Just three months ago I was embarking on a new adventure here at beautiful Cannon Beach. Wide eyed and white knuckled I ventured into the kitchen at EVOO. Now 12 weeks later I feel there is much I still want to experience but I am no longer the fledgling learning to fly. It would be a daunting task to surmise all I have learned here to date. It has been an amazing and almost overwhelming amount of culinary staples as well as a surprising amount of small details overlooked by the home cooking I have been used to. I really feel that I have been welcomed in to an almost underground society here; the scene behind the curtain of a great meal or a good night out. Memories created on a first date, a birthday celebration, or just a fabulous dinner with close friends usually start with the when and where to eat. The people in the background who you may never see, work like madmen to ensure their guests’ good time out. Remember to be kind and tip them well as they deserve it, believe me!
When I first decided to come to the coast I was on the fence about whether attending a culinary school was the direction I wanted to take. I have always loved learning but the heavy price tag of admission, coupled with some of my chef friends advice to just work your way up the ranks had me questioning what to do. This experience seemed to be the perfect chance to test the waters. For me the dynamic here has been exceptional. The standards are high as are the expectations of mental and physical stamina. Thinking in a proactive way so you can anticipate and delegate the best of your time is the key. It was a chance for me to test what my grandparents used to call “the stuff you were made of.” In my family we pride ourselves on some pretty tough stuff. And here, everyday technique, cleanliness and speed are questioned.
I have been reading a great book in my down time called “Beaten, Seared & Sauced” that has closely resembled my day to day activities here in this little kitchen. It’s about a man changing direction late in life and attending the CIA in NY. Let’s just say I can relate. One of the similarities is that encouragements are given but even the most subtle of compliments are reserved only for when the job is done correctly. In my mind that makes it much more meaningful and heartfelt. The recognition gives me a good sense of pride for my accomplishments. Actually the ultimate compliment from Bob is when he stops mid stride, leans in to check my work with a discerning eye, pretends to wipe away a tear and says “they grow up so fast ” before continuing on his way. In return when I stop with inquisitive looks, my questions of the how and why have always been answered with a scientific background and a practical approach. It has really helped me to connect with what I am doing.
Which brings me to the question of what I am doing next? Culinary school still looms in the background after seeing my mentor in action. I have also been in touch with a select catering company and looking at the possibility of going back to school in the food writing realm. Anything is possible, right? I am happy to say that for now, I have been asked to stay here at EVOO and continue learning through the summer. I plan to become a jack of all trades, handling the retail, service, and still doing my favorite time, prepping in the kitchen.
These past months I feel like I have found little pieces of myself and my passions again. I am excited every day to be cooking in the kitchen, and sharing my very first blog has rekindled my affinity for writing. I feel lucky to be surrounded by a supportive community and amazing group of people that have made me feel like family after such a short amount of time.
Thanks to everyone for reading and following me on my journey so far, and thank you, Bob and Lenore, for all you have done to help me on my way. I’m looking forward to an amazing summer full of new experiences and the chance to follow my heart. Signing off but not going far…. Kate
P/S: Watch for Shanda’s blog, “The Green Project”–coming this summer as she tells us how her family responds to eating “green,” i.e., more vegetables from her CSA basket.