The Chef years

Little known fact about me. I spent a long part of my life working in restaurants and related venues. I started at Chuck E Cheese, making pizza’a and counting tokens from the video games. Then I went to Marie Callendars. Started at the bottom, dishwasher. 3 nights a week, really great for my hands. Then I started doing the prep cook work. Slicing vegetables, grinding hamburger, grating cheese, making lasagne etc.  Then I started doing the 1-9 shift, where I would do all the prep for the evening, and then work through the rush.

From there I went to a Sports bar, then a seafood cafe, then a country club, and finally to a local Italian chain (Florentines. They seem to be gone).  At the last stop, I spent lots of time running a kitchen, and then being the fill in guy. I could drop into any location and work through any shift.

It is not something I bring up too often. I am not ashamed of this history, but people instantly ask questions like “Why did you stop?”, “Don’t you miss it?” The truth is, very few people make it huge. For every Wolfgang Puck, there are 200,000 people with lots of skills, working very hard, for very little money. I truly got tired of working 6 days a week, 10 – 12 hours a day for less than $30,000 a year. It is hard on the body, and it isn’t conducive to good habits (you get off work at 11:00 PM, pretty amped, and then you can get into trouble. Drug use and alcoholism is rampant in the industry.

But I still love cooking. I cook most of the meals here (good thing too, my wife is pretty awful at cooking).