It was suggested (jokingly, I hope) that every day I post a picture of what I make at my new job. That is never going to happen because a) I have never in my life been that consistent with anything and b) I forgot to take a picture of the first day so the plan was ruined before it even began.

For the record, it was jerk chicken. I’m not a big fan of jerk chicken, but it was sold out before 12:30, so I was happy enough. More importantly, all the people I needed to impress were happy, and all is well with the world.

I did, however, get my coworker to take a picture for day two and email it to me. It’s a pork loin with an apple-ginger chutney, sweet potato wedges and roasted cauliflower. It was a pretty fall-ish menu, fitting for the chilly weather we had today. I never quite feel that the plate is balanced without something green on it, but it still looks pretty good to me.

I guess if someone wanted green today, they had to go to the salad bar.IMG_2419I was holding a plate in this picture because I was starving and ready for lunch. I actually didn’t get to eat what I made other than a few snacks in the kitchen and some of the end pieces I set aside while slicing the meat, because I was a little worried we’d run out. Maybe next time…..

Oh, you can see a little of the eating area and the big windows/panoramic view of Raleigh (mostly trees, apparently) behind me (and it’s not dark like it was in the last picture). It’s not really a cafeteria per-say, just a little cafe area, and then some tables and couches for people to work or relax, along with the pool tables and ping pong tables and whatever else they’ve got scattered around the room for people to entertain themselves with.

But who really cares about that, lets look at the food again: IMG_4163We do try to make it look pretty.

On a semi-related note, someone asked me recently whether it was hard to go from a place like the Farm, where nearly everything was from scratch and locally-raised and where I got to see pieces of the entire food puzzle–from the livestock in the fields and the plants in the garden, to the homemade sausages in the butcher shop and the cheese aging in the cheese rooms and so on and so forth—to a place like this, where most things come on a truck from big suppliers like Sysco. The answer is no, it wasn’t hard. The reasons are a little big complicated, but I don’t feel like I’m having to compromise my values and what I think food should be just because I’m not on a farm anymore. Granted, to get ourselves started we’ve bought a few prepackaged things just to provide a safety net until we can get a good routine down, but ultimately, I look forward to it being a completely from-scratch kitchen. And to be fair, everything you see above was 100% homemade. Just because the food isn’t grown right outside the window doesn’t mean I can’t still be responsible with the products I choose and put out fresh, healthful, interesting, and delicious food. And just because the sausage isn’t made next door and I don’t have time to roll my own pasta every day and I don’t have a team of people to go forage some little-known plant to garnish my plate doesn’t limit me to a life without homemade sausage or fresh pasta or interesting greenery. It just means that I have to be a bit more proactive and dedicated if it’s going to be part of my life.

After all, in the real world, these things don’t just fall on your doorstep. The Farm is an extreme anomaly even in the world of fine dining, and it was a privilege to be a part of that for any amount of time. But it’s also a responsibility to take all those things I learned about and introduce them to people who have never been to a place like that, and I guess that’s what I’m doing now. It’s not particularly easy to rethink food I know and enjoy so that it fits this environment (as well as the challenges and limitations that come when you have to prepare a bulk amount of food in advance), but it’s still inspiring and exciting to try.

Plus, I enjoy the people I work with, the hours I get to work, and the freedom to be creative. I like my work, but I don’t like working odd hours and holidays and not being able to see my family or friends or commit to any other activities I wanted to do. I already feel like I’ve been given 100 extra hours in a week just because now I get to clock out of work at 2pm instead of clocking in to work at 2pm, and I feel much happier and well-balanced as a result.

The only reason I’m sorry I quit is because I realize that I’ve given up the rare opportunity to learn from the best of the best, and frankly, I’m not done learning yet. I’ve cut my education short, more-or-less. There’s a lot of interesting things that many top restaurants are doing that, frankly, I will never find an opportunity (or the  budget) to try somewhere like this. And yes, there are some ingredients and products that I simply cannot get now, at least not without buying it with my own money or jumping through hoops to find it. I guess I’ve just had to accept that I made a choice here, and that I believe a balanced life that reflects my values is more important than having an enviable career, even if it means giving up a job at one of the coolest restaurants in the region.

Anyway, I guess that’s all I really have to say today about that.

Love Jenny