|Steve Edwards' website|
My first job in Dublin Ireland, June of 2001, was at the Italian restaurant Ciao Bella Roma.
They hired me as a pizza-baker-in-training. I was put in front of the oven with S_, a randy Italian fellow about 45 years old.
"I've been doing this for 20 years," he once told me. It struck me as a bit sad, here outside of the traditional Italian setting. While Ciao Bella was indeed an Italian business through-and-through, this was after all in the rapidly-modernizing Ireland, in rapidly-modernizing Dublin. But this feeling, I admit the feeling that his point of pride was a bit sad came well after S_ had determined that I was unable to bake pizza.
I admit, also, that he was good. He could handle a lump of dough and work it rounded across the stone edge of the table and produce a lovely perfect evenly-rounded-and-sized pizza base.
But he told me I couldn't bake pizza. I'd made good pizzas years before, New-York style (in Oregon,) using a wooden rolling-pin to shape the base. In that case, I'd worked with an excellent chef who had insisted that I could do the work and I'd found, on her encouragement, that I could.
My skill didn't translate in the manly traditional world of the old-world Ciao Bella.
They relegated me to the basement, and the prep-work. Still, it wasn't a bad job. The work was neither arduous nor highly-stressful, and once settled in I discovered those of my co-workers whom I could appreciate. (My favorite was the ancient fellow whose name I cannot remember and who did not speak English. We liked each other, and laughed along with each other not speaking five words of each other's language.)
I left Ciao Bella after a month or so, but only because I thought that I'd found a better job, working as a baker at much better pay. That other job turned out to be worse starting with a misunderstanding about the wage-packet there, and concluding with a relegation to night-time hours (worse than any basement) based upon the [egad!] French head-baker's opinion that I do not know how to bake bread.
Worse, the manager of the bakery had hired me at which point I'd submitted my intention to leave Ciao Bella and then had told me we'd have to wait until their head baker returned from vacation (holiday) before I could begin.
I had no work. The rent, of course, was due as it always is. I asked the boss at Ciao Bella if he would re-hire me. He would not.