Well, I guess I should be flattered, but I’m just kind of dumbstruck. Yes yes, go ahead and make jokes about me just being dumb – I’ll wait… Done? Good, moving on. Something very odd happened in the kitchen today…
I got an early birthday gift. Instead of sweating it out over the omelette station, I was hard at work destroying appetizers for patrons of L’École today. Whatever makes the mean, mean omelettes go away makes me thrilled. Added bonus: Teach stopped by with his family and hopefully had a good meal. Actually, as long as he steered clear of anything with the word “tartare” in it – which I was mangling – I’m sure he did. It was nice to see happy faces come through the kitchen, even if I could only barely enjoy it because I was too busy thinking of how to ruin something else just by touching it.
After Teach went on his way, someone new appeared in his place. When you work in a kitchen, it’s pretty eye-catching to see someone in “street” clothes, especially if they’re not wearing front-of-the-house black. I tried to not pay attention and focus on getting orders out, especially since I seem to be able to distract myself and plate late all on my own. Unfortunately, Mr. Street Clothes stood there, staring at me while he spoke softly with the restaurant’s manager. Ok, so here’s another frightening glimpse into my psyche – I am EXTREMELY paranoid. I don’t know why, but it may have something to do with the fact that when I was a child, my mom convinced me that everyone I saw was trying to kidnap me. Maybe, maybe not – let’s not point fingers. Well, I tried to control my over-active paranoia and told myself that this gentleman was NOT staring at me.
Then I heard the general manager say my name, followed by, “Mindy graduated last year and works in various positions around the school.” Ok, no, now I knew that they were talking about me. So I made eye contact, gave a little chuckle to the general manager in acknowledgement of my 5 different timesheets (all under the FCI roof), and stared back at Mr. Creepily Started This Staring Game to see if I recognized him. No luck, never seen this guy before in my life. So I pretended like being talked about didn’t freak me out and went back to plating Hamachi.
Then, Mr. Now It’s Starting To Get Weird came up to me and called my name. I quickly put my plate down and began running through the “stranger danger” self-protection steps that my mom made me memorize as a kid. Ok, first I’m going to yell FIRE and then run in the opposite direction… but what if someone thinks I’m trying to fire an order and starts plating instead of helping me? Or what if that kid who actually started a fire last week thinks I’m making fun of him? Oh crap, now I missed what Mr. Talking To Me While I’m Not Paying Attention is saying.
After I said, “huh?” Mr. Guess He’s A Close Talker repeated his inquiry: “What is your specialty?” My response was, “Huh?” At this point, he probably figured that I didn’t speak English and that “huh” was the extent of my American vocabulary. He tried again though, this time a little louder to either translate by increased volume or because he thought I was just hard of hearing: “You know, what do you specialize in?” This time, I responded with the only thing I could think of: “Um, random haphazardness and overall catastrophe?” Yeah, I actually did say that. Who knows why – I was weirded out, the situation was awkward, and my mouth started working before my brain. It’s pretty common with me really – I think I suffer from acute mouth-before-brain syndrome.
Mr. Glutton For Punishment decided to spell it out for me since I was missing the point of his questions. “Are you trained in French cooking?” Me: “Yeah.” You’d think with how wordy my posts are that I’d be a better conversationalist. He continued, “Well, I own a Thai restaurant in Florida and I’m looking for a cook with both an Asian and French background to tackle the fusion menu! Any interest in moving to Florida?” Whoa, whoa, whoa. Ok now, there’s really no point in writing down more of the conversation, except for the fact that I said “no thank you.”
So, at first I felt flattered and as you’re reading this, you may also think that I should’ve been flattered, except for a few oddities surrounding his offer:
1) The man hadn’t sampled my cooking. In fact, even if he got the Hamachi or Steak tartare, he wouldn’t know whether or not I could operate a stove without burning myself (I can’t).
2) He’d never seen me in a kitchen before that moment. I might be a crazy disaster (I am)!
3) What the hell do I know about Thai cooking? I’M VIETNAMESE! Completely different country, dude.
As I thought about the situation later, there was something familiar about the whole thing. Where else do you go into a place and shop for a live being based solely on appearance? Oh yeah! The pet store! That’s right, you go in, find the cutest dog (or in this case, the most Asian), and then you look at it as you speak with the store manager to find out more info, “Is she housebroken?” Well, on the one hand, it’s nice to feel “qualified” for a position based solely on my appearance. Wow, is this how models feel? Except I wasn’t being picked out because I’m 5’10” and eat nothing but air – wait, make that Diet Air. On the other hand, he’s really lucky that I didn’t take him up on his offer. He would have ended up with a Vietnamese cook who already sweats a ton without the help of Florida humidity, trying to cook up Thai food for the first time ever, and slowly reducing his restaurant to rubble with her string of unfortunate accidents. I should have asked if there was healthcare…