I was remembering embarrassing moments from the last 18 months of my employment at Dish. Before leaving corporate America for the lure of being my own boss and the excitement of running a growing business, the only restaurant experience I had was washing dishes for Lyon’s Restaurant when I was a senior in high school.
I’ve learned quite a bit in the last 18 months. Some of it the easy way, most of it the hard way. Today when I was washing dishes I remembered one of the first days after starting at Dish. I was trying to make an impact, be helpful, show the employees I was willing to do anything…I was back in the kitchen washing dishes.
For those of you new to the blog, our kitchen is 87 square feet, included in this area is our 3-well sink and under-the-counter dishwasher. Well I thought it was a “dishwasher”, we will get to that in a minute. In the same area we have two other employees, Megan our cook and at the time, Scott our sandwich maker and prep cook. Enter into the equation Joannie who comes in and deposits various items into the ovens to bake, or the counter people who bring back dishes to be washed or to grab soup or various other items.
So here I was standing in the middle of it all trying to earn the respect of my co-workers who were also my employees and at the time knew much more than I did. In fact they probably still do, but that’s another story. There is barely enough room for someone to do the dishes and I’m trying to make myself as small as possible. If you can imagine, I’m squeezing myself up against the sink so the staff have room to move behind me. I’m trying not to ask too many questions but unfortunately I don’t know where all the knives go, which plates and cups go where, what to do with the pie pans and various lids and bowls and plastic containers.
I’m starting to lose my cool and get frazzled.
It seems I’m always asking questions or I have to reach around or over someone to put something away. Everyone is trying to get their work done and fighting over space and when it’s busy everyone is focused on what they have to do, not about helping you or moving out of your way. It’s almost survival of the fittest.
Our dishwasher at the time was getting old and I was trying to be cool and show my owner properties so at some point while washing dishes I made the comment “this dishwasher is a piece of shit, I don’t know how you guys have used it, we really need to buy a new one”.
At this point both Megan and Scott stopped working, looked at me and said “It’s not really a dishwasher at all, but a sanitizer. You need to wash the dishes by hand and get everything off of them before you run them through”. I can’t really remember if they said it with sarcasm (I think they did) or if it was just my embarrassment of not really knowing what I was doing, but that comment and moment has stuck with me since.
There have been many other moments since then. I think Megan has said a few times that I find the hardest way to get something done. But fortunately things have changed quite a bit and I would recommend to anyone to follow your dreams, even if it means you are changing careers at 40 years old and doing something you have very little experience in, but a ton of passion for.
I do still wash dishes every day. Sometimes only for a bit, sometimes for an hour or more. I do still try to keep my presence as small as possible but I don’t get intimidated by the staff any longer and I demand my space too. In my defense I do understand how to run a business, how to handle money and I think I’m a pro at sales and marketing.
So with all this said, once again I found a recipe to try that was completely new (always trying to advance the knowledge base, work, play or otherwise). I found and adapted it slightly in a Jamie Oliver book called “Cook with Jamie”. This is the second recipe from the book I have tried, the other which was Mac n’ Cheese, will be featured soon. I’m trying a few other versions before I post about it.
I would recommend only good quality tuna if you make it. I would also say that you had better like tuna if you are going to make it. It was super easy and didn’t take much time either.
Rigatoni with a Tuna Ragu (serves four)
- Olive Oil
- 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Bunch of fresh basil, leaved picked, stalks chopped
- 1 28 oz. can of tomatoes
- 20 oz. can of good-quality tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons
- Handful of grated Parmesan cheese
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and cook the onion, chilli, cinnamon and basil stalks on a medium low heat for 5 to 7 minutes until the onion has softened. Increase the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes, tuna and a good pinch of salt. Break the tomatoes up, then bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Meanwhile cook the rigatoni in a pan of salted boiling water per the package instructions. When al dente, drain the pasta in a colander, reserving some of the cooking water. Toss the pasta into the sauce with the roughly torn basil leaves, a tablespoon of olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice and the Parmesan and mix together.
Loosen the pasta with a little of the reserved cooking water if needed. Check the seasoning and devour immediately.