I think I fell asleep dreaming about the brisket I had at my company BBQ.  And not a shocker, I knew I was going to incorporate it into my breakfast somehow.  Lordy, was this a delicious breakfast toast!  1.5 ounce sourdough bread toast (3) 2 ounces of the brisket chopped (3) scrambled with egg whites and topped with 1/2 an ounce of cheddar cheese (2) topped with crisp romaine with one of the best peaches I’ve had in my life.  This giant plate of food came in at only 8 smart points.  I cooked the brisket along for the first couple of minutes, so the little fatty pieces got all nice and crispy.  Yum.

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Yesterday I had my first employee meeting that they have every quarter.  The first meeting was just all of the Chef’s and Class Assistants.  I loved that the first several minutes were spent giving “shout outs” to people in the group.  Mentioning everything from singling out people who stayed after their shift to help out in some way, or someone else thanking another employee for taking his shift so he could go to an event, which meant that person had to do a double.  Loved starting out a meeting with such positivity!

I have already been asked to join the Gift Card Team, which helps promote our gift cards.  That meeting followed my first meeting, before the official all employee meeting.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to eat, if food was going to provided, etc., so I had time because I got downtown early to stop at Subway and have a late lunch.  Black Forest ham sandwich with giardinera (8 points) with a bag of baked potato chips (4).  I initially was only going to eat half the bag, but ended up eating the whole thing.

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Initially when I took the job I thought that I was going to be taking the train downtown.  Going down is no problem, but if I miss a train at night, I have to wait a full hour for the next one, and because it’s late at night, there is no express train, so it makes every stop and that train ride alone is an hour and 15 minutes.  So I’ve been driving the 40 miles to work.  After driving through all of Chicagoland this summer with the farmers market, driving 40 miles seems like a breeze!  With traffic, it takes me about an hour and 15 minutes to get to either location.  Coming home though only takes me about 50 minutes because there is no traffic.

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If you are not familiar with Chicago parking, it’s ridiculously expensive – like $38 a day expensive.  But I have an app!  You know I am crazy for all my iPhone apps.  It’s called SpotHero, and I can park a block away from the Merchandise Mart for $10 a day.  I pay via the app – it gives me a bar code to get in and out of the parking garage.   I highly recommend this app for anyone who needs to park in Chicago for any length of time.  Just put in the address you need to park near and it pops up with all kinds of parking garages to choose from.

If you’ve never been to the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, it’s a HUGE building.  It was built in 1930 and at the time was the largest building in the world.  It has FOUR MILLION square feet of floor space, and has about 20,000 tenants and visitors in the building each day.  This week they have a display called “Canstruction” which is a competition in which Architecture and Engineering firms create structures made completely from canned goods that are then donated to the local food depository.


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Here is my new office!

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Looks are deceiving from the outside, because the inside of the space is pretty big.  This location has four separate cooking areas that can be rented out at any one time.  The first night I worked, on a Monday no less, there were four separate parties – one party of 70, a party of 30, a party of 40 and then a small chef’s tasting of 8 people.

I should have know for a cooking school that there would be food!  After my second meeting, a couple chefs and a class assistant prepared the food for dinner.  Look at all this deliciousness!

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This looked delicious, but I never tried it. 

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And guess what?  I tried salmon and I liked it!  I’ve tried it in the past, but it’s been several years.  I am not sure how it was cooked exactly, but it wasn’t overly “fishy” like I remember salmon tasting in the past.

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Those green beans were probably some of the best I’ve ever had.  I need to get the recipe for them.  And the jambalaya was the bomb.com too. 

After dinner was the actual employee meeting.  The first few minutes were spent recognizing company anniversaries and birthdays.  They have an employee of the quarter and everyone votes for who they think should get it that quarter.  The girl that won was really cute – people wrote: “she always has a smile on her face and makes the guests feel welcomed.”  “she is the most improved employee and I love her enthusiasm for her work.”  You get the idea, but I absolutely love the positivity and enthusiasm everyone has for this place.  The owners goal is to make this job the best job you’ve ever had, and she strives on a daily basis to make everyone want to love coming to work.   How awesome is that?!

And after the meeting we had a wine tasting at five different stations.  Since we are coming into the busy season with the holidays right around the corner, more people tend to have drinks at a cooking event and we got to try two reds, two whites and a sparkling wine.

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Oh, and I forgot to tell you that I won a $25 gift card at the BBQ on Sunday night!

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As I was driving home I nearly had to pinch myself.  “Is this real life?!”  Having a job that I can’t wait to get to?  Being able to work with food, learn from amazing chefs, and help customers to get in their own kitchens and cooking?  I am so excited to start this new chapter of my work career!

I work tonight at Lincoln Square.  On the menu is Chicken 101. 

  • Pesto Grilled Chicken Breasts with Fresh Grape Tomato and Caper Relish
  • Fried Chicken with Tabasco Honey Butter Sauce
  • Lemony Greek-Style Roasted Chicken with Cucumber Mint Yogurt Sauce

The skills the students (and I!) will be learning:

  • selecting chicken
  • grilling, frying and roasting chicken
  • how to breakdown a chicken
  • determining meat doneness
  • making pesto
  • balancing flavors
  • working with spices and fresh herbs
  • brining

Is it time to go to work yet? Open-mouthed smile