Something About Drama

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To be honest, I’m not sure whether I like drama or I’m just a normal uni student. I like to know what’s going on. So I keep up to date with wordly events, I try to read things in other languages, I stick my nose where it shouldn’t be… You know, just normal stuff.

In my various social circles, I run into a lot of drama. A lot of it is very petty and entertaining, like something you’d see when watching Love Island. Some of it is worrying and more serious, like something you’d see when watching Love Island. But unlike Love Island, I can manipulate the drama in my favour. (I never had enough phone storage to download the LI app).

What I mean is, by giving advice. I hate to see my friends in bad situations and I’ll always do my best to support them. Today, I’ll talk about the mess I’ve encountered since starting sixpalmtrees.

Dive In

Consumers can be entitled. Not necessarily a consumer of one of my services, but just anyone in general. I’ve had people try to order cookies or brownies from me at 11pm for the next morning. I’ve had people offer to shout me out on instagram for a a free catered event. My favourite experience though, is someone who asked me to cater a bbq for 50 people. The next day.

Needless to say, I rejected that one.

There’s also a lot of drama on social media. Chefs and home cooks like to argue about the latest trends, why things are popular, why they shouldn’t be. I love reading these arguments, and hearing these opinions. Popular chefs on social media have discussed everything from different types of jobs within the industry to food culture to different types of alcohol. There are discussions on things I didn’t know were even relevant, but one that I agreed heavily on was on the usage of “food porn.” I’ll post about that later.

Advice

A lot of my friends have come to me with similar problems and I really hate that we can all relate. I try to give the same advice because it’s so important. I always say “Don’t compromise your morals for one order. Because before you know it, you’ll be taking all your orders at a lower standard”

And while it sounds fake deep, it’s something I have to remind myself of. If one person thinks you’re a pushover, you might get a quick influx of customers but they will screw you over and you’ll be in a worse position. It only takes one bad review for people to doubt your credibility. I’ve had to learn from my mistakes and it did set me back a lot.

This was supposed to be a fun post… I have no idea how I managed to make it deep and useful. I hope it helps anyone starting out in the industry though. People will definitely try to screw you over, but stick to your guns and the right customers will come.

It happened for me, so it’ll happen for you too.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

My Musical Journey

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I’ve just found out that uni starts in exactly two months, which means an extra two months to break in my new digital piano. As some of you know, I love playing and composing music when I’m not cooking so I’m excited to finally have a keyboard in my room.

Today, I’ll be writing about my experiences playing piano and why it’s important to me. (But nothing about grades or school, because that’s boring)

Apparently, I’m vain. One of my reasons for quitting violin was because it made my fingers calloused, though in defence I was 13 and was looking for reasons to quit. At one point, I liked playing piano only because I looked super professional playing songs and and it gave me a personality other than “black kid with anger issues.”

It also helped with my coordination. I’m not the best at doing handsy stuff and I’m very clumsy. This doesn’t happen when I play piano though. Once I’m really in the zone I can play with all the grace and elegance of my younger sister, who’s a ballet dancer. I’m clumsy when cooking so it’s nice to have a hobby where I don’t mess things up.

I can get really distracted when playing piano sometimes, either doing warmups or trying to play my favourite songs. I play by ear mostly, but there’s something gratifying about sight-reading something particularly difficult. But I tend to lose track of time when playing. When I’m not playing, I’m thinking about what I should play next. My mind jumps from thinking about a recipe to thinking about a composition. Honestly, I’m fuelled everyday by my desire to create and I’m thankful for it. I want to inspire people with my creations.

My downfall, probably

I used to hate atonality. For someone that claimed to be “out there”, I spent my teen years refusing to compose outside a scale. My piano teacher loved jazz, and I hated anything more than a 7th chord. I hate to admit it but there was a point when even Chopin was too atonal. As you could probably tell, this was very limiting. My idea of an exciting chord progression was C to G to Bb to C.

I’ve grown from that now.

