10 THINGS I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN BEFORE LEAVING THE KITCHEN
I have a confession. Sometimes I really do miss the everyday hustle of being a chef in a NYC restaurant kitchen. They say it takes a different kind of person to be a Chef and yes that is true. I was so young when I had this job on my shoulders and just trying to keep my head above water and cook was my main goal. Although I am still in the restaurant industry but not cooking professionally anymore, I always think back to my days in the kitchen.
They say shouda couda wouda but you cant help but take a little bit of every experience with you as you move on in life. I often think If I knew then what I know now would I still be in the kitchen?!?!?! The jury is still out on that answer, but while the jury is deliberating, here are a few things I wish I would have known before leaving the kitchen.
Relationships - Your going to need them. Every line cook, every prep cook, every chef , every vendor you meet holds small pieces to a part of your success. Thats how the restaurant industry works. Whether you need to call in a favor to a vendor, add a really great cook to your budding team, or have someone cover your ass. You need to form great relationships. And be nice !
Ask For What You Want - Im still working on this one even thought I have left the restaurant. I didn't ask for what I needed and in return, the owner gave me what he wanted! Big mistake. A strong compromise is great to get your needs met. Only you know what your capable of.
Work, Hard - I feel like this goes without saying but it does. I gave up trips with friends, days off, and sleep but I can honestly say I achieved my dreams. Hard work is inevitable if you want to be fab.
Get Some Help - At the beginning of my job as Executive Chef, I was just trying to make it through the day without crying. Seriously, if I didn't cry that day, that day was a good day. Eventually I realized that I couldn't do it by my self any more and I had to call some friends in to come help me. Thanks boys! I will always be in debt to my friends who came running when I called. Even if you do a great job, you still need help to do an even better job.
Take a Break - Trust me, you need a break. After college I had a small break and dove into cooking. I worked at 2 restaurants in the same day, then worked at another one, and then finally I landed at 1 restaurant. From that 1 restaurant I became Executive Chef, and hit the ground running for almost 2 years. No break in between and I burnt out super quick. A break was needed and is needed. When you feel yourself becoming exhausted and loosing even "like" in what your doing, take a break.
Cut Ties - Unfortunately this is needed. If someone is no longer helping you in any way shape or form, its time for them to leave your life.
Trust - Another one Im still working on. Trust that the situation your in wont last forever. It will get better.
Eat - I suggest you eat everything you can. Well, taste everything you can. Go and dine at all the restaurants you come in contact with. This will help you in menu development, recipes, techniques and even open you to food you never knew you liked. This then turns into traveling and exploring.
Let Your Knowledge Kick In - I remember my first night alone in the restaurant as Executive Chef. I was there, just me and my line cooks. Seemed ok. Then as the days got more hectic, it felt like I was in quick sand. Id scratch 1 thing off my to-do list and 2 more things would appear. And then one day right before dinner service, it clicked. Every single thing I had learned in culinary school came rushing back to me and I began to implement those lessons. I pulled my sous to the side one night and said, lets do this the best way we know how! You pretty much know what your doing at the time. Trust it in the moment its needed.
Ignore People - As much as possible. Especially the people that doubt you along the way aka haters.
Learn more about me and my days in the restaurant in the ABOUT tab!