Community Cameo: Jesse Smith | Shift Delivery



Community Cameo: Jesse Smith

I’ve worked at Save-on-Meats for 3 and half years and I manage and cook the meal program for the Single Room Occupancy hotels run by Atira. I’ve got it down so that I can do it under any conditions.

My role is also supporting the people I work with who are in an earlier stage in the kitchen. I support them not just in the background but also by being present and being around when something unexpected happens - to step in and show people, not the right way, but the way that works for me. I find more and more with new staff I have taken on the role of supervisor and somebody who stays cool, who doesn’t lose his temper when things go wrong.

When I was younger, just out of high school, the idea that I had to get up and do something for 8 hours that I wouldn’t normally choose took me a while to understand and get used to. There is definitely a period of learning and growth and when I see someone who is not as experienced, I can show them something that works for me. I’m doing my job in the kitchen and it’s a lot easier because I have other things in my life that I am passionate about. I can see that I am supporting my other goals with this job.

A few people have stood out in my life that I met through work who have been supportive of me and they are people I would say I look up to. I worked for a restaurant owner here in Vancouver and he was in control, he was knowledgeable of everything about his business and he would come in on the weekends and on his days off. He did everything to make sure his staff had everything they needed to do their job.

One time I managed an apartment there was a guy who would come and do maintenance. He was a very hard working guy. He didn’t speak any English and had to work very hard to get where he was. He never took the easy way out. He was always watching and he could tell when I was taking the easy way out. He knew how to fix anything. He taught me so much about plumbing and heating and most importantly how to do the things you just don’t want to do. I really respected the guy.

We also had a chef here at Save-on-Meats who was always on top of his game, never lost his cool, really hard-working guy and he had his eye on me. Cause from time to time I was still trying to take the easy way out - I’m only human. He showed me a lot about getting my game up to the next level here in the kitchen.

I’ve got a nice new recipe for butter chicken that I just started doing last month. It’s a creamy flavourful dish that I do and I try not to make it too spicy. So I’ll fire up 60 lbs of chicken on the stove top and then I’ll cook at least 75 lbs of vegetables on top of that. Then on the side I’ll make a nice 20 or 30 litre batch of this creamy butter chicken sauce that’s got a bunch of garlic, a bit of ginger, stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and some onions. Then I’ll make big batch of rice in the oven so that comes out nice fluffy and steaming hot. I try to make it mild because a lot of the tenants in the SRO’s don’t have strong stomachs. I’ve been getting some good feedback so I like doing that meal for them.

So far my biggest accomplishment is graduating with my bachelor's degree in music. Those were hard times going back to school after 10 years. I was twenty-eight years old when I went back and it took me apart - I was really, really unsure myself.  At the time there were other things going on my life - I was really lonely at the time had just been through a break up so it was reversal of everything that I was used to.  For some reason I was able to hang in there and graduate with a decent GPA and the respect of my classmates and my instructors.  I didn’t play music almost 2 years after it because I thought I would never make music in any real way and then I started jamming again and now I’m in 3 really good projects.  That was also a big accomplishment coming out of that and then getting back into it. Before that I had some bad experiences being on stage and not being ready. The things I studied during my degree gave me a good foundation. I play bass guitar in a couple of bands and I just finished a tour that took one of my bands to Montreal and back. 

I find that my musical projects give me structure and I guess I’m fairly good at it. I mean, I know there are musicians I play next to who really show me what time it is but I seem to be holding my own. It just gives me something to look forward to and gives me something to do and it does help keep the chaos at bay. Because otherwise you’re just out there floating on your own.