This isn’t a normal life.
As often as someone talks about being a chef, they never explain what’s in store. Long hours on your feet, no social life outside of work, and even on days off you’re studying. Working as a chef is a job where there’s nothing between you and perfecting your craft. There’s no wives or girlfriends when coming home. You’re friends aren’t calling you on Saturdays or Sundays because you’re working a shift. Then again working as a chef always calls for sacrifice. When becoming the best, there always needs to be something on the line.
Trying to have a social life isn’t easy. Schedules fluctuate constantly, and your unsure if your going to be able to be present at birthdays or anniversaries. Most of the time you’re talking with your family on non-busy days, and not spending time with your parents because vacation time cuts into your hours.
When taking everything out of a normal social life, a chef is made. Then all they have to survive each passing year, and wonder if a girlfriends or wives are present when you become a head chef of your own kitchen.
It will always be a problem.
When someone starts their life with addiction, it can grow into someone negative. Like an unwelcomed guest, it stays for long periods, and over time it becomes a burden. In the kitchen there is always some problem: booze, cocaine, or crystal. Often times the main problem is working through a shift, and still managing the call to drink, or even the need to snort lines before the day ends. This is never good when it come to work, and being an adult trying to make ends meet.
There is always a start, or a period of when the problems occur. Usually in a negative experience like unemployment, divorce, or injury, the problem of starting addiction occurs. It starts with wanting relief, and continues with wanting complete clarity in any situation. Nothing matter anymore when you’re hooked. Even working line isn’t as thrilling as wanting to get a fix.
There’s a quality about an independent restaurant you can find anywhere else. Much of the environment surrounding a small place, such as a bistro or barbecue joint, is that its free to create on its own. Much of the special are designed by Chefs who’ve worked at the same place for years, and have built their own world within a world. Independent restaurants are based on the quality of making a name for yourself, or trying to get by without losing your sanity over dinner rush.
Problems with independent restaurants include management. Qualities of management resemble something you won’t find in a Supervisory Development Text. Individuals like head chefs made a name through going through the ranks, while completely forgetting how to manage, and how to write schedules. There is always the ego that comes out. Ego is seen in line cooks, managers, and also apprentices. They all want a piece for themselves. Some sort of way to become noticed rather than being a line cook. Then again cooks can always work for corporate chains. They have entirely new structure on how to handle ego.
When working for a small mom and pop, or a fine dining restaurant, you understand that the life of a restaurant is designed solely by chefs and management. There is no way around a structured restaurant, or dealing with constant stress by the management of head chefs. There is always something wrong, or something that needs to be changed when working for an independent eatery.
Until that time its dinner, and there’s a couple of twelve tops waiting to be seated.
There isn’t a perfect employee. Being the best in a work environment couldn’t be more strenuous. In a kitchen nobody is perfect, or trying to be a model employee. Most of the time there are serious problems in ones own life, as well as problems during a busy service. Otherwise there isn’t one gold star, or perfect line cook seen in a restaurant.
Working a job that involves long hours allows you to become someone different. Your facial features change due to anger, and the lines around your eyes become more distinctive. You resemble the perfect employee in the eyes of a chef. You’ve worked the hours, and held your own through thick and thin. Then there’s the other ones who don’t make it. There’s the kids. Teenagers working part-time, and young adults still going through school, are always the one’s who don’t make it through. Sometimes the worst employees are the ones who don’t care. One’s who show up late, call in sick, and show the least amount of effort don’t make the employee of the month list.
Then again, kitchens don’t give out gold stars. Sometimes free beer is something of a merit award. cigarette breaks are also given to those who deserve to relax, and even the dishwasher who is also swimming in plate scum.
There is no such thing as employee of the month. In kitchens the worst thing you can think is that you’re the only one who has problems.
Every night was different. Because working back of house was more intense, there was always a distance between the kitchen staff and the manager. Both parties never got along, and most of the time there was a great disdain for the manager James. He didn’t seem to enjoy his life very much, and it always showed. Somehow his entire existence was so terrible that he inflicted this hurt on the staff. It always hurt.
Then there were nights when he wasn’t in a foul mood, and it didn’t seem to bother anyone as much. An entire night went by without a terrible shift with James. Both front and back of house understood a good shift was when shit didn’t hit the fan. Shit hitting the fan with James in the mix wasn’t pretty.
In certain restaurants you have seasons.
Majority of working in restaurants is based on its busier periods. This is often the case for areas that have sunshine, as thos
e on break will often stop in for food and drink. Summer is the busier seasons for most establishments, and also the most exhausting. Working in an area such as back of house will test your limits. This includes working line, prep, and also occasionally washing dishes. Dealing with the extreme stress is also a question of character. Those who are able to push through, and staff who quit in the middle of service.
When it comes time to receive your paycheck, you think about your entire week. This includes long shifts, long ticket orders, and dishwashers who move too slow. Then you realize that this is the business, and the profitable aspect of a restaurant. Money needs to be made during the most stressful periods, and long ticket orders pay for everything.
Seasons are some of the most stressful, and most fulfilling of the restaurant industry. It’s just a question of weeding out which moments are enjoyed, and ones that are hard like extreme heat and cussing.
When big parties walk into a restaurant there’s always trouble. Looking at large families, kids on summer break, or rick men having a fun time is always an issue. It’s a problem for both back and front of house, as both sections need to attend to this large table. This also becomes a problem on busy nights. Fridays’ and Saturdays’ hold the most records for long waits and big parties ready to be seated. At the same time back of house is trying to read each ticket, and also understand special orders. For a server who rings in a wrong order, and also write clear sentences for a specialty meal, there’s going to be trouble. This also becomes an issue when the head chef becomes angry with front of house.
With big parties or more the major issue is trying to make it through service.