I was butchering chicken the other night at work and one of my new line cooks was grabbing their mis en place to stock the station for the next day. They stopped what they were doing and watched as I broke down the chicken with quick slices from the boning knife. They said " Chef, why did you decide to do this as your career," I looked up, put my knife down and said " the kitchen was the only place that ever seemed right."
I worked tons of jobs in my teens and into my 20's. I didn't have any idea what I wanted to do. I worked warehouse jobs and was a labor worker for my Dad's construction company. Nothing ever felt enjoyable. I knew one thing at that point of my life and that was I wanted to skateboard and party. So thats what I did.
One day a friend of mine got me a part- time dishwashing job. That was when I found where I wanted to be. The kitchen was full of assholes, cussing, yelling, drinking after work. I was like fuck yes this is my type of atmosphere. All the cooks and Chefs were hi energy, working well under stress. Slamming the dish pit with pots and pans and expecting you to get them done ASAP. It seemed as though I was hanging out with people that would be at the skatepark. So it felt like home.
I didn't now right at first that I wanted to cook. That took about 6 months of working in the kitchen. Watching the Chefs satisfaction of creating great food and serving it to guest. Something inside of me just knew that that was what I needed to do. I had to learn how to make soup, sear steaks and brunoise a carrot. Thats all I thought about from that point on. And I knew I could party and be a great Chef.
I also believe that the kitchen and the skatepark are very close in atmosphere. Everyone is gathered around doing their own thing. Shooting the shit and trying new tricks. Some are trying real stressful stuff and get so focused in the rush of things that it becomes a mental battle. The same mental battle that the service rush brings. You have a bunch of delinquent like people in one area that there has to be a good time sooner then later. The kitchen is filled with the same crew and there always that same vibe going around.
The love for food found me, I just found the right place. I didn't go into that job wanting to be a Chef, I went into that job wanting to get enough money to buy a board and a bag of weed. But after watching and seeing what type of satisfaction you can have by just cooking someone a great plate of food is incredible.
Food always makes people happy. Food also brings people together. I think I've always had to have a group of people around me to fill full. So cooking for friends, family or for a packed restaurant brings a crowd and fulfillment to me. I may not know anyone I cook for in the dining room, but to know they came there to try my food and leave happy is a great accomplishment in my eyes. Knowing that my career choice is to cook a piece of art on plate and have it served to person is an honor.
I chose to be a Chef for many reasons. But I think the biggest reason is that I can bring so many people together and make them happy, socialize and fill full over a great dinner. Giving joy and comfort with something everyone needs to do, EAT.