Now, Romantic era piano is my favourite genre by far, and I will defend the legacies of Brahms and Clara Schumann to anyone. Their musical legacies… whatever they did when (or before) Robert was in the hospital is none of my business. I listen to them a lot for composing inspiration nowadays.

Upward Spiral

Now that I have a digital piano in my room, you can guarantee my sleep schedule won’t exist anymore. I’ve already been staying up all night to play and I don’t see this changing.

Until the next time.

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

Walks to Remember

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As I type this, I have some burgers sitting out, ready to be cooked up. But I had a flash of inspiration as I remembered some of the really dumb things I’ve done back when I was working.

Not in the kitchen; obviously I try to be professional and give no one a reason to doubt me, but I mean my journeys there and back. While I don’t live in the suburbs, I live in an area of London with below average tube and bus connections for zone 2. I’ve had to change multiple times to get to somewhere considered “close”. As well as this, oyster fares like to slowly build up, and before I know it, I’m paying a lot of money for a relatively simple journey.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a massive fan of walking. I love to walk everywhere. I’m the annoying friend who considers a 2 hour walk a short journey. I don’t remember the last time I’ve taken the train anywhere north of the river. Granted, I don’t really go out, but given the option to, I’d definitely walk.

The best walk I had was after my first shift at Wembley stadium. I had taken the bus there, at about 6am, and by the time it was done, it was mid to late afternoon, and the weather was sunny, and the heat was more enjoyable to that of the kitchen. So I decided to walk back, using my vague knowledge of the bus route, and the very limited times I had gone there or to the arena next door for concerts. Being the type of person I am, I didn’t want to use my phone to track the route at all, to prove a point, so I called my mum to tell her my plan, put my phone on flight mode with my favourite music playing, and set on my way.

The same thing happened that does happen whenever I walk home from a shift after a while. The adrenaline wears off, and the physical tiredness sets in; carrying all my uniform and knives in an oversized rucksack that sticks to my back weirdly and makes it sweat. The music stops being upbeat, and I start paying attention to the lyrics and questioning my existence. Then coincidentally there’s a tube or a bus station that’s vaguely in my direction and I think, should I give up?

And then I think, there is no way I’m spending £1.50 to go one station. No matter how close it is to my house. And in the case of Wembley, I’d still have to walk at least another 20 minutes to get home. It’s just not worth it. And I walk away, knowing the ancestors would be proud of me.

When I get home though, mum always feels bad that I’ve walked for so long and she always questions me. I’ll say something like “oh it wasn’t that long,” and it turns out it was a 3 hour walk from Twickenham or something and the sun’s already starting to set. (I’ve done that by the way. Not fun. I took a really roundabout route to get to the station I’d use to get home but the line was going through part closures. You can guess what line I’m talking about; it never works correctly.)

For me, walks are a really good way to just reflect on stuff or even just zone out. I like listening to hype playlists and walking and pretending my life is more cool and dramatic than it actually is. A really nice place to walk is surprisingly Oxford street, but starting all the way in Shepherds Bush from Holland Park Avenue and finishing in Aldgate.

I said I’d walk to and from work just to prove a point, and I have to explain that I’m not proving it to anyone. I’m the type of person that likes to challenge themselves, but in a “bet you can’t” kind of way. I still have very childish tendencies, but I think that’s a good thing because my energy is usually 100, and I don’t think that challenges are too much for me.

(That’s something I discovered about myself on a walk home from uni, while listening to Beyoncé’s Homecoming.)

Fine Dining in the Future

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No, this isn’t another one of those posts about how the future of the industry will change because of the pandemic and social distancing. I’m about to talk about something a lot more important in my opinion.

That’s about black girls in fine dining, and the culinary industry. Because that’s an industry that really needs to change. Within minutes of me posting “A Story on Colour” onto twitter, I was scrolling through my feed and noticed that a few chefs I had followed liking a racist tweet about the Black Lives Matter protests. I’m not sure if I was surprised, I was definitely let down though. To see an exact example of what I was talking about be played out in front of me by one of the few people I follow on twitter was a bitterly ironic moment.

