Well, I’ll admit it. It was actually easier for me to get up and running in London than it was in San Francisco! Instead of a couple of days to find a job and a room, it took more than a week! I could barely afford it, but I got an amazing studio apartment in the Tendernob (or Loin Hill, as I like to refer to it) with a big kitchen, a few windows, and a super cute murphy bed! The transvestite prostitutes called out to each other and their customers all night under my windows. I lived directly over a youth outreach center. It was loud, it was exciting, and it was a surprisingly safe spot for a single female!
The job? The job was unbelievable. I was hired at a Michelin-starred restaurant directly across from the Ferry Building. I can’t imagine what these crazy fools were thinking! I was hired to work in banquets, which there were quite a lot of since we were right there in the heart of everything that matters in a restaurant with an incredible reputation and space. I was right near the bottom of the totem pole and loving every second. It was everything you could hope for from such a fantastic place. Complete controlled chaos and insanity mixed with the most fantastically straight-out-of-a-YouTube-video characters you could want. The Chef was a wonderful man, dedicated to detail and training, and his sous chefs were the firebombs of creative explosion and enforcers of behavior. I remember my first experience with banquets. The most bizarre, berserk sous chef, a man of fantastic talent and questionable social skills, shrieking in his high-pitched voice at me: “IS IT YUMMY?? MAKE IT YUMMY!!” He truly sounded insane. I though that the mascarpone and parmesan polenta I was making was yummy, but I was wrong. He took the spoon from me, loaded salt, butter, and dairy into that little pot of polenta and made that one single element of one single dish in one single course so good that you could only stand back in silence, completely aware that you never before knew just how good polenta could be. Then, immediately, it was necessary to snap back into focus. 80 people were sitting down to the first of four courses and it was time to be ready, just the two of us, to feed them all out of two induction burners, a small convection oven, and a tray of ice. Fifty stories over the San Francisco bay, looking over the bridge and beyond out over the water, standing over a folding table in a banquet room, I had found joy.