I started a new job about two weeks ago on Monday the 12th. I changed restaurants because, though I loved my old kitchen to death, I felt that it would never take my skills to the next level of refinement. My new job, butchering and cooking all the proteins for one of the top fine dining restaurants in DC, is definitely already shaping me into a faster, more precise cook. I am shedding old habits and gaining new ones (especially keeping everything clean clean and neat neat!) and making a real effort to open my mind to everything I see and am told. It's far too easy to act receptive outwardly while in fact rejecting new ideas out of arrogance or laziness.
I believe my learning curve at the new restaurant is going to be different than at previous jobs. At my first real restaurant job, things were tough at first, and then I quickly got competent and lazy and my learning rate dropped steadily. The kitchen that I just left kept me learning because it had a great spirit of curiosity and valued experimentation. I learned about new techniques and products because we were all enthusiastic about educating ourselves and doing new things. At my new job, I hope the learning rate with stay high for months to come. Right now I am focused on learning how to be fast on the line. It sucks to be the one holding everyone else up. Tonight was the first super-busy day (almost every day is busy) that I really handled decently, so I'm hoping that I'll start focusing on improving my butchery skills. After I've mastered the butchery I'm responsible for, I hope to start learning the mise for other stations, because there's a lot of really interesting technique being applied elsewhere in the kitchen. People are always curing fish or making gels or doing other stuff that I'd be thrilled to be learning, but right now I'm too busy just trying to keep my head above water to get involved.