Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Today was a very eye opening experience for me. I have been in my current position for 6 years almost to the day. Prior to that I made an attempt to go into business for myself. I formed my own LLC, started seeking catering business, bought a business that ultimately failed. Then I went to work in my current position. Fortunately for me and my family I was offered the position I have today after one phone call. The experience of working for myself when there was no work and only being able to pay the bills and what labor I could afford, not being able to write myself a check, made me very willing to take whatever was offered. And let me say I was and am still grateful for the job. Although the position pays well, there are no annual pay increases and you have no chance for a pay increase unless you advance in position. Also I have no control over who is hired to work in the restaurant nor do I have control over the schedule. This vexes me to no end. It takes the very drive to succeed away. I digress, this has led me to work doubly hard in other directions, and thus far we have been blessed.
I have been fortunate enough to be given generous work as a contract chef for several years with Unified Brands, among other opportunities. The culinary director there virtually assured me that I would be the next corporate chef when and if the position became available. However when it did become available a year and a half later, I believe that our friendship, made my appointment impossible. They picked a chef that had not been involved with the company but that had worked with a very high profile chef on a national level. Their choice was correct. Although I felt as if I would do the job justice and would find my niche given time, it still worked out for the best. The job was in Jackson, Ms. a 3 hour drive from my home. I felt this was a minor detail, since I had been making that drive almost every week for 3 years, and the position was at the time about 70% travel all over the country. It turns out that a year after they appointed the new chef, they told him that his job was moving to Atlanta within the year. That would not have been possible for me to take. However the new chef has flourished in the new position. The past 2 years have been very productive for me in the role of contract cook chill chef for Unified Brands as I have been working directly with the Canadian Cook Chill project. Late last year the Cap Kold Sales manager resigned, he and I had developed a good working relationship, and he gave me a great recommendation for the position. Again, I feel that the friendship and the hiring manager seeing me washing dishes and cleaning floors in support of what I had been asked to do, held me back. They hired a chef that had been fired some 8 years before in virtually the same position. Through all of this I swallowed my pride and made the statement several times that I would rather be called when needed, than not called at all. Well after last October the calls have stopped coming. I believe that the company has moved on. Although the players all know me, my usefulness to them has passed.
Since the first issue I have made a concerted effort to improve my worthwhile. I went back to school, took public speaking, certified through the American Culinary Federation as a Certified Executive Chef, worked on doing more public speaking/cooking gigs, been on TV twice. Since the first of the year I have been submitting resume's to companies within the driving vicinity. Yesterday I got a call, I thought it was for an Executive Chef job I submitted a resume for in Vicksburg, Ms, turns out they picked another candidate for that position, but they would love to speak to me about the Chef de Cuisine job. I reluctantly said yes. During the interview was where the eye opening moment came. The phone interview was today, it lasted about 20 minutes and had the usual questions, about, responsibility, tell me something about yourself that's not on your resume, strengths, weaknesses etc. Then came the one question that has stuck with me: Why should we give you this job? I had to answer it the only way I knew how, I do not think that you would be giving me the job. That no one has ever given me anything. That I have spent the last 30 years of my career earning the opportunity for you to look at me as a candidate for the position. That I know there are many others out there with more varied levels of experience, that there are many candidates with more talent than I have, and many more people with more education than I have, but that I do not want you to give me the job, because over the last 30 years I have done the work that puts me in the place to be the best choice for the job. The experiences over the last 6 years working in my present job and with the other opportunities I have had and missed, that is what is the most important to me. If I am the person with the right fit, hire me, don't make me jump through hoops, then tell me " we have chosen to go with another option" if I am not tell me! I believe that a constructive conversation on my shortcomings will only make me work harder, strive for greater heights, there is always a lesson to be learned, believe me I have learned a lot. But I refuse to give up. Never give up!!!!