A Career as a Chef- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Many people think that life as a chef is intriguing, and it is, for the most part. When I say that I am a chef, there are always many questions about my day-to-day in the restaurant industry. These are the questions that I hear the most, and their answers. If you are a chef- you will understand. If not, you've probably asked a few of these questions yourself.
Do you Love (insert name of random cooking show here)?
And the answer is-- not really. If cooking on television was anything like my day-to-day, you wouldn't be so interested in it. The only chance that I get to do something different would be at the beginning of the day, when I'm getting ready to prepare a special. And there's no way I could ever spend as much time on it as these cooking shows do!
As much as I love my work, it is nothing like anything you'd ever find on these shows. Do you really think I have a full hour to prepare a plate of food? Do you think it's a competition in the kitchen back there? Working in an actual kitchen is all about teamwork. I have never felt a need to compete with anyone.
How can you work with So much food, and be as skinny as you are?
As much as I would enjoy going into work and stuffing enormous handfuls of food into my face- this is generally frowned upon. I rarely eat at work, (unless I'm there to open- 6 AM,) you simply don't have the time. From prep-work to the dinner rush, if you actually had time to stop and eat, your boss would have sent you home due to not needing you at the time. You may be able to sneak the occasional bite, or the infrequent messed up plate, but this doesn't happen often. In fact- I believe working in a kitchen while hungry is beneficial. Being hungry keeps me on my toes, and also helps me keep my plates looking great- because as we all know, people eat with their eyes first.
Why does it Seem like All Restaurant workers smoke?
Because, for the most part, they do. Let me answer this question with another question- do you get a 30 minute or an hour for lunch? Yes, you probably do. In a professional kitchen, I have never worked where I could get that kind of a break.
Imagine- you work on your feet for 10+ hours a day, and your only chance to take a seat was to use the restroom or heading out the backdoor to the alleyway to have a smoke. Picking up smoking starts to sound like a more and more wonderful idea at that point. Plus, working in a restaurant can also be extremely stressful at times, especially in middle management (I feel for you, Sous chefs,) where smoking is especially common, and I'm not sure i have ever worked with a sous chef or kitchen manager that did not smoke.
Where do you get all of your cool chef stuff?
Most of the time when I get this question, I won't tell the whole truth. How would you feel if I showed up to your desk job- with Your briefcase, sat at your desk, to do your work- which I'm unqualified to do? This is what you look like in a chef coat. And my professional knives? You don't need them, and I'd rather not be responsible for you losing a finger or two.
Did you go to some fancy Culinary School?
Well, I did go to school for my associates degree in Culinary Arts. But you may be surprised to learn that most chefs did not attend any form of schooling in the Arts! Many of the best chefs I have ever worked with never spent a single day in culinary school. Culinary School is rarely a necessity, you can pick almost anything up on the job that you could in school. That said- I enjoyed my time in school and learned a lot- but, sometimes I do regret the debt that I took on for the degree.
Do You consider yourself to be an artist?
The answer to this is kind of tricky. I do, on some days. Other days I don't. Most of the time, it is when I am cooking in my free time. I try to come up with new ideas, and make my plates look as pretty as I possibly can, in the most creative way that I can think of.
While I'm working, however, is another story. For the most part, I have to go along with the menu, and I am unfortunately forced to plate most food the same way every time. Unless I am making a special, or a new menu item, I don't get much say in how a plate looks or how it is served. Which is very frustrating.
All in All,
All in all, I love my career choice. Everyday I go in to work, I am excited for the rush. Getting my ass kicked and supporting my team. Working in a kitchen is really just something that you have to experience for yourself. If it interests you, don't just jump into culinary school- head to a local restaurant first and see if it's for you. If you fall in love with cooking, then great! By all means- go to culinary school. Many graduates of culinary school learn very fast that their schooling is nothing like an actual restaurant kitchen, and, unfortunately, do not last long in this industry.
Thank You For reading my article! I hope you enjoyed it and I really appreciate it. Do you have any questions or comments for me? Do you work in a kitchen? Please let me know! I would really love to know how you feel about my article. Thanks a lot, Sincerely,
Note: if you enjoyed my article, please make sure to check out this link here, it will tell you all about a fundraiser I just started, with the end goal being to start a non-profit based on starting an organic culinary herb farm to raise money for various charities. If you can't donate, no problem! But I Would greatly appreciate taking the time to read it, and possibly sharing the link with your friends or family. It's for a good cause! Thanks~ Daniel 7/15/2018