from the editor
Photo by Gagewood Photography
I worked in restaurants for about 12 years. During high school, I greeted and seated customers at one of the most popular eateries in Santa Barbara. Knowing the money could be much better, I begged for a server position until, by accident, I got the job. That day a wedding reception of 150 people, along with the regular lunch rush, was on the books. The server scheduled to take care of the wedding party had called in sick and I was his replacement. Elated, I quickly tied on an apron, and the bartender helped me load a large tray full of top-heavy sparkling-wine glasses. I walked slowly down the hallway, precariously balancing the tray on one hand, swung open the banquet room door, and immediately lost balance of the tray. In what felt like slow motion, about 20 glasses of bubbly crashed spectacularly onto the floor, making a loud and foamy mess and prompting the entire wedding party to stare wide-eyed and incredulously at me. Epic fail.
But that didn’t deter me. I continued waiting tables during college and to supplement a barely livable wage in journalism jobs in California, Oregon, and Washington. And I became adept at handling angry chefs and picky patrons, juggling 12 tables at once, and expertly carrying massive trays of dishes and drinks.
Needless to say, I respect those in the service business immensely. The jobs can be tough, involving long hours, little pay, and even abuses (equity, sexual, and substance). This issue is dedicated to local servers, chefs, and bartenders, who toil behind the scenes to provide us with great food and drink as well as wonderful experiences.
In our cover story, meet female chefs who share their thoughts about working in a male-dominated business. Check out Shea Evans’ photo essay on several professionals working in the front of the house. We talk about how restaurateurs are struggling with the lack of chefs and introduce you to the local chefs’ association, which supports those in the industry and helps raise money for those who want to enter it.
Our hope is that the stories in this issue will open your eyes to their struggles, and perhaps you will respect them a bit more. Many work hard to serve you and are worthy of accolades. Maybe you’ll even be patient and understanding when a young server spills an entire tray of sparkling wine at your wedding reception.
About the Cover Meet several local female chefs in our area. From left, Karen Cannan, chef/coordinator of Truckee Meadows Community College’s culinary arts program in Reno; Kim Wells, head chef at Reno’s Skyline Kitchen & Vine; Natalie Sellers, chef/owner of 4th St. Bistro in Reno; Lara Ritchie, chef/owner/culinary director of Nothing To It! Culinary Center in Reno; and Michelle Palmer, executive sous chef for SAVOR, an international food-service company and exclusive caterer. All were photographed at TMCC, near its teaching kitchen. Photo by Candice Vivien