While filming with Cecily, we sat down with her to learn more about what motivates her to go to work everyday and where that drive comes from.
I started off when I was about 6 or 7 years old, and I was watching my grandmother make a grilled cheese. My home was a very large family in a small home, so I didn’t want to bother her.
Once I figured out what it was, my first experience was putting a pan on the stove. I threw a pound of butter in there. I turned the stove on to the last notch. I didn’t burn the grilled cheese, it actually came out perfect!
And my grandmother comes running, “Something’s on fire,” and there was nothing on fire. It was just the pan was overheating. Yeah, it was cool.
And then from there, I spent a lot of years in Puerto Rico and there I learned how to do Spanish cuisine recipes. So my family would have events on the holidays and then I would go to my grandmother to help her prepare everything. And then from there, I was cooking for my family on a daily basis.
You walk in [a facility] and they show you respect. You know, especially when you got the name Jitjatjo, they’re expecting high-quality and they are going to receive high-quality.
A lot of locations I go to, they already know me. I get greeted, “Hey, CC. what’s up? How are you doing? Where do they got you at today?” I say, “I don’t know but we’re doing this,” you know? It’s the greatest experience ever.
It is a huge difference from working for a restaurant. Like, I started in fast food as a dishwasher when I was 17. It’s a big difference. You go into these restaurant kitchens and there’s no real respect in there for one another.
Actually, when I saw Jitjatjo and I applied, I thought, “Let me just get another kitchen job since that’s what I know for sure I can get. I just want to make a couple dollars.”
When I started, I started going to gigs and I started realizing, “I’m with some genuine people. Hold on a second. They’re not putting me to go experience some unnecessary stuff.” And if we do have an issue, we have a very strong line of communication that we can fix it with. It’s like I don’t get discouraged.
In the 11 years that I’ve been doing this, Jitjatjo is the only place where I am not discouraged as a chef, where I don’t want to leave.
I don’t have to kill myself to make a dollar, so that’s the best part. I have a life now. You know, I have a life, especially in New York where you’re surviving, not living. I’m not surviving anymore; I’m just living.
I’ve learned so much through my gigs because I started as a dishwater. I didn’t go to culinary]. I started as a dishwasher at 17 years old in a fast food joint. Which was exactly what it’s like in the movies.
And then from there, I started moving up so I’m catching more interests. And then from there, I jumped to different restaurants, like from fast food to a restaurant to fine dining and then I found Jitjatjo.
It seems that they were very careful in choosing what companies they want to work with, and they do take our feedback into full account.
I feel heard, I feel respected, I feel loved. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to leave. I feel like Jitjatjo really respects the employees and their feelings. Not only do they respect their employees, they respect the companies, their clients.
I have no complaints. I have nothing but love for Jitjatjo. I’m telling you it’s the greatest.
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