Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.
What do would my kitchen cohorts want to read about? What would catch my colleagues minute attention span? What's the buzz on the line? I'm daunted by these questions every time I step up to my laptop attempting to arouse clicks and solicit comments. It wasn't until after engaging in some unusual drunken high jinks I came to a realization about the mental state of a Chef.
Your average boozer may wake up to find they've billigerently dialed/texted/posted, gained or lost intimate items of clothing, or a random followed them home. The stale flavored repercussions of last night were on the precipice of sending my day into a downward spiral. But alas, I was salvaged from my grim porcelain fate by a warm, buttery and (may I say) fabulous aroma coming from my kitchen. In my stooper, I had quartered and roasted a whole chicken.
With all ten digits intact and accounted for, I enjoyed a tasty breakfast of scrambled eggs and lemon, rosemary delight. Enjoying (and still laughing at) my drunken cooking the obviousness of this life occurred too me. There's no rhythm or reason to it! We are an absurd, unusual, mischievous group of individuals brought together by a wavering line of passion and insanity. With my idols, mentors and, especially, friends in mind here's a look into the psyche of a Chef.
The Rush--the busiest hours of service but also the fuel that stokes our fires. Chef refers to it as a switch that flips on the moment things are about to hit the fan. When the pressure is really intense chefs rise (out of a coma if need be), we rally and we prevail one way or another. It's part of who we are. We thrive on it. We live for it.
Broke? About to be kicked out? Car brokedown? Nasty break up? It's ironic how often the kitchen is the source of but also the salvation from our problems. Faced with the hardness and frustrations of life, there's a sense of comfort on the line. At the very least, the workload will take your mind off your problems. As Chef says, "this is your space, your place from the world. Nothing out there can get you behind the line."
This is a chef's most revealing trait. What's on your plate shows everything to experience and skill to background and mood. That's right, you can taste when someone in the kitchen is having a bad day.
Much like a knife or a saute pan, you can't be a chef without one. If a chef doesn't have confidence in himself in the kitchen, no one else will. On the other hand, left unchecked and running rampid the insipid chef ego is intolerable. It begins to alienate (and piss off) everyone around it with it's merciless and brutal presence. The only resolutions to this matter; public berating by superior, critic and/or guest, demotion/firing, or being locked in the freezer.
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Your average sensual pleasures may register but few people get the true inner workings of our hot line. Who else finds the smell of onions, garlic and fish so alluring? The colors and freshness in the seasons' flavors cultivated at their peak is pure bliss. Place a raw piece in need of fabricating on a cutting board next to a knife with a sharp edge is an aphrodisiac. A night of feeding the masses with a smooth running line putting out sexy plates is our hot spot. But ectasy is someone who not only gets but appreciates all those things.