Saturday, October 22, 2011

This one is for the cooks.

        There should be a support group for us cooks because we're all out of our damn minds. That's right, I said it. We're sick. We're bat shit crazy for choosing this profession and we're even sicker for continuing to do it. Think about it.

      We're masochists. We slave away in a hot ass kitchen day in and day out, work and operate heavy kitchen equipment, are always in danger of getting burned and/or cut and usual work under Chefs that should be locked away in a insane asylum. We work under constant pressure, can sometimes work up to 15 hour shifts (with no over time pay in most cases) and not only feel some weird sense of pride about it but wake up the very next day and do it all over again. Outsiders probably don't realize the great deal of organization and preparation involved so you're not scattering around at the last minute. It's an extremely emotional environment where you're up one minute and down another. It's a fucking never ending roller coaster yet I never seem to wants to get off. We fuck up our backs, our feet, our hands and if you think about it, in the end , our job is to merely feed people. All of the chaos, havoc and running around like an asshole just to prepare some god.damn.FOOD! We're not cops or firefighters here...we're cooks!

We're not saving lives...we're just stuffing faces!

      This is how it, usually, goes down on a given shift, in my personal experience. While working this said seemingly endless shift, there might be a moment where I reach a point where for a split second,  I simply hate my life and wonder what possessed me to ever get into this line of work to begin with. Why? Because we're running around like idiots probably since we're simply too few of a crew, the god damn micros machine is spewing out orders faster than we can place them on the board, I just burned myself cause I'm never fucking careful, , 3 steaks just got returned because even though they ordered them medium- "they actually meant well done", we've prepped for 50 covers and we're ending up doing 150,  we missed a plate on an order that's ready to go out and it just so happens to be a time intensive dish (lucky us), the hostesses must hate us cause they just sat 30 people within a 10 minute time span, that moron of a server just rang in an item that we 86'd a GOD DAMN HOUR AGO (!!!) so now one of us has to waste our  time to track that server down and after we curse him out (we love this part really...) tell him to get another order from the guest or so help him God, we just ran out of cheesecakes while we have 3 more on the board.... *sign*  I could go on and on. It could be any or every one of those scenarios in a given night. Of course there are the nights where nothing goes wrong but the orders...just...won't...stop.

  So why the hell do I do it? Why the hell do any of us do it? Why do we continue to willingly abuse our mental and physical health? I'll tell you why. Cause this all comes with the territory. You want to become a big time Chef? Well you better shut up and work your ass off for a long time coming till you get to the point where you're the one calling the shots.

     It takes a special kind of person to work in a kitchen. And when I mean special I mean some-kind-of-insane special. We become accustomed to this madness sooner or later and for the ones that don't...well they just change professions. It's literally a survival of the fittest in this culinary jungle. Because for the cooks who do this gig and stick around, they're simply there because they love what they do. It's not "just food". It's a passion. A challenge. It's a way of life. That's the thing...this isn't just a job, it's a lifestyle. A hard yet addictive one. It's a game of endurance, speed, skill and a whole lot of sense of humor. You're married to this bitch whether you like it or not.

        It's for the teamwork. That undeniable chemistry that if you're lucky enough to have and work with such people, you've hit the fucking jackpot cause there's nothing more important in a kitchen than teamwork.. Those people become your friends, your family. For those nights that even though it feels like you're feeding half the world out there, you and your co-workers are unstoppable.

   It's the excitement of always learning something new whether its a type of cuisine or a new technique. It's for the thrill of the craft.Creativity fused with skill. Talent mixed with knowledge. It's for the simple pleasure of knowing you survived another ass beating or even better... when you know you didn't just survive it...but you rocked it. It's for the simple "Thank you" that you might hear; from your Chef, a guest or the Stewart you fed cause he simply didn't have time to eat today and was one moment away from passing out. It's that great feeling of freedom where you can mouth off any obscenity known to mankind and no one will look at you the wrong way...if anything they will just join in. It's for that much, much needed beer (or 10) you and the rest of the gang will drink once the shift is over...(while you're recapping the night.and laughing your ass about it).

    I didn't choose this profession. It chose me. And for some odd reason that fact that I am a female and therefore a minority in this field makes it all the more addictive. I have a love hate relationship with the kitchen  I'm not afraid to admit it. It's like having a kid. Of course you love it unconditionally and couldn't imagine your life without it but sometimes... you just wanna choke the little bastard. At the end of the day, all the momentary doubt,anger and frustration always seem to disappear as fast is it appeared and I find myself thinking that there is nothing else I would rather be doing.

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