12.05.2008

Withdrawal.

If you were suddenly given an impromptu 5 day break, what would you do?  Go out of town?  Catch up with old friends?  Hit the gym?  Or would you be a nervous, twitchy ball of energy on the verge of exploding?  I was the latter Thanksgiving week, after the fire.  Stepping away from the pace and life that is working in that kitchen every day was hard.  I couldn't relax, or focus, or listen...to anything.  My heart would be racing while I was sitting on the couch.  I was short with my wife for no reason, and I probably ate and drank far too much.  (even for a cook)  Going out for drinks with some Nopa folk mid-week, I was relieved to hear that everyone was going through the same thing.  Without the brutal pace of service that fills you with adrenaline and makes the minutes fly by, life just didn't seem as interesting.  I even tried to write, and quickly realized that without cooking, my subject matter might suffer greatly. 

It wasn't always like this.  I've had breaks from cooking before, and often they were a welcome break.  It was a chance to take a step back, focus on friends and family, and relax.  Talking to all the cooks last week had this strange post traumatic stress disorder tinge to it.  Vacant stares, nothing interesting to say.  It makes you wonder--is this our drug?  Were we all just in withdrawal?  Does the restaurant give us some intoxicating blend of deafening noise, blinding heat and overwhelming pressure that makes us feel that high?  Or does it just make us feel normal?

  • "I can't work in a domestic kitchen; it's just too confined.  There's no freedom and there's no buzz.  At home i'm not hit with forty covers in half an hour so there's no real excitement."     -Marco Pierre White        



quotes.
  • "Take the cats, leave the beer, and get the fuck out." - Corey
  • "I like Dick."  -Mongoose, in reference to another cook, Eddie Dick
  • "I like Mr. Bean."  -Corey, in reference to Mr. Bean.
  • "I always have this fantasy of dressing up a pig in a sweater and kicking it." -Nick

notes:
  • If you're chugging pepto in your car at a red light, you might get some strange looks.
  • Dylan and I might make the most formidable rock band duo ever.
  • Getting a lasagna stain out of the carpet with no carpet cleaner is difficult.
  • This is my first holiday season in 5 years not working for VDV/PAV.  Weird.
  • Tropic Thunder and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Funnier than I thought they would be.

From top:  Boones--really?, my station, eddie's cut, lamb, nopalito testing, citron and al, a very big espresso, good luck, and guanciale.

8 comments:

Waleed said...

You are so 100% incredibly right, it IS a goddamn drug. I've been out of the kitchen for about 5-6 months now, because I had to move to go to culinary school. When I first moved up here, with nothing to do, I was bored out of my mind. I thought I would die from boredom. It passed after 3 weeks or so, I thought the boredom was just because I had moved and knew next to no one in the area, and as I got to know people from school it had just been "cured".

Fast forward 4 months, and the last 3-4 weeks I have been doing Stages and volunteering for charity events, just to get in the kitchen.

You know what?

The boredom returned. When I am not cooking I feel like the life is just drained out of me. I look at all these people doing things like walking to the door and it all seems in slow motion.

You are not alone.

-Waleed

Robert said...

Love the Marco quote.

Le Feu said...

One of the reasons I always try for split days off is by the time my sunday rolls around I'm super twitchy and antsy. Any idea when Nopa will be back up and running? I'm coming back to the city in Feb and was really looking forward to a Nopa Burger.

Knives Sharp, Eyes Open

-Doc

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Pam said...

where is your restaurant?

Karol said...

I know what you mean about the adrenaline rushes being habit-forming. I was like that as a line cook in my 20s and 30s. Now that I'm 45, though, I am so grateful I don't have to "run" like I used to. I'm in a different profession now and when I think about all the physical and mental stress I had to endure as a line cook, I think "that's what kept me thin", "that's probably why I drank too much" and "it's a young person's job". It can be a high but it can also have some bad side effects (like most highs, I guess.)

Anyway, I think your blog has great writing and photos.

kelli said...

The pig quote still has me cracking up! I love your blog...very, very funny!

Hope you get you cooking fix soon!