How can we help newbies and want-to-be's ??Well, I have been in the Restaurant biz for 16 years now.Cooking for 9 of those. I have just recently decided to get a degree at the local Community College. In these classes are apprentices from the Sea Island Company (a nice resort here in SE Coastal Georgia). Some of the stories they have told me about are just awful.(low pay , long hours, bosses who just don't give a ****---but hey, we all gota start somewhere.)
I just got finished reading "Kitchen Confidential--Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly" by Anthony Bourdain.
I would tell someone to read this book as it will give you an idea of how 75% of "Professional Kitchens" are really like. (I can tell you that up untill 3-4 years ago that this is how my kitchen was, and to an extent---except for drug use and harrassing of female employees---it still is.)
With that said, if you have read the book, you know what I am talking about.Most people just wouldn't hack it in the reall world of food production in a "Professional Kitchen"(what an oxymouron (sp?)--)
I have this friend who is in investments. He can cook some nice food for parties and himself when he has the time. I saw him in a bar one night and he expressed to me that he would love to work in the kitchen at my place. Well I only told him I would cook him something to eat if he really wanted to see what it was like.So he came in on a Wed night(traditionally a slow night for us) and let him shadow me for a while.
Prep work done, I made one of the specials for him and some for the waitstaff.(Grilled lamb chops that had been rubbed with mint,rosemarry,dijon mustard--roasted garlic and bacon mashed potatos with dill---and broc with bernaise sauce)
This restaurant seats 125 or so and lately we have been averaging 130 a night on Wed. I forget the real number we did that night,but it wasnt over 100.(slow season fo us and all)
It was just me and my Sous (who is also my younger brother) behind the line, and we let "our little helper" sautee some veggies and pasta dishes.
Half way through the night, here he is about to fall out from heat exhaustion and looking like a wet rat. He just could not believe that this was a slow night. He was a trouper though.He hung in while we slung insults back and forth in the kitchen(between dishwashers, salad prep,expeditor and the two of us)
After work , we sat at the bar and had a few cold beers.He thanked me for the opp. and said he was just stuned at all the work that goes into a typical night in the kitchen(he hasn't asked to come back yet :-)
I give this little story just to show someone that this life is not all "glam and ritz" as you see on TV and read im Mags. It takes hard work ,long hours, constant babysitting, conflict resolution, and hurting feet ankles and knees. All of this for low pay(mostly)
One gets into this buisness because they work well with their hands and love the food they produce. They are willing to put up with all the bullsh** that goes with a "Professional Kitchen"
because they love what they do.
As for me, I love this field. My grandfather had a bakery and some of my earliest memories are getting picked up from school by my mom and going to the bakery. Once there I would get to pick something out of the walkin to drink (usually a nice cold glass of milk) and my favorite apple turnover that he would have heated up for me.
I was destined to be in this buisness.I only got into it in high school cause I needed money. I do not think there is anything else on this earth that I would rather do as a profession(even if I won Lotto, I would still be cooking in a kitchen--it would just be my own)
I say read the book listed above and ask yourself if you really want to be in a profession such as ours. That book brought back some fond memories, and some I would rather forget.