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No Bullshit Hiring Histories
July 3, 2014 7:59 AM   Subscribe

"Pastry work takes a level of skill, precision and rigor that I lacked in spades. I could’ve maybe become a decent pastry cook, with months of practice and a patient boss, but I was in no way qualified to be a pastry chef. I gave it my best effort, for three days, until the chef-owner realized her mistake and fired me. The place closed in less than 6 months. I never got paid." Laurie Woolever at The Billfold talks about how she went from Botantical Garden Intern to Anthony Bourdain's assistant.
posted by The Whelk (26 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
What, he fired Beth The Grill Bitch? (see Kitchen Confidential; I'm 99% certain the nickname was one she chose for herself.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:12 AM on July 3


From the bio: [Laurie Woolever] feels good about having just shut down her LinkedIn profile. Now that's inspirational!
posted by carmicha at 8:23 AM on July 3 [2 favorites]


They buried the lede, which is she hired on as Mario Batali's evil hechperson assistant back before his TV career took off, and he was a generous and pleasant evil overlord boss.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:41 AM on July 3 [3 favorites]


I really like this. It's exceptionally useful to see people's work histories like this. We're all sort of given a sense that a career is something that progresses naturally. You study the thing you want to be in life, you get an entry level job, you graduate to a higher job, and it just goes like that, a climb up a well-ordered ladder.

But people's work histories are a lot weirder than that, like this one, involving a lot of crappy jobs that accidentally lead to better jobs, or don't lead anywhere, and you make enormous jumps in the sort of work you do just because that's the option that is available to you, and often you end up in a position that you know you're not qualified for but after you've done it for a while and not completely failed you're just sort of seen as necessarily being qualified.

We stagger through our careers, most of us, and there doesn't seem to be anything resembling a straight line. I wish I knew that starting out. It would have made me feel less lost, or, at least, more like I'm no more lost than anyone else.
posted by maxsparber at 9:13 AM on July 3 [36 favorites]


If I could I would tattoo maxsparber's comment onto the forehead of every hiring manager/HR person in the entire United States.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:29 AM on July 3 [3 favorites]


Pastry work takes a level of absolute insanity and dedication to be done well.

Elder Monster has a knack for it, and was recently tasked with revamping his restaurant's pastry selections. The nitpickery involved is stunning in its complexity. I would tear all of my hair out, but he loves it.
posted by MissySedai at 9:36 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Agreed, MissySedai. I've done pastry work--both classical French and modernist+fusion--and it really is amazingly nitpicky. The fact that he's good at it (I was tasked with the same thing once and it was a month or so of pure hell developing all the new recipes) speaks volumes about his future career.

(Also I'd love to see some of his recipes if you/he feel like sharing)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:41 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested to see pastry recipes and also everyone's weird or perfectly normal job histories.
posted by moonmilk at 9:51 AM on July 3


I don't recommend OCD to anyone, but it's really worked out for me professionally. An awful lot of computer programming boils down to sorting things into perfect, neat little piles, and touching every single doorknob exactly once, and the weird delight I derive from that is what makes it all possible.

I expect I would a find a fellow spirit in a pastry chef.
posted by panglos at 9:53 AM on July 3 [2 favorites]


We're all sort of given a sense that a career is something that progresses naturally.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: Fireman. No, astronaut. No, wait, teacher. Fed, clothed, and housed?
posted by wenestvedt at 10:02 AM on July 3 [7 favorites]


Hah, my weird job history goes from serving/bartending through managing the office of a telemarketing firm to working for Ford (the company not the odious politician) to working at a small marketing company to market research to fairly high up at a marketing company to cooking.

Not exactly a trajectory I could have predicted at 18.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:05 AM on July 3


I had no idea I wanted to read people's weird job histories, but this was so much fun that suddenly I want to read people's weird job histories, so I'm going to be reading through all the other ones now too.
posted by Stacey at 10:10 AM on July 3 [3 favorites]


It was kind of interesting, but crossed over too much into boo-fucking-hoo territory for me.
posted by Melismata at 10:21 AM on July 3


I had no idea I wanted to read people's weird job histories, but this was so much fun that suddenly I want to read people's weird job histories, so I'm going to be reading through all the other ones now too.

Related, you might enjoy Kitchen Confidential then, which amounts to Bourdain running through his particularly colourful job history.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 10:35 AM on July 3 [2 favorites]


Very interesting article - I'm glad things worked out with Anthony Bourdain but I'm surprized he only has a part time assistant, someone like that you would think requires a FT assistant.

Hilarious guy, love his shows and his was interesting. But not going to lie, he seems like a cool guy to hang out with but would be a complete ass in large doses.
posted by lpcxa0 at 10:52 AM on July 3


I'm sure Bourdain has several assistants (and editors, which is a job she has also done for him), but they are probably somewhat compartmentalized by the various production budgets. I'm sure his TV show crew, for example, does most of the show-related booking and communications on his behalf.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:13 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


lpcxa0: I know a couple who actually had Bourdain over for dinner when he was in Toronto once. They had an absolute blast with him until the wee hours of the morning.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:21 PM on July 3


I feel like my own work history is completely inapplicable cause I've never done anything like ...work in an office or have a resume or such. I head very insistent on that in High School. No office work.
posted by The Whelk at 1:25 PM on July 3


( the closest I got was my one day of temp work in the mail room and I thught it would be like The Hudsucker proxy and it wasn't so I didn't show up the second day.)
posted by The Whelk at 1:26 PM on July 3 [3 favorites]


> They had an absolute blast with him until the wee hours of the morning.

Then what? Bourdain thought their Pug was a suckling pig and roasted it in the fireplace?

"Tastes like candy."
posted by xtian at 4:04 PM on July 3


Then he took a cab back to his hotel.

Sorry it's not more exciting than that.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:12 PM on July 3


Weird job history? Me me me! I intended to go into the foreign service from a young age, interned for our Munich consulate, had a defense department-funded fellowship in Prague...then ended up supporting point of sale software for several years, being a Professional Vagina For Hire I Mean One Of The Only Woman Stockbrokers In Our Office, assistant to a sadistic lawyer, author, and now I own my own company that primarily publishes knitting books.

Jobs are weird.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:28 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


I flunked out of art school. Twice. I was studying photography. I got into computers, and spent all my time arguing online, and my Dad was all like, "A hobby is fine, but you should learn a skill."

The '90s were fucked up like that.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:35 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


History Moment: Disgruntled Pastry Chef starts a War.
posted by ovvl at 7:56 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


I worked at a jewelry company doing web design, photoshop work and using an industrial laser system, punching out and polishing jewelry pieces, at a furniture factory doing product design, rendering, drafting; then doing product photography; industrial design and drafting at a manufacturing company; and finally freelance programming with Python.
posted by rainy at 11:14 PM on July 3


Loved the article when I first read it, and was wondering if someone might post it here.

As someone who'd murder for jobs like these, I did wish for a bit more info on what her partner was doing and bringing in? In a sense it's not relevant to the article, but given that at least her current gig is part time in a not mega lucrative sector, it'd be interesting to know how easy it is to run a family doing work like that.

Anyhow, great article and lovely writing. Loved the bit about low-cost meats.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:25 PM on July 3


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