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chefjbs
02-28-2011, 07:11 PM
It's kinda like " To be or not to be? That is the question."

I sometimes ask myself why do i still do it. 14 years in the business in some shape or form. A couple of those years spent in the front of the house... I know i'm sorry. But i must say, i have meet the most interesting people in the kitchen. These are the people that i would probably never talk to if i saw them walking down the street... some just because, others because i was scared.

I once had a cook that would ask me once a week if he could take a tub of knox gelatin home so he could do his hair. Yup... full on misfits punk rocker with a real mohawk before it was mainstream with parts of his face i never thought you could peirce.

But besides the love for cooking, its the love for the other people like me that don't like to talk to customers because we are angry at the world because they want their double veal chop well done and out in 5 minutes, beacuse they have a show to catch. Freaking Bridge and Tunnel crowd.

a great man once said "Heaven gives us good meat. Hell gives us good cooks!"

So why do you keep doing it?

JohnnyChance
02-28-2011, 07:36 PM
Because owning this many knives without a professional reason would lead to my name being put on a list somewhere?

But really, I just couldnt imagine doing anything else. I am very bad at long term projects, so preparing for service is perfect for me. Every deadline is 5 minutes from now and that suits me just fine.

steeley
02-28-2011, 07:39 PM
It's Passion
To walk in everyday with the mind set to learn and teach.
I been doing this for over 28 years and i still get a charge out of it

spinblue
02-28-2011, 08:16 PM
Dave, I can't click on the picture to expand it, no permission.

I don't cook professionally, but I got a job in a kitchen at a Chicago hot dog joint about 21 yrs old. I had just watched my best friend die in an accident. I wouldn't come out of my room for a month. My family finally gets me to go out for pizza. On the way home, my youngest brother was like "hey, you should get a job there". The next day I went down and applied and got the job. I really enjoyed working there and was there for 1-2 years.

Made a lot of great friends there that I will occasionally run in to.

steeley
02-28-2011, 08:33 PM
38 just trying things

Chef Niloc
02-28-2011, 10:47 PM
One word
masochistic

ThEoRy
02-28-2011, 11:09 PM
I'd say because we are sick.

ecchef
02-28-2011, 11:58 PM
What other industry welcomes maniacs like us with open arms?

sunjunkie
03-01-2011, 01:23 AM
Mmm... still working on that one.
= |

Citizen Snips
03-01-2011, 11:45 AM
it gets harder and harder as the years go by. my wife and i are both chefs with different schedules. i was able to score a daytime shift without having to do lunch which, as im sure you all know, is very hard to come by in this industry. as the days go on i get more and more tired of cooking the same bs for the same group of people that think they know everything. i just want to cook my food in my home for friends and family with good drink. that is what cooking is really about.

i guess professional cooking gives me a glimpse of what i really enjoy every so often but im getting weary of it all and dont want to do it forever. it is my passion and something i share with my wife that not many others can but in the end, i know some of the food i make gives people great joy so for the time being, its worth it.

Vertigo
03-01-2011, 04:07 PM
I do it for the money.

I've been at it for 17 years now and have a rock solid skill set that can land me a job anywhere I end up. Even though I echo some of Brian's sentiments--that I'm getting more and more tired of cooking the same bs for the same group of people--at the end of the day, switching careers at this point in my life would mean a pay cut and some serious re-education. And if I loathed the work, maybe it'd be worth the effort. But for me, cooking professionally is easy as hell, the money is good, and the occasional "glimpses" of what I really enjoy make it hard to walk away.

PierreRodrigue
03-01-2011, 07:12 PM
17 years of surveying for me, with days like today (-45 wind chill) I wish I persued a chef's rateing back in the day...

monty
03-01-2011, 07:55 PM
I was a cook (no way I'd use the term chef) for about 3 years. I still have nightmares of orders backing up and 30 steaks on the grill. No one back there but me to prep, cook, and plate. Can't imagine why anyone would do that to themselves day in and day out :)

jonnachang
03-01-2011, 08:58 PM
That's funny Monty.I'm in my 40's and I couldn't imagine doin anything else.Twenty plus years in restaurants,clubs,and catering there is NO way I could ever work a desk job

shankster
03-01-2011, 10:00 PM
I've also been cooking "professionally" for 20+ years and although it gets harder every year I can't imagine doing anything else. I think it's in our blood,what's left of it.We love food and we love to cook what better job is there?

kalaeb
03-02-2011, 11:50 AM
Its funny, I have done it all from dish to cook, management for the last 5 years and my most recent foray is into corporate training. A few times a week I get a yearning to be back in the kitchen. I simply feel more at home there. But one thing is for certain, I would take the kitchen over the front any day of the week if I had the choice.

tweyland
03-03-2011, 03:38 AM
I used to be a computer guy. It was a great job (pay, benefits, co-workers, etc), but ultimately, fixing someone's computer didn't really give me much satisfaction. No matter how hard I worked or how well the computers ran, it was hard to see how it related to the success or failure of the company.

Six years ago, I made the switch and so far, so good. It was a tough transition financially, but I streamlined things a lot. I see how people like the food I prepare. I see how my work has contributed to the success and growth of the restaurants and caterers for which I have worked. I also like that especially in catering, we participate in special events in peoples lives, rather than fixing something that's not working. I also feel comraderie with cooks.

But my satisfaction definitely plummets when we have to cook for ungrateful, unappreciative know it alls or wannabe foodie blogger types.

~Tad

BertMor
03-03-2011, 06:33 PM
I've given it up. I used and abused myself, seriously affected my health. Lived like a hermit except for my' working' family. It took me until I was 49 y.o. before I got married, and everyone was suspicious, whats wrong with a guy wo is 50 and never married. My Mom told me my Dad thought I was gay!

