I’ve had a lot of jobs. A LOT. Seriously, when I left full time work in June 2014 I think the count was 13 full time jobs, and I dread to think how many places I've been now after all the temporary and freelance work I do...
In any other industry (and perhaps this one too!) I think that would be considered a bad thing. Unreliable. Non-committing. Flaky. But I only moved on because I stopped learning. I got bored, simple as that. It's experience, right?
I have always said that the great thing about working in the catering industry is that, in general, the pay is low. Below average. And that might sound like a bad thing but instead you get to keep your freedom, and that is so much more valuable. I never had a great salary, I never drove a BMW, I never had fancy things and that’s all ok because whenever I fancied it I could jump ship from a low paid job to another low paid job just because I fancied learning something new.
The truth is that without going to London, so I hear anyway, it’s hard to find places that actually cook. Actually scratch that, it's hard to find places that cook and are nice places to be. It doesn’t shock me anymore but I think it would shock you, and I'll save those stories for another time.
Long story short I've worked in pubs, restaurants, hotels, bistros, weddings, conferences, marquees, retirement homes, contract caterers, corporate events, prep kitchens, cafes. I’ve worked in small family run restaurants and huge chain restaurants too. I've done new openings and even a closing when a restaurant went bust. I did a two month stint in a Michelin restaurant, I’ve worked in an airport making thousands of inflight meals a day. I’ve worked in everything from barns to castles, from make shift kitchens to top of the range, from the worst golf clubs you’ve ever seen to ones with AA rosettes! Some of it sounds glamourous and some of it really isn't, but at the end of the day you're still in a kitchen.
I felt like I’d seen everything. No more surprises. Certainly in terms of working environment anyway, but certainly not in terms of cooking because I don’t think you ever can. I felt like I’d seen everything until today...
I just spent the day in a private school and it’s been playing on my mind. The food was fine, and the place was clean, well staffed and well organized. I’m not sure how many kids, a few hundred at least. But it’s Iso far from what I experienced in my school, I couldn’t quite get my head around it.
We all think we’re normal right? My life is normal to me because it’s my life, it would be. My day-to-day. Yours is normal to you too and maybe you think mine is a little odd. I might think yours is odd too, who knows? But the point is that they rarely come in contact with one another anyway.
I am really fortunate to be able to experience other people’s “normals” so far from my own. Like high profile corporate dinners and today’s private school. It really opens my eyes to the world and puts my life in perspective. It’s like looking from the outside in, get it?
In a private school I feel a bit like riff-raff and in the past I would have got really down on myself about that. But yesterday I felt so proud of who I am.
I hope these kids don’t give up their freedom for a fancy job with a nice salary, or that BMW, or both. But then again maybe they will, and they will be happy because of all those things, and that’ll be their normal. I’m not criticizing.
I think I felt proud today because I am happy doing what I’m doing - trying. I don’t envy anybody else, I’m happy working hard, grafting to make my dream come true, if it was any other way it just wouldn’t feel right.