Chris Hill is a chef, television personality and writer who has appeared on stage at TED and written for a number of high profile publications.
Hill also runs My Bachelor Kitchen – an online portal designed to encourage people to fall in love with cooking.
We featured some of his work before, when he wrote a piece on the eight key points that make a great chef, and now he’s back with a poignant open letter that all chefs should read.
The letter is addressed to all those people pursuing a passion and career in the kitchen and is packed with sound knowledge and advice.
If you are a chef, want to be a chef, know a chef or just like the idea of chefs – this is a letter you should read.
They won’t understand you. They won’t.I know this, because I used to be on their side, stuck in a dead end office, working a shitty job, making decent pay. My family and friends were convinced I’d lost my mind when I gleefully leaped into the unknown abyss of cooking. I suppose they thought it was a phase I’d soon grow out of. Could this be you? Maybe finishing high school and are contemplating a life in the kitchen, or are already in culinary school. Maybe its not you, but rather someone close to you. Whatever the circumstances, if you’ve gotten this far, I implore you to keep reading.
Chefs are a rare, often misunderstood breed and if you’re amongst the naysayers, I don’t blame you, I really don’t, however if the smallest piece of you is debating a life in the kitchen, or have already taken that plunge finding yourself needing reassurance, you might find that here. There’s also ample evidence to scare you away, there is plenty of that here. It just depends on the way your mind works.
Most will never know what it’s like to make a living as a professional cook or chef, and that makes me smile. It’s something of which I am arrogantly proud. No, not because I think we’re better than anyone, but because of the fact that to be a really good cook or chef it takes tremendous physical, mental and emotional fortitude. Most people don’t have, nor appreciate the gifts we’ve been given, and this often includes our front of the house counterparts.
Seven days a week, we show up willing to get our asses kicked. We sign up for this in exchange for an opportunity to express ourselves through food. There’s no such thing as weekends or holidays. We might get a random Tuesday off, and if we’ve put in the proper dues and happen to be in cahoots with the chef, we just might have the good fortune of being exonerated from working the dreaded Sunday Morning brunch shift. No one wants to work Sunday morning. We work longer days than just about anyone. Days start early and end late, typically when the rest of the western world is changing into their PJs, brushing their teeth and hopping into bed. The length, isn’t the hard part though, it’s the depth. Fifteen hours on your feet is grueling enough to scare away some fence-straddlers, but on top of that, consider the kitchen atmosphere where everything is either excruciatingly hot or sharp as hell.
Cooks scurry around cussing, the printer spewing out tickets as fast as it can, and for hours every inch of one’s body is physically tested. Emotions are tested, and sometimes you will fail that test. You’ll break into frustration mid-shift, relying on a teammate to help pull you through. Your mental strength will be tested — misreading tickets, overcooking steaks, undercooking pasta, or completely blanking the fuck out on any number of things, once again having to rely on a teammate to pull you through.You’ll do the same for him — it’s how we survive. Close call finger-nicks and tears shed while chopping onions don’t phase us, not even secondarily. Screaming hot 50-pound pots of salted water simmer away, not boiling fast enough most of the time.
Read the letter in its entirety at Fine Dining Lovers