Once again I was doing a stage at a very well-known kitchen in my home town. It was my first time being part of a service, I spent 6 months there. The chef was the most lovable, yet temperamental person I had worked for. I started on pastry learning the basic stuff like crème patissier, lemon tarts, glazes, etc.
After one month on pastry I asked to be transferred to the main kitchen, so I could really feel if the kitchen was the place to be. They started putting me on starters, then slowly got me involved with the mains and afterwards they were even calling me to help out on the big functions around the city.
A lot of stress happened, of course, but that wasn’t the high point.
After six months there (on an unpaid stage), the pressure on me was getting higher and higher, and I just didn’t want to be part of that anymore. It was time to move on.
I was scared the chef would hate me when I told him it was my time to leave.
The opposite happened.
One day I pulled him to the side and told him I had to go, that his kitchen had a lot of problems that I couldn’t put up with anymore. That maybe I wasn’t mature enough to deal with them or maybe it was just a bad management issue. I could hear myself saying that and seeing him yelling back at me for being so arrogant.
The chef was speechless and said that no one had ever told him that. That he knew things weren’t perfect but that nobody in 6 years of business had had the guts to tell him what made them leave.
He thanked me.
He said he was very happy with everything I had done for the restaurant and that he knew, from the first day that he met me, that I wasn’t like everybody else and that he never expected me to stay.
He said – you don’t belong here, you belong to the world, and no one can take that away from you. I hope to see you soon, sit down, have a beer and hear all of your adventures.
Now every year I go back home, I do exactly what we agreed on, and the respect that I show for him, he shows back.