I did it because the act of eating wonderful food thrilled my soul. I enjoyed the adrenaline high, I am a social misfit and there I barely fit in. I was good at it, I had an affinity for cooking.

In the end, I burned out. I no longer can stand for 12 hours without my back freezing up. The stress might induce a heart attack. I have arteries like an 80 y.o. and they loaded me up with stents so I could walk more than a (short) block. I have chef's block - everything has been done and I can't think of something different to make my own. I draw a blank when I see Top chef like challenges.

I dearly want to send in a tape to Top Chef, but my wife would kill me if I left her for 6 weeks. I used to dream about cooking now I have nightmares.

I don't know anything else that makes me happy. I am sick and tired of the crap that goes on.

I am Chef, have pity on me, and envy me!

Adamm
03-03-2011, 08:37 PM
I mainly cook becasue i love to do it. Theres always ups and downs, and good days and bad but I do it day in and day out because i love to cook and make people happy. I coulnt imagine myself doing anything else.

SpikeC
03-03-2011, 09:37 PM
**Snippy******
I see how people like the food I prepare. I see how my work has contributed to the success and growth of the restaurants and caterers for which I have worked. I also like that especially in catering, we participate in special events in peoples lives, rather than fixing something that's not working. I also feel comraderie with cooks.

But my satisfaction definitely plummets when we have to cook for ungrateful, unappreciative know it alls or wannabe foodie blogger types.

~Tad

This is so much like my life as a custom order jeweler, and why I stayed in it until health reasons made me stop. I do miss it............

aser
03-04-2011, 01:41 AM
Why I do it?

- thirst for knowledge
- glutton for punishment
- seeing how far you can push yourself
- working with top quality product/equipment
- making a customer's day with your food
- tangible, immediate results

Why I hate it?

- abuse of worker's rights (salary averaging out to less than min wage/hr)
- can't ever call in sick
- chefs taking advantage of students/externs/stages
- low pay for fine dining cooks (we compensate with knowledge, not pay)
- lack of benefits for most cooks
- job security (extremely transient industry)

chefjbs
03-06-2011, 11:40 AM
why is it that everyone thinks chef's make more than they do?? And hell, i don't even eat as good as i should. I'm making prime cuts of beef, the nicest game, and the freshest fish. But after the end of my shift you'll find me and a couple buddie eating disco fries and drinking beer. What a life.

Bryan G.
03-06-2011, 11:26 PM
it gets harder and harder as the years go by. my wife and i are both chefs with different schedules. i was able to score a daytime shift without having to do lunch which, as im sure you all know, is very hard to come by in this industry. as the days go on i get more and more tired of cooking the same bs for the same group of people that think they know everything. i just want to cook my food in my home for friends and family with good drink. that is what cooking is really about.

i guess professional cooking gives me a glimpse of what i really enjoy every so often but im getting weary of it all and dont want to do it forever. it is my passion and something i share with my wife that not many others can but in the end, i know some of the food i make gives people great joy so for the time being, its worth it.

I feel your pain B. And what tv and "French Laundry" hype doesn't tell you is that very few restaurants have the ability to truly hand pick employees that possess your level of anal retentive perfection and passion to execute your vision properly and you are going to have to just find trustworthy people and get the most out of them. And the bigger the kitchen the more personalities you have to deal with. It's like someone with multiple personalities trying to find balance and come across to others as a role model and not the crazy dysfunctional, perhaps psycotic or masocistic as Colin mentions they really are.

Some get lost in it, many can't hack it, and some manage to pull it off and do it well. But no matter which of those you are, you're a damn liar if you say it doesn't pay a toll on who you are as a human being.

At the end of the day it's about balance in your life and knowing your priorities that allow you to do it and still love it ... Or not

-Bryan

Citizen Snips
03-07-2011, 12:28 AM
I feel your pain B. And what tv and "French Laundry" hype doesn't tell you is that very few restaurants have the ability to truly hand pick employees that possess your level of anal retentive perfection and passion to execute your vision properly and you are going to have to just find trustworthy people and get the most out of them. And the bigger the kitchen the more personalities you have to deal with. It's like someone with multiple personalities trying to find balance and come across to others as a role model and not the crazy dysfunctional, perhaps psycotic or masocistic as Colin mentions they really are.

Some get lost in it, many can't hack it, and some manage to pull it off and do it well. But no matter which of those you are, you're a damn liar if you say it doesn't pay a toll on who you are as a human being.

At the end of the day it's about balance in your life and knowing your priorities that allow you to do it and still love it ... Or not

-Bryan

you said it bryan. the key to our business and life in general is balance. ive watched most people i work with take it so seriously that everything else suffers from relationships to personal health. so many people are fueled by an illusion of what the food network has made everyone think cooking in a professional kitchen really is. the other (and much worse) fuel is drugs/alcohol which seems to get people through to the next service but is really destroying them.

i think the biggest thing is all the hype some of these "chefs" from food network get. for me, there are very few people i respect that are TV personalities. Jacques Pépin for example is what i consider a true chef who found himself a much deserved home on television. there just aren't enough roll models for younger chefs these days. everyone thinks that people dont yell in kitchens and that gordon ramsay is doing something different for a camera. the truth is that kitchens are really like that. its no show. he is a jerk and most head chefs are. they are in for personal gain and nothing else.

i would say if anyone can find a chef they can work for that actually cares about his/her employees enough to teach and motivate them, grab that job with both hands and dont let go.

sorry to get all preachy but i feel as though my days are numbered as a professional and i have some things to say while i still have merit.

