It is beginning to look like I will soon be trading in my knives for neck ties.
After 20+ years of studying culinary arts, I am just about done with the BS and lifestyle that chefs are subjected to.
A few months ago, I began working for my friends, again. I helped them build and open their restaurant a couple years back, but there was a fire, and it burned right before opening. This left me without a job, unpaid, and no promise of anything.
So, I went from kitchen to kitchen, learning the specialties of the best chefs in Atlanta. I worked hard, learned a lot, and accepted that working long hours, not having a social life, and living below the poverty level were all part of the game.
When the place I worked was repaired, I went back to work for them. They paid me some of the money they owed me. They promised me a substantial increase in pay. The long hours and hard work were still part of the deal, but I am OK with that.
As the months go on, I am expected to do more and more, leaving less and less to be done by my co-workers. The funny part is that my paychecks are becoming smaller and smaller, as the workload goes up. It is the wrong time of year for this, as the holiday season always requires more money.
I am at a point where it is no longer worth my time to go in to work. I won't leave them hanging, short staffed in the kitchen, and setup for failure. That is not how I do things.
However, I do think it is time to get a "real job," as people say. I am working on going back to school, and in the meantime, I am looking into getting a normal 9-5 where I don't get all greasy, smell like bleach, and my money will be spent on things like coffees and neck ties, not knives and kitchen tools.
This is what the industry is driving us to, for I am not the only one who is leaving kitchen-life behind for something better. It is becoming more and more common, for hard-working people who have devoted their lives to food, to finally snap and take no more of it. I find it sad and depressing, that to follow your dreams, work hard, and be great at what you do, is no longer enough to be successful. It's not even enough to live above the poverty level in most cases.
So much for the American Dream. It is dying in the window, much like the shitty, lackluster food that will be put-out by the unskilled, apathetic, flunky cooks who take our places.