5 Types of People you find in a Restaurant Kitchen
As much as modern television tries to depict life in a kitchen as a glamorous career, it is still far from it. The rise in popularity of shows like Master Chef has drawn a new wave of people who think they can cut it in professional kitchens. Some pass the test and many, many fizzle out due to the demand this type of work puts on your life. Here are the 5 types of cooks you will find in a professional kitchen:
1. The Recent Culinary School Grad
The recent culinary school graduate is easy to pick out in a line up of the motley crew you are used to finding in a kitchen. They most likely still wear their culinary school's chef pants and hat along with steel toe kitchen shoes and an ironed & bleached chef's coat. The most annoying thing about culinary school grads is they tend to think that because they have a degree it means that they're going to be promoted to sous chef in under a year. Culinary school distorts their perception of time and hard work. "Thank you, so-and-so, it's great that you know how to make Creme Anglaise but we don't have that on our menu. Please learn how to cook 18 steaks at the same time, all to the desired doneness, and to time those with all the other food coming out".
2. The One Who's Been There Forever
This person is the linchpin in every chef's kitchen and is usually the most respected. They know exactly what to do for every recipe and they know how to anticipate a chef's needs. Most of the time this person will be a first-generation immigrant who found steady, respectable work and stuck to it. It's the type of loyalty you don't come across easily nowadays. They are always to be treated with respect and love because without their ability to complete 8 tasks in the time it takes another person to do 3, the restaurant would either have to shut down or lose money paying extra staff to pick up the slack. For Rene Redzepi (one of the best chefs in the world) this was his dishwasher Ali, who he made a co-owner of his Michelin starred restaurant after 14 years of dedicated service.
3. The Wanna-Be Rockstar
This cook is as sketchy as they come. They probably picked up a copy of Anthony Bourdain's (RIP) Kitchen Confidential and connected more with the drug and party aspects than they did with the food, creativity, and passion aspects. They have probably been to jail and show up to work drunk, stoned, or both. Their resume (if they didn't fake it) would have multiple restaurants listed but each place would be listed with less than three months of employment. They jump around from restaurant to restaurant in search of a paycheque and want to get wasted after every shift.
4. Thinks They're Better Than They Really Are
Every chef knows this cook because they walk around with a false sense of godliness. They usually have years of experience in albeit good restaurants but have never actually made their own name for themselves. They will spit out names of restaurants they worked at and chefs they've worked under but fail to mention the fact that they only worked on the salad station and it was only for six months. When they finally talk their way into getting a chance, most of them will crack under the pressure.
5. The Mercenary
This is the kind of cook that is and always will be valuable. You could drop them into any restaurant on any station and after showing them each dish once they could execute an entire dinner service from the memory of that first dish. They will always show up on time, ready to rock, no matter what. The most reliable cook in any kitchen, but you better pay them well because mercenaries are in high demand and will follow the paycheque more than they will be loyal to your kitchen.