Pensacola Tiger
03-07-2011, 12:21 PM
sorry to get all preachy but i feel as though my days are numbered as a professional and i have some things to say while i still have merit.

You'll never lose merit.

"Been there, done that, got the t-shirt" is always a respected cred, even if you're not there in the fight anymore.

riverie
03-07-2011, 12:56 PM
i think food network channel and celebrity chef make people misunderstanding about this industry. it's way too far from all of those glamourous things, you got cut, burned, hearing screaming all the time, carry and lifting heavy stuff, many hours of working non-stop, and in the end of the day you'll see that most of the case the money you get is not really worth it. in fact, some of people that i know choose this career because they think they don't fit well in other professional working environment. i'm talking about full exposed tattoo, piercing all over, illegal immigration status, criminal history, etc. yet they can do well in this industry because we never discriminate them, it's the beauty of culinary field.

i always believe that i have an artistic side of me that i want to express. i was a tennis player before until i got injury that forced me to quit playing. i also played guitar but i failed to be the next jimmy hendrix because i just never that good. then i work my way up in culinary world, starting from cooking in the kitchen, and finding myself as a sushi chef now, i feel that this is finally something that i am good at. nothing's better than self accomplishment.http:///Users/rioyonathan/P1010285.JPG

StephanFowler
03-07-2011, 04:19 PM
I was a cook at a seafood restaurant in Buckhead Atlanta for a couple years while I was in college.
seriously thought about going to CIA and going pro as a chef until I realized that most of the super chefs I looked up to at my restaurant and other local high end places made well less than $20/hour. And these are guys who had years and years of education.

Scared me off of that horse.

Bryan G.
03-07-2011, 05:56 PM
We most definitely don't do it for the money. If you make any real money and have the time to spend it you either sold your soul or you're the luckiest SOB in the industry.

Like Brian mentions I feel my path changing as well the older I get. I can never give up cooking/teaching in some kind of compacity ... But doing it everyday gets tiresome.

I will say having 3 children has been both great for my career while at the same time will probably end it. You look at people in your kitchen a little different and softens up the jagged hard edges that most of us have. Gives some of that "balance" we're talking about most of us lack. By learning to be a good father am also becoming a better chef. At the same time I want to be around to be a father figure to my children more and more everyday and less and less to those in the kitchen. Double edges sword.

The Chef I work with now is by far the best chef I have ever worked with. He has a saying "You have to MAKE it your own." That's the only way you can be a chef at a restaurant that is not your own if you ask me.

On another note I am so happy to see some of the things guys like Dave and others are doing as it makes me believe some of my future plans are on track and what I believe could be poplular amoung my kitchen brethern really is the popular.

Bryan

PS... Brian mentioned drugs and booze. Am I the only guy alive who has worked in a kitchen for 15 years or so and not done any drugs or drink?

shankster
03-07-2011, 07:31 PM
About 5 years ago I got out of restaurant kitchens and into catering.The money is great($20.00 hr in the shop,$30.00 to $40.00 on site) the hours are perfect,usually 8-5 5 days a week(except Xmas) and the food we cook is on par with any restaurant I've ever cooked in.it's not as steady as a restaurant,but at my age I don't mind at all.

Citizen Snips
03-08-2011, 01:03 AM
bryan-i dont do drugs but i drink my fair share of pabst blue ribbon as well as good wine with food. i do it because i enjoy it but not to escape from a bad day which is where i think a lot of people end up losing control of something as wonderful as booze :D

i also respect you so much for having 3 children and coming out of this with the same philosophy as i do. i couldn't imagine my life with children. the only comfort in my life is that bringing children into this world and schedule (etc) would be impossible without someone i love as much as i love my wife. im sure it is the same for you.

pensacola tiger-i may not lose merit and i appreciate your kind words but the feeling of merit would be entirely on my end. my wife thinks im the most wonderful cook ever but i say im just another guy who likes to make people happy with food.

Salty dog
03-17-2011, 09:50 PM
We are a restaurant family. We're all in it and we're all a little nuts. It's been that way since my daughter was twelve. We laugh, love and bleed all together. We are one. I AM the luckiest SOB in the world. I will die on that line.

Tristan
03-17-2011, 10:54 PM
Most days, I scream internally at the fact that I'm here, at my desk working and not pursuing my passion... And I see a large number of people really doing well for themselves here in the F&B industry.

So sometimes people ask, why aren't you in it? I always tell them, i'm too old to stand for 90 Hours a week, inhaling smoke and oil only to earn 30% of my current pay.

Yes i do know the 20 or so people locally who made it really big, and are worth low-mid 7 figures (achieved within 8 years)... but I'm just not convinced I have the talent or the will or the passion to do it.

I do wish I was 15 again, and I went down that road so i could find out, but for now, I'll just keep keeping a little cash aside so that I can buy a cafe in a couple of years and get some talented young chef started on his career... Time to live vicariously through the success of an employee. Here's to hoping that i'll be lucky, successful and understanding if/when the time comes.

Salty dog
03-18-2011, 02:15 AM
If you're going to dream than dream of your dream job. Not someone else's.

Tristan
03-18-2011, 03:44 AM
If you're going to dream than dream of your dream job. Not someone else's.

Hmm, owner of a cafe is part of that dream... I do lack the skills to be the one leading the line though, unlike in your case. Right now the dream is still a financial hurdle, but at least it is in place and steadily growing.

Eamon Burke
03-19-2011, 07:23 PM
One word: Recession.

They pay me to do it, and the hours are good(at my current job).

