Why Chefs do what they do.. Part Deux.
Some start out wanting to do something else- in this land of many societal pressures, an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer are some of the most popular choices of the general public in the biggest democracy of the world. However to be in one of the above mentioned professions, it can be extremely challenging and quite frankly, if you aren't a genius, then you just aren't good enough. So other options are looked at- and one of the top choices I can proudly say is to be in the hospitality industry. Lots of gratitude to the folks at The "Master Chef" franchise and other cookery shows that air on television.
The other chunk of people want to be a chef from very early on. Some, just because food is the one love of their life that never lets them down so hey, why not do something that allows them to be around it all the time?
However you get in, there's no getting out. Here's why:
There is always a new thing to learn. Every minute, every hour, every day. Even if you do the same thing all day every day- there's a better, faster and always a more interesting way to do anything.
You are constantly expressing yourself. With every cut of vegetable, every seasoning in your dish, every garnish on the plate- you are putting yourself out there into the world without having to say anything. That is a mighty bonus for those introverts who bury their head into their work and would rather let that speak for itself. However, one can always tell if you're not feeling up to it by the way you carry out the task at hand. Good mood/ motivated/ positive= Smooth sauces/ even cuts/ well cooked meat. On the other hand, grumpy/ low self confidence/ bitter= food you wouldn't want to be eating.
Your sense of humor gets better. There are exceptions to this rule, but for most chefs, the result of standing for many hours in a confined space leads to an inevitably funny banter across work stations. And it will almost always be about the most mundane topics of day to day life. Finding humor in these things is a coping mechanism for most and chefs are no different. Sometimes, it can get crude and downright dirty, but I assure you, it will always make you laugh.
As mentioned in my previous post, bonds are formed for a lifetime. The relationships could vary- a mentor, a learner, a boss, (because bosses are not always mentors and mentors are almost never bosses- the ugly truth) a colleague who does the same shift as you, someone who you spend off days with just because there is no one else to spend it with. There are many, and every one of them is unique. But the attachment that comes with being in trying situations together, is second to none. The blood, sweat and tears shed over similar circumstances ( but never into the food, I swear) are hard to get by, but with a team of chefs around you, there's never a dull moment.
The better you get in the kitchen, the better you get at handling life. It is odd, but it's true. When you get to that stage when you have four pots of food cooking at once, a new intern doing the mise-en-place for the first time, an order on the pass and produce to order for tomorrow- you learn to not let the dominoes drop and somehow, in all that chaos, you find your method. Peculiar only to you, and those few seconds of calm before another avalanche hits, you look back and wonder how you did what you did, and get ready to do it all over again. When we step out of the maze that is the kitchen, and something doesn't fit right, we apply what we would do back at the cooking range, and it works itself out.
Writing about the kitchen makes me restless and want to get back out there.. I'm sure once I post this, I will remember a million other things that are so bloody amazing about being a chef. For now, toodles!