Push itttttt!!!

I've been awake for the last 20 hours. I've worked for 16 of them and the other 4 were spent randomly, either getting ready for my day, driving to work or ending my day with friends and a margarita. Needless to say, I'm pretty tired but I find myself without the ability to close my eyes and fall asleep because I have this one nagging thought. This one thought is running through my mind and MUST be so important that it is keeping me from resting.

I made money today for the first time this year (no, this isn't the thought keeping me awake... I'm getting to that). I have been home for almost one month, not quite, and I've done nothing but worry, question, obsess and complain about the fact that I have no money and no source of income. I had just enough money left from my European adventure to buy my next ticket to Italy to start another adventure; I could afford to get there but had no idea of how I would stay there. After coming back, I was so mixed about where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do next that I threw myself into the closest thing I could find to Italy. Well... I've spent the last three weeks working for free for Angelini Osteria because I WANTED to be there so bad. Gino told me he wasn't currently hiring, but it didnt matter to me. I kept showing up because he was the closest to Italy I was going to get and I wanted HIS experience so much that money was secondary. In the mean time, I constantly told chef Chris that if he needed an extra hand at Mozza, I would be available because I needed the money. For the last three weeks, I've been stressing out about how my next trip to Italy financially would work. I cried about it. And I tried thinking of all my possible options of making money while in the mean time, working for free somewhere, because I valued the experience, and praying that my help was needed. I just kept going and I didn't stop. I wanted to make money and I wanted to keep gaining experience, so I pushed, despite what I was told.

And THAT is the thought that is keeping me awake. To push and to keep pushing. Because the world is going to push you and not stop. It's going to push you until you think you've reached your limit or are just sick of being pushed. But... NEVER. STOP. PUSHING. BACK! Ever. And by push, I don't mean to resist what the world is pushing at you. I simply mean that whatever cards are dealt to you, do whatever it takes to make them work in your favor. and don't stop. I've seen people that stop pushing. They are stagnant, uninspired and ultimately unhappy. They've given up and just accept what's going on. Don't do that. PUSH for the life you want and don't stop pushing until you see it happening.

Because I got hired at Angelini Osteria. Today was my first day on the clock. And after that, I went straight to Mozza because chef Chris told me he needed some help. I'm currently on the Angelini schedule and the Mozza schedule: I now have experience and money coming my way. I pushed for it and my persistence paid off. I worked 16 hours today and I am thoroughly exhausted... The world is pushing me again. But I'm giving it right back.

Whew. Hopefully now I can sleep.



Chef Gino walked around the kitchen today and gave everyone $5. I'm not really sure why and he mumbled something about everyone deserving tips. Haha, it was random but it was cool. Funny guy.

But for those of you who read my blog for insight on the ins and outs, reality, secrets and life of a cook, here is some insight:

My year to date income for 2012 is $5. Yes, the $5 chef Gino handed me this morning. And I doubt it will be any higher than $500 come September.

I told my parents that they will be seeing me in their home for quite some time. I've also decided to become a charity case and I'm now accepting personal checks, gas money and loose change. Hahaha, joking...



New adventures

Ciaooooooo!!! Sooooo.... as of about 2:30pm today, I got the official news that I will be returning to San Marino in July. I am returning to San Marino and I am returning to Righi la Taverna to work again for another three months. This last week has been FILLED with many mental ups and downs, changes, decisions, more changes, more decisions and finally (i think) a new beginning. Let's recap, shall we?

I flew back in to LA, feeling incomplete. Well, I was extremely happy to see my friends and family and also thrilled to be back in a city I know; after being out of my element for three months, it was nice to have some familiarity. But I left San Marino on very short notice and I left a job/internship that I did not get to finish. My mind and heart were set on being there until June. In my mind, it was a done deal. So to hear 6 days before I had to leave that my visa didn't work out was disappointing to say the least. I got home, saw my friends and family, explored the familiar city, got back in to work right away and then thought "now what?". Because that incomplete feeling was still lingering, growing stronger even. I filled the cravings (family, friends, familiar work, and yes, in n out was one too..)that had grown in me over the last few months and then didn't have a clue what my next move was. And that's where the work part comes in.

So I went back to Mozza, my home and training ground for the last almost two years. It was nice, it was familiar and it was satisfying. I started to butcher but I wasn't feeling it. Within two days, I knew something was off. I was also getting stir crazy. I was out and about in a big world for 3 months and then suddenly, I was home, where everything is familiar. Yes, I was craving familiarity so bad but I realized familiarity sometimes feels like a small room. From a giant world to a small room, I was definitely going a little crazy. I also started to realize that I can't spend my whole life traveling or staging. The last three months were an experience to BENEFIT me in the in real world where people have jobs and bills and obligations, not my ACTUAL real world. But I couldn't focus on anything other than the fact that being back felt like I had unfinished business somewhere else. And I needed a different kind of familiarity.

So I went to the closest thing I could think of to San Marino and Italy without actually going there. Chef Gino Angelini. The man that started this wholeeeee thing. If you remember, back in my first blog entry, my friend Debbie told me to talk with Chef Gino to get a job in San Marino. I met and talked with Gino once and that was all it took. I had a job. And by the way, Gino trained Chef Sartini, the chef I worked with in San Marino. Chef Sartini is his product. So I went to Gino in hopes of filling the part of me I left behind. Good choice, Ashley. Good choice.

I've been working with Gino for a few days now and his food and techniques are the closest thing to Italy without being in Italy. He speaks Italian, Spanish and English in the kitchen. He makes sure everyone eats and has coffee before, during and after work. He works on the line with us everyday, doing whatever it is that needs to get done. And he sings songs and dances on the line when things get crazy busy. He IS Italy. Born and raised in Rimini, the small town right next to San Marino. He filled the void. The food and menu filled the void. And on my third day, we sat down after the shift to eat family meal (the meal prepared for the employees), and Gino sat with me and poured me a glass of wine. Over our pasta and barolo, we talked about what I wanted, what we thought I needed in terms of my next move, and the future. He advised me to go back and finish what I started, my thoughts exactly and I didn't even have to tell him. He told me he would call Chef Sartini and make it happen. Again. Chef Gino has seen me for a total of four days and he cares enough to give me the world in the palm of my hands. Just like that. I tell him what I think and he makes it happen.

So today, I was butchering/cleaning a rack of lamb and I hear chef Gino scream from the office "ashleyyyyyyyy!!!!". I run over and Gino hands me the phone and says " it's chef sartini, he wants to say hello". I answer and Chef Sartini tells me whenever I want to come back to San Marino, it's no problem. (!!!!) So because of the whole visa thing, I tell him July, which is the earliest I can legally go back. I can hear the smile in his voice as he says no problem and laughs at my excitement. I think he likes me. Haha

So, here I am. Once again, getting myself into another adventure. Only this time, I am a little more prepared. At least I know what to expect: long hours, little to no sleep, communication frustration, etc. But I get to be surrounded by people and a country that revolve their lives around food and wine. I get to dissect the mind of a Michelin star chef in Italy and learn his techniques. I get to have my ass kicked in the name of food!! I've dedicated my life to food and learning the ways of producing great dishes. I'd say this is pretty severe dedication. And at the end of all this, I get to finish what I set out to do in the first place. Yeah it's difficult and very frustrating and not all fun. But it's valuable, unforgettable, and beautiful. It's worth it. It's so worth it.