Wednesday, January 26, 2005

On Ladygoat's recommendation, I just grabbed a copy of today's (Wednesday, January 26th) edition of the Plain Dealer, with an article detailing the grim and realistic life of someone with aspirations in the Culinary Industry.

The #1 reason they gave was the unrealistic expectations set by things like the Food Network, which glamorizes the industry. In part, I agree with this. Personally, I watch FN as simple entertainment. When I walked into the restaurant, in which I now work, I had no notion that I'd be casually preparing a glorious dinner for 2 (in 30 minutes or less! a'la Rachael Ray). I knew that the reality was that I'd be doing dishes, lots of dishes, chopping veggies, stocking prep trays, and doing even more dishes..all for very little money. I know that, when I do finally make it to the grill, that 30 minutes would be like an eternity to prepare a dish. As the head chef told me, "it's all about timing. I know this will take this long, and that this other thing, it will take even longer, so I don't want to start the first until I'm halfway done with the second", and that's just one order or the many hanging. I say I only agree "in part" because it seems that the later episodes of Jamie's Kitchen were probably pretty accurate (lots of yelling, lots of cursing, etc.) even if that doesn't
happen, really, where I work now. Though they were inaccurate as, for those who watched the show, a few of those kids would have been sooo fired, very early on.

One thing they did mention were the other, less strenuous, opportunities for those with an interest in the culinary field: food writer, office work, corporate and hotel work <- okay, they didn't mention that one, but I've heard this argument so much, I know the examples. As I was telling Genevieve last night, I don't know if I can do restaurant work, maybe it will be too much, maybe it will drive me to become a bundle of nerves, as everyone says, but I want to give it a shot. If I give up and move on to something else, it's my hope that I will be able to take the knowledge and skills I gained from it to whatever other culinary career I move into. Then again, who knows, maybe the chaotic and intense atmosphere will agree with me.

The point being, though I enjoyed the article, it told me nothing I haven't heard many times before. It's hard work and very unglamorous, but I'm not doing this because I think it'll be easy money, or because I think it will mean I'll spend my whole day preparing great food. I'm doing it because I love food, because preparing food for people is a profession even older than prostitution and one that will get me involved with the sort of folks I'll never meet, toiling my days in a gray on gray office, surrounded by four cube walls.

And I'm doing it with my eyes wide open.