Friday, July 27, 2012

For Coloured Chefs Who Have Considered Suicide When the Italians Were Away

Just the other day, I was having a conversation with a young man from Nigeria who has worked as an engineer with a firm in the United States for half a decade. He liked his job, he said, but mentioned how that the setbacks had outweighed the perks he enjoyed, with the biggest issue of all being that he was black. Several times he had interviewed for positions in companies where he knew without a doubt that he was clearly qualified but for the same unspoken reason, his application was denied. Well, I did not have facts to argue about on this matter but did not hide my surprise/doubts either. "You are new to the system," he told me, "You'll see."

Over the last two weeks, I have been privileged to enjoy the culinary expertise of Italian chefs who come up with varied ideas for breakfast menus. Here, no two days are the same, well not if you choose to stick to the status quo, which would be toast, omelets, cereal, grits, muffins, potato wedges etc.


The menu of the week:

Monday: Breakfast Burrito - 6" tortilla filled with eggs, peppers, onions, cheese, ham served with sour cream and salsa.
Tuesday: Eggs Benedict or Florentine - deliciously poached eggs atop a muffin with your choice of ham or spinach, then smothered in a rich house made hollandaise sauce.
Wednesday: Breakfast Croissant - filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, ham served with sour cream and salsa.
Thursday: Breakfast Quesadilla - 12" tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, ham
Friday: French Toast with strawberry sauce - battered fresh made bread slices pan fried and topped with a delectably sweet strawberry sauce.
Saturday: Back on the Ranch Quiche - chef's signature quiche filled with eggs, peppers, onions, ham and cheese.

Sunday came and I was looking forward to trying the Santa Fe Egg Bake special and being greeted by the Italians whose faces would brighten up, as they would make recommendations and I would leave commendations in return. I stepped into the buffet area that day and noticed some obvious changes. The chefs were nowhere in sight and neither were the display trays. The dishes set on the table were clearly short of the regular options. A hungry crowd walked in, waited to get their orders taken by a chef and when none showed up, they served themselves from the covered dishes. I waited for the crowd to disperse and when it did, a head peeked from the back of the kitchen. It wasn't any of the two Italian guys, it was a black guy. Realising I had seen him, he came out of hiding and approached me, trying to act unaware of the situation. I decided against ordering the Santa Fe special and simply asked for him to me a waffle with scrambled eggs. 

The wait was a long one and by the time my order finally showed up, it was obvious he had no idea what to do with the batter. The waffle was soft, messy dark and clearly not properly 'done' on the inside and splitting around the edges. In a bid to either garnish or disguise the sins, frosting was thrown carelessly all over the plate. Some of the people who were present in the dining area spotted a waffle being sent to my table and asked for the same. Indeed, the same they got. Disappointed, I simply made for the bread tray and picked a ready-made croissant.

See where I am going with this? There was one black man who had a job with an opportunity to work the best way he could, but he came up short. Come on, he's just a chef, you might say, but it starts from the little things. While I'm not disputing the existence of racism in the workplace, my plight to black people everywhere - at home or in diaspora would be this: stamp out mediocrity in any form of thought, attitude, habit, character or lifestyle. Enough of coming up short whenever you have an opportunity to excel. Train yourself to be disciplined in little things: imbibe virtues, be punctual, be accountable, keep your word and do without making excuses ... it goes on. Seize opportunities and make your own. The road less traveled is neither familiar nor easy, but people don't die of hard work. Put in 100, and the go the extra mile which is rarely found in shortcut routes. Educate yourself and when the spotlight hits you, you better be acting right.

"Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men." - Proverbs 22:29. Synonyms for 'mean' in this context would be 'average', 'ordinary' in other versions.


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

MissBalance said...

And thanks for reading :)