Webster’s defines family in a variety of ways. We typically consider family to be a group of individuals who are biologically related and as such share a bond that is unique and, to a degree, unbreakable. Yet, the dictionary opens the possibility for alternative understandings:

“A group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head of household.” And, “A group of people united by certain convictions or common affiliation.”

This leads to an understanding that chefs and cooks have had for quite some time: kitchens tend to feel like families, and in some cases may even have stronger ties than some biological ones. Families look out for, care for, appreciate, and stand in support of their members, whether they are biological or environmental.

My experience in kitchens is that the bond that exists is incredibly strong and although kitchen families may have their moments of tension, and occasional flair up of anger (just like biological families), they are united behind those members when other people or situations present themselves and challenge a team members well being or peace of mind. This is what families do.

Anthony Bourdain, at one time, stated that if he was in trouble, the first person he would call would be his sous chef. This type of connection is very common in restaurants. We tend to share as much, if not even more, with our restaurant team than we do with our own biological families. This might, of course, be due to the fact that we spend more waking hours with our kitchen team than we do at home with those who share blood connections.

This connection that goes beyond camaraderie, is pretty special and yet another reason why people enjoy working in very difficult environments with those who call themselves cooks, chefs, servers and managers. It is always refreshing to know that there are many working with you who “have your back.”

This chemistry helps to drive a team to accomplish its task at hand and even exceed expectations on a daily basis. It makes the difficult quite manageable, and the impossible within our grasp.

My friends at Chef’s Diary reminded me today of this bond as they reach out to one of their kitchen family members in need of support. Even the most successful restaurants are not always able to provide everything that they would like to for their employees. Thus, our family members sometimes struggle when challenges come their way. In this case a team member needs some assistance at a special time in her life. Giving birth puts everything in perspective and requires that new mothers adjust their priorities, even if for just a period of time, to set the stage for raising a healthy child. Without maternity leave, cooks and chefs who are fortunate to begin raising a child may have to scramble to find the finances necessary to carry them through those first weeks or months.

Take a look at this campaign to support a fellow cook through this time. IF you can support – great! If you cannot, (understandable on kitchen pay) then please SHARE with your network.


Harvest America Ventures, LLC


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About Me

PAUL SORGULE is a seasoned chef, culinary educator, established author, and industry consultant. These are his stories of cooks, chefs, and the environment of the professional kitchen.


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