Cook. Mop Floor. Repeat.

I never want to put myself in a place where I romanticize the work that I do.

But that’s not really what I want to write about. I’ve been scratching my head all morning knowing that I needed to write something. Sometimes it feels like getting out a well deserved scream at nothing in particular. While I don’t want to seem dramatic, it feels that way sometimes. I think you get that. Plus, writing always feels a little dramatic to me. Generally after I publish something online, I ask myself, “Well dang dude, that seems a bit overdone.”

Oh well. It is what it is.

As we all do from time to time, I find myself gathering bits of wisdom here and there from things I see and hear.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is taking ownership of the work that you do.

I was listening to Thomas Keller talk about taking ownership in the kitchen. This was referring to an interviewer asking him why he still mopped the floors of his kitchens and he responded, “It feels good. It feels good to end a day and take ownership of what you did.” TK doesn’t need to mop floors. Most likely, he doesn’t do it much at all these days. But sometimes, he does. And honestly, it’s one of the more peaceful parts of the job. Same with dishes. You really don’t have to think about it.

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The words “finish strong” echo in my head because all of my chefs have said it and pass it on.

When you cook for a living, you get it all. The prep. The cooking as orders shoot out of the machine. The cleaning. The mopping. The ordering.

And then, you do it all over again.

But it’s work, ya know? It’s just what the job entails.

Keep this in mind when someone tells you to open a restaurant because you make decent cupcakes. I’ve talked to many people who do culinary school, and realize after working in a restaurant setting, it’s not what they want to do. Welp, there goes a 150,000 dollar cooking education.

I bring it back around to the part where I tend to romanticize the stuff so it makes sense in my head.

But I don’t really need to. I like what I do. It helps me stay connected to people. I have this strange liking to the feeling of being worked. Even in proper shoes, your feet will be tired. And at the end of the day, I guess I’m okay with that.

That’s the business of feeding people.

If you want to do it, you best learn how to mop.

Because in my head,
cooking is the easy part.

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6 responses

  1. I think this is exactly what I needed today.
    Being one of those culinary students, currently, I’m an adult intending to change careers. Not for glamour or fame. Not to fulfill ideals of grandiosity. Just for the love of food and feeding people, working my ass off, on my feet 10 hours, cleaning fryers and floors, dish pit hands and all.

  2. That reminds me of the advice I gave my son – which came from my mother – and I am still learning today. There are three parts to every job – preparation, doing the job, cleaning up. Every part is important.

  3. Your posts make me want to open a restaurant and NEVER open a restaurant all at the same time! lol But don’t worry, not happening. I love what I do, too, and it’s not cooking. Cooking is my hobby, and the iffi-ness of my success is a testament to what underdeveloped hobbies taste like. 😉

    But your advice to finish strong … well, that should be applied to anything we put our hands out to do. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. My husband has wanted to open a restaurant for years… I have told him no no no… He does cook about 100lbs of St. Louis ribs a week for a local BBQ restaurant that sells them on the weekend.

  5. My boss at a drive thru coffee shop once told me, “Never make a living out of doing what you love. You’ll hate it.” I’m not sure if he’s right about that, but I am pretty sure I don’t want to make cooking (something I love) a profession. I’ve tried a little and it did kind of take the fun out of it for me.
    Interesting post. Thanks!

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