When hard work pays off

I was humbled several times this week, to the point of tears, because all of the hard work I’ve put into this career change over the last three years is starting to pay off in the most wonderful ways.

Now that I’ve finally figured out my career path and clearly noted that on my site, freelance jobs are pouring in, unsolicited; so many that I’ve had to turn several away or offer alternate start dates. I’m booked for cooking classes through December, and will do one more television cooking segment before the holidays are over.

That aside, the most important parts of my week were two very nice things Chef had done for me while at school:

Last week while making beignets, I mentioned in passing that he ought to purchase canola oil instead of vegetable oil so that I can cook and eat whatever we may be deep frying. Typically, we use vegetable oil or peanut oil; I’m allergic to both {legumes} and keep olive and sunflower oil in the pantry, clearly marked so no other students will use it. Our school is so small that everyone has been respectful of the warning label for the past two years. But, I don’t have enough of either for deep frying. I used a “hey, just kidding” tone; I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in our school allergic to legumes, and figured changing oils just for me wasn’t the most practical way to spend money.

As I was gathering equipment to set up my station before class, Chef walked by and said, “I bought you a present,” and tilted his head toward my station. I looked over and saw a big, beautiful bottle of canola oil. I thanked him several times, trying not to gush too much. I don’t think he’ll ever realize how much that meant to me.

On Thursday, he surprised me again.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Chef how the 5-star restaurants in our area {of which I named two…and I think they’re the only two in Orlando?} conduct their hiring process, explaining that I needed restaurant experience, but didn’t want to work just anywhere. I want to learn from and work with the best in our area. I didn’t think much about it after that, figuring I would need to finish school before diving into that aspect of my career.

Thursday, another chef instructor pointed to me while we were plating our meals and said, “Don’t leave today until you speak with me.” Everyone in the class snickered and teased I was in trouble. Chef said, “Oh, don’t worry, it’s very good. I nominated you for something. In fact it might make you cry.” It did, indeed.

One of the 5-star restaurants was hiring, and Chef nominated me as a candidate. Of all the incredible things that have happened to me over the past three years, this by far made me feel the most proud. Whether I get the job or not, the fact that Chef had enough faith and confidence in my cooking and management skills to pass my name on to this establishment, validated all of my hard work.

I cried, happy-proud tears, but waited until I was in the ladies room — there’s no crying in the kitchen.

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