Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reality of Chef-dom

Most people don't understand that working in a kitchen is equivalent to playing a sport for eight whole hours. Some of you may watch those TV shows where they only have twenty minutes or an hour to complete their dish, and yeah those people are constantly running for that twenty minutes. But when you enter a real, live kitchen, and you work a real shift, from 3:00 to 11:00, you are constantly running and moving for that eight hours; granted you are busy. I have worked in kitchens where there is little business, and I have worked in kitchens where you do not have time to think you are moving so fast. I have to say I prefer the latter of the two. Compare it to a "sport" if you wish, the game is most fun when you have some good competition. I work pretty well under the pressure, I enjoy being in the weeds, everything is easier once the momentum starts going.  I would say that this is false, when you are constantly being watched over like they prey, and the hawk is ready to eat you in one gulp when your sauce is under seasoned.

Last night we did eighty six covers. When we left class on Friday, there were 42 reservations. I have to say that it is highly unlikely that when you find out who your game is against next week, their team doubles in size over the weekend. And your coach might yell at you when you do something wrong, but you don't rewind and fix it, you keep going and hope for the best the next time. Not the case in a kitchen at all. If your sauce is too dry, you have to start over- even if it does have an eight minute pick up. If you do not have the correct cheese, you have to start over, run to the walk in as fast as you can and find the right cheese- which defeats the purpose of a walk in, because instead of walking in it, you are frantically bounding through the door. It's easy for you to sit there watching the food network and say, "well why the heck did they do that?" but it's harder to be the one there, actually doing what it was they did. This is why so many people think that life as a chef is so glamorous, and why at  least 40% of my class has dropped out. People think it's easy, but when you drag yourself home from paying the school to whoop you into shape, and you collapse on your bed because you cannot even lift your muscles to walk to your mini fridge and grab a bottle of water, you are cursing all of those people who don't understand that what you do every day is hard. And the proof is in the pudding; Many friends come back from externship 15 pounds lighter, because they did not have time to stop and eat, and they were constantly moving every moment they were at their job. I don't have time to go to the gym because I spend the majority of my day "working out". The last thing I want to do with the last few hours of my day is exert more physical energy than I have to on a treadmill. People may ask us a million times- "You are in a kitchen all day? I don't understand, that has to be way easier than sitting in a lecture hall for a couple of hours listening to a monotone professor speak at us about why the brain works the way it does." I will say, at least to me it is way more fun than sitting in a classroom, it is more engaging, and as I have mentioned previously, you are actually graded on how well you perform. But it is far from easy. 

It is very difficult to relate to people who do not understand the amount of stress you are under. The other day a friend of mine asked me what my plans were for spring break or the summer. And I explained to her that here at the CIA, we don't have spring break, and after I graduate in May I will have to find a real job and an apartment and become an adult for real. She was in awe. I constantly see statuses of people who are taking "personal days" or "sick in bed" and I think about how every day that you miss at my school, sick or not, drops your grade in that class by one letter. After three days out in a class, you have to drop out of that class and retake it, which pushes your graduation date back at least three weeks. It's good training though, because when you feel sick, you have to tell yourself that you aren't so many times that you actually start to believe it and then you can get up pretend all day that you don't feel awful. But when you think about it, if you are paying 560 dollars a day to go to school, do you really want to sacrifice a half a thousand dollars just because you have the sniffles? The only way I would be willing to pay more is if they installed private bathtubs in each individual room. (Res Life, if you are out there, I'm being 100% serious.)

I am extremely thankful that my school is preparing me to handle the real world.  I am grateful that I get to retreat to my cute little dorm room after a long day of work, pass out on my comfortable sheets, wake up the next morning feeling like I was hit by a bus,  only to put on my whites and do it again.) I love what I do. And that's why I am here. Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work I go. 

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love this blog Ms. T Miller! Keep up the good work! This one should be published for the entire world to read, just so they can understand! Love you! Mum