Last April, I interviewed for a job with Ceremony Coffee Roasters out of Annapolis, Maryland. I interviewed to be a barista. After the second interview a few days later I received a call from who would then become my manager letting me know that instead of me taking on the position of a barista, they wanted me to cook.
Before I go any further, let me explain something. Growing up as a child, I stayed clear of the kitchen for the most part. Especially during holidays. I let my mom, my older sister, and my older relatives take control of the cooking. I didn’t want to be involved in what seemed to be chaos. I wanted no part of that. I would spend time with my brothers playing football or x-box. Anything but cooking.
That being said, you can imagine my thoughts when they told me this. “Greaaattt“.
Initially, getting the handle on being the only cook during a shift responsible for all the orders coming in, and then making time to prep what foods you ran out of in your spare time took time. It took two months of staring at a cheat sheet to figure before I finally stopped looking at it and was like, “I know all this”.
One of my first mistakes I ever remember made was when I was chopping avocados and I accidentally left a stem in. Since then, I will literally nitpick avocados and how they are sliced. Ask my family and friends how many times I’ve told them they’ve been slicing an avocado the wrong way and left something in there. I think at this point they’re like, “Do you want to slice this avocado instead?”
During my time at Ceremony Coffee I was able to learn things like; poaching an egg, filleting a salmon into pieces, how to make avocado toast look like a work of art, shrimp salad, pickled onions, etc.
I will admit though that, from my time spent in kitchens I’ve learned that I get sidetracked easily. But, there are things that are really helpful in the way of time management and organization – such as the invention of timers.
Out of this experience I realized that while I’ve learned a lot from being in the kitchen at Ceremony, there is still a lot that I don’t know about cooking.
Fast forward to the present. I recently got a new job at a local restaurant in NEPA, called the Fishin Hole Bar and Grill as a line cook.
Since then I’ve gotten to get back into cooking and continue to expand upon my knowledge of cooking and really test my culinary skills out.
As well as cooking at work, I’ve gotten back into cooking and taking over the kitchen at home. Much to the surprise of my parents. I’ve been learning to look at several different takes of recipes, and use one as a guide, but to not worry or stress if I have to go off book or if I need to substitute because I spaced and forgot to buy an ingredient.
One of my many challenges when cooking comes from my anxiety and my sometimes lack of organization. But, I’ve learned that the more I do it and keep trying it, the more confident I am in my ability to cook and the more I develop a pattern and a pace, the more it gets ingrained in my mind.
When I started out at Ceremony, I was beyond nervous. To the point where I secretly thought I’d never get the hang of it. By the end of my time, I was finishing all the orders in a timely fashion and finishing most of the food that needed to be prepped so that by the time the night person was in, they didn’t really have much to do unless they ran out of something again. My manager would often have to tell me to actually leave a few things from the prep list for my co-workers to do.
The best advice I could probably give to someone who wants to learn how to cook, but is intimidated by cooking is to start small, and if you make a mistake don’t freak out. Mistakes are all a part of learning. Learn from them and keep trying.
Sometimes things take time to learn. Don’t give up and don’t be discouraged when you do fail or mess up. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.