The Long and Winding Road of Life


My youngest has had a path in the culinary field for the full decade she’s been out of college, and some during-college jobs too. She has four-year college degree and also a great culinary degree, has been a chef, a waiter, a bartender, an assistant manager and full General Manager at some good restaurants in the city.

This summer she left her job as a GM and took a job at a pop-up restaurant on the Long Island shore, an offshoot of a famous restaurant in the city, with the assurance from the head peeps that come fall she’d be offered a job back in the city as a higher-up in management. That she was but she put the brakes on, stopped to think about her life, as we all do, and wondered what really would come next.

She’s extraordinarily hard working (as are all my kids), she’s no snowflake, she is remarkably creative, she has a flair for design, is passionate about real estate and decided Β to say No to the job offer tendered above and stop for a bit to make the next move the right one. To think out ten years, to reach a goal.

Then, out of the blue comes an offer from the single best restaurant in the city, maybe in the USA, and on some lists, the best restaurant in the world. To be hired by this group would be a feather in ones cap that would open doors forever.

What’s the catch, you ask, because there’s always a catch! Yes, there’s a catch. It is this group requires all employees to start at the very bottom, no matter how much experience you come to the table with. It will mean polishing silver or being a grunt in some capacity for a while before she can even think about being a server…. a server! It might take months before getting bumped up and out, and maybe 18 months to being a captain or floor manager.

She’s made it perfectly clear that her long range plan is to work on the corporate side – she no longer wants to be a GM (talk about long hours and nasty people – she tells the story so well about one restaurant she worked at where there was no pasta on the menu but the mom who come in with her toddler wanted pasta and said to our daughter “just go out to the store and BUY me some pasta and cook it for me”. ). πŸ™‚

The group understands her goals, wants her enough to reach out to her, so the conundrum becomes taking a job that will throw her back a decade, reduce her to being a grunt again (not that she feels she’s above grunt-work mind you) but with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow being in the ranks of the best of the best.

Or, finding a way to combine her passions – design, real estate, culinary, and management skills into one field where she’s the boss of her own company. But with no assurance of money and certainly no benefits, like health care or a 401k. The NYC restaurant group takes care of their employees handsomely.

She’ll have to say yes or no quickly. We’re of little help other than to ask her what her gut says (she has always made great choices for herself).

It’s a tough choice, one that will mean she’ll have to stay in the city for at least five more years – something in itself she wasn’t sure she wanted. She’s single but attached so there’s a discussion between the two of them what is right.

I vote she dive in for the grunt job at the best place. How do you vote for her?

22 thoughts on “The Long and Winding Road of Life

  1. IMHO, it all depends on whether she plans or intends to get married and have kids because I guarantee you in a few years time (I’m guessing she’s in her early 30s) if she decides on a family, they will slow-track her (restaurant business has a terrible rep for that) and those years she did the grunt work will be a waste. She should begin to look around for someone else that’s more conducive to a normal family life.

    1. Huh, I hate to say this out loud because I never like to use this word, but gee Mick, that’s a horribly sexist comment. The restaurant biz is tough, yes, is maybe 60-40 male, but she’s never been discounted for being female. Many (maybe most) of the restaurants owners she knows have families and they know going into marriage that juggling life and this particular career path isn’t easy. Not all make it.

      Whether she gets married and has children or does not has zero bearing on taking or refusing this job now. She also sees this is a way of making huge dollars in the next five+ years, enough to stash away for a long time if she does choose to not work later. These A+ places pay top dollar, as much as a Wall Street gal might make.

  2. I say take the restaurant group’s offer
    β€’ She’ll find out why they’re the number one group by being a participant, starting at ground zero.
    β€’ She has time to decide what she wants to do (not sure what the five year thing is all about – but – I assume it’s easier to jump ship as a dishwasher than as Chief Pasta Provisioner).
    β€’ There aren’t any grunt jobs – it’s in the attitude.

    Does she know you sent this question out to the studio audience?

    1. Answer to question: Not yet. She does read the blog but not daily. I may tell her. Not sure tho.

      Agree about the attitude. Agree that she’ll find out why they are number one but being in the biz she knows many of the big players already and knows reputations. Knows how hard it is to train and keep good wait staff. Knows how to step in to wash dishes when the dishwasher has been deported. 😬. She can cook, tell nasty impatient customers to sit down and wait like everyone else.
      Lots of decisions in life these days. Certainly more than mine- I fretted about which Lily shift should I wear to the club that day! πŸ˜€

  3. First up, we’re back in the house, as of noon today. Thrilled. Lots of help from neighbors and places like Home Depot.

    Secondly, tell her to take the job. The opportunity to be asked to work for the best can not go unchallenged. After x# years with money in her bank account, then she can create the job that combines real estate and design.

      1. Endangered.species. Direct. Com πŸ˜‚

        If you haven’t an Aga…. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        1. Indeed. No disagreement. We saw an even prettier oven at the AD Design show. Italian I think. Name escapes me.

          Update. ILVE from Italy. Found my post from Design Show. Can’t seem to grab pix from that post and throw in here. I’ll try later. Gorgeous in Navy blue.

  4. She’ll be the best dishwasher they’ve ever had but not to the extent they can’t risk promoting her. They aren’t hiring her to chop carrots. My guess is if she takes the job she’ll see rapid advancement.
    Competence and great attitude are in very short supply in all fields. Plus, the $ and experience gained sound pretty good.
    Not for us to tell her which way to go but she sounds like a smart enough cookie to make the best choice for herself.
    Keep us posted.

    1. Agree all around with your comment. We done good raising her (and the others). They know the value of hard work. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, work long hours. They didn’t learn that from me. πŸ˜€

  5. Wow, this is an Unbeatable opportunity to enter restaurant corporate networking.
    I think well worth the grunt……the bus person may be the next Marketing VP, the server the Location Selector…..
    Remember the few who got on Noah’s Ark were the chosen

  6. I agree with Swanton’s very wise advice. And how lovely that your daughter cares enough ask for your thoughts!

  7. I can only hope that her opportunity is with Daniel Boulud.
    If so, she should sign on.
    DB is an especially gracious and fun person. Having spent a day with him in a conference room and dining several times at his restaurants, I can vouch for his credibility and happy staff, and flawless “dining” experiences!
    The “front of the restaurant” vs. “back of the restaurant” meaning servers versus chefs, sous chefs, table cleaners, glass and table setters, is all about sharing tips, and there have been endless lawsuits for many restaurants about this issue.
    Nonetheless, always long hours and dealing with unpredictable public peeps.
    Last time I worked in a restaurant I was 15 year old as a “sous Chef” preparing appetizers and desserts, and running a gigantic dishwasher. The day I had to peel and de-vein 40 pounds of shrimp kind of ended my restaurant career….my fingers smelled for many days!
    My next teenage job was in book publishing and shipping, driving a Chevy Corvair van and other company cars as a 16 year old Fox Lane student. Go Foxes!

  8. Take it. It’s like the old adage buying a house. Location. Location. Location. The same applies for a career path. Take the worst job in the best company. Good luck.

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