To the outsider, kitchen life can seem nonsensical: the long hours, the poor pay, the cuts and burns ... ‘Why would anyone put themselves through this?’ they think. But for those who love it, it’s a way of life.
This is something picked up on by chef Paul Sorgule, who writes for us frequently, in his latest post over on the Harvest America Ventures blog, entitled 'Chefs, how stable are we really?"
In it, he asks chefs to take a step back and try to see themselves through other people's eyes. It's a tongue in cheek look at just what makes being a chef such a crazy, addictive profession. As Sorgule writes, “Chefs are difficult to understand, impossible to live with, yet interesting as hell.”
Here then are 22 signs that you're a true chef. Does this sound like you? Any missing? Let us know over on our Facebook page.
1. A person whose wardrobe is limited to houndstooth pants, white double-breasted jackets, and aprons.
2. A person who carries an arsenal of knives with him or her – always close to his or her side.
3. A person who tends to eat meals while standing up – preferably over a trash can to catch the crumbs.
4. A person who communicates using a language that is foreign to anyone else, yet is universal to those who wear the uniform.
5. A person who frequently talks to him or herself – usually in a walk-in cooler.
6. A person who has an unusual fascination with and love of open flames.
7. A person with little to no feeling in his or her hands – the callouses are multi-layered.
8. A person who considers burns and cuts to be badges of honour.
9. A person who either has no tattoos or one who has very little visible body space without tattoos.
10. A person who yells “behind” every time he or she approaches someone else whether in the kitchen, at home, or on the street.
11. A person who carries a perpetual odour of fish, onions, garlic, or grilled meat.
12. A person who has a difficult time holding back critique of another person’s food – even his or her mother’s.
13. A person who prefers to be called “chef” all the time, by everyone, including immediate family.
14. A person who has almost no short-term memory of anything that doesn’t have to do with the kitchen.
15. A person who will likely forget to pay bills not because he or she lacks the funds, but because anything other than working is not a priority.
16. A person who maintains way too many boxes of cornstarch without any explanation why (only restaurant people will get this).
17. A person who owns more cookbooks than could be read in a typical lifetime.
18. A person with a heart of gold and a temper like an angry ninja.
19. A person who can easily embarrass friends with his or her fiery language full of expletives.
20. A person who’s swollen hands and ankles turn heads and make others rather squeamish.
21. A person who is rough and crusty, but gentle and artistic when it comes to plating food.
Now a three-Michelin-star restaurant, Noma has changed, but not necessarily on the plate. According to Kenneth Foong, it's all about the way the team works, which is closer to a tech company than a traditional restaurant. Read our exclusive interview with Noma's head chef.