Top 5 reasons why veterans make great cooks/chefs.

So, when it comes to career transitions, many often wonder if the kitchen life is for them. I too went through this debate before deciding to chase my culinary dream. To my surprise, I fit right in. Here’s the top five reasons veterans especially combat veterans integrate to the cooking family seamlessly.

5. Discipline/Coachable– We’re used to walking into walls on command.  For years, often in the face of certain doom, we nod say yes sir and move out.  When Chef says “do it this way.” We don’t argue about “how we learned in school” we assume and respect the Chef above us and have faith that they do it this way for a reason. And even if it doesn’t make sense, that person got there before you and you just shut your trap and move smartly.

4.Kitchen Jargon– We say F a lot. The kitchen can be a completely different language, almost like a audible doctors note, and we as veterans have spent years speaking in shorthand. Fire missions, radio etiquette, all devised for efficiency and speed.  It doesn’t take a vet long to pick up on “Fire”.  Like many Chefs, we have colorfully commanded the English language in a very unique way.

3.  Pro-active, not RE-active. From day one in basic training, we were forced into acting in the absence of leadership. Taking the initiative to lead others when traditional leadership is preoccupied.We’re used to working in teams, even if we don’t like them. We see a problem, we solve it. Chefs do not have to lead us around by the hand like little toddlers. We seek the “commander’s intent”, and if need be improvise on the fly.

2. Punctuality– “On time is 15 minutes late”.  Its the reason why many of us have been at the arms room for weapon draw at 0330 for a 0900 range hot time.  We gripe and we swear about it, but backwards planning makes for spectacular mental mise en place.  Don’t be surprised when your commis beats you to work.

1.Demented sick SOB’s–   We got three 20 tops, and half the range top is down for maintenance” You’ll most likely hear one of us hollar “That all?!? Let’s DO THIS!” We have been mentally conditioned to thrive under pressure. One thing that draws us to the kitchen life, is what in the military we affectionately called “the suck”.  Those moments when murphy’s law has prevailed and the rush of seeing just how much you can take before you break. The rush of kitchen insanity is like a drug. Trust me when I say, when the crap hits the fan, you’re gonna see a evil grin crawl across our faces and you’re gonna be glad you have us.


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