Friday, June 19, 2009

Gainfully employed

I have a job now. Actually, I have two.

Remember the wine store on the corner where I tasted the Beaujolais nouveau? Probably not, but that's ok. Here's a shot of La Cave d'Yves back on Beaujolais nouveau day, taken from our window.

Around the new year, Yves, of La Cave d'Yves, posted a sign saying that he would be opening up a wine bar to go with his boutique. When I asked him about it, he said it "wouldn't be far" from his location on the corner, but then, nothing in Aix is that far.

Then in February, he posted a sign with the address of his new place: another corner of the same intersection, directly across the street from our apartment.

So I asked him for a job. He was amused at first because he knew my background, but he was polite. The conversation went something like this ...

He would only be able to afford to hire one person in the beginning so did I have any restaurant experience?

Well, there was my time as a hostess at the frequently empty (and now long defunct) Washington Street Station in Ann Arbor, where I once took drinks to a table. And there was also my time as a sandwich/yogurt technician at Y&S Yogurt and Sandwich. (At Y&S, the "&" was one of those E-shaped ampersands so that they could call it "YES Yogurt and Sandwich" and still have it be Y-and-S. Get it? Clever.)

I didn't mention that these lasted only a few months each.

But did I know the fast-paced stress of the restaurant world?

Well, I had to serve the busy downtown Ann Arbor lunch crowd at the yogurt and sandwich shoppe and there was my time as pizza delivery girl/dishwasher at Papa Romano's, also in Ann Arbor.

I didn't mention that I had only been a pizza delivery girl for a few weeks when I told my parents about my great job. They thought it was too dangerous and told me to quit. I dutifully complied.

Could I work hard and carry cases of wine up from the cellar?
Well, I used to have to load air tanks into the van when I worked at various scuba shops.

I didn't mention that I hadn't lifted weights in months.

Surely these months of experience from 15 years ago (or longer) would be enough to swing a full-time job as Yves' second-in-command.

No dice.

He decided to go with Marie who has over 18 continuous years of restaurant experience. The nerve!

He did, however, give me a chance. So, since the last days of April, I have been an equipière polyvalente, which is something like a "team member who does many tasks", at La Cave. Like everyone who works there (and by "everyone" I mean Yves, Marie and myself) I clean, restock the wine, cook, pick up the meat from the butcher or cheese from the market, and a couple of times, I've served food to the customers.

I only work 7.5 hours per week, mostly in the mornings getting things ready for the day and for lunch, but it's great! In the past two weeks, I've also gotten a couple of "practice" evenings in the kitchen, where I'm in charge of all the food, and an official "try out" (which I passed!) so that I can not just help out Marie, but step in if she is sick or has to take a day off, and probably also for when Aix is invaded by tourists and opera afficionadoes during le Festival. I should be clear that I'm not cooking every dish to order -- most of the stuff on the menu is cold plates that accompany wine well, or stuff we can make earlier in the day.

Here's a picture of La Cave's new location. This space housed a restaurant when we moved in, and had since the 1950s. The most recent owners were the son and daughter-in-law of the previous owners, and they were now ready to retire. I'm not sure what the space held before it became a restaurant, but back in the 17th century, it was a stable. Those arched windows are there from the stable days, when they were doors (I think).

And here's the view of the front door. Normally, we have a sign that we hang out there with the plat du jour. Sometimes, I write the sign.

The only drawback is that La Cave is open Tuesday through Saturday, so I work Tuesday through Saturday mornings, which sort of cramps my (and James') hiking style. However, there are still places we can get to on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. It also put a stop to my plans to play tour guide and hang out with our May guests, but I think they had plenty of fun on their own.

My other job, since the beginning of May, is doing hourly work on James' project. Also great. I do linguistic-y things.

So in the mornings I work at the wine shop and in the afternoons I go into the lab. Equipière polyvalente by morning, linguist by afternoon.


schwa said...

Congratulations! La Cave looks like a romantic place. What, no outdoor tables? Well, not much of a sidewalk, I guess. Enjoy!

Ricka said...

You could always offer outdoor seating on your rooftop terrace :)