Question of the week: How has cooking, or being in kitchens changed you? How are you different from when you started? Do people change? (6/15/09 on twitter)
ingridc@linecook:I feel I know myself better from being in a kitchen--my strengths & weaknesses, what drives me not just as a cook but as a person
Tanukipdx@linecook I think people are what they are but chef work brings out the best or worst in people and then exaggerates those qualities.
slow_lane@linecook I've seen change in others,seen them become harder,stronger people. Kitchens are like Fight Clubs, they change your world view.
pnbryan@linecook I used to talkback a lot to authority. now i keep my mouth shut and get my work done when it needs to be done. good change.adoxograph@linecook your questions are too provoking (in a good way) to try and limit answers to 140, especially first thing in the morning.
Gingerthegirl@linecook My hands have felt like sandpaper for 6 years. I guess I will never be a hand model.
MatthewSievert@linecook @ruhlman cooking "on the line" teaches teamwork and accountability in a very rapid fashion.
Annmerrell@linecook loaded question. Hard to think about during sunday rush, but definitely one that makes you step back and think about your life
Mr_Neon@linecook im more at peace. its been an outlet for my stress or problems, aka the dating scene.
GuyArnone@linecookCooking has taught me to listen. The kitchen made me consistent. The kitchen brings out the best in us & shows us the worst in us

I can't remember what I was like before I started cooking.

No, seriously.

I'm vaguely aware that yes, I had a life before the kitchen, and it was full of all sorts of people, and experiences, and jobs, and friends. I just don't remember it. I try to--there was a lot of life there. But all I can see is hazy memories, people I don't know anymore, and what seems like wasted time. And what about you?

It's simple. Look at your life, now. What you're doing, where your goals lie, what's ahead. What was there before? What did you think you were gonna be when you grew up? Was this the path you thought you were going to end up on?

You don't become a cook and change right away. It's a metamorphosis--it takes time. For some people, a lot of time. There's usually a great deal of mental and physical trauma involved. At a certain point a cook comes to realize that they are not sailing on a pirate ship doing fuck all. Seeing that this is not a party--some creative culinary orgy involving loose waitresses, booze and tough guy posturing usually sends most folks running back to the cubicle. For others it's something as simple as the first turn on a busy night. A bewildered look, coupled with a soaked chefs coat, followed by a two weeks notice. Maybe catering is a better choice?

For those that stay in it, an adapt/conform or die approach becomes the daily attack. The dread of daily service, building into nausea around five o'clock...this sends a message to your entire being. Trying to dial yourself in forces you to think in ways you never did before. You make choices every day, usually the wrong ones. And at a certain point you develop a routine that starts to work. These changes start to manifest themselves in your personal life too. After you've slugged your way through your first successful Saturday night, how could you ever look at something as simple as a single minute the same way?

Do you remember the first time you went out for drinks with friends after this change began? Could you relate to them? Did you just sit there, shell shocked? Were you a numb, mumbling stranger? For me my core of friends stayed the same. The guys I had known since middle school were family; they were here to stay. But those folks on the fringes of my life were the ones that suddenly seemed like strangers. But why? Were things moving so quickly, the changes coming so suddenly, that it seemed like they were standing still?

It didn't stop there. Moving up in the kitchen, with hours growing longer and contact with the outside world melting away accelerated this disconnect. My patience did a strange dance between short fuse and overwhelming compassion. Calls stopped being returned, emails were never answered. Everything looked different. I felt urgency in my life. Those little moments mattered now. Leaving people behind didn't happen purposely. It was just the way things went down.

People do change. Choices are made, sometimes by circumstance, often by necessity. Anyone that thinks an old dog can't be taught new tricks is probably a person that you don't know anymore. And then there are always those that never change. You can still go back and find them cooking the same station, plating the same food, and keeping the same daily routine. Maybe they find comfort in normalizing what feels chaotic to them...I really don't know. But have you ever done it? Have you gone back to your old kitchen, or ran into a cook you came up with? Are there those lifers there that you used to look up to, or respect, or fear? How do you feel about them now?

The me before I started to cook, followed by the me in culinary school, which led to the me as line cook....every step of the way there was change. Becoming a sous chef only accelerated things. And changing kitchens? Forget about it. Sometimes I think about all the people I used to know, and all things I used to do. It's foreign. There is little to no nostalgia involved. My only memories are what feel like someone elses war story. So where are you now? Who do you know from your past life? How has cooking changed you?


  • Drinkup at 15 Romolo was the shit. It's making me question ever going back to Friday night podcasts. Highlights: FiDi dudes getting spanked by their escort, Amy and Justin dancing to The Doors, and all the sweet treatment from Scott Baird and crew. I stopped ordering and just took whatever they brought me...tasty bites and phenomenal drinks. Go. Now.
  • Thomas McNaughton from Flour & Water took his first day off in 2 months and ate dinner at Nopa. I like that guy.
  • The Wire the third time around is even better than the first time.
  • The chicharrones/hotfoodporn/linecook/coreynead BBQ is going to be the shit.
  • giving wine to a 4 year old. don't do that.
  • Where do you go to eat good food in Vegas?
  • I more or less laughed my whole way through this.
  • there is no culinary underbelly. just the industry as it is.

quotes and conversations.

"Hey dude, there might be some bones in your taco party."
-Corey. Throws a boney taco party.

Merrell: Stop staring at my breast.
Camaal: It's not your breast, it's a cupcake.

Me: Gerrardo, if a cougar pounces on you, you have to make a loud noise, clap your hands together...
Gerrardo: If a cougar pounces on me, i'm gonna be happy!

Me: Snack it up fatty. You want some ranch to go with that?
Merrell: You got some?
Me: Yeah I do. Extra special batch from my Hidden Valley.
Eddie: Oh no.

Gerrardo: I can smell that cheese all the way over here.
Me: It's Merrell's farts dude.
Gerrardo: Well it makes me hungry.
Merrell: Ew.

Goose: That's a tall glass of water.
Me: It's a tall drink of water.
Goose: Oh. You knew what I meant.

Me: In first class they serve you an ice cream sundae and a chocolate chip cookie.
Justin: I have to fly first class cuz' i'm too fat for coach.

Al: My master says to soak for ten minutes.
Me: My master? You should be saying that wearing a happy coat.
Chef: Or chains.

Ponder: Reeaaacch around.
Me: Ah, reach around. If you make a fee-fee you don't have to give a reach around.
Goose: But you can use the fee-fee to give the reach around.
Ponder: The visual won't go away. I'm trying to use baseball or kitties and it's not working.

Amy: We're gonna put cameras in your station...
Maritess: You're gonna see the inside of my digestive tract then....

"I've got my elephant banana hammock on today. It keeps your junk in one place the entire service."
-Ponder. Underwear aficionado.

from top: sauces, clean cut boys, postcard from Cosentino, glazed squash, osso bucco, halibut, squash blossoms, savoy cabbage, gibraltars, awesome cake, il cane rosso

1 comment:

Matt said...

to answer those initial questions you posed, I am the sort of person who is so indecisive when it comes to careers its not even funny, and I never in a million years thought I would cook professionally. I had worked at a bank for the summers I was in university and a couple of years afterward but HATED it. Cooking as a career just didnt really occur to me. I flip-flopped from advertising to teacher and everything in between. I distinctly remember when I was in grade 3 we were asked to draw a picture of what we were going to be when we grew up. I drew a carpenter wiping his brow and sweat coming off his forehead. When the teacher came around she asked me why he was crying. Anyways nothing that I have done has ever made me want to pursue knowledge in that field once I am off, nor has it caused me to wish I was back at work on my day off until I started in the industry.