I started a business in '08, which was a TERRIBLE time to start it, but I figured I could at least get by until '11, but that didn't pan out because I had to move and had a baby. I got a job at a sushi bar, where I was mislead about how much I would be making. I made crap for pay, and worked 65 hours a week, which were the choicest hours to make your life as dull as possible. I woke up at 9:30, left for work in a hurry, worked until 9:30 pm, got home at 10, ate dinner, went to bed. Every day but Tuesday for a year. The year flew by, and I realized one day that I missed my daughter's first year almost entirely. It was, and is, my first and only regret in life. I will never jeopardize time with my family for any job or pay. I would rather be poor than miss my children's lives.

I think cooks are crazy underpaid, and don't get nearly the time off they deserve. They work all the hours when everyone wants to be enjoying a meal, are responsible for producing something we put INSIDE OUR BODIES and don't deserve to get minimal treatment like some kind of office or factory worker.

BertMor
03-20-2011, 04:33 PM
We most definitely don't do it for the money. If you make any real money and have the time to spend it you either sold your soul or you're the luckiest SOB in the industry.

Like Brian mentions I feel my path changing as well the older I get. I can never give up cooking/teaching in some kind of compacity ... But doing it everyday gets tiresome.

I will say having 3 children has been both great for my career while at the same time will probably end it. You look at people in your kitchen a little different and softens up the jagged hard edges that most of us have. Gives some of that "balance" we're talking about most of us lack. By learning to be a good father am also becoming a better chef. At the same time I want to be around to be a father figure to my children more and more everyday and less and less to those in the kitchen. Double edges sword.

The Chef I work with now is by far the best chef I have ever worked with. He has a saying "You have to MAKE it your own." That's the only way you can be a chef at a restaurant that is not your own if you ask me.

On another note I am so happy to see some of the things guys like Dave and others are doing as it makes me believe some of my future plans are on track and what I believe could be poplular amoung my kitchen brethern really is the popular.

Bryan

PS... Brian mentioned drugs and booze. Am I the only guy alive who has worked in a kitchen for 15 years or so and not done any drugs or drink?

No Brayn, I am not much of a drinker, and I did drugs when I was younger, but once I hit the cooking scene, I couldn't funtion and do the job. And I didn't fit in all that well because of it. One other vice chef/cooks have.....strip clubs/titty bars. I worked at one place where the boys all hung out there every night and dropped big $$$ chatting the girls up. Then exec (who was from Belgium and had trained at 2* Michelin place wound up marrying one....soon he disappeared under a black cloud........

Salty dog
03-21-2011, 07:37 AM
Marry a stripper and retire. I could think of worse ways to go?

spaceconvoy
03-21-2011, 08:20 PM
If you want to be happy for the rest of your life,
Never make a pretty woman your wife,
...
An ugly woman cooks meals all the time,
She'll always give you peace of mind.

steeley
03-21-2011, 10:51 PM
She told me that it was just to pay for college .:laugh:

K-Fed
03-28-2011, 11:43 AM
I'm in it for the excitement. Cooking is somthing I'm passionate about, I love the stress of a busy night, and I love that I feel like I'll never learn all there is to learn about food and all the worlds different cuisines. I try to learn something new every day.

phan1
08-20-2011, 05:00 AM
The harsh and most realistic truth is that I think (for most) a lot of people are too retarted to do anything else! I mean, what else are you going to do? People are only as faithful as their options and for most and especially the greats in the industry, they have no other options. This has been their only lifestyle, and they don't know how to do anything else, passion be damned.

MAny people talk about how some can't make it in this industry when perhaps some are smart enough to do something else and find a better quality of life for themselves.

ecchef
08-20-2011, 09:15 AM
The harsh and most realistic truth is that I think (for most) a lot of people are too retarted to do anything else! I mean, what else are you going to do? People are only as faithful as their options and for most and especially the greats in the industry, they have no other options. This has been their only lifestyle, and they don't know how to do anything else, passion be damned.

MAny people talk about how some can't make it in this industry when perhaps some are smart enough to do something else and find a better quality of life for themselves.

Easy there, Mr. 1 post.

Many of us are in this industry because we love it. I know of many Chefs that are university educated in fields other than food service and hospitality, including myself. The days of indentured servitude are long gone; the lord of the manor doesn't decide who is intelligent enough to join the clergy, or who is destined to be the village imbecile anymore. Chefs become Chefs because they love the intensity, camaraderie, creativity, diversity, environment and myriad other reasons this industry provides; not because we are ostracized by society or are "retarted (sic)".

I don't know...maybe you're writing from Cambodia or Somalia or the 18th century. IMHO, stop whining about being a loser and consult a mental health professional to help you deal with your poor self esteem issues.

Eamon Burke
08-20-2011, 10:33 AM
The harsh and most realistic truth is that I think (for most) a lot of people are too retarted to do anything else! I mean, what else are you going to do? People are only as faithful as their options and for most and especially the greats in the industry, they have no other options. This has been their only lifestyle, and they don't know how to do anything else, passion be damned.

MAny people talk about how some can't make it in this industry when perhaps some are smart enough to do something else and find a better quality of life for themselves.

This could apply for line cooks and dishwashers, but not anyone with any creative control or managerial resposibility. Even for the menial jobs, there are more mindless, better paying careers, like operating a tow truck or working in a warehouse. Dealing with the restaurant/hospitality business is very much like an apprenticeship trade--you work your butt off for about 10 years for some guy who tells you how and when to fart, then, after that, you can do your own thing, and even if it doesn't work out, you will always have a job.

