So, I’ve been working in food services for over 20 years now. Looking back it has been a fast 20 years, feels like it’s been 40. The business has its share of highs and lows, not unlike any other industry I suppose. I can’t really compare it, because cooking and food service is all I have ever done. The one thing I do know however, is that many people for various reasons take cooking or waitstaff jobs. Whether it be a part time summer job, extra money while their away at college or a struggling actor waiting for their big break. Many people do it, for whatever reason, but these people come and go. There’s nothing wrong with that, we all do what we have to do to get by. The one constant in an industry that has more than its share of revolving doors is passion. With a capital P. For those of us who join up and stay in for a long haul, there is often very little that we get back as a return on our investment.
Cooking has evolved quite a lot in the last couple of decades. Media recognition and the launching of The Food Network, and Network television reality cooking shows have really elevated cooking to a whole new level. They introduced the world to Celebrity Chefs and how glamorous and chic cooking is. But in reality, that is not reality. Cooking is (for the most part) a hands on, in the trenches, down and dirty battlefield. And those of us, in for the long haul, wouldn’t give it up for anything. Because we have, or at some point during the process develop a passion. It’s an outlet for us, a way to be creative and express ourselves through food.
Now I’m not knocking the media for what they present to us, they have really done a lot for the industry. Everyday they educate and entertain us. I’m not knocking the celebrity personalities either. Good for them that they are where they are. I’ve no doubt they’ve earned their place among cooking’s most elite.
All that I’m trying to convey, and I hope to be able to share stories with you, is that cooking is an extremely personal endeavor. It’s a discipline. For the most part, we work very long hours and earn a meager salary. In fact, I used to talk younger kids that would apply for a job out of seeking work in this field. Often met with stupefied expressions, I would ask them “Do you like your Holidays? Friends? Family?, Free Time?” always answered with a yes. Then I told them “well kiss them all goodbye.” Because it’s true, it’s often a ‘Catch 22’ situation. Because if your only in it to get by and earn a little cash, there’ll no doubt be more hours thrown at you then you want, if you keep refusing to take the shifts, they somehow find a way to replace you. If you keep taking shift after shift and make the commitment, you sacrifice your friends, your family, your holidays and free time.
Cooking is a wonderful thing, Food has always brought together family, friends, memories. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that there’s not one person out there that hasn’t been reminded of a fond childhood memory over a plate of home cooked food. I bet you’re thinking of one right now and are smiling to yourself. Some people eat to live, some people live to eat. Most cooks I know are most happy with a simple grilled cheese sandwich and bowl of soup. But we do take great pleasure in cooking for others, we slug it out on the hot-line day in and day out, hoping to please our clientele, and we do it almost selfishly for a love of food.