Confessions of a Pandemic Chef (Part 2)

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I can’t escape the feeling of letting people down.

Like everyone else, there are good and bad days. Well, good days being less oppressive and hopeful for things to lighten a bit. And bad days well, we’ve had enough of those.

You’re also starting to fray more at the edges. This is how I feel most days. Creativity thrives on air and room and space and so many days, I feel very confined to this survival – to making it happen day in and day out.

The Chef’s job in never done.

We’re still seeing restaurants close. Restaurants I’ve been well in the shadow of for years. Restaurants with resources and good people and good food. My heart breaks seeing them fade away — some have been heading there for quite some time and others, just bad timing. I hate this more than anything.

I’ve turned a lot of you down.

I’ve said I was busy or that we just couldn’t do a thing. Mostly, I couldn’t do that thing. I didn’t want to do that thing, and I can’t tell you when I’ll ever want to do that thing again.
Feeding you during this time is exhausting. We (service industry workers) are in a constant state of depleting ourselves so that we can pay our bills during this tiresome season.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s still fun to work with my people. They are the reason I’m doing any of this because we all work hard for one another. We also work hard for you. But you also need to understand that working in the hospitality industry is already a job that requires more than you’ll ever know. Not just physically, but highly emotional work.

I mean, creative work IS emotional work.

I know I have lost patrons due to my own boundaries.

I have said ‘no’ more than I’ve ever wanted to. The money is important, but it isn’t worth the weight on my soul. We are all stretched far too thin to pretend any of this shit is anything close to normal, so please do not ask more of us because of it.

It is so strange to have our work be so controversial. Cooks, servers and bartenders forced to be security against something we are still not prepared for. Yelled at by people who can’t wear a mask for five minutes. Having to choose to support your friends based on whether or not you feel safe in their businesses. All of this is fu*king weird and it’s heavy and it’s so ass backwards to what we are built to do in this business.

But, we’re still here doing it.

We’re thankful for you coming to our building and supporting us — I’m not asking you to leave us alone, but to respect the space we serve in. We’re still going to mess up. We’re still asking you to lower some of your expectations. We’re asking you to hold back until it’s safer, and we’re better.

People are still dying, things are still scary.

And all of us, are just tired.

If I say no to you, it’s because I’ve given it all for the time being — and when that space frees up a bit more, I’m happy to hustle and dream and move for you all again.

For now, a grilled cheese and tomato soup is good.
And I hope you let us make it for you.