Here’s is a wakeup call, a piece of information everyone should pay attention to.  It’s simple and poignant – cooks are essential.  Let’s look at the hard data first: In the U.S. there are 1.3 million active-duty members of the U.S. military, 1.3 million lawyers (scary), 1.1 million doctors, 1.6 million truckers, 1.2 million performers/musicians, 3 million teachers, and well over 2.5million cooksWe are a force!

From a purely economic perspective – cooks have a real impact on the national economy, the quarterly jobs reports, and the operation of more than 1 million restaurants that are part of the economic pulse of communities from New York to California and Chicago to New Orleans.  We are a force!

We wake people up in the morning and provide the energy to start their engines, help them think clearly, stimulate creative work, and fire up the millions of businesses that make the country tick and drive America forward.  We provide the platform for discussion and a vehicle that pulls people together as they seek to find common ground over a plate of food. We slow the pace at the end of the day and provide a forum for those same individuals to raise a glass, admire a plate of food, relish flavors that excite and give them hope for a bright future.  We are a force!

Few things in life are more important than breaking bread, celebrating tradition, family, friends, accomplishments, and milestones over food that has meaning; food that represents history, culture, and good times.  It is hard to remember any significant events in peoples’ lives that did not involve sitting at a table and breaking bread.  This is where cooks come in, this is when cooks are there to help make a difference, to support the good times and provide common ground and calm when the storm takes over. We are a force!

With the realization of how important we are to the American way of life comes a responsibility to represent the best of our craft, to know that doing our job correctly is essential, being good at what we do is paramount, and holding our heads high as ambassadors for the proud history of cooking is an expectation.  We cannot allow a few to demean what we do, disrespect that proud history, or represent the job of cook in anyway deemed unprofessional. This job is more than an exchange of time spent for a paycheck; it must be more than that if we are to remain a force.

Look in a mirror and ask the question:

“Am I representing all that a professional cook can and should? Do I not only realize but also act out the importance of the position and the impact what I do has on the profession?  Do I wear the uniform with pride and am I committed to learning and growing as I master the craft?” 

When you step into your kitchen is it with a sense of obligation to represent the very best, to become better at the job every day, and to respect those with whom we work and those who we serve?  Let’s be that force.

To cook is to pay tribute to the person who grew or raised the ingredients we work with.  To cook is to represent our own personal history and that of those who first thought of the processes and combinations of ingredients we work with.  To cook is to be an ambassador for the millions of other cooks who hold the title. 

Cooking is a noble craft, a set of skills that can never be fully mastered because there is so much to learn, and an art form that allows the cook to paint on the plate – his or her canvas. The canvas should be approached with care and the ingredients with a commitment to represent them well.  Our art will be consumed and will nourish the body, mind, and spirit eventually becoming part of who the consumer is as a human being.  No other art form can make this claim and witness these results.  Yes, we can be a force if we take what we do, seriously.

Look at your job this way.  Step into that kitchen with a sense of pride and wonder.  Commit to being the best that you can be as you impact all who come in contact with the cook that you are.  It is your opportunity, and it is your responsibility.  Be part of the millions who will tie on an apron today and strive to make a difference in the world.

Represent the profession. Be that force!  Do it today!


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