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I'm doing research on why people become restaurant chefs

and why they stay in the business despite the physical

and emotional stress. I am learning that many professional

chefs were athletic in high school and some have family

backgrounds in which a father or uncle (et. al.) was in the military.

I'm curous to know what others might have to say on the topic.

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To me, it would seem that the primary drive is passion, first and foremost. Add to that a genuine love of sharing those experiences (culinary) with others ... very simplistically? a desire to please, to teach others what one has learned and grown from, and the idea that one can create something new and unique!

Taken together: passion+sharing+pleasing+teaching+creating = how to build a chef .... Just my opinion :rolleyes:

all of which override the physical and mental, emotional stress .. but then, with time, where does the professional chef reformulate and use those qualities after the body has reached its burnout point? Writing books perhaps, as Tony Bourdain, often says ...

Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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First, I'm not a chef. I'm just a cook. I'm not in charge of anyone else on line, and I don't have any say on what's on the menu.

That said, I got into kitchen work out of necessity. I needed a job, and my friend told me that the restaurant he worked at needed a dishwasher. A few months later, a slot for a lunch cook opened up, and I raised my hand. I found that I liked it... banging out meal after meal, cooking the staff meal just felt right, like I *should* be there. Eventually I moved, and of course, I got another job cooking. Going home feeling like I'm doing something important, even if it is just slinging pasta for people. It feels good.

It *is* stressful. I go home hurting every day, whether it's my feet (always), my back (most days)... it's hard putting into words. I cook because I don't know what else I'd rather do. It's simple as that. I belong in a kitchen.

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To me, it would seem that the primary drive is passion, first and foremost. Add to that a genuine love of sharing those experiences (culinary) with others ... very simplistically? a desire to please, to teach others what one has learned and grown from, and the idea that one can create something new and unique!

Taken together: passion+sharing+pleasing+teaching+creating = how to build a chef .... Just my opinion :rolleyes:

all of which override the physical and mental, emotional stress .. but then, with time, where does the professional chef reformulate and use those qualities after the body has reached its burnout point? Writing books perhaps, as Tony Bourdain, often says ...

This post is right on the money,

I wish I wrote it.

After 28 years in the kitchens I went into teaching culinary arts (not a great writter) and I love it. It's the perfect way to give back and also stay totally connected.

Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

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It is about passion, creativity, pleasing people. My parents were scientists (yes, it is about science too). It is very physical (and yes, you should be able to carry 50#). It is not about money or glamour and you HAVE to love it or you will not last.

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It is about passion, creativity, pleasing people. My parents were scientists (yes, it is about science too). It is very physical (and yes, you should be able to carry 50#). It is not about money or glamour and you HAVE to love it or you will not last.

I wonder about some of the young kids starting culinary school these days without first working full time in a kitchen. Are they sure they're following their passion? Do they know what's in store for them, or have they been bamboozled by the glitz and glamour they see a select few chefs enjoying on The Food Network? I'm all for people learning to cook, and the more who can do it well, the better for me (who likes to eat well.) I just wonder if the best chefs are those who discover their affinity for cooking by falling into a career rather than approaching it in a methodical way. To have success as a chef, you must love what you're doing enough to deal with the work, the hours, the egos, the criticism...

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One of my brothers was accepted into CIA years ago but decided not to go. He had worked in a restaurant all through high school (our town's only Mexican place, and very popular). He started as a dishwasher and ended up doing weekend nights on the line. He's a worker, good under pressure, with a tendency to be a maniac, if you know what I mean. He's also a big eater, adventurous, and genuinely likes to cook at home now for his family.

So why didn't he go to CIA? He said finally, "I just don't care about food as much as they do. It's all they think about." There it is. I'm glad he saw that.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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To me, it would seem that the primary drive is passion, first and foremost. Add to that a genuine love of sharing those experiences (culinary) with others ... very simplistically? a desire to please, to teach others what one has learned and grown from, and the idea that one can create something new and unique!

Taken together: passion+sharing+pleasing+teaching+creating = how to build a chef .... Just my opinion :rolleyes:

all of which override the physical and mental, emotional stress .. but then, with time, where does the professional chef reformulate and use those qualities after the body has reached its burnout point? Writing books perhaps, as Tony Bourdain, often says ...

Almost forgot -- this really sums it up.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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This post is right on the money,

I wish I wrote it.

