Garlic Parmesan Hefeweizen Pull Apart Bread
I worked for a money laundered in college. I was a waitress at a small cafe right on the Rose Parade route through Pasadena. It wasn’t until later that I was able to dissect how complicit I was in his illegal dealings. He’d call me once a day and give me totals he wanted me to ring up under my employee number that would appear to be checks for food. I’d enter in dollar amounts in the computer, anywhere from $50 dollars to $200, usually about ten to twenty separate amounts. I never asked why, I was a 19-year-old naïve farm girl that had no concept that this could be wrong. I was just doing what my boss told me to do. He’d tell me to tip myself out 15% on the amount and leave a note with the total when I cashed out.
Although I’ll never be sure what type of dirty activities the owner was washing his money of, the head chef was possibly worse. The guy who ran the kitchen looked like a greasy, short version of Tom Colicchio, dated strippers and at least once a day offered me a thousand dollars for a picture of my ass (I always declined). Six months into my stint as brunch waitress and weeknight dinner server, he offered me a side job as a bartender for his catering company.
A company that was run using food he’d charge to the restaurant and make the owner ignorantly pay for, pocketing all the money his clients assumed he’d spent on supplies. The thing about being 19 and bartending parties in Hollywood is that you don’t need more than a pair of leather pants and a few witty comebacks to make $500 a night in tips, which at the time was a small fortune that allowed me to pay my tuition and rent.
After Smarmy Chef was found out by Shady Owner, he was fired. In a staff meeting to announce the news a few days later, Shady Owner was a bit shaken. After the other employees left that day, he asked me why. His thick Middle Eastern accent obscuring the words, “Why Jackie? Why would he steal from me? I give him a good job!” Of course this was a pot and kettle situation. Of course there is no honor among thieves. Of course I had no idea what to say. I look over at the baker, a sweet man who pretended like he didn’t speak English with all of the waitresses except me, he is shaking his head, giving me a look that spells out my need to keep quiet.
So I shrugged, “Some people are just like that, it’s no one’s fault.” I meant it as much about him as I did about Smarmy Chef. I quickly make my way past the half wall that was separating the baker from the restaurant and finally take a breath. I give him the look that says all the words that I don’t know how to get out, he smiles back. “I just bake the bread, it makes it ok. I bake the bread and I feed the people.” I smiled and help him knead the dough. Sometimes you just have to bake bread and feed people, and then everything makes sense.