Walk into any random kitchen in America and you will find that it’s the survivors that are running the show. A typical survivor has a far different story than your average middle class culinary school grad chef that has racked up thousands in student loans because he/she was fueled with passion to enter the kitchen. The survivor usually ends up in the kitchen because that was often times the only option.
Listening to Efrain’s stories has inspired me to share an inside look into an example of what a survivor has endured and overcome, and the role that the kitchen has played in their survival.
Back home in Mexico, financial limitations kept Efrain from pursing his goal of becoming a doctor. In 1984, he jumped the border and arrived in California. There were more opportunities here than back home. But he had to hustle if he was going to survive.
Yep, Efrain and I come from completely different worlds, but somehow our paths have crossed. In the end, it is food that is the force behind our encounter.
Step one in survival was finding a job. While sending out a couple dozen resumes may be considered “trying hard to find a job” to some of us, it has no comparison to the way some people used to find jobs. Efrain told me that he walked on foot, door to door, asking for a job. He was willing to take any job, any job that he’d be qualified for, speaking no English and not really having any special skills or work experience. After much search, he finally landed a kitchen job. And that is where everything started.
As time went on, menial positions in the kitchen turned into promotions. Promotions turned into esteemed titles. Efrain was making his way up the brigade. He started as a prep cook, moved onto line cook, then sous chef in a short amount of time during his young chef-ing career.
I guess he was a natural. He loves to cook. Compliments on his food is what makes him thrive to keep rocking it out.
Efrain: I feel very blessed. I started with nothing. I didn’t even speak English when I first came here. I worked incredibly hard to achieve “The American Dream”.
Most food (restaurant review based) bloggers are limited to shooting photos of the food after it comes out to their table. But I get to shoot food behind the scenes where all the action is. In-your-face, fellow food bloggers! Just kidding. I guess this is the advantage of being a “culinary” blogger vs. a food blogger. Here are some pictures of the food I saw being prepared.
More Flambe shots
Since it was a slow night, they had some time to cook for the staff. Here are a couple of plates of burgers and fries about to be devoured by some hungry workers.
I took advantage of the rare photo shooting opportunity (even though I am still clueless about taking photos). I took some random pictures of random things in the kitchen for those of you that are curious of what lies beneath the closed doors of a typical restaurant kitchen.
I haven’t played around with the DSLR in forever. I had to get refamilarized with the settings. I just remembered that I have only taken photos with natural sunlight. I’ve never shot indoors without the sun, so I was even more clueless with what I was doing. Shooting indoors is a whole other teeth pulling task that I need to learn.
A slow Sunday night….
Efrain and fellow sous chef, Efren
The pass window
This is where the chefs place the food ready to be taken out. The runner and expo receive the food on the other end. Apparently, there are only a couple of tickets on the board…slow night.