My life is timers and reminders.
Look at my phone and you will see them all turned on — all on their specific days with specific times.
They say things like, BREAD! and PRODUCE!
That is my life now. A gazillion little things. Writing menus. Writing emails including menus. Answering catering inquiries. Talking to old ladies on the phone who are worried about MSG in their food. Ordering food. Cooking food. Creating specials in hopes that people will eat them. Teaching people how to cut onions the way I want them cut. Always leaving the kitchen thinking I’ve forgotten to do something. (Which I probably have.)
I remember reading about chefs when I first started getting into cooking. I knew that what you see on TV wasn’t the real deal. But it didn’t sway me. I didn’t run away even when I knew I had thin skin. I just knew that I wanted it.
I will always have thin skin. That ain’t changing.
So what is this big difference? Well, I am a cook who has to call himself a chef from time to time. Because people want to talk to the Chef. They want to give their business cards to the Chef even when you know you’ll never call them. People want to know the Chef. They want to know who’s in charge. Which is me. And that is terrifying, and there is a lot of power there.
I have a good crew. I have a really good crew. I know I have gained their respect because I see it every day. And they have mine. There is a proximity thing. When you are constantly moving behind people and beside them with sharp and hot objects. We all sweat together. We commiserate. To me, it’s just business as usual.
But there is a clock. Always. Ticking. Until food is done and needs to come out of the oven. Timing on the eggs in the pot and that ever-pressing sense of urgency once a ticket finishes out the kitchen printer.
When I come home, I usually lay down for a while. I listen to some white noise and it clears my head. Sometimes I fall asleep for a few minutes, and sometimes I still hear the kitchen printer.
I am always aware of time and how precious it is. The time I have for me. The time I have for you and the want to have more of it at the end of a long day.
I feel proud.
And I really try to care in all things. Some things I know I cannot handle, and I think it’s important to recognize that and to share the load. Humans cannot hold everything. Some times it can feel like Atlas holding the world, but I know deep down that I am not capable of this and that I need other people.
That is where all of this comes from. And at the end of the day it is about the other people who are there with you — making you laugh — taking over a station while you lean against a tree outside for some fresh air.
They are truly the powerful ones. And I will give them everything I have.
I never need a reminder for that.