After 28 years in the kitchens I went into teaching culinary arts (not a great writter) and I love it. It's the perfect way to give back and also stay totally connected.

Thank you for the validation on these sentiments! and anyone can conceive and write it with minimal talent .. not all that profound .. just observation really! :hmmm:

As for teaching culinary arts? Now that does require a dedication and way to challenge and enrich and enliven your students each day .. I oughtta know, I was an educator myself. .. for many years! :biggrin:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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To me, it would seem that the primary drive is passion, first and foremost. Add to that a genuine love of sharing those experiences (culinary) with others ... very simplistically? a desire to please, to teach others what one has learned and grown from, and the idea that one can create something new and unique!

Taken together: passion+sharing+pleasing+teaching+creating = how to build a chef .... Just my opinion  :rolleyes:

all of which override the physical and mental, emotional stress .. but then, with time, where does the professional chef reformulate and use those qualities after the body has reached its burnout point? Writing books perhaps, as Tony Bourdain, often says ...

Almost forgot -- this really sums it up.

I am not a chef, but I did stay at a Holiday Express Inn last night!! :laugh:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I'm a Personal Chef...which is of course a bit different from working in a restaurant, which I disliked. I am a chef because I love to cook and I love to give to others...and my profession also helps others. I plan to be a PC for many years to come. :wub: I said this in another thread:

Gender has nothing to do with it. Being a chef takes a special personality. It also takes a special artistic talent, temperament, and dedication. It's taking ideas born in your heart and soul, and placing them on plates to nourish other souls. Either you got it or you ain't.
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As for teaching culinary arts? Now that does require a dedication and way to challenge and enrich and enliven your students each day .. I oughtta know, I was an educator myself. .. for many years! :biggrin:

Dear Gifted Gourmet,

I enjoy your insight and am so happy to be honored to be in a position to share and give back. It's all cyclical, yes?

Turnip Greens are Better than Nothing. Ask the people who have tried both.

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As for teaching culinary arts? Now that does require a dedication and way to challenge and enrich and enliven your students each day .. I oughtta know, I was an educator myself. .. for many years! :biggrin:

Dear Gifted Gourmet,

I enjoy your insight and am so happy to be honored to be in a position to share and give back. It's all cyclical, yes?

Cyclical is indeed a fine word for it, Brad S. Were we ever married? or merely separated at birth? :shock:

Don't know about it being insight so much as close observation of things ...

yet again the teacher-theme reverberates ... :rolleyes:

Thanks again for your input!

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I needed a job, and my friend told me that the restaurant he worked at needed a dishwasher.  A few months later, a slot for a lunch cook opened up, and I raised my hand.  I found that I liked it... banging out meal after meal, cooking the staff meal just felt right, like I *should* be there.  Eventually I moved, and of course, I got another job cooking.  Going home feeling like I'm doing something important, even if it is just slinging pasta for people.  It feels good.

It *is* stressful.  I go home hurting every day, whether it's my feet (always), my back (most days)... it's hard putting into words.  I cook because I don't know what else I'd rather do.  It's simple as that.  I belong in a kitchen.

If every chef felt the way fryguy feels about cooking then this culinary world would be a better and more efficient place. I love the passion in his words.

"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

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my masochistic streak maybe??? It's all about the food.....

Nah, not masochism so much as pure passion!! :wub:

Looks as if we on this thread are "all petting the same dog" .... :laugh:

Passion it is for the ultimate answer to "why a chef?" :biggrin:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Why a doctor? Why a rabbi? The food business is no diferent than any other business. I was a lawyer for awhile (ten years of labour relations), have been a shoe salesman, a drugstore delivery guy, a night shift nurse helper in psychiatric hospital, sold stamps to collectors, etc. The best job I ever got? Restaurant chef. Been doing it for 10 years, still love it. The athletic background sure helps but the main thing is to STAY in shape which gets hard after 40. Fat Chefs don't last or they write books, as do people with other problems... Mind you, if I had a good publicist or time to sit down and write, I would do the same thing.

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I believe most young cooks are being"bamboolzed". They have watched a lot of TV. They have seen their favorite Chef on TV making something. Would I do it again? I still do love what I do-the climb was very hard. Give up a social life, give up dating, work hours round the clock.

Who do I respect?, the toilers -Wolfgang Puck has been cooking now for about 40 years. He deserves his success and has helped and inspired sooo many.

