I knew upon graduating college that I would be expected to give up certain things once in the food service industry. Every chef you’ll ever meet will give you a realistic vision of what you’ll give up: weekends, holidays, sleep, short work days, high salaries, paid time off, a dating life with an understanding partner, lack of time with families, the list goes on.
However, having been in the industry officially for the better part of a year, I’ve discovered a couple other sacrifices that they failed to enlighten me with…
With lack of sleep comes a couple of other side effects. Time is PRECIOUS and if that means rolling out of bed and getting out the door in less than 10 minutes, then so be it. Showering? Whats that? You’re just going to get dirty and spill raspberry syrup all over yourself tomorrow. The day after it’ll be chocolate pudding smeared on your forehead. Whatever, you’re just saving a little for you’re midnight snack later. Just kidding… kind of.
Personal appearance is definitely an area of life that suffers. I don’t mean not washing your hands before preparing food because that would be the biggest mistake of a century in the kitchen. And its definitely not forgetting to clip your nails because god forbid you get food stuck under them and unintentionally cause cross contamination. But instead, its the small sacrifices like never being able to paint your nails, or apologizing to the people giving you a pedicure since you have callouses growing on your callouses. It’s also having the same hairstyle every day ( usually a bun for girls, and especially in my case). Wake up? Bun. At work? Bun in hat. After work/after a shower? Bun. Bun all day all night.
Oh and I can’t forget to mention that your perfume is Au de Whatever You’re Cooking in the Kitchen that day. Maybe it’s bacon, maybe it’s onions and maybe it’s brownies. Its a toss up. True story: One day after work at America’s Test Kitchen, I went to a Sleepy’s to look at mattresses as I was preparing for adult life. The man trying to sell me a mattress asked what I did for work. Upon telling him that I’m a chef, he says “Oh, I thought I smelled a kitchen.” YIKES OH MY GOD. If I wasn’t self conscious then, I sure am now. Sucks to suck, Abby.
In the kitchen at work, you better be prepared for booty bumps and accidental boob grazes. Its unapologetic. Saying “behind”, “beside you”, “next to you”, “above you”, “hot pot”, “knife” or any of those versions in Spanish become your vocabulary on a regular basis. I can’t count how many weird looks I’ve gotten at the grocery store because I said “behind you” to someone. In a kitchen, that’s basically the polite way of saying “Get the fuck out of my way” but at a grocery store, it seems downright rude. My bad, general public.
My hands are wrecked too. Cuts, burns and bruises are the bare minimum of my problems. Swelling, cracking and dryness is what KILLS. ME. My hands are just screamin’ for some moisture. WAAAATERR (*insert only spongebob reference I know*). Also as I’ve mentioned before, eating real food and proteins goes by the wayside. Grilled cheese and cereal all the way baby.
While I’m sure this all sounds terrible, food service is so rewarding. I get to make food that I’m proud to say I made. Seeing a line out the door of a place where I work is pretty great too. I know the quality is on point and people are satisfied enough to return day after day. I’m sure it isn’t for everyone, but I don’t think I could be anywhere else! Hope you enjoyed a peak into my day to day life!