Hearing about my nephew Ethan’s first job bought a flood of memories back to me about my first job.
Ethan is working at a salubrious place by the name of Bucking Beef.
Apparently it's a “funky, aggressive retailer bringing real food to the fast food industry.”
In other words, it's a roast and grill carvery. A roast and grill carvery where they make the new staff wear a badge which says, “Sorry if I buck up, I’m new”.
You get the idea.
I don’t even think there were many fast food restaurants in the country town I lived when I first started working. I was a very naive 15 years old when my father got me a part-time job with Boris, a German wedding caterer.
His business was called Boris Backer Wedding Caterer (not to be confused with Boris Becker, Tennis Player).
Boris was also the Executive Chef. And the first alcoholic I had ever met.
He taught me a lot about food. And as it transpired, way too much about questionable food practices.
Boris used to drink a lot of wine while he cooked and he grew progressively drunker and louder over the course of the evening (I subsequently picked up the habit of having a glass of wine while cooking except I don’t drink straight out of the bottle and then pour the same wine into the food I am preparing).
I also learnt that waitressing is an art form all on its own and that you have to have the skills of both a contortionist and a diplomat to survive what's thrown at you by the kitchen and the public night after night. In my first week I found out that carrying 10 plates at a time was beyond my limits and is guaranteed to result in a pile of broken crockery and a very angry boss.
I also learnt that wedding celebrations weren't always the stuff of fairy tales and that when great quantities of alcohol are consumed you have to expect the unexpected from those you least expect it from. Usually, as it happened, the unexpected came from the parents of the Bride or Groom. And, in these circumstances, I learnt the importance of keeping my mouth shut and maintaining a fixed smile.
I did, however, gain a life long appreciation for anyone who works in the restaurant industry and I was also fortunate to gain the most fantastic recipe for Black Forest Cake which I have been making on the odd occasion, ever since. And funnily enough, I think of Boris each and every time I make it.
What about you, what was your first job and how old were you?