Dr. Strangeglove, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Atomic Kitchen

An accurate photo of many chefs…

Lets get this straight, once and for all…

Most of us didn’t get here by making good decisions.

The seduction to the dark side of the kitchen isn’t always necessarily a line drawn in the hypothetical sands of sanity. More often than not, it is a glancing blow, a touch of the flame, a brush with disaster. All it takes is an inkling inborn predisposition to the biz and you are hooked.

Most of us have strangely similar personality quirks that act as immediate calalysts: closet hedonists, control freaks, adrenaline junkies, militants, unforgiving screw-ups, 9-5 washouts, struggling artists, and borderline geniuses with borderline personality disorder. I am not the first one to point this out by any means; the infinitely growing catalog of kitchen “tell all” chef-u-menteries based on the debauchery speak for themselves.

Here is the difference that many Chefs won’t tell you: most of us don’t grow up wanting to be Chefs.

The profession is a meat grinder with 100% mortality. No one survives it. The kitchen, much like the house, always wins. It is the equivalent of looking over a tremendous cliff, and deciding to jump just to see if gravity works…But somehow, we keep coming back to her each and every day.

So, what is the driving force, what is the siren’s song?

For some of us, it is a way not to starve while we peruse our “true” art. Some of us are lured by the fast times, fast drugs, and faster servers. Some of us are intoxicated with the frantic panic and furious pace of a busy night and the tales of battle and survival. Some of us just don’t fit in with the 9-5 world in any which way, and the biz serves as a cage to prevent us from harming the “norms”.

For most of us though, it is a path of least resistance; the only path we seem to be able to walk.

This acceptance is the beautiful principle of “mise en place” in full human automation. The simple beauty of belonging by understanding where you fit, and why. Knowing you could never look back, and even if you did, it wouldn’t matter. The choice is eternal, ground deep into your perpetual being, forever marking you, and making you.

Such is the life a Chef.

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