Monday, April 12, 2010

Cook on trial trying us 10 April 2010

We decide we would like to give candidate B a trial contract for two weeks, but that we need to tell her about Candidate 3 coming back from Germany the following week. I leave my marito to talk terms and conditions with her, sensing she will prefer to talk to him alone, and also that I would not have the patience to deal with her pushiness. She initially aggress to the trial run, but the next day phones us to tell us she cannot accept because she does not like the fact that we will try out candidate three the following week, meaning that we might sack her after a couple of weeks if he turns out to be better.

My mother-in-law says we were far too honest and should never have told her about candidate no. 3. If he turned out to be better then we could just have let her go, without having to mention him. We need to be as ‘furbo’ –clever or sly – as they are, she says. But we didn’t want to be nasty. Anyway, mio marito calls her back to say we won’t try out candidate no. 3, because we have a birthday party of 60 people on Saturday night coming for an enriched aperitivo, and we need someone else in the kitchen. So she is happy with that and works well enough all weekend, helping with the preparations and dishing out the aperitivo platters and doing the ‘secondi’. But on Sunday night she ruins her good work by making a big scene with mio marito – in the presence of my sister and mother-in-law, about the contract and th terms and conditions she wants. We are offering her a contract whereby in a year she will go up from ‘aiuto cuoco’ to ‘cuoco’, which, along with the rest of the pay and conditions makes and attractive offer, and is substantially much better than what our previous cook was on. But she can’t see this and wants more pay and other certainties that we are nto really in a position to give. This went on for 20 minutes and my sister and mother-in-law the enxt day, give out heaps about her. I foresee endless problems if we take her on. She is too big for her boots really, she wants more than her experience merits. She even said that the arrangement was not suitable for ‘lo chef’. Who’s the chef? my husband asked!

Finally the cook has called from Germany to say he is setting out for Sicily tonight from Germany. I hear mio marito talking to someone on the phone and presume it is an old friend. His accent is even more Sicilian and every now and again he comes out with a word in dialect. ‘This is the effect the German Sicilian has,’ he says afterwards. His tone is really familiar and friendly; he’s so enthusiastic, that I have to reciprocate.’ This man has run his own Sicilian restaurant in a touristy area of Germany for the last 30 years, and now wants to return to Sicily with his wife, leaving the restaurant in the hands of his two older children. He can do anything Sicilian, Nouvelle Cuisine, German and French and international dishes, desserts, and wants to ‘give us a hand’ he says. He has a relaxed attitude to bureaucracy and the contract which is a relief after stressy candidate B, having run his own restaurant for years he knows how tricky it can be. He’s coming back to Sicily for us, he tells my husband. By car! He and his wife are longing to return and he really wanted to find a position in a family-run restaurant. We are going to be his new family in Sicily. He even says he will drive straight to our restaurant. In the end it will be we who have to cook for him, I say! And are we sure he has accommodation here? The next thing is we’ll be putting him up! Mio marito wants ot call and cancel the stressy candidate B immediately, though I would rather wait and see this man in the flesh. It all sounds like a farce. Waiting for the new cook to move back from Germany specifically for our restaurant while trying to keep the current cook on trial sweet with our accountant. He has completely advised us not to take her on, and her previous employer, the owner of the restaurant where she worked, passed by at the weekend and when we asked his opinion he scrunched up his face and said ‘hmmm, I don’t recommend her. Sure, she’s a good enough cook, but she’s a ‘stronza’ – a bitch.’ Confirming all our gut reactions then …

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