been an interesting experience to say the least. Sometimes I have chafed while wondering why various chefs didnt let me ‘progress’. But now I am grateful for being taught that not everything important is to be learnt on the outside. Some things need to be learnt on the inside as well.. and are equally if not more important than things you learnt on the outside. How to watch others and learn without being ‘taught’. How to ask yourself how to be better. How to have patience to do something until you can do it in your sleep. Patience to learn the ‘simple’ things well before moving on tk other things. Humility to know that you can still be better.. and that there are others better than you no matter how good you are, coupled with confidence in your own work. 

A certain trainee was telling me with a certain amount of pride how he was bored being placed at egg station for 2 months while on attachment and would make friends with garde manger so he could learn more.  I agree that that might be what I’d do as well.. but I tried to tell him that learning is not confined to learning a greater number of things.. because one day youre just gonna get bored and you might just plateau. Learning is also about doing something so repetitively that it becomes reflex. But of course.. being the eager tainee I don’t think this idea went down very well with him.. I admit that sometimes i get bored too.. and you just have to find new ways to do what youdoing.. or gain new information to gain new insight. 

 

So I guess thats me checking in for now. .

October 21, 2013

 I would like to work tat somewhere like alinea or wd 50 but I know that I have so far to go and I dont know if I have it in me.

July 24, 2013

Left with less than a week here at bistro. Walking back into the kitchen knowing that your working hours are reduced, your responsibilities are spread around, is a disconcerting experience. After a few weeks of people settling into a rhythm and pace, it would be the new normal.. and to anyone who just walked in it would be like I never was there. (melodrama much, lol) But it is sad and I know I will miss this place and these people. It/they have given me so much and I have put so much of myself into this that it’s hard leaving.

But.. the extra time and freedom allows me to think about: what or who am I without my work? The time not constantly thinking about the daily running is time that can be spent thinking about other aspects of food/cooking. What skills am I lacking in, what will I be needing to work on in the future. In addition to all those “urgent” stuff I need to work on I’ve come up with these knowledge and skill gaps that I need to work on, maybe not in the immediate future, but definitely in the years ahead. 

-pickling and preserving, dehydrating

-butchery and chacuterie

-a better working knowledge + understanding of pastry

-sauces

-a better understanding of vegetables

-better understanding of herbs and spices and flavour combinations

-more knife skills…..

 

July 21, 2013

If I don’t take responsibility, I can’t fix it. Let me listen—however painful it is– and learn whatever I can.

July 19, 2013

So.. 11 more days to Au Petit Salut. Didn’t think it would be that fast. More takeaways from my time here at Bistro that I wouldn’t want to forget..

Multitasking.. is something that I’m trying to get better at. When I first started here (actually more than a few months into my time here…) the cdp was always pushing me to do more at the same time.. and it was kind of a new concept to grasp at the same time. Now I think I’ve gotten better at it over the months. But one day a few weeks ago it was me and chef setting up for service and it was going to be busy. He was kinda chill, doing things as per normal but I was rushing about and having sweat pour down my cheeks. He laughed at me. And asked me what have I completed vs what has he completed. He said multitasking is not slowing down your original task so that you can do something else in between. It’s finding something fast enough that you can complete before the original thing is done. Yeahh.. then it clicked. And things on my list started to get done. Work in progress, this one. 

I watched pacific rim recently and lead actor asked lead actress why was she being so obedient to their commanding officer when they both believed that his decision was a wrong one. She said: it’s not obedience, it’s respect. Sometimes I really question myself. Is it because I don’t respect my chef, or is it because there really is something wrong with my attitude? Today he said do your short rib salad and I went to check the tickets first.. then do the salad. If the short rib had come out there and then.. my salad confirm wouldn’t be on time. I know this wasn’t the first time.. Chef say what, you just do………………. Pls remember can… Chef show you how to do something, just do it his way can……… Don’t geh kiang. If you think your way better then ask him can or not… Ask why he do like that.. If he don’t like your way or even if you think his way sucks.. just do like that. Because it’s his food that you’re sending out and it’s him that’s answering for any suckiness in food, not you…

July 16, 2013

So.. Two more weeks to Au Petit Salut. Two more weeks left at Bistro.. In the last month or two going to other restaurants for a day has been a very eye opening experience – seeing how other people run things, how people behave and carry themselves, the different kinds of concepts and foods out there.. Yeah it’s been a valuable experience.. helps me know who/what I would like to be a bit better. But going forward I’d like to have it down somewhere some things that Bistro has taught me.. things I hope I won’t forget for a long long time. 

Always always always follow your chef. Always always always let your chef know what is going on. Know your own capabilities, and know when you need help. I know I’m not always good at this.. but it’s something I’m working on. One incident keeps on replaying in my head.. I really really should have done things differently, and I really really should have known better. Me and elvin were running lunch alone and it was pretty busy, with service understaffed. And things were going smoothly. Then there were a few things going at once.. dessert in 2 mins, dessert in 5, and big top main. He said settle your dessert first I do the main. First dessert went out and I started working on the main’s garnish and sauce and he was taking down plates and stuff. Maybe it was my ego or whatever.. I thought: I can do this.. you think I cannot handle so you help me is it? So I asked him, you firing big top already is it? he said u ready? yes. ok we fired. It turned out to be pretty messy cos 1) dessert and mains were ready at about the same time cos of the number of mains we had to plate 2) not enough service to send to food. I keep of thinking about this incident and thinking about the stupid rookie mistakes at that point of time. If I had waited to fire the dessert first and use the lag time to prepare for the big top things would have been so much smoother. Follow your chef. Know your timings, how long you need. Don’t geh kiang (overestimate your own abilities). Accept help when you need it. Smooth service is the goal.. not you and your need to show that ‘you can do it’.

Work and personal life separation. Professionalism. Something that I really, really hate don’t like about me during my time in bistro is that I forgot that I’m here purely to work. To get better, to move faster, to do more, to be more alert, to be more organized. Somewhere along the way I forgot that it’s work first no matter what. And I hate that about myself. 

Two more weeks to Au Petit Salut. I really am looking forward to the change. I really think it’s the the best fit for tme at this point of time. 

March 6, 2013
How time flies. Soon it will be A WHOLE YEAR at my current restaurant. A year of learning.. humility. patience. (yes, believe it or not) how to respond. seeing new things and new ways of looking at the same things. self-discipline (definitely a work in progress..) working on a few things at once. being more organized (STILL a work in progress). being more accountable. 
I think it’s amazing that I get to go to work with my favourite people in the world. Yeah, it truly is..