Yes Chef

If you haven’t seen the movie Chef with Jon Favreau, I implore you to do so. I watched it again Monday after the fair when I wasn’t able to move from the couch due to all the fried food I ate. And for some reason I wanted a Cuban sandwich immediately after the movie was over. Anyway, watching Chef made me think about what being a chef is actually perceived by those who do not work in the industry. Besides Chef, the only movies I could think of off the top of my head were No Reservations and Ratatouille. One stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and the other a talented rodent. Not much to compare to right? Chef is probably the most accurate portrayal of the everyday grind I have seen. There were definite scenes in the movie that really hit home to what I have gone through the past 8 plus years. Seems like just yesterday I was starting culinary school; how the time flies. So what is it really like to be a chef you ask? It’s like being a manager or coach of a team full of crazy people. Or it can also feel like you are a babysitter of grown men and women. Cooks and chefs are a different breed altogether. Generally everyone is hung over from the night before, me included. You work hard, you play hard. Dealing with the owner and the general manager can be one of the most difficult aspects of the job, just from my experience. It’s definitely a balancing act to try to appease everyone else while trying to convey who you are as a chef. It’s a matter of picking your battles. Some battles you just have to waive the white flag or bite your tongue because you are going to lose. I learned that lesson early in my career the hard way. One thing I thankful for is my years of taking Spanish. I was pretty much a chef/translator/interpreter. There were some days it felt like I spoke more Spanish than English. I had to catch myself talking to servers in Spanish sometimes. Another detriment of being a chef are the relentless interruptions. I don’t know how many times I have started some sort of prep project and it sat there all day because I had to answer the phone, place an order, talk to conveyors, respond to the question of a cook, explain a dish to servers, etc. It was constant starting and stopping all day. There is nothing like having the entire restaurant to yourself though, no one to interrupt you. It’s like peaceful chaos. Then there is the making of the schedule, inventory, and costing out menus. Some days I didn’t even pick up a knife. I didn’t become a chef to sit in an office all day. I was here to cook and make incredible food. However, the first time I had my name on a menu was amazing feeling. It was like all my hard work paid off just a few letters on a piece of paper. My parents have it framed in the bar at their house, not surprising. Leaving Raleigh and going to culinary school has been one of the best decisions I have made and continues to repay me through my crazy yet amazing job as a chef. And I did make Cuban sandwiches the next day.