Monday, April 18, 2011

On the Clock Again, Finally

After nearly a year, I finally clocked into work today.  For the last two weeks I've been working on nailing down this job that I was told was a sure thing halfway through my first interview.  It's been a little bit of a rollercoaster to get it finalized as the management has been super busy, but today it was official.

My varied experience in the several jobs that I've more or less suffered through over the last 12 years will serve me well as versatility in this small kitchen is desired.  I couldn't have imagined a better fit for me.  Just to begin with the schedule is perfect, weekdays 10a-3/4p.  I'll still have time for Aikido and weekends for any obligations or activities at the Zen Center as well as weekends to spend with my girlfriend.  I have the option of picking up other shifts, but this is what they hired me for.

What I'm most excited about is seeing what effect my practice will have on job performance.  I'd just barely begun my adventure in sitting when I'd quit my last job and I'd seen a difference in how I dealt with other people and different situations but now I've been practicing intensely without the backdrop of the professional setting save the few lab classes at school and my cooking as tenzo which are a little different than "real life" kitchen work.

I'm excited to learn new things at this job and the management is excited to teach me.  It will be different than school though since I'm used to knowing more than my fellow classmates and am usually ahead of the curve.  Here I'm the only student so the pace will be faster and much more hands on.  There will be no time to fall behind.

The management is interested in food in the same ways that I am.  Learning new cuisines, techniques and ingredients isn't about knowing more than others or being cutting edge, they want to absorb the information because it's there, they want to experiment because they can.  Their explorations of vegetarian and vegan cooking is not to exclude meat but to see the things that pop up out of necessity in meatless cooking to share it with people who would otherwise shrug away from vegetarian meals.

Cooking in the Zen setting is different than professionally cooking as everyone is at least trying to keep their egos in check.  In the professional kitchen, the ego serves to get you noticed and is how you advance.  From what I've learned of this kitchen, that shouldn't be an issue as the crew is small and the management is most interested in team building so this should be a friendlier work environment.

Another thing I noticed while cleaning today is how long it's been since I spoke freely while doing kitchen work.  Zen kitchens are like zendos in that right speech functions not in total silence, but only on what is at hand.  It should be interesting to at least have the option of idle chatter to pass the time.

It's so odd, after nine months of off and on job hunting to be getting settled, that pressure is no longer there but I'm still squished from it sitting on my shoulders for so long.

Let's see what happens.


  1. Congrats! And best wishes on getting settled in at the new workplace.

  2. That's awesome. Congratulations.

  3. this is so exciting. I am hoping for lots of pictures of interesting food! Good luck!!

  4. thanks. one of the two managers is even somewhat interested in what it is I do as tenzo. he has a friend that works (has worked) at a tea house in austin and he's into the mindfulness of eating and preparing food. (he even knows the difference between soto and rinzai, score)

  5. Congratulations! What sort of place is it?

  6. They say it's a "fancy ice-house" which kind of seems to be the new thing. Mostly sandwiches, po-boys and "rich-boys", oysters, stuff like that. The aesthetic is reminiscent of a suburban French/New Orleans cafe with a gravel turf for lawn bowling.

    Execution is more important than recipes so it's pretty cool. I sure come home smelling a lot better than after some of the other restaurants I've worked in.