I have a serious question and I would really like to get as much input as possible.
I'm a hard worker. I'm ambitious. I'm smart, I'm organized, and an extremely fast learner. I became a chef (kitchen manager) at 22 (25 now), surrounded by 30-50 year old men at chef meetings. I do well enough.
But...I don't feel that I have any creativity. Ideas don't just pop into my head. I don't experiment. If I work at a place where I need to make specials, I usually put it off until the last minute, then look at a few other restaurants' menus and use that as inspiration. Usually, if I just look at the title of the dish I can come up with something similar, or look up a recipe as a last resort just to get an idea.. I don't know if that's normal, or it sounds terrible.
If I see something, or I made it at some restaurant, I can draw from that. I know plenty of techniques and have a good palate. In any case, there have never been complaints about specials I've made, and I've gotten compliments from customers and waitstaff.
But it just feels like a chore to me. It doesn't make any sense. If I'm deep cleaning the cooler, I'm happy. If I'm organizing an order guide, I'm happy. If I'm polishing equipment, I'm happy. If I make a big prep list and finish it all, I'm happy. All I see all over this website is that you have to have the passion and the drive to work in the restaurant industry.
Well, I like my job - but I don't feel fulfilled. And as much as I try to do things to make being "culinarily" creative fun for me, such as blogging all my specials or taking pictures of them, it just never feels like passion. I have a drive to work. But I don't have a drive to push boundaries, to have new ideas, I just don't. I do love cooking for friends or making family style meals for my cooks, because I like to see people I care about like the food I make.
I don't know if I'll ever fit in. I don't know if I'll ever "care" the way I'm supposed to. I just have a constant itch that I'm in the wrong place or industry, without an inkling of what else to do or how else to make money. I feel like I'd have more fun and be happier jumping from restaurant to restaurant around the country or world, learning new things left and right and not having the responsibility of being boss, leader, manager. Does anyone actually do that? I've been stable my entire life, keeping jobs for a long time and only moving up and making more. Would it be hard to go back? Would that even fix the problem? I was so burnt out at my last job, I had to quit without a prospect, something I never did before. (Got another job right away, but it was still a huge deal to me)
Are there other chefs out there who feel the same way at all? My life and my time are important and precious to me...so much more precious than money and materials.
Edited by madewithnotepad - 9/30/14 at 10:10pm