Dear Young (or new) Chef,
Welcome to this AMAZING career. I remember during culinary school, instructors prepared us for what we would soon encounter in the torturous world of the culinary arts. They prepped us for how we would endure; to be cut down more times then we would cut ourselves. We’d feel the flames and wrath of our superiors more times then we would feel the burns on our skin, or quite possibly we’d be special enough to get both. We’d be torn down as we struggled to stand up or stand out, while being pushed and pulled before we became anything but mediocre in this industry. This is what young chef’s believe is what we will have to endure in this world, however most seem to be too content with it and are willing to take on this arduous mental and physical beating. Certainly, not one of our chefs truly wanted any of the previously mentioned things to actually occur, but it certainly set the tone for us to keep pushing out our very best work.
Marco Pierre White stated “Lots of famous chefs today don’t look whacked, because they don’t work. They have a healthy glow and a clear complexion. There is blood in their cheeks. They haven’t got burns on their wrists and cuts on their hands.”
One thing I cant seem to fathom is the idea behind this life we’ve chosen to make our world. We’ve created a stereotype over the years that every kitchen is exactly like this statement. Regardless of our position, if your true passion in this world is to cook, you will work hard and you will endure the pain - but it will all be worth it if it's the right fit. The only falsity of White’s statement along with many of my instructors is that every talented kitchen prides themselves off of the pot-slinging values that chefs like Gordon Ramsey hold. I’m not saying it will all be tea and crumpets or that all of my past instructors hope we will one day experience this torture, but after-all I’m not a fan of tea or crumpets to be quite frank. The tea and crumpets will come, but what I’m trying to say is you have the power to make them however the heck you want.
You read books that talk about the absurdities that take place in a commercial kitchen or cooks doing lines of coke in the alley of the restaurant. That much may be true in this industry and maybe that’s what your in to, but not every restaurant is like this, nor will we all choose to be a part of this type of kitchen. I’m not saying you won't get something thrown at you in your career, but it might be a french fry, and not a pan. You create your path, and you write the rules. You might not write them initially, but you have the power to edit them along the way.
I was asked in my very first kitchen position why I cook. I was told I don't look like a cook, I’m skinny and healthy and just don't seem to fit the mold. As I stood there grilling on the hotline staring back at my co-worker I didn't take this as an insult one-so-ever. I took it as a compliment. I’m flattered that I was pegged as a 19 year old more-so than a 25 year old. This question on why do I cook really struck me. Surprisingly, this isn't a question you get all that often. I cook because I absolutely love it, but even more-so than that, I cook because I want to help people while helping myself along the way. I’m still discovering what I need nutritionally, while learning how to create food that suits my health needs as well as my palate. I say I cook because I love it, but I cook because this is the first thing that has truly changed my world in the 25 years that I’ve been trying to figure it out. I’ve struggled more times than I’ve succeeded and I’m sure this isn't the end of my struggles but for the time-being, I’m happy and I’m content in what I’ve created. With five years of digestive & health issues still un-resolved I fully believe food is how to fix it. As I step closer and closer to healing I know that I am destined to cater to others who are facing similar battles.
I’ll probably never have my name plastered on a Michellin star restaurant or even have the title of“Executive Chef” because I choose that. My goal was never to have this title or recognition, but my choice to go back to school to study culinary arts, wasn't to become anything more than skilled at what I am doing, to better educate myself and others on how to live a healthier & happier life. I may have stitches and scars on my hands and burns on my wrists but I’ll keep my healthy glow and clear complexion if it means I’m feeding my body right. This life doesn't have to be what it is made out to be. YOU choose your path, and YOU create where it leads you. Choose your career stepping stones wisely, it will only build you into exactly who you want to be.
This article was written 4 years ago as a NEW chef with a vision for her health & career.
FOR MORE INFO ON BECOMING A CHEF:
Check out this wonderful video interview from Goadilo, a unique career site that uses video and social media to expose and educate young people and mid-career workers to high growth trades, professions and unique careers.
Love & Wholesomeness,