Thursday, November 6, 2008

Meine Job ist der Hammer

I've decided that I have the best job ever. And I´m not just talking about the job I can´t write about (WinkWink) fabulous though it may be, but also about my intermediate gig, which involves making lunch for a film company here. Seriously, you should all quit your jobs and try to steal mine. Work isn't always so grand, for sure, but lately things have been working and it is great. Yes, there is a crazy lot of schlepping. And there are insufficient elevators in Europe, from what I have observed, which is all well and good and helps encourage us to move about and save energy and whatnot, except when you are carrying lunch for fifty and you are prone to back pain. My back along with other bits of me are in fairly serious pain. I spend too much time in my (job-provided!) car these days as the studio is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay on the other side of Berlin (good for listening to NPR pre-during-and post-election coverage, though)...there is way too much construction everywhere so I am eternally waiting in traffic or trying to find a parking place within decent schlepping range of my apartment. And then there´s the stress of trying not to destroy a car that does not belong to me. Also the kitchen they have me working in is the worst kitchen ever. I know all chefs say that no matter where they work, but we are not talking small walk-in or no windows here. I am cooking in the office kitchenette....every morning when I get there, it is a disaster from the work-late crowd...there is no secure storage space and the mini fridge floods. I have only a weenie electric stove (the fact that New York is chock full of gas stoves is only one indication of its superiority over Berlin) and the oven is small by Euro standards. In these parts, ovens come with pans that you slide in like the racks in American ovens. This oven is missing the original pan and the replacement one doesn't quite fit, which means that if you put anything heavy on it (three kilos of Schinkenbraten (German cousin of pork roast) for example), it crashes to the bottom of the oven repeatedly, splashing it's nice bath of wine and broth EVERYWHERE. Also the workers, who are seriously really nice (with the exception of two people: one woman who complains about cooking smells and is then totally piggy at mealtime (she doesn´t seem to connect the extremely delicious smells with the opportunity for her to be piggy) and this other moron who upon discovering that I am American (and proud, especially this week!) proclaimed: "an American who can cook, impossible!" He then gave me a mini-lecture on how bad the food is in the US. I told him he could eat upstairs with the German cook (see comments below about German cooks), are constantly coming into the kitchen to make themselves a snack. I am definitely pro-snack, but the kitchen is the size of a closet.....

That was a lot of whining for what I have proclaimed to be the best job ever (at least currently...knock on wood), but really it is. I have no boss so nobody tells me what to do or acts like a crazy, senile Polish man (subtle reference to my editing job in New York). I get to cook anything I want...and because I don't make the same boring German things intermixed with the German interpretation of Asian food (as previously mentioned, in this line of thinking Asia is one big land where the people eat endless bowls of greasy noodles with bits of carrot and scary meat), they all think I´m remarkably creative. And because this particular crowd was subject to a German cook for a while and then abandoned by him, they are so greatful that I´m there.....they are constantly thanking me and telling me how delicious everything is. Also the German cook upstairs doesn´t ever make dessert. I ALWAYS make dessert (I am even more pro-dessert than pro-snack) and this makes everyone really love me. This is a (potential) big upside about personal cheffing: your clients are right there in your face. If things turn out well, everyone is happy and lets you know (unless they are like the Hollywoods and programmed to complain no matter what. alas.). On the other hand, when your Schinkenbraten is a little dry (I could try to blame the oven-from-hell, but....) you don't have the nice door between the kitchen and dining room or a waiter to act as buffers. Luckily the blue cheese potato salad and blue-ish sweet-and-sour cabbage (this was my blue-themed election day lunch....) were delicious and somewhat made up for the slightly over-cooked pork(barrel) and there were chocolate chip cookies to wash it all down (dessert makes ending on a positive note all the more easy). Someone else comes to clean the kitchen when I'm done(!) and I get to drive home(did I mention they pay for my gas, too!?) awash in all the thank yous and compliments. Remind me to revisit this post when/if the Hollywoods strike again.