Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Some Pet Peeves

When I made the decision to go to Culinary School I couldn't wait to tell people. I quickly realized what a mistake this was. Here is what would happen 99% of the time:

1) Their eyes would grow wide and immediately "ooo" and "ahhh"

2) They would say, "I would be happy to be your taste tester anytime." Every time someone would say this they would smile coyly and wink thinking they are oh so clever and the first person to say this to me. Little did they know they were the 100th and sure wouldn't be the last.

3) If I was meeting a friend of a relative, the relative in question couldn't wait to share what I do for a living. Their friend quickly does either 1 or 2, or more often they say, "How nice it must be to have a chef in the family. You must do all the cooking at the holidays." Again winking and again making me cringe.

4) They ask me if I would do all their cooking for the holidays.

The thing that's tough to make people understand is how unglamorous it really is to be a chef. Those who aren't in the business automatically think of the Food Network and think that we all get to work in bright, shiny kitchens with flattering lighting. That we love every moment laboring over a recipe and have all the time in the world to get it done right. Now, I hate to use this as a reference, but Hell's Kitchen is a bit more accurate to the daily life of a chef. God knows it is overdone and made much more dramatic, but that and Top Chef really shows the pressure we're under. We all have been yelled at by the Executive Chef at one time or another. There is a major time crunch in the kitchen but no matter what the food must be perfect when it leaves the kitchen. We're on our feet for at least 10 hours a day and we're lucky to get a half-hour break for a meal, even luckier if we get to sit down while we eat it. You're really lucky if your kitchen has a window to the outside world. In some cases you're lucky to have a window. Not to mention dealing with picky customers. The meal or dessert is made perfectly, they eat 90% of it, then suddenly feel it is not up to par and demand it replaced without being charged for either one. Is the customer always right?

So why be a chef?

For one, it sure as hell beats being stuck in a cubicle all day long. At times it's an adrenaline rush, pushing yourself to get the job done faster. And when you can stand behind your work and see people genuinely appreciating and admiring what you've created, you can't help but smile and feel proud.

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