As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster after my college days. Oops, sorry, always wanted to be a chef. To me, being a chef was better than being anything else in the world. I was warned that it would be difficult, that it was a very hard work with long hours and so on. That it was stressful and tiring. I still remember one of my head chefs during my training told me I would never ever manage to survive in this work and that I was useless.
I did it. I travelled around the world in cruise ships; I lived in a country I always wanted to go – Cyprus. I’ve seen different kind of people, of different social classes and learnt different kinds of cuisines. I had friends from all over the world. I worked in reputed hotels and restaurants with renowned chefs.
I’m working as a chef since I’m 22 (with few years break for more studies), and I don’t regret my choice. Never would I wish my children to work in a kitchen. I would encourage them to cook at home, to like it, to be really good for their family, friends, I would teach them how to enjoy food, how to choose quality over quantity, how to appreciate great food, good products, nice wine and beers, how to appreciate real whiskey. In fact, I would teach them how to appreciate the good things in life.
But I would never push them to choose my job. Too many sacrifices…. My road was long and treacherous. Take these with a little sense of humour.
Not everything is that bad. I love my job. I love to cook for others; I love to create new dishes, new menu, creative stuffs and much more. I loved the atmosphere in a kitchen, the fun with the waiting staff, the night out with everybody, drinking beers and getting drunk, I loved the stress during a service. But now, I’m getting a little too old, I like to be quiet….you enjoy it with a laugh!!!
- Your hands will be continuously cut, burned, skinned. An open book about your life in a kitchen
- Your back will be painful all your life, a good excuse for rest of your life
- You will always be tired
- If you had friends, you will lose them. You will never manage any more to meet them for a night out or a birthday party. Yes, it’s right, you will be working during the weekends, bank holidays, Xmas, Easter, Valentine’s day… Just name it, and you’re sure work that day
- You will be so cranky, all the time, and you will have constant mood swings
- You will spend most of your life in a tiny room, noisy, smelly, horribly hot, greasy, sticky, with a bunch of people who will be your only social relationship in your life
- You will work a lot, really a lot, so much that you will wonder if it’s legal.
- Your social life will be inexistent; you will only know your team mates. You will work with them, go out with them, and drink with them. They will know you better than your friends or your wife do
- You will hardly meet new people
- You will lose your social skills
- You will addicted to one of the following: alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, even red bull
- The only time of the day you will be able to sit down will be in the toilets
- Your working days will be longer than any of the working days of your normal friends
- You will become either skinny, either fat
- You will eat all the time, at any hour of the day
- You will always be under pressure, you will be anxious, stressed
- You will always be asked to constantly give 110%( or may be a bit more)
- You will make mistake, but you can’t. In case you made one, there is always a satellite watching around you.
- You will never be sick, ever. They never give you a chance.
- You will be expected to place your work before your social life, your partner, friends and children. Which in fact won’t be that difficult because you already don’t have a social life
- Anybody with more responsibilities than you is God, don’t argue with them
- The better the restaurant, the longer the hours…..( some times I have to think twice to recollect my house telephone number and even my street address)
- If you are a woman, beware, it’s a man world. You will have to work much harder and better than men.
- Nobody around you will ever understand how difficult being a chef is. It looks so easy and lovely on TV.
- Your partner will not understand you, your state of mind, or why you always work. If you find someone who does understand and accept. Keep her! Don’t drop her!
- The only Xmas you will have off in 10 years, your family will ask you to cook for them
- And when you will eat with them, or with friends, they will stare at you waiting for your opinion on the dish that was just served
- Everybody in your entourage will expect you to have in your brain all the recipes, or find you an easy person to blame at
If beside all these points, you still want to be a chef. Go for it, don’t look back, persevere, don’t give up. It’s worth it big time. Because after all these years of hard work, working countless hours, I would not change it if I had to go back to the past. I don’t regret anything because at the end of the day, it’s still a good damn job.
Rafeeq one of my friends in Hotel Management College has taught me food arts, and encouraged me into cheffing. “Rafeeq I would blame you for all this disastrous life in me.” And Paul bright one of my friend who encouraged me in writing this food blog. Once again thanks to these guys. Rafeeq if you read this post anywhere please ping me. I have more stories to tell you in personal (never met him after those college days). And the above carving is the first carving Rafeeq taught me in that college. Keeping in hope to be a Jamie Oliver or a Vikas Khanna one day, the journey continues….