There was no escape.
Having started to understand what it meant to be a dishwasher, there were going to be times of wanting to quit. Working in a kitchen was one of the hardest jobs I encountered. Nights were long and full of extreme heat, cussing, and wanting to leave early. All the while management was too busy talking with the customers. Somehow those who became head chefs or managers only became ego-centric rather than caring about food quality. Those who busted ass were already worried about how they would make it through rush, and whether paychecks would be able to pay bills.
There would also be traffic. Somehow the worst possible night would be through staff quitting and food being sent back. It showed that most of the people working didn’t have responsibility, and customers from out-of-town wanted perfection. Both areas didn’t exist most nights, and after the shift was over most of the staff was just concerned about bed rest. It would start again tomorrow.
This is what happens. Kitchen life is more complex than any nine to five job. It would somehow always be based on disorder rather than perfection. Heat and pressure would always exist. It’s the only type of environment for those who want to work through dinner service.
When working the dish pit you get to understand how a kitchen functions. It’s not a normal job. Working back-of-house entails being on your feet, and also managing a dinner rush. Working dish means trying to get clean dishes out quickly, and stacked in their rightful place. This is the only job of a dishwasher.
After a few days there were more responsibilities. There would also be prep cooking. In the back of house we had our own smoker, and we would lather pieces of meat with dry rub and cook them off for service. It wouldn’t be long until understanding some of the problems of cooking frozen meat. One issue would include freshness, and the ability to produce good food for the public. There were individuals who cooked the food, but probably didn’t care about the food quality. Management oversaw everything, and so far they didn’t seem to care for what was being served.
Somehow nobody was in charge, and all the staff liked to play by their own rules.
Being a floater means you have certain skills.
In the kitchen the majority of the work you produce is based on tasks: busing, dishwashing, prepping, or cooking. Most of the time you’ll be in one position for a short period, followed by another position in a different location. Being a floater means you’ve been crossed trained, and also able to step in during a time of crisis.
There is always something wrong. Being a floater is being able to manage a larger amount of tasks, and being able to step in. This isn’t the type of job chefs want, but its the only job for individuals still learning about the restaurant business. When working in a busy environment is helps knowing a thing or two about different positions.
There is never a right way to cook.
When presenting a meal there is always a different style to each cook. With specials such as cooked fish, there can either be presented with an acid such as lemon, or with something on the lines of a puree. Both presentation and taste are factors to consider.
Before service, the Sous Chef or the Head Chef are responsible for the prep. Line cooks prep the necessary items for service, while the managing chef is responsible for soups and stocks. During this time they must also create specials. Specials is the main interest of being a chef or cook, as it deals with both creativity and talent. Both of which are needed for creating something interesting, and also worth eating when customers walk through the door.
Service begins, and specials are presented to the customer. Much of this time dealing with food also relates to tomorrows special. Either one fish sold better than the other, or much of the main appetizers weren’t a key selling point. Service for tomorrow will either relate to food not being sold, which would also lead into a different special. If there is leftover Tuna, that could result in a special that involves Tuna like Tuna Tacos.
Each service involves the quick ability to cook, and also present good food.
Some of the worst mistakes can happen on the line.
When dealing with heat and a dinner rush, some of the worst things can happen. You can cut yourself, burn yourself, and also mess up an order. Even when this types of scenarios can happen, the worst thing one can do is talk down to yourself. In situations that deal with mistakes, the type of work of cooking is about making the wrong decision. Dealing with stress in extreme situations are what make line cooks, while at the same time disasters are what make individuals better in bad situations.
Working through mistakes are what make great cooks.
Cooking wasn’t of interest at fifteen. At that age only sane, rational teenager can image is sex. Trying to get laid is the only thing on an adolescents mind. Other than sex, there is also the prospect of trying to graduate, but schoolwork wasn’t only mind at the age. Dealing with school was hard, but I wanted to find something else out of my small town.
When I started cleaning dishes it was hard. I was able to get the position through the manager who knew my family, and just hired me on the spot. I hadn’t understood how a kitchen functions, nor could I imagine trying to cook in the near future. Sex was still on the mind, but I hadn’t asked a girl out or gone on a date. Most days consisted of school, going to work, and managing to sanity when I wanted nothing more than to skip high school. Most of the time when I went to work I did my best, and somehow it was enough to gain more hours. It would also be instrumental in getting extra cash.
Towards the summer season some of the more busy days came up, and although I hadn’t understood how a kitchen worked I was able to work through. Most of the problems I had in puberty eventually passed. College would be more stressful, but it was only then that I learned how to talk to girls.
There is no easy way to deal with stress. Sometimes the only way to deal with a high volume work day is pushing through. This is never easy. Somehow cooking can be both enjoyable, and other times the hardest lifestyle. For those who can’t handle stress they choose cigarettes, drinking, and marijuana. Stress in a hellish service is one of the more uncomfortable feelings in the world.
For the line cook, the only stress he or she needs to worry about is themselves. They need to understand how this lifestyle is one of the hardest, but also for a specific breed. A line cook who works all day and night, goes through bad days and somehow comes into work the following morning, is the only type of person a cook needs to become in the long run.