Published on July 31, 2014 · By jessie-gusman
We all think we know what it’s like to be a chef in a restaurant. Because after all, we’ve watched many seasons of Top Chef Restaurant Wars. But as they say, “you just don’t know.” To get the real dish on the quirky ins and outs of being a real restaurant chef, we turned to the Kitchensurfing pros with restaurant experience to get their insider nuggets on what it’s like to work in a real restaurant kitchen.
Here are 23 signs you’ve worked as a restaurant chef:
1. When you’re in public and you yell out “behind!” to strangers… but nobody moves.
2. You drink out of a quart container at home.
3. You cannot stand a messy fridge.
4. And you must label your pantry items, even at home. (Cut, not torn masking tape!)
5. You always carry at least 1 sharpie on you.
6. You have no feeling in your fingers - touching hot surfaces doesn’t faze you anymore.
7. Your arms have more stripes than a zebra from being burned on oven racks.
8. Staff meal was your ONLY meal of the day.
9. Even at home, you eat standing up.
10. Your significant other tells you that you’ve been talking in your sleep about searing meat and adding garlic
11. 1 AM is an early Saturday night dinner.
12. You can’t wait for Monday because that’s when your weekend begins.
13. And you don’t even know what to do with yourself if you’re off on a Friday or Saturday.
14. You dress up to go to work, change into whites, then dress back up just to go home again, so you feel like a civilized person for a few hours (perhaps only the ladies).
15. You have zero tolerance for dull knives.
16. Your knife roll is worth more than the car you drive.
17. Nobody will cook for you because they’re intimidated, but you are just so grateful for any chance for a home-cooked meal.
18. You can’t go to bed without an ice cold beer.
19. You hear the ticket printer in your sleep.
20. Your signature cologne smells of seared foie gras and deep fried anything.
21. The old adage that the “customer is always right” doesn’t mean anything when they tell you they are allergic to the colors green, red, or orange.
22. You see your fellow line cook three times as much as your significant other.
23. You roll your eyes when someone not in the restaurant industry complains about a 50-hour work week.
In sum, working in a restaurant is simply crazy. As Boston chef Chris Hallahan says: “Working as a chef is one of the most crazy jobs to have. You toil for years to learn a skill set and the ability to create experiences with food, only to have the majority of your guests ask for substitutions and inane changes that suck the soul out of your handwork. To be cooking at a high level and executing professionally requires a level of sacrifice that is unreal. Non-industry friends and family don’t understand why you can’t answer your phone Friday at 7pm or come to your BBQ Saturday at 4pm.”