BertMor
08-20-2011, 05:37 PM
The short answer is --- We are morons. We are adrenaline junkies. We have a creative streak. We would die sitting behind a desk, tied to a computer. We are social misfits with no filter and prefer to call it as we see it, politcal correctness be damned.

Above all, we crave a good meal!

Salty dog
08-20-2011, 10:46 PM
Bert called it. Except the meal part. food is over rated

JohnnyChance
08-21-2011, 12:25 AM
+1 to ecchef, Eamon, and Bert.

goodchef1
08-21-2011, 12:38 PM
What was said about the "food network" and others that glamorize the industry are true. But so can be said of the other industries that tv and magazines glamorize as well. Entertainment industry, Manufacturing, Technology etc... I've been on the "grass is greener on the other side" of career moves, and can only say that in my experience, it is not. It's the same struggle to achieve an end result, but only different methods.

It doesn't matter what you do in life, success comes with a price, and many give up, change direction, or just become jaded about the whole notion of succeeding. That's why I stay away from cynical, jaded, and negative people. There are so many directions one can take in F&B careers, and it does not have to always end in the kitchen. I've never seen a happy 60yr old line cook throughout my career, and I've come across more than a few.

Daniel Fairly
08-21-2011, 12:53 PM
Lol, I quit! After 10 years of praise, awards and promotions I gave up because I was tired of hearing "sorry we can't pay very well, this is a college town... this is a tourist town." I know there is good money like any other job but I didn't want to go corporate where the money is and I couldn't afford my own place. I do miss the work, I have worked in probably just about every position I could in such a short time and most of it is a lot of fun.


...so now I make knives instead! :D (and I'm really broke, lmao!)

NO ChoP!
08-21-2011, 01:07 PM
Hey dip stick, if you are going to use derogatory and offensive words, at the very least you could spell it right! Especially when trying to convey others lack of intelligence....

Warning****the word "retarded" is not appropriate. Use it, and I will most likely eat you for breakfast!

That being said, I f been in this industry for 24 years. Most of those years were spent working doubles as a grunt on the lines. I am battle ready and hardened. I have a degree in Logistics, and have been courted by our government on many occasions to go overseas; but alas, I am a family man, and obviously a gluten for punishment. I will always think of myself as a cook. I am confident I could step on any line anywhere and hang within hours. As a chef, I realize there will always be more creative and knowledgeable individuals. The culinary world is constantly evolving...

SpikeC
08-21-2011, 04:48 PM
A fellow that I used to work with once said,"there is no nirvana at the bench". I disagreed with him then and still do. Nirvana is where you bring it.

MadMel
08-22-2011, 02:24 AM
The harsh and most realistic truth is that I think (for most) a lot of people are too retarted to do anything else! I mean, what else are you going to do? People are only as faithful as their options and for most and especially the greats in the industry, they have no other options. This has been their only lifestyle, and they don't know how to do anything else, passion be damned.

MAny people talk about how some can't make it in this industry when perhaps some are smart enough to do something else and find a better quality of life for themselves.

Hey I think that's very judgemental for you to stereotype people like that. I pick this career path because it offers me challenges that I am not able to get with other jobs. There are a couple of people I know who are very successful but did not start out in this line. In fact one of them was a lawyer. Furthermore, just because someone is not able to do written tests and study does not mean that they are retarded.. Different people have different strengths.. Or have you considered the fact that some people are not so well off that they are able to actually AFFORD college education?

AnxiousCowboy
08-22-2011, 02:01 PM
you guys make it sound like people who are chefs aren't capable of anything else as well. We aren't some kind of retarded savants; we are masochists like said before. The cool thing about this profession is part of it is mental and part is it is physical. You can go to school and learn all the basics about cooking and grasp it well, but that doesn't mean you will ever be able to make your rounds in a good kitchen on each station and carry that dexterity into a management position. That is a true chef. I have met many people who are excellent line cooks, but don't have the mindset to ever take a chef position; more depressingly, I have worked for some chefs who are so far removed from cooking and working the line, that it's not even a consideration. That's a manager, not a chef imo, even if you're wearing the fun jacket and pants. And of course we have all worked with and hired people who end up selling insurance or something 2 years later

Watch the Marco Pierre White videos from when he was chef at Harvey's to see a true Chef.

kalaeb
08-22-2011, 03:11 PM
Hey, even managers can have some fun... I play with my knives everyday...almost as much as I organize my walk-in...

Ohh, and I have two Bachelors of Science degrees and I hope to start working on my third soon. I don't consider myself incapable of doing anything else, I just love my job!

steeley
08-22-2011, 10:00 PM
“In Japan, it’s a real philosophy, not only cooking. The right question is: Do you cook because you want to give food to people or do you cook for the emotion? I cook for the emotion and also for the communication because when you cook for somebody it’s about personal spirit, not just providing food.”

goodchef1
08-22-2011, 11:00 PM
The harsh and most realistic truth is that I think (for most) a lot of people are too retarted to do anything else!

Do you work in this industry?

phan1
08-23-2011, 12:06 AM
OK guys, sorry. "Retarted" was the wrong word to say. It was meant in a very fecitious manner. I didn't mean that BOH people are mentally incapable at all. I think BOH people generally have great work ethic, work skills, and they understand what it really means to "work".

I meant "retarted" in that despite being fully capable of doing whatever, you are STUCK. You are simply stuck in your profession that also represents a certain lifestyle. Despite being fully capable, you are Stuck in your position and simply don't know how to do anything else. It defines you as much as your race, religion, or heritage. Even a lawyer would be completely retarted to stay in the kitchen for too long, and I wouod say people like that never last a good 10+ years cooking. They simply have better options. You've been around a guy that's been doing it for 10+ years, you know he's stuck and has no better options in life.

