Some of my regular readers may have been wondering how I seem to have fallen off the digital cliff lately–no posts, no Facebook, no photos. The answer is simple–I recently accepted the position of manager of the Berkeley Bowl West’s cheese department.

The guy who has been running the show for the past dozen and more years has been doing double duty as both the main buyer as well as handling the managerial, administrative duties, a position usually held by someone else as each department is separated by having a buyer and a manager.

The buyer has literally 15 years of experience doing my job as well as doing all the buying, so he is looking forward to some relief by my handling of the more administrative aspects of scheduling and such. Before I can do that, though, I have a huge pile of knowledge to begin to hopefully make a dent in so that he can fully relax into simply handling his own responsibilities.

So I’m learning of the needs of the department in terms of floor coverage, cheese production, learning how to do inventory, get a handle on labor costs and expectations, improving merchandising, getting communication to improve between areas, not to mention managing some of the personalities of the staff.

The good news–I’m feeling more confident because I’m putting in six day work weeks steadily…more time to learn. The bad news? I’m working six day work weeks and while I can probably continue with this pace for awhile, I won’t be able to do it indefinitely and the longer it continues the more frayed I will become.

Fortunately, we just hired a new part-timer we hope will work out and hopefully will allow the staff a chance to get a break and some time off.

All in all, its fun and challenging and interesting work–particularly the learning aspect: knowing the cheeses, getting comfortable with the staff and all the employees, and getting the dynamic down.

As for cooking, yesterday I made a couple of tart pastry shells and tonight I made pastry creme, using the recipe from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, one of my favorite cookbooks. One shell is in the freezer while the other is awaiting more of the luscious strawberries I’ve been bringing home from the Bowl.

I hope to start blogging again soon here, with new treats and revelations.