A girl I met today, though we didn't really exchange names, recognized the place I worked at when I mentioned I had just come from it. She said something along the lines of, "yeah, "native Australian cuisine, right?" I confirmed, and she replied, "Are there any native Australians working there?"
No, there isn't at the moment. I didn't know how to respond. I said there wasn't, and that it was owned by a French chef before it was even owned by an Australian chef. I honestly don't know the history too well. I'm not obsessed with my place of work. I know the berries are often sourced from Aboriginal communities and that the artwork on the wall benefits the Aboriginal artists. I told her this. She said, "I find that really funny, hey."
I was sort of annoyed. I knew what she was getting at. However, I felt like she was implying that I support something, which I don't, something like the White takeover of Aboriginal ideas or way of life, or something. I thought, I just work there... and then later I began to think some more about it.
I never got to tell her that a "Native Australian" apprentice chef worked here for some time, and she was a really nice person, but the pace of the kitchen didn't suit her level of training, and I honestly don't know whether she was really that interested.
Also, it's not like we sell Witchetty grubs or anything like that. It's basically steak with vegetables, it's poultry with vegetables, it's some pasta, vegetable dishes, berries, bread, except it's not basic. It's just done by chefs who present "fine dining" quality food. So, it looks good, the flavours are different, and tasty. It's a little expensive, but when the service is working, it's not a bad night out on the town.
I didn't get to say any of this. I wondered what anyone else I know might think of my job. Maybe that's why my friends haven't gone there. Do they think this man, this pretty darn kind man who hires me, is sort of robbing the original owners of the land and putting big prices on it, and just sitting back and raking in the cash? He's so passionate about Australian foods and flavours. He's catered Aboriginal events. I've seen the smiles and interactions. It all seems cool within the community.
If there was an Aboriginal or Torres Straight or any "Original Australian" who was a fine dining chef or wanted to be one and had a similar passion for the food, I believe he'd be in business easily with my head chef. I don't think anyone is being held back from rising to any rank they want to be when it comes to just the inner workings of the restaurant I work at.
So, yeah, little pissed at that stranger and a little annoyed that I couldn't stand up for myself. In the end it's simply about knowing what this land grows, and how you can use it, and anyone can investigate that.
The worst part is that the longer I find myself working here, the more I seem to care about doing a good job, strictly for personal integrity's sake. However, doing a better job, means knowing more about the company, and sometimes I just want to remain an ignorant waiter just getting by for the cash.
Ugh, that girl, man. Shit.