Haven't worked as a cook professionally for a long time (3 years now) but started my first 2 years in an old school, over-worked, under-paid, over-drinked, super-high highs and super-low lows type of place. I think we've all have worked in the type of place. Everyone in the kitchen was tight as sh*t, drank together and bullsh*tted non-stop about completely inappropriate stuff by even the lowest of standards (miss it!). 2 years of a kitchen education you can't get in a high-end place.
Now that I work in a higher-end place where its so much smarter, talented, way better attitudes and way better working conditions (hours, pay, stress!) I have to admit I so much miss the nostalgia of old school places. You know the type: 65 plus hour weeks, chicken picatta and prime rib, insanely busy holidays, exhaustion to the point of hilarity, minimum wage and rat catching, dishwashers eating scraps out of the bus bin, refrigerator doors held together with coat hangers, ridiculous kitchen politics (cold line lady banging the head chef and getting paid bank to toss salads in more ways the one and never have to do any of the dirty work amongst a million other things), house knives with strings tied around them to denote whose is whose, sysco is walmart and god put together, and the closeness and hatred everyone shared for each other ("I'll 86 your f*cking balls if you don't help close!).
Why is this atmosphere so unique to the backbone/casual atmosphere places of the restaurant industry? You don't get it in higher-end places. It's so awesome and so hard to explain to "out-siders".