2017 has come and gone and like most of the previous years, I don’t remember most of what happened. Part of me wants to blame it on a terrible memory, but deep down I know it’s really because I didn’t do much of significance to have decent enough memories to remember. So, I figured I’d try to go through most of last year and reflect on the events and memories I do remember. So lets do this, lets have a nice journey down memory lane of 2017.
January was an interesting month from what I can remember. I was still working at the Club and my Exec chef and friend and I were planning the spring and summer events. All of a sudden, while I was driving to work, I get a call from my chef and he’s telling me that he was fired for a slightly inappropriate comment he made on his own Instagram. The higher ups and the board members of the club decided that that was enough to fire him. I completely felt it was bullshit. Either way from that day on the Exec sous chef and I were in charge. I almost immediately asked if I could take on the role that I was promised in the beginning and was told that I wasn’t ready. They wanted to see me do more in that role. This was of course also bullshit. In a predominantly blue blood white male private club, having an Asian male as the Exec chef was not something they wanted for their image. Yeah, I said it, they didn’t want to give me the job that I was more that equipped to do because I wasn’t a white male. Later I found out that the two most important positions at this private club was the CEO and the Exec Chef. Bullshit really. After they declined my 2nd and third attempts to become the head chef, I decided it was time to start looking for something new. Much to my dismay I learned a hard truth. In the real work, in your work world, don’t trust anybody and nobody is really your friend. Nobody really gives a damn about you or your problems nor do they care what your qualifications are. You just have to know somebody up high enough and you can slide your way into a position that you can bullshit until the figure out your ruse. After keeping that ship afloat for a couple months, I was unceremoniously fired as well. They gave me a nice bullshit reason saying that I wasn’t the right fit for the club going forward, but to be honest, that whole club was going to shit and the man that was at the interim CEO position, who was probably the least qualified person in the entire place, oversaw the impending changes. I did what I usually do when I get wronged and taken advantage of and went home and set up a nice little curse on the place. Karma is indeed a bitch. A few months later I heard that the interim CEO was let go as well. The place when back to its stagnant shitty existence and will hopefully close in the next 5 years.
I think around late March I started working for a Chef friend of mine in the city. He has always been good to me and I’ve always appreciated the opportunities I had when I worked with him on temporary events. This time though I figured I might as well start working for him full time and help him with his budding empire and offer up my skills and services to him. Little did I know how much disarray his budding empire was. I will always go back and defend him and say that he had no malicious intent or knowledge of how much I was busting my ass for him, but just like a big fish in a little pond, I began to go crazy and suffocate myself and eventually drown in my own pride, ego and hardcore mentality of whatever my definition of the “Chef Life” was. My body literally broke and I had to step away from the industry that I had grown to love. Big fish. Little Pond.
In June I went on a self-induced medical leave that was facilitated by an intervention by my parents and my sister. I learned then that the only people that do care about me and my wellbeing, is my family. I went on a couple months of mental and physical rehabilitation that involved a lot of alone time and a lot of thinking and processing of what I have gotten myself into and where I should go next. In Spokane, there was nothing. Nothing left that would pay me my worth, and if that sounds pretty egotistical of me then please find me another classically trained chef with a working degree in culinary sciences and a background in biochemistry along with training as a manager, as a cancer researcher and as a front of the house captain. In Spokane, there isn’t anybody that rivaled me in my wide range of experience and skill. But, like I said above, it doesn’t matter how fucking good you are at your job, you just have to know the right people.
I decided that the best thing for me would be to swim to a bigger pond, an ocean of sorts. Some where that had better opportunities and where I was a nobody. I decided to finally take the leap and move to Seattle.
August was a busy month from what I can remember. I had picked up a side job as a server for my other uncle so that I could make some extra money for the move. At least once a week he would ask me to be the cook and go behind the line instead. I constantly insisted that I couldn’t because of my health, but mostly it was because I knew that I could get myself an extra few hundred dollars a week as a server opposed to just being a dishwasher on salary. Sorry uncle, I was done helping other people out and I felt you could use more servers anyway. During that time, I searched for jobs across the state and enlisted help from my friends with my resume and job search. I took a shot in the dark with the company I’m with and the rest is history.
The last three months were indeed a blur full of business travel and learning a completely new field in the food industry. I’m still constantly learning and constantly trying my best to do the best work I can. All in all, I love this job. Even though sometimes it feels like I’m traveling more than I’m in Seattle. Even though more and more work piles up and priorities change sometimes by the hour. Even though some days I don’t know what I should be working on or which project is more important. At the center of it all is a healthy curiosity and fear of the unknown. The slight thought that I could all end suddenly again and I would be back at square one. Luckily though, being in a bigger pond, I’m not afraid. I’m in a place in my life where I feel that I am finally free and finally starting my life. It feels like everything up to this move was just the introduction, just the tutorial and right now is Level 1. I spent so much time in the beginner zone, just grinding my skills and learning and practicing that now its all for real. Everything that happens from here on out is do or die and there’s no reset point. Not to mention, there’s no respawn point. Everything that happens now, happens for real and will have much more drastic consequences down the road. Training wheels are off, safety net is gone and I’m going 1000 miles per hour.
So yeah. What a fucking year. Ups, downs, really far downs, and near the end, some hope. Hope for the future and hope for more structure and stability. I’m looking forward to this year. It already feels like a good year. It’s what I’m going to make of it. I want this year to be one of the first years that I can remember most of it. That I won’t be filled with grinding day in and day out for nothing. My mental state has an ok foundation now and going to build on the last 6 months of growth and progress in my own health and well-being.
This year, is going to fucking rock. I’m fucking ready. Are you?