In the span of the past 27 years, I’ve worked in some seriously shady places for some outright bastards. But I’ve also been fortunate enough to have been able to cook at some truly mind blowing locations with some really cool people. While we can learn from both, this article focuses on the latter and while no place is perfect, these are the ones that stand out in no order at all.
The first thing you need to know about this is that I was blacked out and sending my resume all over the place. I also apparently sent a bid to cater a porn shoot during the same bender. I was rather surprised when I got the call but fortunately I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut and act like I knew what was going on.
The gig was simple, I’d fly to Hawaii and get paid to live as the Chef at a Yoga center in the middle of the jungle. Oh, and everything had to be vegan. Somehow I was able to bullshit my way through the interview and twenty minutes later they called back to offer me the job. I bought a ticket and ten days later got on the plane.
It was a six week contract that I was not cut out for but I was living in paradise and doing my best to learn how to make vegan food not taste like shit. It was a challenge but I kept an open mind and let people who knew what they were doing teach me. I also got to take free yoga classes and tried Ayahuasca for the first time.
Sadly, the volcano two years ago covered the entire place with anywhere from ten to fifty feet of lava.
Thirty people, three meals a day for thirty days in a remote lodge thirty miles from the nearest grocery store and an hour from the nearest Costco. Once again, I must have been stoned because I don’t remember applying but bullshited my way through the interview and got the gig.
I was feeding a class of people learning how to be wilderness EMTs and I was in God’s country doing it. Despite the location, the Kitchen was one of the nicest I’ve ever cooked in and the class loved the food.
Most of the month is a blur thanks to the fact that I was living on caffeine and cigarettes the entire time but still, from what I remember it was fun.
The Weed church
At one point there was a weed church outside of Bozeman Montana and I had started hanging out with the Reverend prior to the opening while taking communion (buying weed) so he asked a friend and I to come cater the grand opening of the Church.
Yup….. We drove up, got his credit and Costco cards and spent a day prepping and getting stupid high. Now, when I say we did a shit ton, I butchered over a hundred chickens myself that day for brining overnight, while taking bong rips with my buddy.
The next day we set up the grills and blasted it. Charcoal only, we had six or seven going at one point and it looked like Danny Carey’s drumset. In the background is a crystal clear, postcards view of the snow capped Gallatin mountains. It was surreal and I ended up passing out in the middle of the sermon.
The day after we got back to Yellowstone, the rangers raided our cabin and I took a felony drug charge for possession. That wasn’t really that cool.
I was not my best self at this place by any means and yet I still knew from day one that I was going to miss it and didn’t want to fuck things up.
It’s in what I’d consider paradise if it wasn’t for all the damn tourists and the company runs a small efficient team who truly care not only about the lodge and land but the staff as well. I have nothing but gratitude and respect for these people.
Somehow I did a five month contract without catching a write up and left in good standing with the Chef and upper management, hard to believe I know.
Why they never fired my ass I will never know since I was young and had no work ethic at all. Regardless, when the tickets came in I was able to keep it together long enough to get the food out.
I was lucky enough to work in the Jack London location. It was a beautiful place with a big open Kitchen and when we got busy, it was a performance.
This was just before I started taking food seriously and developing any sense of work ethic but the owner Gene Kincaid, looked the other way a lot. Years later when I pulled my head out of my ass, he was one of the guys I called to apologize to for being such an ass.
I’ve worked in a lot of Kitchens and been with a lot of women. Most of them were fun in their own way but a few stand out as truly special. Sometimes, hell most of the time, you’re too blind to see when you have something truly unique but once in a while you see the light and are able to enjoy it.