What I’ve noticed about working with food is that rarely is it just about working with food. Everyone I’ve met through the culinary industry is involved because this kind of work speaks to something deeper within them. Maybe it’s their ego, perhaps a manifestation of their love language, or maybe a reminder of childhood, but always something powerful enough to literally keep the fire burning. Most people don’t join the restaurant world hoping to become a millionaire from it, and some might classify us as insane for coming back day in and day out to perform our ritualistic service. There’s very little about this job that is comfortable, from the unavoidable heat radiating off of all the elements going at once to the intense heel pain that goes on the back burner because there is no time to take a seat. But, the sweet smell of lime from zesting several gallons, or a mug full of fresh chicken stock that’s been cooking in the biggest stock pot you’ve ever seen, these are the comforts that transport you to that deeper place. For me, this all reminds me of my parents. My mom is a trained chef and has been the food master of my family for as long as I can remember, and my dad owns an urban gardening business and specializes in the growth of fruits and vegetables. Despite this influence in my childhood, I didn’t know until just a few years ago that this was the path I wanted to take. It showed itself as I began listening and focusing my attention to the things that bring me pure, natural joy, and it always led me back to plants and food. There is a child-like happiness I get around good food and the rest of the world melts away for a few moments, leaving me only with the people sitting down at the table with me. I believe that’s why restaurants and cooking content will always remain popular, this food-fueled memory path exists for everyone, it invokes something undeniably interconnected within all of us.
I am reminiscing on my journey in food on my first day off after spending eight days straight working in the kitchen. I can’t lie, I didn’t feel this warm and fuzzy while I was actually there, but I will say that random sparks of bliss carried me through the long work week. One of these blissful moments each day is making family meal for everyone. Since I’ve been working the breakfast shift, family meal is the whole crew’s first full meal of the day. I put it up it after service ends and by this time, there is a silly, hunger-fueled mania that glazes over the servers eyes as I set down the breakfast spread. They can’t grab the food out of the heated pass fast enough to begin serving themselves while blurting out “thank you” on the way out. Everyone unties their aprons and takes off their hats to sit down for the first time during the shift, letting out sighs of relief and piling their plates up with the food I made that day while swapping all the little stories that arose through service time. It’s a sight for my sore, tired eyes at that point, and I can’t help but smile as I take in the pride of feeding my friends that I consider my work family.