A fellow chef from back in Canada sent this
list to me recently. I thought it was supposed to be a bit
of a joke. However, once I started going down the list I realized
that it is 100% true on every level. So if you or someone you
love is thinking about becoming a chef, perhaps you should try to talk
them out of it!
When people are thinking of taking their first steps into kitchens,
many around them are quick to give advice. They will warn of the toil
involved, the strength of character and the stamina that are needed,
the long hours... But however much warning is given, one is always quick
to disregard it and shrug one's shoulders because really, how hard can
it be? In my years working in kitchens, I have seen hundreds
come and go; eager at the start but quickly disenchanted and just as
eager to get out. Only a small percentage of people who walk into the
world of gastronomy stay there once faced with this harsh environment.
Below is a list that I compiled of all the realities of day to day life
as a chef, based on my own experience as well as on my observations.
What you can expect from making a living in a professional kitchen:
1 You'll almost always have open wounds on your hands and arms.
2 You'll never meet new people because your social life deteriorates
3 You'll find it hard to start relationships because alone time
will become a precious thing.
4 You'll lose your social skills.
5 Your sense of humor will degrade into the politically incorrect
and socially unacceptable.
6 You'll eventually start swearing like a sailor and you won't
even notice yourself doing it.
7 You'll turn into an anorak/monomaniac and always turn all
conversations back to food.
8 You'll earn a pittance for years/decades.
9 You'll either lose a vast amount of weight or gain a vast
amount of weight.
10 You'll never ever have a tan ever again.
11 You won't become famous.
12 You'll develop a habit, whether it be coffee, cigarettes,
alcohol, gambling, cannabis, cocaine, or even red bull.
13 Your feet will get destroyed.
14 Your back will get destroyed.
15 Your hands will get destroyed.
16 You'll live in a constant state of sleep deprivation, indefinitely.
17 You'll have to ask your friends to plan everything around
your schedule, which is in complete opposition with their availability,
because you never know your days off in advance and you probably won't
be able to change it.
18 You'll become of a very highly strung nature
19 You'll become more prone to temper flare ups
20 Your awareness of other people's lack of efficiency and common
sense will increase and your tolerance of it will decrease.
21 You'll spend the largest part of your life cooped up in a
small, undecorated room with poor ventilation, high temperatures, a
lot of noise, humidity, no natural light and no windows, with a small
group of people who will become your only social interactions.
22 You will work longer hours than you ever imagined possible
or thought legal.
23 You will spend all your waking hours on your feet, never
getting a chance to sit down even for 5 minutes.
24 Your shortest work days will be longer than most people's
longest, and your longer workdays, which make up about half of your
working week, will be longer than the average person is awake in a day.
25 You will not cook gourmet dinners at home. You'll be too
tired, and too fed up of cooking.
26 You will probably start eating mostly fast food and cheap
27 You will be the subject of abuse, whether physical or emotional.
Officially, it will be as a test of character. In reality, it will be
as a form of entertainment.
28 You will end up spending so much time at work that your colleagues
will know you better than your partner/family/friends do.
29 You will meet and form strong bonds with types of people
whom you'd previously never even have imagined sharing conversations
30 You will be in a constant state of stress.
31 You will never be irreplaceable and will be expected to constantly
32 You will always be exhausted.
33 You will not be allowed to call in sick for a hangover.
34 You will be expected to place your work before any other
part of your life in your list of priorities.
35 You will never be congratulated on your work.
36 You will be expected to treat your superiors as absolute
masters and never answer back, try to explain yourself, start a conversation,
or show any other type of insubordination, even if you know that they
are in the wrong or feel as if their behavior towards you is unacceptable.
37 It will become very difficult to watch friends cook.
38 Your mum will stop cooking for you because she feels embarrassed.
39 You will be expected to cook for family gatherings such as
Christmas EVERY SINGLE YEAR.
Luckily, at least one year out of two, you will be working on Christmas.
40 At least one year out of two, and maybe every year, you will
work Christmas, New Year's Eve, Easter, Valentine's day, Mother's
day, Father's day, bank holidays, Halloween, your birthday, and
pretty much every other day of celebration on the calendar.
41 You will have to work many years in menial positions before
attaining any level of authority in the workplace.
42 The better the restaurant is, the longer the work hours become,
the more pressure you end up under, the more unhealthy your lifestyle
will become, the more likely you will be to develop a habit, the more
competitive the people around you will become, the less sleep you'll
get, the less you'll eat etc.
43 You will constantly make mistakes, and every time you do
make a mistake, someone will notice it and make you understand that
you are clearly a subhuman because only a subhuman could make such a
44 If you are a woman, you will constantly be the subject of
misogynist remarks and jokes, sexual harassment, belittlement and remarks
about your menstrual cycle.
45 None of your friends or family will understand what is involved
in your work and you will never be able to make them understand.
46 You will spend vast amounts of money on equipment, books,
eating in good restaurants etc, which will leave you with not much money
for other things.
47 You will develop a creepy obsession with knives.
48 If you are a pastry chef, you will develop a creepy obsession
49 You will get a rash in your butt crack from the mixture of
heat, sweat and friction that will not heal well, sometimes get infected,
will mostly always be slimy and itchy and will be there most of the
50 If you are the right type of person, you will thank your
lucky star every single day for the rest of your life for making you
take the best decision you ever did and become a chef. And you
will fall in love with your job and never look back.
Hope that gives you some
insight into what the job entails! We don’t work because we
are supposed to, we do it because we have to; because it’s who we
are. If it’s who you are too then you should come talk to me
here at Flying Fish!
About the Author: Tim Tibbitts is the chef and owner of Flying Fish Modern Seafood in Freeport Bahamas. Flying Fish is the #1 rated restaurant in the Bahamas on
tripadvisor.com. You can see what Flying Fish is all about at
flyingfishmodernseafood and follow Tim on twitter @flyingfishfreep