Did they tell you?
When you sat down with admissions for culinary school did they promise you the stars and moon, truffles, foie and caviar?
Did they promise you a sous chef position after 2 years, making making a living wage and running a brigade?
Did you sign your name without hesitation, knowing that if you follow your passion all could be yours?
When you sat down for your first interview, did they thoroughly explain the benefit package?
Did they mention the dental plan? It’s called the paring knife oral exam, you will become an expert at it.
Did they mention sick time? It’s called the don’t get sick plan, unless you’re going to vomit during service.
Did they mention the free meals? It’s called “staff chow” and involves standing over a garbage can eating a piece of half rotten chicken as fast as possible.
Did they tell you that your starting wage will be hardly enough to pay your student loans, and work an internship at the same time?
Did they mention that after working with wonderful food all day, you may go home and feel the pangs of hunger, since you have no food in your own pantry and could never afford to eat the things you make every day?
Did they tell you about the intensity? The heat, the masculinity and alpha male qualities that pervade the line?
Did they tell you that many people don’t even consider your profession a “job” and that for centuries it has been home to the dregs of society?
Did they tell you the culinary industry is still a place for some of those lost individuals: convicts, addicts, the renegades.
Did they tell you of the stench of burnt glass and char on the breath of your sous chef? When he steals your crème brulee torch to smoke methamphetamine from a light bulb in the basement during service?
Did they tell you that when your 18, you would help smuggle bread and cheese out of a restaurant because one of your fellow cooks is 50+ and sleeps in an abandoned building down the street?
Did they tell you some of the most talented people you could meet could also have the most demons? That on your first day at a new job you would witness a handful of your coworkers shoot poison in their veins?
Did they tell you about the physical labor? The cuts, burns, and repetitive motion that, when your twenty five, will make you start thinking about knee replacement, since the pain gets so bad on busy nights?
Did they tell you the looks strangers will give you when they see your arms, and about the burns, cuts and scars from a hard day’s work?
Did they tell you about the good parts?
That when you hold the first spring pea after cooking through an arctic winter, that it would make your heart soar?
Then when you combine that pea with something to make a simple dish, it would be like giving a piece of your soul to those that eat it?
Did they tell you the anticipation of watching servers take that pea to customers while you watch with anticipation; scanning body motions, anxiously gauging their reactions.
Did they tell you it will feel like life is complete when you see the smiles and joy you helped to give?
Did they tell you about the connection to nature you will see? That things grow and die, live and breathe, and that it’s your job to celebrate their life?
Did they tell you your talent is a gift to ease hearts and minds, bring people together, touch the earth, and express yourself?
And that when you give this gift passionately, you may receive yourself the greatest gift of all: Someone thanking you, with their eyes sparkling, trying fruitlessly to contain their emotion.
Did they tell you?
Did they tell you that you would love it?