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post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I had a very interesting discussion with my Chef today about why people work in this industry and if we are a subculture of the norm.


I worked an extra job for a few days, cooking employee meals and then driving.  I found that everyone else was all chatty, social cliques, doing and saying things that took forever.  I saw what I mean, don't mix my words, I work fast and efficient and I don't waste my time with idle chit chat.  Every action I took had purpose, just like when I am in the kitchen.


What I learned is that I didn't fit in.  I felt like odd woman out and that they didn't even understand me at all.  


I made two employee meals and they all loved the food.  But I still don't think they understand what it means to be a sous chef, a chef or even work in a kitchen.  Why I am the way I am.


Are we a subculture?  Are we different?  If so, why are we different?  Is it our work that makes us that way?

post #2 of 6

I do not think that our work makes us different, but the fact that we chefs are just different, and that is why we do what we do. we aren't 9-5ers and we don't stand idle. I say yes we are a subculture of the norm. People don't understand why we are obsessed with our knifes, fire, and duck fat. but we just are.

post #3 of 6

I'm sure in most industries you will find driven individuals as you describe.  Its just in the working environment we were brought up in there is more passion, intensity and less rocks to hide under. Sink or swim situation which we pass down to our apprentices etc...


God i could tell you a hundred chefs i've passed in my career that don't deserve their title and are none of the above. It is to general to say we are all 1 step from insanity, obsessive compulsive and antisocial!!!   I am all three and put that down to my success, but boy does it mess up my social life, when they mix together.



post #4 of 6
remember part of being a good chef is people skills, you are not a subculture just working in a profession that is stuck in the stone age when it comes to machimiso and taking one for the team. You feel alienated because most people have normal lives, you and I do not.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
Fluctuat nec mergitur
post #5 of 6
Sometimes I think that this outsider mentality we develope is like a mental defense mechanism. A way of coping with the poor wages, lack of appreciation, and the general physical breakdown that you go through. The whole few, proud, and brave kind of posturing. Its kind of like how we call nerve damage in our fingertips lossing your heat.

Whatever the reason, there is a very real sense of fidelity between cooks. I have found myself fast friends with people that I have nothing in common with except the job. One of my favourite things now is cooking at home with another chef. Even in a home kitchen (and to be totally honest my is pretty tricked out) just jamming with somebody who knows how to move, is aware of what is going on around them, can pick up on what I am doing,with a glance or grunt, well thats my perfect night.

post #6 of 6

Well I guess you have to ask whats the norm.  A 9-5?  Weekends off?  Suit and tie?  There are plenty of other occupations that have off hours, low pay and intense environments like kitchens.  I can imagine the transit workers of MUNI and BART have similar experiences as we do.  Maybe the folks at PG&E and CalTrans, cops, firefighters, nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, security guards, truck drivers, dock workers, etc are saying the same thing we are right now.  I have plenty of friends who have a 'rock star' life, but are in normal jobs.  I also have friends who are on a normal schedule because, well they have normal jobs.


I don't particularly like the subculture tag because, like Allan said above, its just a way to separate ourselves from 'the norm', when in my opinion, we're not that different.  Yes, we like knives and fire, can break down chickens and poach an egg and can go on about the best way to emulsify sausage, but its no different than any other industry of people who care about what they do. By separating and thinking we're special, we validates our decisions in our head, whatever those decisions might be.  It's like hipsters trying to separate themselves from the yuppies.  Just because you ride a fixed gear bike, have a long beard and wear cut off jean shorts doesnt necessarily make you different, you're just wearing a different uniform.


I just rambled...I'm not even sure what I just said made sense.

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