Sunday, July 22, 2012

Moving to California

Moving to California

It was the year 1981 when I was recruited to become Food & Beverage Director for the Newporter in Newport Beach, California. Which is a Hyatt Hotel now? We decided it would be a good move. Living in New York City and Connecticut lost its appeal... My two youngest children, Kurt and Heidi, and I packed up the belongings we wanted to take. Most of my furniture I had sold and the items the other kids wanted they moved into their home. The rest went into storage.

I rented a limo to take us from my son’s Neal, Paul and Rodmond’s home in New Haven, Connecticut to Kennedy Airport. We landed in Los Angeles where my sister-in-law and brother-in-law picked us up from the Airport. We stayed with Carroll and Russ the first few weeks. The drive to Newport Beach was a long one. I commuted every day with the children. I enrolled them in the school in Newport Beach for the fall. Yes it was summer when we moved to California.

I started to look for housing, which I found on Balboa Island. A cottage style house with very shabby furniture. The house was a summer rental so we could not move in until September.

My new job was to start on September 5, right after Labor Day. We moved on Sept. 2nd to Balboa Island. All three of us loved that little Island. Heidi and Kurt started school and I started my new job. Here comes the kicker! My second day on the job, the General Manager called a meeting with all of the top management to introduce me. As we were in the meeting I was called to the phone and had been informed that Heidi and Kurt did not show up in class even though I had dropped them off. I felt I had to excuse myself from the meeting to go looking for my children. The General Manager was annoyed and said quote, “Woman do not belong in top manager position.” I for one am a very reactionary person and turned around and said, “You can take your job and shove it.”

I knew he and I would never work well together, the Food & Beverage Director being the number two person in any Hotel. You see, I was recruited in New York City by the Seagram’s Company which owned the Newporter at the time. The General Manager never met me until I moved. He was not pleased that I was hired without his input. I actually can understand that now. At the time I thought, “What an arrogant SOB.”

I went hunting for Kurt and Heidi and found them at the famous Newport mall. Now, here I was with no job, a rental to pay for and living expenses. It was a good thing that I had some limited income for the children from SS.

The next day I picked myself up and went job hunting. I knew I would not have a hard time finding a job, which I didn’t. I took on a spotter job for an upscale Mexican Restaurant.

Of course that was not a steady income but it helped us over the hump. One evening as I was sitting at the bar observing the servers and Bartender (who was working into his own pocket), across from me was a couple a beautiful young woman with a man not to my liking. I kept thinking, "What is she doing with that guy??" We started talking, introducing ourselves and so my friendship with Nancy began. Nancy to this day tells people I picked her up in a Bar, and I respond with, “You picked me up.” Nancy gave me her business card which I tossed in a drawer at home.

As I said before, the house had very shabby furniture so, after a couple of days, I went out and bought some dark green sheets with roses for color, some plants and candles and redecorated our home. I will never forget when my son Kurt came home from school with a friend. He said to his friend, “My Mom can make a dump look elegant.” What a compliment from a 15 year old. Both Heidi and Kurt started to settle in and make friends.

I for one went on a job hunt and after a few days was hired by the owners of Ambrosia and Le Premier Restaurants. I was hired as a troubleshooter and trainer and recipe taster for Le Premier Restaurant which was a very new venture. Le Premier had a Swiss Chef whose cooking was more tuned to catering big functions instead of cooking on the line. His sauces were the worst I ever tasted, all flour and paste, yikes! One day I went into the kitchen and put a spoon into his sauces and the Chef went berserk. He threw a Chef knife at me yelling about what gave me the right to taste his sauces. I have to say here that Gerald the owner and his Brother Gustav never told him that I was hired to do just that. Gerald was not happy with the food in general. I told Gerald that his Chef is a banquet Chef and he needs to let him go. I than went on the hunt to find him a banquet Chef Position, which I found in Las Vegas. He was happy to move on and, after a few weeks even called to thank me.

Le Premier and Ambrosia Kitchen
We hired a new Chef with expertise in California and Danish Cuisine. Gerald and Gustav came from Denmark to the States. Le Premier became a very successful Restaurant and I had fun working with everybody

Ambrosia was already very famous throughout the country. I stayed with the restaurant for 2 years.

I will add a photo. Next the California adventure continuous!

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