To all of the young cooks I would say that it is probably the most difficult profession that you could ever choose. It won't come overnight, and in a few years you will know how little you know, but if you still have to do it-then it is for you.

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I'm one of the late starters, and certainly not a chef yet, what with being in culinary school now at the age of 32. So, technically I don't get to answer "Why a chef?" but as far as pursuing this now, I'd say it's partially drive and partially being a misfit. Nobody cares if you're a weirdo, in the kitchen all that matters is that you produce, and do it to expectations each and every time.

I don't know if I'm going to be any good at this. But I do know it's in my blood, and I'll do whatever it takes, and I genuinely do give a shit how every little thing goes out because it's food and food means everything. If I'm found lacking, it won't be because I slacked or didn't give 200%.

I'm probably the only person in my class who genuinely likes tourneing potatoes, and having a few dozen pounds to do is one of my ideas of fun. So is coming in early and staying late to prepare something extra special, or to pitch in during an emergency.

I already know what the biggest challenge is going to be for me, and it's not the work itself. It's managing other people. And it makes me wish the whole cooking show and celebrity chef phenomenon had never happened, because they add yet another layer of difficult to manage people into an already difficult mix.

Pat

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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Why I became a chef? It started as a kid with a love for the taste and texture of food. I didn't eat because I was hungry but because of the "mouth rush" certain dishes gave me. When I left home I wasn't satisfied with TV dinners and Beefaroni so I taught myself basic cooking and baking and it was a thrill to "create" something from scratch.

This actually satisfied me for quite a while until years later a room mate (who worked at a steakhouse chain as a broiler cook) would regale us with stories of after hours parties in the bar. This was it, I had to become a cook (for all the wrong reasons). He wouldn't even consider me as an applicant so I applied to the government run cooking school in my home town (which at the time was considered the best in North America) and was accepted. In the months before I started classes I got a part time job as Entremetier in a large hotel (a story in itself) where despite my total lack of professional ability I was accepted by the multinational cooking brigade and the rest is history.

It really was an addictive thrill to make what I considered great food and have customers respond. As most cooks will tell you there is nothing quite like the endorphin high of an on the edge, physically and emotionally draining, over the top, 60/40 (you choose which) almost out of control Saturday night rush.

At the end of the day though you have to ask if it is all worth while unless you either own your own place or become an Executive chef with some semblance of a life.

Interestingly I was not particularly athletic before I went to cooking school but I took up running and excelled at it as part of the program.

I did come from a military family and another factor which I have heard is prevelant is I have a touch of A.D.D. which kept me constantly fidgeting in school but which was perfectly absorbed in a busy restaurant atmosphere.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hmmmm. Interesting.

My father was in the navy, so I fit the pattern in that respect, but I'm a little confused about the connection. My dad is a pretty good cook in a blue-collar style, but I learned mostly on my own.

I do get a charge out of the adrenaline when the rush is on. It's kind of like when I was in retail at Christmastime...realizing that closing time was a half an hour ago and you still haven't closed and locked the doors and you haven't even looked at the lunch you were supposed to have eaten six hours ago and OH MY GOD AM I EVER THIRSTY!!!!.....

I was never an athlete. I played hockey and soccer as a kid, but was never much good at it... my career totals after eight years of minor hockey were something like three goals and five assists. The only time I've run voluntarily since my teens was when I was chasing a bus or in danger of missing "last call" at the pub.

But oh, how I love food and cooking...

“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I do it for the love of making people happy first. Secomd of all it pays my bills. I've never had a job my entire working career which is now pushing 15 years that hasn't involved food in some way. I don't think that I would be compatible in a real work environment. Besides, after running my own restaurant for almost the last 6 years, I don't think that I could handle working for someone else.

Barnstormer BBQ

Rt. 9W

Fort Montgomery NY

845 446 0912

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One reason -

Hearing this:

"Oh my GOD. This is soooooo good!"

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

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My husband and I are both chefs and

a. neither of us are athletic (though cooking does build muscles so we are strong)

b. neither of us come from a military background, although both come from families where there was always someone dropping by for dinner-open table

we cook and are in the catering business because we have a passion for food. We love to explore, taste, create, serve.

Cooking can be a very positive ego trip.

It gives us the chance to be creative and make a living at the same time.

This being said, neither of us would ever go back to line cooking again. We enjoy the challenges of catering...

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...

www.cuisinetc-catering.blogspot.com

www.cuisinetc.net

www.caterbuzz.com

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