I looked up chef’s bio the other night and I found out that she became head chef at age 24. I’m 25 and although I care a lot about my job I might as well be swimming in a pool of unfulfilled potential. I work hard but I have a lingering sense that I’m not doing all that I could do to succeed, especially in an industry where your financial stability and quality of life depend in a very big way on your success.
When I started working in the kitchen last year I wanted to learn how to cook while retaining my identity; I had the naïve notion the two were mutually exclusive, that the many hours I put in learning skills wouldn’t affect who I was and I would be the same girl with the same friends and interests and life. I tried to keep one foot in every door so at a moment’s notice I could jump around if it didn’t work out. Despite my misguided predisposition the kitchen has changed me, as it should. I was incredibly naïve to think that a major life experience wouldn’t have a profound effect on me. The kitchen has developed my work ethic, influenced my politics, and has opened my eyes to a world I would have otherwise never known full of passion, debauchery, and fearlessness. It’s challenged my pre-conceived notions about industry hardliners, about menial work, about the kinds of people who do menial work, and even what defines menial. It’s made me a more open-minded person and, I’d like to think, someone who has more upstanding character (ironically, as the kitchen has the reputation of the opposite).
I spend a lot of time thinking about if I’m doing the right thing. If I’m underperforming based on my training or if I’m brave enough to do something different than everyone else I know (or if I’m classist for even thinking that). The kitchen is not a romantic place on the inside but somehow I still view it through rose colored glasses. As I get older I can see more clearly the sacrifices I’m making to do what I do: The hours, the financial stability, the hard physical work, to name the big ones. Pursuing food is either the best decision or the worst decision. The road can be difficult at times but I feel in my gut that if I stick with it and continue to push forward I will break through that barrier to success. If there is nothing to gamble there is nothing to gain. Eventually I'm going to look back on these days as some of the best, most formative years.