You can glamorize it all you want by saying things like "masochists", "passion", "challenge", but at the end of the day, the vast majority of people are just STUCK. And as a BOH guy myself, I absolutely stand behind what I say. The simplest most honest reason why MOST keep keep doing what they do is because they are stuck. And that's absolutely OK.

SpikeC
08-23-2011, 12:14 AM
What a load.

MadMel
08-23-2011, 01:13 AM
What a load.

+1

steeley
08-23-2011, 02:00 AM
Stuck I don't think so .
but if you feel Stuck there's always truck driving school.
Stuck is something that is on my shoe
I don't want to work with anyone who feel's STUCK.:nono:

MadMel
08-23-2011, 04:32 AM
I think we alll have something called free will?? And we kinda CHOOSE the career path?? I don't believe that equals stuck.

El Pescador
08-23-2011, 06:43 AM
OK guys, sorry. "Retarted" was the wrong word to say. It was meant in a very fecitious manner. I didn't mean that BOH people are mentally incapable at all. I think BOH people generally have great work ethic, work skills, and they understand what it really means to "work".

I meant "retarted" in that despite being fully capable of doing whatever, you are STUCK. You are simply stuck in your profession that also represents a certain lifestyle. Despite being fully capable, you are Stuck in your position and simply don't know how to do anything else. It defines you as much as your race, religion, or heritage. Even a lawyer would be completely retarted to stay in the kitchen for too long, and I wouod say people like that never last a good 10+ years cooking. They simply have better options. You've been around a guy that's been doing it for 10+ years, you know he's stuck and has no better options in life.

You can glamorize it all you want by saying things like "masochists", "passion", "challenge", but at the end of the day, the vast majority of people are just STUCK. And as a BOH guy myself, I absolutely stand behind what I say. The simplest most honest reason why MOST keep keep doing what they do is because they are stuck. And that's absolutely OK.

I have a history degree from UNC. I worked for American Express as a financial forecaster. I have worked as a developer and have owned a successful construction supply company. Maybe you're right about people being stuck in this business. Fortunately, most of the people I know in this business prove you're point is wrong. Innovation and creativity sees no boundaries and I have met many people who have had successful careers as lawyers or entrepreneurs like myself and just like to cook. The difference is now is that I do it on my own terms. Will I be doing this in 2, 5, or 10 years? I will if I still enjoy it. If not I'll be doing something else.

Salty dog
08-23-2011, 08:23 AM
I'm a high scholl graduate. It was cook or be a bum. I've gone full circle. Now I'm a bum that cooks.

goodchef1
08-23-2011, 10:23 AM
I meant "retarted" in that despite being fully capable of doing whatever, you are STUCK. You are simply stuck in your profession
You can glamorize it all you want by saying things like "masochists", "passion", "challenge", but at the end of the day, the vast majority of people are just STUCK. And as a BOH guy myself, I absolutely stand behind what I say. The simplest most honest reason why MOST keep keep doing what they do is because they are stuck. And that's absolutely OK.

You are only "stuck" in your mind and have no goals. You can take it only as far as you let yourself. But with your attitude, I really don't see that happening. I feel sorry for anyone around you if or when you lose it.

Save your money, open a lunch wagon, or get your food out into the swap meets for people to try. My big brother is a wealthy restauranteur taking that route with his wife. It just seems to me that you do not enjoy this business. There are many other entry level positions in other careers you can seek, but you will see when you start from the bottom of anything, your struggle, and uphill climb will be no different, just you don't get to eat everyday, and with your attitude, you will find yourself "stuck" wherever you are. You need to change your mentality first!

phan1
08-24-2011, 12:27 AM
I knew I was going to take a lot of heat fo being realistic, but it's worth it. You tell me about doing it for the pure joy and passion of cooking, and I will show you countless kitchens that are entirely made up of Mexican workers working 2 jobs (at least) and 80 hour work weeks to feed their families. I don't think they do this because they F'n love to cook. Now it doesn't mean that they come in with bad attitudes and work ethic, and it doesn't mean they don't enjoy what they do. But If these guys aren't stuck, then why don't you tell me what they should go out and do? Because if you got a better paying profession in mind, any of these guys would pick it up in a heartbeat. "Free will"? Are you kidding me? BOH jobs are teetering more towards slave labor now more than ever. I'm not living in culinary school fantasies here people.


Now it doesn't mean that passion, a willingness to learn, and ambition don't matter. It matters a lot. But to answer the questin "why do we continue to cook?" without any fluff, the answer is "that's how you make a living for yourself". That's the bottom line, and at the end of the day, I'm a bottomline type of guy. The question was not "Do you like to cook?" or "Why do you enjoy cooking?".

Salty dog
08-24-2011, 12:41 AM
hmmmm, cooking beets the $hit out of landscaping.

I don't say that to be flip. Think about it.

phan1
08-24-2011, 12:45 AM
Exactly. That's like asking someone if they would like to "choose" between $100 and $10. BOH jobs offer many people the opportunity to advance in life with no real education. It's simply the best option for many people, and that's why they continue to cook.

NO ChoP!
08-24-2011, 01:13 AM
I started cooking at the age of 14, out of necessity. I have worked my way from the bottom to the top of many a craphole. After decades, I have made a name for myself, in my city as being a no-BS kinda guy. Today, I consider myself a chef, not because of schooling, but because I paid my dues. Today, I am approaching 40, and I still cook on the line everyday. Not because I'm stuck; I am co-owner. I cook because it is what I love. It IS challenging, and it IS my passion.

