Sitting here chilling and watching cooking shows while I ice my knee. Part of the rehab from my knee replacement. Another day in paradise. A comment made has me thinking about what I do, and why I do it. This is what I am thinking…
19 years in the industry. A prep cook, line cook, sous chef and owner of a catering business. What was I thinking?
I went to school to become an Accountant and worked as an inventory auditor for 1 1/2 years. I wore a tie and worked behind a desk from 9-5. I had weekends off. The pay was good, and benefits existed. So, why in the world would I leave that life to become a Chef? I will tell you.
I spent many, many hours apprenticing and working in kitchens that were fast paced, small, temperatures reaching 100 degrees or more on a regular basis, hearing words that would make my mother blush with shame and cuts that would send many people to the emergency ward, wrapped in saran and latex gloves. I worked in kitchens where the team laughed, had one another’s back and became part of the family. Working 16-18 hours per day, 6 days a week, nights, weekends, holidays and being called in on a day off. I have worked in kitchens where the chef throws pans across the kitchen, I have seen fights break out between staff and I have watched cooks quit in the middle of service, leaving the rest of us to scatter like rats to cover an additional station, all while we are in the weeds.
So, what do we make, for all that we endure in this profession? In short, we make memories. We have a passion and desire to serve our culinary interpretation to others. Our true identities coming through with each bite taken. The scent, the taste, the appearance…all enticing someone to drift into heavenly bliss. We share our vision with first dates, meetings, reunions, anniversaries, engagements and proposals as well as various celebrations. For a short 1.5-2 hours or more, we are invited to share in someone’s event and we step up to ensure that their moments are treasured.
We do not do this for the money, there is very little. It pays the rent, buys groceries and pays bills…barely. We do not do this for the fame, there is no fame. Most of us do not desire to achieve the fame of Chef Ramsey. That isn’t reality. The comradery, the family is more valuable to us. On a regular basis, we punk one another and drink together. We are driven by the successes we achieve through our customers.
This is what we make, and and this is why we do it. I have no regrets for the choices I made, nor do I think back and wonder what my life would look like if I chose another path. This is my path and this is where I belong. I am a Chef.