Something amazing happened to me last week. But wait, let's start with the awful stuff first.
I answered a job ad and reported in the morning to a manpower agency's office in Cubao, Quezon City, which is all of eight MRT stations away from where I live. The vacancy turned out to be for a kakanin maker in a canteen for call center employees. In far, far away Cavite. Now, I have nothing against kakanin. As a Filipino with a natural affinity for all things rice I love kakanin, with cassava cake and bibingka being two of my top comfort foods. But as someone with a rudimentary professional baking education, it is the mastery of bread-baking and pastry and dessert production that I'm after. You can imagine I was dismayed and feeling that I was doomed to languish in the pits of a failed career. What career? I haven't found paid work yet!
There she was again, Desperation. I could see her waving her bloody talons out of the corner of my eye. I decided to go home, cobble together a cover letter, and look for Park Avenue Desserts. I vaguely knew that it was owned by Buddy Trinidad, who is one of the Philippines' top pastry chefs (in hindsight, when I looked up his bio after our encounter, I realized I knew so little about how fierce his credentials are!). My plan was just to deposit my CV and leave. I didn't realize I would be granted an audience with The Man!
The first thing he asked me was which school I graduated from. It rang a bell. "Ah, you're a student of Martha's (Ebro)." To my teacher chef Martha, our "Mahal na Diyosa", I'll forever be grateful, because your name opens doors! He asked me a few more questions about my background, and then he said the most thrilling thing anyone has ever said to me: "You're hungry. I will take you in. You're welcome to come in and learn, sort of like another apprenticeship. I don't keep any secrets. I share everything I know with my students." And then he said he would forward my CV to people in his network, mentioning in particular two big names: a French chef and a Colombian guy. I swear, I almost wept!
This was on Tuesday. Well, he kept his word. I was summoned to an interview on Saturday at Restaurant CiҪou. It was scary, of course, and the prospect of working there makes me want to slash my wrists out of a combination of fear, joy and rapture, but hey, this amazing opportunity, and that of learning from him, was thrown in my lap courtesy of my angel the punk rocker.
Have I been a good person? What have I done to deserve this unbelievable, and wholly unexpected, piece of good karma? Now I just hope I don't screw up, or he might whack me with his guitar - okay, maybe not, because it's too precious to risk breaking it on my pate. Maybe a rolling pin instead?
I start reporting to him tomorrow. I'm so excited I wanna be sedated! Okay, that's me borrowing from one of his musical heroes. I'll shut up now before he happens to read this and really does decide to whack me on the head for my foolishness.