Lessons 1-15: The Latest News

My first week of class has been amazing.

Before starting, a small part of me was panicking about juggling school, work, and my business. This last week was tough. I’m scheduled to work until about 1:00 am, but class starts at 8:00 am and I love my sleep, so get up in the morning can be a battle. Also, this past Tuesday Macaron Parlour started a week-long pop-up shop at Henri Bendel, so I spent every spare moment baking and planning. As the pop-up winds down, I think things will be less crazy, but even if every week is like the last two, this class is worth it. Both Steve Zagor and Julia Heyer come to the class with so much knowledge and energy that I’m both startled awake and willing to prop my eyelids open with pencils to make sure I don’t miss a single thing. In my previous career, I was an avid reader of Eater, Grub Street, Serious Eats, and all of the fun online food gossip. I read about restaurant openings, drooled over photos and had mini crushes on chefs I’ll probably never meet.

Once I actually started working in a kitchen, my grasp on industry knowledge and current news went out the window. BP oil spil? I know about the grapeseed oil I just spilled in the dry storage area. Earthquake in Japan? I think I caught a glimpse on TV while getting ready for work. Martha Stewart’s pop-up pie shop? I made plans to go two weeks after it closed. So, it is a pleasure to discover that part of our Wednesday curriculum involves catching up on current events. We’ve been advised to keep an eye on New York Times Dining Section, Nation's Restaurant News, Crain’s and Eater. I wondered if much has changed since I last sat down to catch up on the industry. Well, I read my first Sam Sifton review and I can’t really figure out his true opinion. I wondered if suing McDonald’s over the Happy Meal toy will really do anything. In any case, it’s nice to finally sit down and catch up on what’s new. Beyond just current events, I’m realizing that my classmates and instructors have a wealth of experience to draw upon and have great stories to share.

How could it have only been a week since I started? It feels like we have touched on many subjects already — from looking at menus to defining a restaurant concept and reading ads for leases. My favorite class exercise is a game called “Restaurant Realities.” Steve Zagor throws out a scenario and we discuss the proper reaction. We’ve covered situations like a mouse scurrying across the dining room floor and guests unscrewing art off the wall. Ideally, there will be these situations won’t happen, but in reality, this game is probably going to help us when things do occur. Trust me, I know.

Two years ago, I saw a woman eat right off my stand at the Brooklyn Flea. I asked her what she thought she was doing. She shoved the rest of the pie into her mouth, said she had no money and ran away. Well, I fumed about it for a while, but I realize now that it happens more often than you would like and I guess it’s time for me to just let it go. So, moving on… We really haven’t missed a beat; much like the fast pace of working in a kitchen, we are speeding along in learning about management. Last week, we just introduced ourselves to each other. Next week, we’re going to have our first guest lecturer and field trip. I can’t wait!

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