My little voice grates inside my head, it pulses and seeps through my every waking and sleeping moment, like the stain of roasted coffee beans percolating drop by drop through a conical paper filter. My little voice courses through every crevasse of my soul, a molten tide, seething and powerful. I am in awe at the strength of my emotions. Captive in its grasp, I burn with fever because of its touch. My little voice is reason – my conscience, my fears, my mentor and tormentor. This is my core, my font for inspiration as a professional cook. Clogs, chequered pants and jacket, they are mine, a part of my profession and I am proud to wear them.My passion binds me to my craft and it is an exhilarating elixir to taste, as delicious as the best Blue Mountain coffee. The stoves, ovens, steamers, pots and pans are mine to use with skill and precision. In my hands, they are old friends that speak a language my little voice understands.My kitchen exudes confidence and a unified sense of purpose, as seasoned line cooks adeptly navigate through the tension and underlying currents that build in anticipation of 5:30 dinner service. I am at home in the kitchen.
I wish this were not true, then I would be free to walk on the sun.
My little voice knows my passion in life, is a two edged sword – a blessing and a curse. Facing my own fear, leaves an acrid after taste, like ash on the tongue. I hate cooking, I love to cook. Calluses, scars, cuts, bruises, from elbow to finger tip. So many I’m numb, they don’t hurt anymore. I’m too busy, ignore them. Do I care enough to taste the last plate I put in the pass, did I even taste the first one? Where am I in my craft? Am I learning and growing in this kitchen? Do I even want to stay here, maybe, not anymore? Who said that? Who’s speaking? Little voice inside my head – go away. But what about your goals and dreams. They don’t care, YOU ARE NOT IMPORTANT, just keep working! I guarantee you’ll never be out of debt. That’s living paycheck to paycheck in the professional kitchen.
Focus– My little voice retreats and I’m grateful for the solitude. The kitchen is eerily quiet, the morning shift is gone and for a few precious moments, time stands still. Running my hands along the polished stainless steel counter-tops, that tonight,will cradle gleaming white plates, with food still sizzling from the saute pan; I’m reminded of my purpose as a professional cook. My craft is more than sustenance for the hungry, it is magic to the uninitiated. The act 0f cooking is a stimulating conversation between the cook and each guest. It is an introduction to my life, my experiences, my joy. Your patronage says that my hard work is appreciated and my little voice knows that I am happy.
Sacrifice – To dream of becoming a professional cook is not what you can do; but what you are willing to do without.I have no regrets for the birthdays I’ve missed. Yet another holiday celebration spent behind the high octane burners of a Garland stove. Unanswered phone calls, messages I forgot to return. They pale in comparisonto the bonds I’ve formed with fellow cooks. We share, laugh together, drink together, we fiercely protect our own. My little voice is a part of this community, this is our reality and we cling to it. The kitchen is our melting pot, it doesn’t care about your race, age, ethnicity or background – you belong.