AND, in my life I have been handed nothing. Cooking has helped my wife obtain two masters. We own a four bedroom home, and two new cars. Being at the top of your game will pay off in any profession. To some, hard work is rewarding.

JohnnyChance
08-24-2011, 01:24 AM
You're only "stuck" if you wish you were doing something else and you can't. If your goals and aspirations are in the industry, regardless of what your other skills may or may not be, you aren't stuck.

MadMel
08-24-2011, 02:31 AM
Ok so bottom line is most of us HERE sorta ENJOY cooking. That's why we continue to cook. Does that make sense?

steeley
08-24-2011, 02:35 AM
I think we have a drunk cat on are hands.http://www.limepic.com/img/drunkcat.jpg

BertMor
08-24-2011, 03:27 AM
I think we have a drunk cat on are hands.http://www.limepic.com/img/drunkcat.jpg

For a second I thought that was Salty! But the missing DT damascus cimeter gave it away

BTW did you know that 'cimeter' is a registered trademark of Forschner/Victorinox?

goodchef1
08-24-2011, 10:46 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH-dQVvLJ_8&feature=player_detailpage

goodchef1
08-24-2011, 11:37 AM
One word: Recession......
I think cooks are crazy underpaid, and don't get nearly the time off they deserve. They work all the hours when everyone wants to be enjoying a meal, are responsible for producing something we put INSIDE OUR BODIES and don't deserve to get minimal treatment like some kind of office or factory worker.

I remember back when 20+ years ago, cooks were very well paid, treated with great respect and admiration as those in uniform. I was making 10$ hr. But oh, did that dollar buy so much more. I had a beautiful 2bdr. townhouse with my girlfriend, immaculate views for $850 mo. profit margins were 30-40% at your average restaurant. Now that average pay is still 10hr, that same townhouse goes for $3,500mo, and profit margins are from 3-10% (sustainable businesses) What went wrong?

cnochef
08-24-2011, 12:10 PM
I remember back when 20+ years ago, cooks were very well paid, treated with great respect and admiration as those in uniform. I was making 10$ hr. But oh, did that dollar buy so much more. I had a beautiful 2bdr. townhouse with my girlfriend, immaculate views for $850 mo. profit margins were 30-40% at your average restaurant. Now that average pay is still 10hr, that same townhouse goes for $3,500mo, and profit margins are from 3-10% (sustainable businesses) What went wrong?

What went wrong? Take your pick: Inflation, stagnant earnings, foreign competition and ownership, jobs and manufacturing moved overseas, free trade, lower taxes for the rich from the era of Reagan onwards, changing values like excessive materialism, increase in immigration legitimate or not, lack of respect/rewards for the working man/woman, banking deregulation and securities legislation that's a joke, easily available credit but often at excessive interest rates.

I often consider the lifestyle my parents and I had in the 70's: They owned their own house with a mortgage that was a manageable percentage of income, kept both of us kids in clothes and sports equipment, had two cars, Mom only worked when she wanted to, yearly vacations, always had plentiful and nutritious food on the table and still had enough money left over to save for retirement.

Then, it all went wrong and now we're the generation less well off than our parents with a shorter expected lifespan.

tgraypots
08-24-2011, 12:46 PM
I have a history degree from UNC. I worked for American Express as a financial forecaster. I have worked as a developer and have owned a successful construction supply company. Maybe you're right about people being stuck in this business. Fortunately, most of the people I know in this business prove you're point is wrong. Innovation and creativity sees no boundaries and I have met many people who have had successful careers as lawyers or entrepreneurs like myself and just like to cook. The difference is now is that I do it on my own terms. Will I be doing this in 2, 5, or 10 years? I will if I still enjoy it. If not I'll be doing something else.
Go Duke!!! :-)

JanusInTheGarden
08-24-2011, 01:52 PM
What went wrong? Take your pick: Inflation, stagnant earnings, foreign competition and ownership, jobs and manufacturing moved overseas, free trade, lower taxes for the rich from the era of Reagan onwards, changing values like excessive materialism, increase in immigration legitimate or not, lack of respect/rewards for the working man/woman, banking deregulation and securities legislation that's a joke, easily available credit but often at excessive interest rates.

I often consider the lifestyle my parents and I had in the 70's: They owned their own house with a mortgage that was a manageable percentage of income, kept both of us kids in clothes and sports equipment, had two cars, Mom only worked when she wanted to, yearly vacations, always had plentiful and nutritious food on the table and still had enough money left over to save for retirement.

Then, it all went wrong and now we're the generation less well off than our parents with a shorter expected lifespan.

Jesus christ, the 20-somethings among us like myself are just now coming to grips with all of this. I'm starting to wonder if the economy will ever turn around.

NO ChoP!
08-24-2011, 03:07 PM
But, back when our parents were raising us, it wasn't the norm to have internet phones, HD cable, $100 sneakers by the dozen, cars that park themselves, $1000'S IN KITCHEN KNIVES, ;) wives with multiple Coach purses, kitchens with granite, hot tubs, etc, etc.....

Not only do our dollars not go as far, our "norm" is much different....

phan1
08-25-2011, 12:17 AM
I think it's more supply and demand. There's just too many people that can do the work for a lot less. Too many people want to cook from the Mexican immagrant to the occasional accountant at your bank. Even with a good economy, I don't think cooks would be making more. The number of jobs would increase, but the pay would be the same. Until the dreams of being a "chef" falls out of favor in America, you can expect to have compete and earn every nickel and dime that comes your way.

Eamon Burke
08-25-2011, 12:28 AM
I cheered on the crashing market in '08. I wanted it to hit the bottom. I am not upset that it is floundering.

