Ja Tak! A phrase said after every pre-shift. A phrase I implemented in my daily life because I didn’t become part of the industry, it became part of me
My journey in hospitality started at the age of 14 at a McDonald’s. At that time, I did not know the world of fine dining existed. Slowly but surely at the age of 27, I worked my way up to a beautiful Scandinavian restaurant in the middle of Grand Central and I fell in love with its concept. I was able to learn about American wine and beer along with various producers. I was able to experience a different culture through the food and I was certain that it was where I belonged.
March 2020 came, and everything came to a quick halt. To not only my job but the dreams I had for this industry. During the summer, I knew I couldn’t go back to what I called home, as the pandemic hit the restaurant industry in a horrific way and the once beautiful Scandinavian restaurant shut its doors permanently. I couldn't stop asking myself, "what am I going to do now?" It was a question I had not asked myself in a long time as I thought the career I chose was so secure. I joined the millions of people who had become unemployed. No, I did not want to leave but I felt as though it was not really a matter of discussion. We had bills to be pay, a child to raise and I knew my career in hospitality had to come to an end. As a mother, I needed to put my child first.
Transitioning has not been easy and I did not assume it would be. I had to refine and search for my sense of purpose once more from taking multiple online classes and reaching out to former co-workers. I was trying to make sense of it all, seeing day by day how restaurants around the world were disappearing. My heart broke just imagining all those affected especially those that have a family just like mine they had to provide for. Closing the door behind me wasn’t an option but a necessity. For me, going back felt incredibly unstable and the sense of not knowing when things would go back to normal was frightening. Being a mom took a huge part in my why, of walking away. As schools were being closed, I didn't have time to sulk or wait for restaurants to reopen. Who would I leave my son with? Childcare had been impacted just as hospitality had and I wasn’t certain what to do next. At least that’s what I thought at the moment.
My time in the food industry was a true gift and I have nothing but love for it. I will continuously support the industry and its people. I cannot wait to wine and dine once again!
Follow Carolina's journey here.