Thursday, July 30, 2009

The push.

Everything hurts. Your hands creak. Your knee has a nasty kink in it, and when your boss asks you why you've been taking so much advil, you don't know how to respond. Your days off are spent under a fog of fatigue and trying to re-coop some sort of energy to push into the coming week. Things aren't breaking...yet. But after doing this for a while, you can see how things might end up shaking down.

You know the deal. Cooking professionally means to sacrifice. Everything. Your free time. Personal relationships. Daily habits. And at times, your sanity. But what about your health?

The rules say to work as much as you can. Hurt yourself. Push until you can't see straight. Take all the overtime you can get. Never, ever say no. And for the most part I agree with this ethos. But the truth is that cooks are for shit when it comes to taking care of themselves. Stand on your feet, running around for 12 hours a day, sweating through your shirt. Tear your body down...then reward it by filling it with beers, whiskey, burgers, and cigarettes. When was the last time you saw your grill guy eating a salad at the end of the shift? How many cokes does your fry guy suck down on a Friday? When was the last time you actually ate 3 normal meals in a day? Shit, when was the last time you exercised?

The whole "never trust a skinny chef" cliche is well known; what's not well known is the amount of energy and level of fitness needed to work on the hot line. Cooking professionally means being drive yourself to excess...the job demands it. Day after day, you will be surrounded by addicts and fiends...even if their only craving is a duck liver pate. There is little balance in the life of a cook, which makes no sense. Cooking is all about balance. It's about finding that place between punishing and rewarding yourself. Most cooks take the reward portion too far.

I don't want to preach about health, and taking care of yourself like i'm an expert on the matter--i'm not. But I think it's an important thing to consider. If you fatigue halfway through your shift, have you ever asked yourself why? Did you eat enough? Did you sleep at all? Are you on your third hangover this week? How many ways are you shooting yourself in the foot?

I like the cooking game. I want to stay in it...for a long time. Beyond that, I want to be there for my family....and moreover, I dont want to die before my time. I'm going to push, no matter what...but not without at least attempting to take care of myself. I'm a cook for life...but I refuse to become a sterotype of one. Fuck that. This is far too important.


quotes and conversations.

"I was never a fat kid. A fat teenager maybe."

"My personality's not dull. My knife might be."
-Maritess. Bubbly.

"Al can be El Guapo."
-Ponder. Likes the Three Amigos.

(There is a guest wearing a t-shirt that has an outline of the Great Lakes on it.)
Me: Tell me what's on that guys shirt, and i'll stop making fun of you.
Merrell: The Michigan rivers.
Me: What did...
Merrell: The Lake Michigans! I got it right!

Me: Ponder told me he loves me tonight. And I think he really meant it.
Speez: Yeah dude, he probably did. He says it all the time. I say "I love you" and he says "I love Richie."

"I heard slurping. I rolled over, and she was drinking coffee in bed. Drinking. Coffee. In. Bed. I almost strangled her."

"I hate ribs."

Me: Paulie, get some duck fat. I want you to rub Mer-Mer down.
Paulie. Alight.

Me: Looks like a pigs foot.
Eddie: (Nods)
Merrell. What? Did you say it looks like a penis?

Eddie: I went to prom four times in high school. Because I had a tuxedo. I was in orchestra.
Me: And you boned down zero times.
Eddie. Yeah.

"After we boned down, i'd be like "Where's my BLT at bitch?"

"I hate peaches."

Me: Eddie, if I had to pick anyone in the kitchen to lose my virginity to, it would be you.
Eddie: Really!?

"I'd rather have sweaty boobs than sweaty balls."

from top: chervil flowers, godzilla dog, death metal, meth deatal, halibut, rabbit, ladybug, line up, nardello peppers, hi!, cake, start of service

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