Maybe that was a good thing though, because that was what made me decide what I want to do next, and how I intend to move on. I want to see black girls in the industry feel safe, respected and valued. I want to see black girls decide to cook because they love it and want people to be happy, not because it’s expected of them or because they have something to prove.

While you could argue the Michelin star is obsolete, it’s still one of the most prestigious culinary rankings and it holds a lot of weight in the industry. And guess what? There’s only one black female chef with a star, and she got it in 2019. There’s so much work to be done. If you honestly believe that she is the only black woman deserving of a star, then you need to rethink your belief because it’s not true.

In the future, I see fine dining as a more open welcoming place. No more of the super elite, forced jacket wearing and front of house staff looking at you weirdly because you’re a person of colour and clearly don’t deserve to be in such an institution. I see fine dining as exactly what the phrase is. Good, well prepared food.

I see a whole new generation of black girls who are going to shake up the entire industry and show everyone what it means to be a chef. I see a current generation of black women already in the industry making big waves and showing everyone what it means to be a chef. I reckon I fit into the second category because I’ve been in the industry two years but at the same time, I just turned 20 and don’t feel that “grown” yet. I’m sure reality will hit once I finish uni.

To the black girls reading this, keep cooking. It’s your time and we’re so excited to see what you can do.

A Story on Colour

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I talk about racism and harassment in this post, please read at your own discretion.

In the two years I’ve been working as a chef, I’ve seen the most amazing venues and kitchens, worked with food I’d never have the opportunity to make at home but on the flip side, I’ve experienced levels of racism, discrimination and harassment that would be shocking to a lot of people. I’ve come home from shifts, absolutely broken but I didn’t tell anyone what happened. There wasn’t any point, because that’s the reality of a black person in fine dining. My mum would see me look absolutely dead inside after a shift, and I’d tell her I’m just tired because I don’t want her to worry.

I used to write about the issues I faced at work in a joking manner, making light of the situations and really emphasising the fact that I worked long hours but skirting around what actually went on. The fact is, for most of my professional cooking career (before Covid hit and I wasn’t able to work), I was a black teenage girl in a kitchen full of much older white men. I think that sums it up quite well.

I’ve had my capabilities questioned, my suggestions ignored and I had one chef threaten to cut my braids off because he didn’t like the way they looked. It was maybe more than a threat, because I was approached with scissors and I said “If you touch my hair, you’re paying the £100 I spent on it.”

Working in the industry is hard and draining. Don’t listen to the cynical, washed out chefs who tell you it’s supposed to be like that, you’re supposed to be angry and depressed every shift because you aren’t. I’ve come out of shifts so excited, so inspired, no matter how tired I am and how long I’ve been working. I’ve done shifts that remind me why I love cooking so much and why I’m in the industry. The reason I’m drained and sad isn’t because I’m cooking all day it’s because the people I work with literally treat me like I’m subhuman and I can’t do anything about it.

The reason I’m drained and sad is because certain chefs feel so entitled to my space and my life that they can say the most disgusting things and get away with it.

No matter how long I’ve been working somewhere, no matter how long I’ve known these people, they’ll always act like I’m a new hire, desperate to prove myself and willing to do anything to show I have the skills. When in reality I know some of these menus and kitchens a lot better than my coworkers but I still have to fight to be respected.

There isn’t really an appropriate way to end this. I’m not sure exactly how to sign off because at the moment I’m upset thinking about what I, and so many young black women in the industry have gone through and will continue to go through.

I went to a predominately white school, I’ve always worked with mostly white people, and it was always uncomfortable to talk about race. I’d mention something and they’d get all awkward and angry with me for bringing it up. Even now, I feel weird bringing up race and my experiences in a professional environment if I know white people will be reading because I don’t want to look angry or ungrateful.

But fuck that.

I’m done skirting around the issue, I’m done hiding the fact that I’m uncomfortable just to keep people happy. Maybe finally discussing what I’ve gone through will inspire other people to do the same. And if people lose respect for me, I don’t really care because I don’t want your respect and you certainly don’t deserve mine.