The first Tasting was a little over a year ago. I spent weeks preparing recipes, testing flavors and arranging things on plates. I went through three chocolate sauce recipes, I bought new baking dishes, and spent a great deal of money on ingredients. I even hosted a party for my girlfriends who brought over a bottle of dessert wine and cooed cheerfully over marshmallows and mousses. I have the best cheerleaders a girl could ask for – still, their positive thoughts could not prevent the dessert disasters yet to come.
Filling a binder with recipes – complete with page-protectors – I drove three hours to Connecticut. After years of making what people had told me to make, presenting my own creation was a bit like letting someone read a diary and sharing a very important secret – Those are the words of a baker–friend of mine who couldn’t have put the feeling more perfectly. A “Tasting,” of “food audition,” is the time to show your own creativity, flavors, and ultimately, a unique identity and food philosophy in this great big world of kitchens.
So, to continue the analogy – when I shared my diary of desserts, the person passed it around the school bus while directing a taunting chorus heckles and jeers. After an exhausting sequence of driving, ironing, worrying, lack of sleep and finally, cooking– the General Manager of The Resort spent the entire event on his cell phone, with little-to-no eye-contact. He gabbed away like a chipmunk to a squirrel (if that’s even an expression). I nervously presented and explained my carefully planned (if not a bit crudely executed) dishes to a man who barely glanced up.
Had I been who I feel I am today, I like to think that would have waited – I would have let the ice cream melt and waited for his attention. I am losing my patience for ass-holes – Lord help the man who cuts me off driving these days – or perhaps, this is a symptom of living in New York for a year – No more Miss Corn-Happy Ohio – I expect people to be pleasant and polite, goddamnit,
Although the GM’s behavior was nothing compared to what was to follow – Later, the chef took me aside and gave me a speech about learning to, and I quote, “be a bitch in the kitchen.” (Apparently, if one is to be a successful woman in the kitchen, it an essential quality….Or else you shall be banished to the Home-Ec room with Joan Cleaver and Sandra Lee). Although I think he was trying to offer some console and advice, he was nothing short of reproachful. He continued by saying that I should work in New York City, learn a few more things, and come back in a couple years. He’d plunged in the knife and given it a good twist with rejection, insults and little bit of old-fashioned chauvinism.
I was not offered the job. I know that’s shocking.
A year later, I am not working in The City, I have done several more tastings and they have gone very well. No one else has instructed me to become a bitch and I just started a pastry chef job last week.