First Course: Panic Attack! (Or “How I Wrote My First Menu”)

I told myself taking a walk would clear my head a little.

Instead I walked past a few local spots filled to the brim with people eating and drinking and I got overwhelmed.

I hurried home. The blood rushing to my face. I told myself to chill out. To not pass out on a random cross street with some dude asking me if I was okay — that maybe I was overreacting. I was a little high strung and all I could think about was getting back to my apartment and shoving something chocolatey and sweet in my mouth. I thought maybe this was a panic attack. Though it came so suddenly.

I know all I wanted to do was eat some chocolate. And I did. Typical coping mechanism, I imagine.

I took some deep breaths. I told myself I could do it.

It's cool yo. Just relax.

It’s cool yo. Just relax.

And that was that. I laid down on a pile of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrappers and fell asleep.

Onward to the bigger news:

Dinner service starts this week!

Bah!

It’ll be my first week in charge of a kitchen. Which, to me, is a BIG deal. To people already heels deep in the industry, you know I am over reacting. This, I know too well. I know how things work. I know the good and the bad all too well.

I’m not so much afraid of failing as I am succeeding. Failing is sort of easy, right? It’s when things catch on and get busier and busier. I think that was what got me. The idea of getting in over my head.

But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Food feels different when you’re not feeding close family and friends. It becomes somewhat of a commodity. People pay for it and expect to get their money’s worth. That becomes a little scary to me. Especially for a dude who doesn’t have much. Making sure people are fed and taken care of — that is what’s most important to me.

I wrote out a rough draft menu while working a party a few days ago and felt really good about it. Sort of a “look how far you’ve gotten with what you’ve learned” kind of thing. A lot of folks who go to culinary school don’t get this opportunity. I consider myself lucky to know the right people at the right time, and to work hard for these people. (And to give them whiskey, from time to time.)

I was proud of that menu. Damn proud. It’s nothing special. But it’s food, and I think it tastes good. Which is really important, by the way. The menu showcases the cook. The person in charge. The things he/she wants to show you, the patron. A menu can be personal. It’s a story. It’s a thought applied to an ingredient involving technique, timing and seasoning. A lot of hard work goes into cooking that food. Sort of like that time you had to give a presentation at work, only you then realized that you have to give it five days a week and hope to be consistent and better every time.

I got that nervous twinge in my belly. But a good one. And that’s when I knew I’d be okay. I felt proud about being a cook. I felt empowered and strong and confident.

So yes, there is a lot to be overwhelmed about. That’s okay, ya know? What good things aren’t sometimes scary at first?

This is the part where I say thanks for following this messy journey, and those who will continue to follow me into the kitchen. And while I make this seem more dramatic than it needs to be, it’s big to me and that matters. Deeply.

So thank you for all the kind and supportive words.

And if you’re in the Portland area. Hit me up.

I’d love to feed you.

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One response

  1. I love your brutal (and humorous) honesty! I can definitely relate to those moments of panic when given an amazing opportunity – panic not about failing but about succeeding is way more intense & overwhelming! Glad you found yourself through it and I’m sure your menu will be awesome 🙂 Can’t wait to hear its story.

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