There comes a point in time on most people’s lives when they finally realize that what they do for a living is what they are meant to do. It is this “aha” moment that can either serve as a breath of relief or an “oh crap” feeling of submission. Many times you don’t even realize that you have reached that point – sometimes it is the observation from others that brings this epiphany to light. So, what about professional cooks? We all know that it is a strange, isolating, intense, physically demanding, mentally taxing, and emotionally draining business – but how will you know that it IS what you are meant to do? Here on some observations that may help you come to that understanding:
YOU KNOW YOU ARE A TRUE LINE COOK “LIFER” IF….
- The doctors and nurses in your local emergency room know you by first name.
- You prefer to eat most of your meals – standing up and in less than five minutes.
- Your houndstooth pants stand up on their own when the shift is done.
- You accentuate most of your conversations with people outside of the restaurant with a series of four letter expletives.
- When you go home after a shift your significant other insists that you leave your work shoes outside.
- You refer to your home refrigerator as a reach-in.
- Band-Aids, burn ointment, BenGay, Ibuprofen, and Johnson’s Foot Soap are essential staples in your home.
- You insist that dishes are placed in a certain order in your home dishwasher and silverware is pre-soaked.
- You tend to shout out “behind” whenever you approach somebody on the street, in stores, or in your own home.
- You are obsessive about checking expiration dates on foods in the grocery store – even when you are not buying them.
- Whenever you do cook at home you tend to cook for at least ten people even when only two are eating.
- Your family is concerned if you have more than one day off in a week.
- Coffee is your best friend – always.
- You spend more on kitchen knives and specialty tools than on a car payment.
- You have a strange attachment to cornstarch.
- Most of your friends (fellow cooks) don’t drive because the judge won’t let them.
- You know that your tattoos are not a statement of independence, but rather a way to cover up the permanent burn marks and scars from stitches.
- Five months of the year you never see a sunrise or a sunset.
- The bartender at the local after hours joint knows more about you than your family does.
- You don’t even bother opening up a savings account.
- Pretty much everyone that you know thinks that you have a few screws loose for working in restaurants.
- Friends stop asking you to join them for anything since you are always working.
- One of your favorite pastimes is sleeping on your day off.
- If you went to culinary school you understand that you will probably never pay off those school loans, have great credit, or save any substantial money for retirement.
- As little money as you might have, you would not think twice about lending some to a restaurant friend in need.
- If you have to skimp on something it certainly won’t be good beer, wine, or those occasional experiences as a restaurant guest.
- You don’t care anything about your coworker’s race, ethnicity, religion, core beliefs, age, gender, or sexual preference as long as their station mise en place is tight and they work well with everyone else.
- You are totally anal about the organization of your workspace on the job or at home and have no tolerance for anyone who upsets your system.
- You are always tired, but it never shows at work. At work your pedal is always to the metal.
- You constantly wonder how in the hell you wound up where you are.
- All this being said, you couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
How many were you able to check off? If the majority fit your profile than you know that you are a lifer behind the range. At the end of the year it is always important to assess what you are doing, reflect on the positive and negative, and reaffirm that your life is on the right path. So, how are you doing?
Really, what would you rather do? Our relationship with the kitchen will always be an equal balance of love and hate. Be a proud cook – it is the career that chose you, the place where you fit and where you can make a difference!
PLAN BETTER – TRAIN HARDER
Harvest America Ventures, LLC
Restaurant Consulting and Training
*It’s not too late to order copies of “The Event That Changed Everything” – a novel about life in the kitchen – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Click on the following amazon link to order yours today.
**Photo of the team from Quail Valley Country Club and the visiting members of the 1988 New England Culinary Olympic Team.