It is the nature of life...seasons come and go, markets go up and down, things happen in waves. To ignore this fact is to throw your life on the whim of your birthdate. When I was a kid, life was pretty sweet for young folks. By the time I hit young adulthood, it started sucking. Then I get a family, and it full-on crashes in to dirt. So I live in the hard times, struggle and stress and work while I am still young and able. When my daughters are 18-25, their life should be pretty sweet, and before that, I will have teenagers during an economic growth period.

I'm not upset about it. I'm playing the long game. You gotta hop on the board before the wave comes, when the water's pulling down. If you get on when the wave hits, you're already too late.

Salty dog
08-25-2011, 06:39 AM
I remember 10 cent beer nights and 25 cent tappers all the time. I mean damn! You could get a nice buz on for a buck!

JanusInTheGarden
08-26-2011, 01:16 PM
I remember thinking "$2.00 for a PBR! What a deal!"

ecchef
08-26-2011, 02:32 PM
I used to pay 35 cents for a tap Rheingold at Wolf's Tavern in '79. You could get wrecked for 5 bucks and still have bus fare home.

Salty dog
08-26-2011, 03:29 PM
Funny, I always took the bus. Ended up getting a ticket anyway. I passed out at the stop.

jcsiii
12-13-2011, 09:30 PM
I can't imagine doing anything else in my life right now. Plus there is the added satisfaction of coming home exhausted after a crazy night and passing out. I was an insomniac when I worked 9-5. I can't imagine working the line until I'm 50 but I would love to continue in this industry long after my best line cook days are done.

VoodooMajik
02-22-2012, 11:09 PM
I can be who I am working in the kitchen. It don't feel comfortable in other environments. My father was a chef as well, It's who I am. I work with the Smartest, most Talented, Accepting incredible people on this earth. People can think they know what you are doing better then you do because when you work with or cook for people who know their s**t it more then makes up for it. With all the frustration, Blood and Sweat, It's who we are.

quantumcloud509
03-05-2012, 05:37 PM
I've given it up. I used and abused myself, seriously affected my health. Lived like a hermit except for my' working' family. It took me until I was 49 y.o. before I got married, and everyone was suspicious, whats wrong with a guy wo is 50 and never married. My Mom told me my Dad thought I was gay!

I did it because the act of eating wonderful food thrilled my soul. I enjoyed the adrenaline high, I am a social misfit and there I barely fit in. I was good at it, I had an affinity for cooking.

In the end, I burned out. I no longer can stand for 12 hours without my back freezing up. The stress might induce a heart attack. I have arteries like an 80 y.o. and they loaded me up with stents so I could walk more than a (short) block. I have chef's block - everything has been done and I can't think of something different to make my own. I draw a blank when I see Top chef like challenges.

I dearly want to send in a tape to Top Chef, but my wife would kill me if I left her for 6 weeks. I used to dream about cooking now I have nightmares.

I don't know anything else that makes me happy. I am sick and tired of the crap that goes on.

I am Chef, have pity on me, and envy me!

Man, thats some heart felt story telling...


why is it that everyone thinks chef's make more than they do?? And hell, i don't even eat as good as i should. I'm making prime cuts of beef, the nicest game, and the freshest fish. But after the end of my shift you'll find me and a couple buddie eating disco fries and drinking beer. What a life.

+1 I work two restaurants on the same block and after working the whole day around mouth watering brisket, escargot and frog legs, boar sausages and Coq Vin hens, I get off work, eat half a plate of fries with my whisky drink and go find a hole to crawl into. Im not sure why so many people on the line rarely eat, but it's kinda sad. All of my friends think I eat damn well and they're wrong because most days I just forget to eat a meal period. I don't want to eat the food Ive been cooking all day long. I don't know why. I already know what its gone taste like. Its flavor is infused in my brain.

I love this experience. This cooking experience. Its weird, but I enjoy getting yelled at one day by a red faced chef because you were never taught to do something and you messed it up and by the next day doing that something 10 times better and quicker than what the chef told you to do. I enjoy watching the rise and fall of new cooks and dishwashers. I enjoy people making it past the FOH into the kitchen to say -thank you-, I enjoy the conversations and history that come out of recipes. I don't do this for the money even though the money that I make while doing it pays all of the bills, buys the toys, and sometimes even goes to the needy in my neighborhood. I enjoy the silent anticipation of the whole kitchen before a promotion/ firing of someone. I don't know why I have so much adrenaline, I don't do drugs anymore. Working in the kitchen on drugs sucked. I am a teacher, I am a provider and I am one mean looking, but super caring SOAB. I would not fit in "at the office", I can out perform the ladies in FOH, but I don't care much for that job and it's gonna take a lot more than that to make me shave my beard off. I am an entertainer, come to my party and Ill make sure you get taken care of and leave full and happy. Come to my restaurant and Ill make sure you'll get bang for your buck. Step into my life, my kitchen, my house with respect, and Ill return that to you sevenfold. I love art, this is my way of expressing myself. If it was gonna be all about the money, I'd go back to drug dealing, pimping, and stealing. Its about respect for myself and for my neighborhood. Its about having a clear conscience, a solid attitude, and about putting smiles on peoples faces. Kitchen work is a mental challenge, and the cool part about is you can go for that challenge at your own pace, and set that bar as high or as low as you want to. Setting it high and going at it like a rhino is my style, whats yours? Do you love what you do? If not, why are you in it? Legit hard work is good for the soul and is one of those things that will promote healthy, robust relationships in your life no matter what your job is. Nobody likes a slacker. Don't waste my time, I won't waste yours. Respect yourself. Stay sharp.