A quest to destroy the integrity of the culinary world has been ignited by writers cut from the same cloth: the has beens, used to bes, and never weres of the culinary world.
I took a break today from the chaos of entrepreneurialism to surf the web, when I saw a social media post written by one of Canada’s most well-respected chefs. Attach to it was a link, which he described as “the 40th almost identical article that I’ve read this year which craps on the profession of being a Chef/culinarian”. So I read the article and discovered quickly that, like this chef, I too have read a lot of these articles; which all carry the same message: “Screw being a chef! It’s too hard, the hours are too long, and it pays like shit. I am not a chef today because the industry is killing itself and it’s not worth it.”
To each of these writers, I say to you: You’re wrong. You not being a chef today has little to do with the industry changing. You are not a chef today because YOU are not cut out to be a chef today.
Now I get to say this, because I too learned that I am not cut out to be a chef. Trust me, I tried it. I got to experience the culinary world, in a very face track large way. All the opportunities were there. I had some of Canada’s most talented chefs offer to take me under their wing, invite me into their kitchens, and a few even invited me to cook with them in their kitchen- so that I could learn. Some provide me mentorship and the purest level of encouragement. I had restaurants and wineries requesting me to run their kitchens, and investors willing to financially back any aspiration I had in the culinary world. Blessed would be an understatement.
I had the pleasant opportunity of being slingshot into the culinary world. Throughout the experience, I made friends with chefs, restaurateurs, culinary writers, and culinary producers. I made a name for myself as a strong new up and comer. I clearly needed more education, experience, and polishing; but let’s face it- the world was my oyster.
How quickly reality came crashing down like a bridge into water- with that water splashing me in the face and waking me the hell up. As I watched chefs working incredibly long hours- in the kitchen and at home. They would eat, breathe, and sleep food. I’ll never forget the experience of being offered the opportunity to cater a major event in Fernie, with two of Calgary’s best chefs that year. In the kitchen, in the car, in the mountain condo- all they talked about was their work. It was then I discovered that I wasn’t cut out to be a chef. Not for a lack of ability. I know I can cook. I will absolutely be cocky about the fact that when I go to a restaurant with my friends, and they ask what an item is- may it be a particular flavor in a dish, what type of noodle we are eating, or how it was cooked- I’ll have an answer. I am knowledge. I am creative. I know food. But what I didn’t have is the passion needed to survive in a kitchen.
Passion. That is what divides the cooks and the chefs. At some point, a cook will finally turn in their apron. They will be tired and want something more. They will move on. A chef will not. They will work the grind. He will eat, breathe, and sleep culinary. They will reach, educate, and practice. They have an undying passion that gives life to what they do each and every day. They are the artists of the culinary world.
While I lack passion for cooking, I do not lack passion. It took some time to find it, but I did. The irony of it all, is that I now face the same struggle that each and every one of those chefs do. I am working ridiculously long hours. I am over worked. I eat, breathe, sleep. I am in a never ending battle to better myself in my craft. I am learning that it’s a team game that I cannot do on my own- so I have accepted that I am likely going to be making a hell of a lot less than I have been, so that I can invest in what I absolutely love. And that is okay because I love it! I love the grind. I love waking up knowing I am building something and creating something absolutely amazing. I found my passion and it is hard work. Hard work isn’t for everyone. It is most definitely not for the faint of heart. So I compel to each and every writer out there slamming the industry, quite frankly any industry:
Admit it. It’s you. You are not cut out to be in the industry.
The industry truly hasn’t changed. The most ambitious chefs have always paid to apprentice with the best. The most passionate have always worked long hours, been underpaid, and most definitely undervalued by society. So if you truly want to make a difference, stop slamming the industry and start supporting the restaurant who charges $52.00 for a 12oz. natural ribeye, so that they can pay their staff a fair salary and show them their value. It is then, and only then, that the industry will change- if that was truly your intent.
Because those articles you’re writing, slamming the industry, they sure aren’t helping.