the last straw



I have made a decision. It was borne out of pride more than necessity. The last straw was drawn and now I find myself looking forward to moving on.

Two weeks ago I sent out my CV to a restaurant group that would open a restaurant in March of next year. Posted on an on-line job listing, it had its usual prerequisites. But what stood out is that they needed somebody who knew how to cook and could speak German. Hey, I could do that.

A week went by and I didn’t hear a thing. Until last week. One of the owners called me up for an interview one afternoon. After another interview through Skype from Singapore, next thing I knew I was offered the job. Culinary Director. Nice ring to it, no?

Then they told me I had to go to Singapore in the next week or so to train. And like Murphy, I found that my passport needed renewal. Oh no. Pulling a few favors and going through the motions of passport renewal, I will be ready to leave on time.

As for the restaurant I am working in at the moment, the more I think about moving on, the more it looks like that this place is going to the dogs. More mistakes are cropping up. More mediocrity is emphasized. More obvious that there will be nothing here in the future.

So I took the job. I will. I need it. Being away from my family for a couple of weeks will be hard. But in the long run it will be good. It will be very good. Click on the image above and see where I am going. Tell me. I will be in Singapore soon. Anything interesting to see or do during the few hours I am free?


2nd to the last straw

It was a bad day yesterday. The monstrous Metro Manila Traffic got me in trouble at work for being late. What usually is a half an hour commute took three times that. I guess it’s a sign that the Holidays are upon us.

Getting to work to find that the manager has sent out the guests because there was no one in the kitchen. What? There are two inane questions here that need to be addressed:

Why are there no kitchen staff at the restaurant when it opened? And more importantly…

Why did the manager send out the guests instead of having them wait in the comfort of air conditioning and good music?

I work with complacent cooks. These are cooks who do mise en place a la minute. They were already bad apples when I was recently added to the roster. And yesterday nobody was in the kitchen due to either that they were on day off or they were late too. One was late. But he was always late. Always. And yesterday I found out why he was never chewed out before I took over his job. But I will get back to that later.

The motley crew consisted of three cooks when I took over. Al I knew from years before at an Italian restaurant. He was surprised that I took over his job, owing to the fact that he drove the kitchen down so low that it was covered in stain, dirt and rat droppings. Much can be said about the many levels of mediocre his food was found to be. Alvin was a steakhouse guy before. Most reliable. Fast worker. Can be taught. And shoots before asking questions. Stocky and healthy as an ox, moves quickly. A few polishing around the edges and he could well outpace half of Manila’s cooks. And then there is JC. Dishwasher and so-called cook. The dirtiest kind. The kind you would see toiling in a backwater canteen.

The Manager seems to have this cook as a favorite. And since the cook makes the manager’s meals, I supposed it applies to that adage ‘do not bite the hand that feeds you’. I guess that is the reason. He can probably get away with murder.

My days are numbered at that place. I look forward to the day when I leave that place for good.


This is my kind of morning

I like mornings like this.


I drive my daughter to school every morning for the past countless mornings. We drive with the windows down, to take in the fresh, crisp air and revel in the relative quiet of going through the near empty streets. And this time of year we are treated to some cool weather, with a light morning fog blanketing the low skyline of the nearby villages.

The yellow glow from the sunrise makes everything more colorful during the nine kilometer travel from home to Montessori. Me and Maxine see more things in detail, notice unusual places and appreciate what was not noticed before. Roosters calling in for duty. The streets are actually a lighter shade of gray. Drivers are friendlier. There are less psychotic jeepney drivers. A hole-in-the-wall bakery actually just popped out on us as we followed the scent of freshly baked bread.

On the way home I deliberately kept the radio off. I just stared out through the windshield, pensive, mindful that in a few minutes all so-called drivers will be let loose. I was not in a hurry to end morning drives like this. And I was on schedule.

It is mornings like this that make me look forward to the day. I am my own commander. I control fate. I am the creator of what will happen.

Cue “Roam” by the B-52s…