Twenty-one years later, I understood I wasn’t born to be a line-chef.
The realization hit me on an unusually busy Monday night. Tickets printed, I began to sweat. The salad I just sent out looked sad, the arugula far from perky. I prayed for the night to just be over.
It was then, in the midst of fryer grease and shredded carrots, I discovered I hated something, I thought my whole life, I was bound to become.
It wasn’t the heat, the speed, the long hours on my feet that revealed this knowledge. It was the hate I held for my Monday night shifts on the line. I don’t have time to waste my life on endeavors I dread.
I never knew the answer to the query “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This is one of the more detrimental questions you can unload onto the mind of a youngster. It starts to shape the idea that you are only allowed to be one thing. Even as I denied it, an image of me, in chef whites, would start to form the minute someone asked me this question.
I played with the idea of culinary school until I realized, I could get a job in a kitchen and make money while educating myself. In the world of cooking, ability overrides credentials anyway. This holds true for more industries than you might imagine.
I talk to many of my peers who have decided “what they want to be”. When I ask if they have ever worked in the industry, they respond, “No”. The journalist who hasn’t written since his last high school paper, an accountant who had never balanced her own checkbook, and a musician who never played in front of a crowd. Learn the ability first. Give yourself six months and spend it just writing, find an internship, or seek out every open mic night. Offer to work for free. Get your hands into as many aspects of the industry as you can.
At the end of six months, stop. Now is the time to ask yourself, “Is this something I want to do? Does this push me to be a better person? Am I putting my all into it?” Then, decide how you want to proceed. If the answer is no, you have only given it six months of your life and gained invaluable experience. Don’t underestimate the value of this.
**Yes I am currently a sushi chef. I can't explain why it is better than being a line chef to me. All that matters is, I am excited to go to work and feel pushed by the skills I am learning.