Hello all! Glad to find like-minded people to learn from and discuss life's deepest darkest secrets with.
Here's a bit about my cooking history.
Grew up in the kitchen every night, cooking with my parents.
Taiwanese father cooked primarily szechuan style stir frys, noodles, meats. Had a knack for american bbq, smoking, grilling, etc.
Irish-american mother cooked mostly american classics (yankee pot roast, cornish game hens, chowders, soups, various casseroles and pastas) with a large variety of dishes from italian to thai, indian, greek/medi, south american, etc.
Luckily I learned almost all dishes can be cooked "by feel" or without recipes. I have a good ability to taste a dish and recreate it (most times tasting even better) at home without too much research. (I never would have known to put nutmeg and white pepper in eggs. )
In highschool I started working at a fast food restaurant here in Oregon. Hated the management but loved the work. Decided to stick it out and through a combination of hard work and good attitude I worked into management. My fellow employees appreciated my management style and the time I took to hear out their issues. Actual actions to make base-level employees happy were blocked by upper management and I felt frustrated for their sake. Started to lose my patience for rude customers in a fast-food environment.
Got a second job at a small cafe company as a do-all be-all worker in Portland. They soon learned that I love to cook and let me run special dishes and learn to cook from scratch for high-volume consumption. Loved the customers, work, and the management seemed agreeable. Worked up to assistant manager (while being groomed to take on my own store as a store manager / gm). Quit Burger-hell after 2 weeks notice and securing the new position.
I now manage my own location full-time Mon-Fri 5AM-1PM and love it for the most part. Having creative freedom over the menu and execution is the best part in my opinion. The paperwork is light and I love my employees. My only complaint would be that the pay is not competitive and the customers in the area aren't adventurous when it comes to ethnic foods. They prefer burgers and chicken strips over Tikki masala, mao po tofu, stir fry, or chicken carbonara.
So far I've learned that it pays to learn and work hard in the kitchen. It may suck to start from the bottom but seeking out and developing opportunities when they present has led to some great successes over the few years I've been working. I've also learned that I can't sit still or be stagnant. I need to move, learn, explore new dishes, and have conversations about creativity.
Here's to a great start to what is hopefully a long and interesting career.
P.S. One thing I feel I'm missing out on is the culinary school / traditional kitchen experience (eg sous chef, saute, french-style kitchen positions/cooking, etc.) I would love to travel and work for a kitchen / master chef willing to teach. All I need is the opportunity.