The 54th Deadline: Pride in Your Work
As an aspiring chef, I have a lot to learn. However, I think it is important to find pride in your work whenever possible. Now, I don’t think you should blow smoke to make yourself feel better. This will never teach you anything. Plus, I find it pretentious. I have learned the most through cooking with messing up than succeeding initially, as odd as it sounds.
Nonetheless, you have to pat yourself on the back for a good job whenever it occurs. So the obvious thing in the cooking field is making “good food.” And when “good food” made by you gets consumed by someone else and they enjoy it legitimately, it is a thumbs up in my book.
So in the restaurant I currently work at, we have a special customer who gets a “Chef’s Surprise.” This surprise can be made by anyone in the kitchen at the time, and the dish can be anything within the kitchen itself. You would be amazed how many different things you can put together, so I was very enthused to get my first shot of making the Chef’s Surprise.
I chose to make one of my special bún (Vietnamese for noodle) bowls. It is a very light, refreshing and flavorful dish when done correctly, and it is one of my childhood favorites. My mother made my brothers and I a lot of bún bowls. You use vermicelli noodles and can put all kinds of things into your bún bowl. Meats, salads, dressings, toppings - you name it!
For this particular Chef’s Surprise, I basically made the customer something like this (minus the tomatoes and whatnot).
I stir fried some vegetables and beef in a wok, laid the sizzling food atop a bed of chopped up lettuce and garnished with fried shallots, carrots that were soaked in vinegar and other goodies. Of course, a bún bowl is nothing without some of the restaurant's nước mắm sauce on the side.
I was so nervous whether the customer would like my creation. I was so nervous, in fact, that I just avoided peeking outside in the dining room to see if they were still eating it. Being overly paranoid just caused me to feel uneasy. What if they don’t like it? What if I don’t get another chance to make more unique dishes for customers down the road?
What if? What if?!
Fortunately, I had no reason to be paranoid. A server came over a few minutes after the dish went out and told me that the customer really liked the dish. In addition, the proof was in the pudding, err, the dish pit where the bún bowl was empty.
I had fed a customer at a restaurant, a special one who gets customized dishes, and they enjoyed their meal.
I could not be happier as an aspiring chef. I know in the grand scheme I will end up serving many, many customers, but the ones where you go the extra mile for will always be the make-or-break moment for any aspiring chef.
Ultimately, I want to learn how to be a great chef someday. This is why I try to practice cooking whenever I can, always looking for that next tip or trick that will elevate my culinary prowess just a bit further.
As another example, here was my lunch for today. A custom fried rice.
What can I say? I truly love cooking. It’s very fun. Not to mention, really tasty if you get good at the craft.