It's all around you.  You feel it when you start getting slammed on a Saturday night.  You feel it when your chef asks you to make a special for tonight's menu.  You feel it when that cute bartender sits down with you to eat family meal.  It's powerful enough to make you completely lose focus.  It makes you slow down, like your muscles are fatigued.  And the worst part about it?  It happens to everyone--especially cooks trying to move up in the kitchen.  And it's all in your head.

Self-doubt.  Insecurity.  A feeling that you're not good enough, not smart enough.  When was the last time you felt it?  Sometimes it shows itself for a good reason.  You made a bad choice, or took a risk that backfired, and second guessed yourself.  Other times it shows itself when you've been killing it on your station all night long and your chef is so pleased with you that he asks you to make something 'special' for that 4 star chef that just sat down at the counter.  It's unpredictable.  For me, being lucky enough to work amidst highly talented cooks during my career has often been enough to make the doubt creep in.  "Am I good enough to work here?  Is my technique adequateDid I make a mistake becoming a cook?  Can I really hack it?"

Doubt plagues cooks and chefs on every level.  Speaking to a chef that I greatly admire about a night where he served a group of chefs that he greatly admired, he said "Well, I hope they liked it."  Seeing as how this chef has four stars, I can only imagine that they did.  To an extent a little nervous energy is a good thing...it keeps you on your toes.  But when it starts to boil over it can lead to you losing your temper, shutting down, or letting service slip away from you.

So lets make a resolution--right now.  Lets resolve to stop listening to the static and bullshit and let ourselves feel confident.  Collectively, lets stop worrying so much about pleasing everyone, and just focus on what we know makes our guests happy.  Let's take risks.  Ignore the voices in your head.  Let yourself feel confident, and dont worry about being cocky.  (you know the difference)  Let yourself move forward in 2009--no excuses, and no holding (yourself) back.

  • eating organically then not eating organically will make you feel sick as hell
  • funkytown when you're medium sick is kinda fun.  funkytown when you're full blown sick is horrible.
  • the trojan vibrator commercial with the old lady is kinda gross.
  • i keep telling myself not to have another piece of bacon, but I just cant stop.
  • happy new years everyone!

corey quotes to close out 2008
  • "Hey dude, roll over on your stomach.  I wanna show you something."
  • "I knew this chick that used to wear old spice."

kozy lounging, the big fat duck cookbook, we'll miss you Nick, red bull and cola?  ew.


Ron said...

well I am not a cook, but what you said is really hitting home and I will make your resolution my own. thanks for the blog, for all the cool posts about the life. I appreciate it


Queenie said...

you're amazing. i love reading your blog. Happy New Year.

Dave Gray said...

Richie: Confidence comes and stays when you know you are loved. That way when you are getting slammed you can remember that you are loved. You have a huge unshakeable place to stand, and then you can enjoy the slam, or the special, or the bartender, knowing that you are not going to be moved from your foundation. You are loved, Richie

Not The Rockefellers said...

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Well said.

Peace - Rene

Jesse said...

Said so well. Thank you

Abby said...


I just found this blog (my SIL sent it to me) and I love it. I was a pastry cook 10 years ago in DC and reading your stuff makes me incredibly nostalgic, way more than any cooking show on TV. I loved your description of the cold, quiet kitchen in the morning. I know that sound, the smell, the getting your coffee and tying on your apron feeling. Oh my god I miss it.

Christopher James said...

I think that your insecurities lie almost entirely in your head. It seems to me that if you worked for/with several great chefs, it's because they see an innate talent that they either respect or want to try and help develop. Accomplished people seldom surround themselves with slackers or others who aren't talented, especially in the food world, and ESPECIALLY if they're running a business. If you're there it's because you're good, and if you weren't you'd be gone.

As far as taking risks, that's what food is about. You need to have confidence in your food, even if it's not conventional. Your guests will respond to that. I remember being in a restaurant in New York last year (I think the name of it was Jane, but I'm not sure), and for dessert one of the options on special was a tomato tart with a basil-infused cream. Being an adventurous diner, I ordered it. And hated it. It was too savory for a dessert item, and the tomato was really rich and overpowering, but it didn't make me any less pleased with the experience. I still recommend it to anyone who visits the city. The chef took a risk, and it backfired, but now he knows better, and that's respectable. Every great chef faces that challenge.

Great blog. Keep it up.

Kimora Saintlee said...

I appreciate your honesty and love the way you write. I hope the new year brings you many good things.

Matt said...

Happy New Year all. I am really happy that wrote this post cause being a newbie to the line I was sort of letting that doubt creep in as of late. Its nice to know its normal and that even the superstars of the kitchen let it slip in occasionally. I totally agree with dave. Keep up the good work in 09.

|3rad said...

This is not the first time I've checked in on your blog to have it directly relate to what I'm going through. What I thought was my worst night as a cook is now just another bump in the road. Seriously, thank you for putting this into words for the rest of us who can't.

TGJR said...

As always, thank you for saying what so many of us think and feel so well.

Happy New Year

Vincent said...

Happy New Year - great blog.

Corey is fucking hilarious.


chestery said...

For what it's worth, Red Bull Cola isn't Red Bull energy drink + cola, but Red-Bull-branded cola. Kind of like Virgin Cola is just Virgin-branded cola and you won't find airplanes inside each can.

Aside from not being cola-flavored Red Bull (no taurine), it's actually aspiring to be a better product than existing colas:

Supposed to be all-natural ingredients: caffeine extracted from coffee beans, no HFCS, etc.

None of this means that it doesn't taste all "Ewww." I wouldn't know, anyway, since I've never been inclined to consume anything Red Bull unless in a truly desperate state of mind.

Vic said...

A thoughtful entry for the new year - I enjoy your blog (and I'm a fan of Corey's quotes!)

Alex said...

I want to say thank you. You are an inspiration. Myself and two of my friends are cooks by nature, (but we're employed at Pizza Hut), and this blog keeps me going, doing something I enjoy. I recently had the wonderful opportunity to prepare sushi for myself and a party of 11 others. It was fantastic.

Thank you for the vote of confidence, and I hope you do well this year, as well.

aesdanae said...

I know half a dozen chicks easy that wear Old Spice. Interestingly, they all switch when they start dating a guy who wears Old Spice. Old Spice = magic switch? Maybe...

Omar Giovannetti said...

I guess doubt and insecurity is something you deal from time to time in every line of work. I would like to have a job like yours. Actually I'm an amateur cook who would love to break it in the cooking world, I don't know maybe this year I'll gather the courage to start taking some cooking courses.

househead said...

I've been reading your blog for some time now and am a huge fan... of your writing, of the food at Nopa, and of food & the art of cooking and restaurants in general.

Your recent post was just what I needed to these first few days of 2009. I swear, whenever I see in my RSS reader that you've posted a new entry, it's like there's a special tasty treat that showed up in my inbox. Often I'll wait until I've gone through all my other work & personal emails and save yours for last.

I used to work in restaurants & bakeries many years ago and what I miss most is all the detail and interesting things that happen behind the scenes. Thanks for giving me a peek into world!