Everyone should work at least one restaurant job

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Screams filled the trenches on a recent Friday night.

“All day!” “On the fly!” yells the manager from across the room, just loud enough for whoever is online to get the message and do their job.

“We cannot run out of oil, we just restocked yesterday!

“What do we mean, we don’t have any more rags?” It’s only Friday!

Screams fight loudly against the hustle and bustle of the teeming dining room. I walk to a corner with a sharp knife with a colleague by my side, shouting “COIN!” just in time to prevent my fellow countryman from suffering a bloody end to an otherwise money-filled night.

But these are not the sounds of a battlefield, nor a last minute family preparing for the day of the end. These are the sounds and interactions of an average dinner rush at “The Parlor”.

When I first walked into The Parlor as a wide-eyed high school student, I never thought I’d call a job “home.” But as I got a behind-the-scenes look at what makes this award-winning restaurant tick, I quickly learned that I would be here every winter and every summer I could.

From the waiter to the dishwasher to the preparer, I find myself enthusiastically returning to the non-traditional pizzeria whenever I get the chance, always being greeted with an exaggerated “myyyyy boyyyyyy” from the side. pizza chef.

But I couldn’t get this feeling from any restaurant. The family that is the staff of The Parlor are largely the same people since I started three years ago, which is a testament to the fun work environment, but even more is a great example of loyalty and brotherhood among these, dare I say it, soldiers.

Whether it’s chatting about movies with the manager, Kanye’s latest album with waiters, my favorite home cooking methods with our chef, free-style rap lyrics with the dishwasher, or cooking techniques. sharpening knives with the rolling pin, I can easily say it’s the supportive, family team of this culinary palate that has kept me coming back all these years.

Nowhere is this idea that working in a restaurant is like preparing for war is more evident than in “Kitchen Confidential” by the late Anthony Bourdain. No moment quite exemplifies the “calm before the storm” quote as the calm hour immediately preceding a dinner rush.

Like the hidden toys in the Caterpillar Room from Sunnyside Daycare in Toy Story 3, an empty restaurant spawns a chilling silence. But the waiters who double-check the expo, the dishwasher who cleans every tiny stain in his station, and the line cook who grabs extra takeout containers all know one thing. This aforementioned silence? It is nothing more than a false sense of comfort.

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Then the families come in.

“There you go,” I say to myself as the first part of five waltzes. Another arrives two minutes later, then another just after, lest we forget the reservation for 12 which we have 30 minutes later.

On the floor, I run to every party, trying to keep the water full, the dirty plates off the tables, and the customers happy. The number of tasks thrown at the busboy alone becomes exponentially more intimidating for the next few hours, to the point where I manage a mental list of prioritized tasks, deciding what to push back and what to do once:

“Not important at the moment.”

“Damn, I forgot that!”

“We’ll deal with this later.” (To the tune of Mac Miller’s “Senior Skip Day”)

“Please be 9 years old now!” “

I find myself strangely at ease in the dish pit. Like one of Ford’s famous assembly lines, I’m locked in a cycle: saute food, throw it in the machine, dry! Except that these three steps are not in order. They are all made simultaneously, each for a different set of dishes or cooking utensils. But no matter how many dirty dishes fill my station, I find myself in a Zen-like state, continually cleaning until he’s caught up, sparing just enough time to take a coveted “break”.

But nothing comes close – for me, at least – to doing prep. Being one of the first two people in the facility at 7am helps me relax. With no boring customers or hot pans in sight, I can dream of chopping, dicing or portioning the dozens of ingredients that make up our menu while happily singing “I can’t keep losing you!” “From” Dang! ” by Mac Miller

It doesn’t matter if I’m dealing with 120 pounds. of mozzarella or gallons upon gallons of sauce; few jobs have given me so much relaxation, even with so much to do.

Of course, what makes The Parlor exciting is its extensive menu. Owner and chef David DiBari never fails to amaze customers and employees with his Da Vinci-style creativity and originality.

A Culinary Institute of America alumnus, DiBari has made some of the most eye-catching pizzas on this side of the Mississippi, with more than a few unique options.

While the chef makes sure to provide customers with all of the mainstays like queen margherita and roni roni roni, the real excitement comes in the lower part of the menu, where options like “the whole bagel” (mozzarella and parmesan topped with all the seasoning for bagels and vacuum-packed egg yolk sauce), “the limonator” (dried lemons, smoked scamorza and a delicious chili sauce) and “the mushroom pizza” (wild mushrooms, béchamel, truffle cheese etc. .) awaken the palates of adventurous customers with an explosion of exciting flavors.

But The Parlor has plenty for non-pizza lovers too, with “the living room pocket” (a soft-boiled egg wrapped in batter with ricotta and truffle oil) and – no doubt. in my mind – the best chicken sandwich ever (topped with a chili honey to die for) ensuring original options for everyone.

During a break after a double shift or even a staff meal, articles like these always help me remember one of everyone’s greatest feelings: an amazing meal after a hard day’s work.

Even though my days at the Parlor are numbered as graduation approaches, the people, memories and meals I enjoyed in this culinary lab will always hold a special place in my heart.

With that in mind, I cannot recommend enough that you work in some form of culinary service at least once in your life. Lived experiences do more than just keep someone busy.

Rather, they serve as a meditation on the values ​​of hard work and provide memories that will last a lifetime.

Your palette, your work ethic, your nostrils and your wallet will all thank you.

Alex Falter is the Arts Editor and can be contacted at [email protected]


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