Thursday, July 23, 2009

Suddenly Sous...or...The Summer I Lost My Mind

Dec. 19th 2008: Final day of my internship at Fugaise under the tutelage of Chef Don Saunders and Sous Chef David Hara. I have completed all requirements for graduation from Le Cordon Bleu Minneapolis/St. Paul.

March 14th 2009: Closing night at Fugaise. Don tells me of his future plans and offers me the sous position if David declines.

July 23rd 2009 (today): David chose to move on, and I've officially been sous chef at Stout's Island Lodge in Birchwood, WI since May 1st.

I feel incredibly fortunate that my career has taken such an unusual trajectory (more on this in a later post), since I was not really qualified (resumé-wise) for a position like this. But, when a guy who was rated in the top 25 chefs in the Midwest offers an opportunity like this, you just trust that he thinks you're capable of the task, and be very grateful.

On the flip-side, I sometimes worry that I may lose my mind out here. I came into this position well aware that I would be working roughly 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, with a day or two off a month, and was perfectly fine with that. I viewed this, and still do, as a sort of chef summer camp. In a relatively controlled environment (though not without its unexpected moments), I've been given the opportunity to learn ordering, menu planning, and all the fun stuff that goes along with title of "Chef." By the end of the summer I should have a firm grasp on these, and roll into our next project (and possibly my own solo project), The Commodore, in St. Paul. What I was not prepared for, and neither was Don for that matter, was the relative isolation of this place. Since the two of us make up the executive staff of the island, and we're both based out of the Twin Cities, we are the only two staff members who live on the island. At the longest point, I went three weeks without setting foot on shore. It's become a sort of endurance test, much more so than I had imagined, but despite the stress and the exhaustion, it has also been a hell of a lot of fun.

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