Dear young cooks,
I’d like you to consider very carefully the decision you are about to make for a career in the kitchen. Being a chef and working in a kitchen might look “fun” on TV and in the movies, but I promise you, whoever wrote those shows has spent too much time in Hollywood and not enough time in the kitchen.
Or maybe you’ve dined out at a nice restaurant and saw the chef in his nice clean whites bouncing around from table to table, happily chatting with dinner guests. But that’s a small sliver of the night in the life of a chef. So, young cook, I warn you: don’t be fooled by the optics of this profession! There’s a lot more than meets the eye.
First, I want you to ask yourself this: why do I want to become a chef?
If your answer is to become a celebrity chef, then I’d kindly ask you to stop reading and go watch Burnt again. In New York City alone, there are 26,618 restaurants. How many celebrity chefs do you see on TV? (Hint: it’s nowhere near 26,618).
If your answer is because I want to learn proper technique, efficiency and consistency on the line, and to create a meaningful experience for my dining guests, then congrats! You can keep reading!
Still, I need you to ask yourself this now: Am I willing to start at the bottom?
This means washing dishes, julienning hundreds of carrots, and peeling pounds and pounds of potatoes until you think your arms are ready to fall off (they won’t, trust me). This is the reality of what the road to becoming a chef looks like. This is the behind the scenes stuff you won’t see on the big screens. Yet, this is where any chef worth their salt in the kitchen has started and this is where you will have to start. And while your culinary journey in the kitchen will begin with grunt work—the work no one wants to do—this is what will test your character and strength as a young cook, and these are the skills you need to build a solid foundation where you can really hone your chops and grow.
So if this sounds like you’re idea of “fun” then you’re ready to leap into a world filled with long, hard hours and a world of minimal pay with less than ideal working conditions! Still, in this world, you’ll meet some of the best friends this life has to offer. You’ll meet people from all over the world and be exposed to different cultures and lifestyles and become more culturally enriched. You’ll even have the chance to travel the world to some of the most unique places on Earth because, well, everybody has to eat.
At the end of the day if you are committed to this industry for the right reasons you can find an incredibly fulfilling career. You have the opportunity to touch many lives and change many moods for the better!