Here is a quick rundown of 10 things that are a true indication of your lifelong quest in the kitchen. This list is by no means complete, as the transformation to a lifer is a gradual and often painful one. Please feel free to add to the list and send me your ideas of what a industry lifer looks like…
1. If you weren’t in restaurant, you wouldn’t know what else to do with life.
The idea of sitting behind a desk seems dull, bland, and a bit confusing. Normal people are boring. You seek the adrenaline and slow self destruction that comes with the lifestyle. You think hood fans are a calming sound and love standing for 10-14 hours a day. You never got over playing with your food as a child, and now you get paid to do it.
2. You eat most of your meals over trash cans and 80% of your diet consists of sandwiches or burritos.
There is no time to sit down and savor a meal in this industry. If you cannot shovel it into your gullet in a maximum of 2.2 seconds, it is not a meal.
3. You give your knives and all the tools in the kitchen “pet names”.
“Machine Gun Kelly” the immersion blender, “Sir Mix-alot” the Hobart, “Sting” the spiteful and blood thirsty knife that “bites” anyone silly enough to handle her,
4. You view cuts and burns as free tattoos and wear them as badges of honor.
If you didn’t know, upon request, a line cook is willing to display their personal collection of cuts, burns, scars and permanently disfiguring blemishes. Each has a very unique story about some point in their career and are worn like badges of honor.
5. Waking up at the crack of noon is normal, and you enjoy wearing pajamas to work- You will pay ridiculous sums of money for dreadfully ugly clogs, but you are not a dirty hippie.
6. The largest bookshelf (and probably your only bookshelf) you own is dedicated to cookbooks and romantic collections of out of date grimoires including a minimum of one (but generally more) copies of Escoffier & le gastronomique.
7. You don’t know what an accident form is, and you use super glue to seal your wounds. If it is good enough for Vietnam vets, it is good enough for a line cook.
8. You know what the cornstarch in the bathroom is for and you have found it hidden in odd locations.
9. You can say multiple dire kitchen phrases and curse words in a gratuitous number of languages, but may not know any of them fluently.
10. You don’t watch the Food Network and you don’t want to be on a reality kitchen show.
You don’t care for the sunlight, the glitz and the glamour- those kind of dreams are for the “pampered chef” pushers with the overly soft hands. You want to be in the fiery pits of the kitchen where you belong.