The day mother’s day beat me like I stole something. For most, yesterday was a lovely sunny day pampering mothers everywhere. (As they deserve duh) For other’s Sunday funday it was spent in a kitchen on one of the busiest days in the business. Mom’s getting a break and taken to their favorite restaurant, chefs everywhere having screaming matches in a walk-in freezer. I finally had my first mothers day in “the show”.
I was scheduled on grill, I had been training on apps a bit so I was also a floater on apps. In a matter of minutes (literally) I was a page in the weeds from a massive seating. Ok, don’t panic buddy, focus, ah shit there’s another 12 top, ok we got this, oh boy 6 salmon walking in, this went on for about 25-30 minutes untill sometimes you have to know when you’re whipped. I was drowning and hung on as long as possible. Luckily the culinary pro saw me crashing and burning and helped me out. Yeah, sure it was an ego blow to have to hand off my spatula and shift down on apps (that was also two pages deep), but as my beloved mentor Chef Deb says “Aces in spaces”. Sometimes when sh&* hits the fan you gotta put the ball in Tom Brady’s hands and set your ego aside. Once we got the groove we survived waves and waves of seatings and I got a crash course in our appetizer menu.
No matter how bad it got, no matter how mad I was at the table rang up five minutes till last bell when the whole kitchen is doing the countdown. That second hand stopped at one point I’m certain of it. I learned a few things that I feel every young chef to be should learn early and often in their career. For those fellow culinary students just learning their legs in a kitchen or have yet to start in the industry.
First off, TIME IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. Mental mise en place, speed, razor sharp focus and for the love of everything holy, DONT FREAK OUT. It just makes it worse.
Secondly, humility. Being able to fight your way out, and knowing when you’re crashing and burning is very important. It’s a family, a team, if you go down, we all go down. Know when to ask for a life preserver, you’re new, noone is gonna crush you for admitting you’re overwhelmed. They will crush you however for not saying something and letting the machine break down.
Last but certainly not least, Think about this. Say it to yourself. “It has to end sometime.” No matter how bad it gets, no matter how crazy, it HAS to end. The time WILL pass and you will eventually see the light. I have to say that’s the euphoria of the kitchen “rush”. When you’re exhausted, weeded, sore, out of gas, and you see bumping tickets is actually clearing the board, you get that buzz. That indescribable feeling of going hulk mode and that magical moment of watching that last Chicken leave the window.
Hopefully if you’re new to the business like me you learned a few tips. If you’re a veteran, I’m sure you had a pretty good laugh at my expense and that’s totally fine since I laughed while thinking about work.
If you can’t enjoy the chaos and laugh, then this isn’t the business for you. Bon Appetit!