Never trust a skinny cook…, but honestly, why? Have you ever considered why there is such a saying and how much truth lies in there? Does a cook have to be fat to prove that he is a good cook? Really? Let me bust this myth and tell you the truth, once and for good.
Most of us watch television, occasionally or on purpose you switch to culinary programs. If so, I’m guessing you concluded that working in a professional kitchen is closer to hell than a fairy-tell. It’s a constant slog under huge time press. At the same time, it’s required all meals served are of high quality. What goes with it? Stress. Permanent stress!
A Usual Day
If you haven’t worked in a professional kitchen a single day, then…, imagine that you come to work with an action plan, but on the way there, you find out that one or maybe even two cooks called out. One got sick. The other one decided that he or she prefers to walk the dog, enjoy the weather or do whatever else but work. Of course, you call everyone you can and try hard to find coverage, but on most occasions, it’s not possible. What do you do then? You sweat your guts out and work for three. Tables are booked, customers awaiting so the work must be done. You are like a superhero behind the scenes. And superheroes are usually well built. On the top of it all, the restaurant has just employed a new waiter, and you constantly need to answer his questions. He mixes up orders and asks many questions giving you extra work. But for god’s sake, he needs to learn what’s on the plate, so between “stirring in a pot and flipping a steak” you do all your best to help out. When it’s deadly busy, and you need to deal with that too, you have only two options. You may either run out of time or work even harder to get the dishes ready on time. So, what do you do? Come on; you are a chef so the plate must leave the kitchen on time!
Now, imagine that seconds later the waiter confused orders and you were supposed to serve duck, instead of chicken. Now you need to hurry and get the duck ready while other plates for the same table are still hot. It wouldn’t be chef’s life if you didn’t have to deal suppliers and a constant struggle with accurate and on-time delivery. After all, you want to get products of appropriate quality, don’t you? If so, you need to find the time and order the stuff you need. Of course, you need to contact your suppliers well in advance to assure your order is delivered and stored on-time. Did I say ahead of time? Really? When is that? Anyhow, you need to figure out how to get your suppliers to deliver your goods on-time. If the delivery is late, you won’t be able to serve your customers. There is no time for waiting here.
Don’t forget that every day you also need to control the cost of each meal along with wastes. Your restaurant will go down the drain, otherwise. If you don’t want it to go bankrupt, you must also care for health and safety at work. There is no quiet time to do this, and you always need to keep your eyes open. And yes, you need to move fast to see everything everywhere. It’s also important to pay attention to anything your customers ask about. Asking will point you in the right direction with current trends and people needs. Don’t forget to start planning a menu for the upcoming season. The best thing is to prepare a menu satisfactory for all, which brings the highest profit. However, every third person has some allergy, intolerance or just doesn’t eat certain foods because it’s not in fashion. So don’t forget about them if you want them in your restaurant. On an everyday basis, you also need to pay attention to the allergens and ingredients used. Plus, you must prevent situations when an unwanted component finds its way to where it should not be.
Tell me now, could a fatty cook move shrewdly and nimbly around the kitchen where a thousand things happen at the very same time? Could he work for two, or three persons? Could he resist the temptation to graze? Could he find time for that? In this profession, there is usually no time to take a short break and suck up any calories. A real cook is like an interval runner. If you ever see a fat cook, and you still think to trust him, think harder. Do you really think a cook who only likes to eat his produce is a true chef or just a lazy gourmand?
Anytime I see a fatty cook; I personally and honestly wonder what is coming out of the kitchen and what quality of food I am going to be served. Would you think you always get fresh food? Many times, lazy, fatty cooks are taking the shortcuts. Most of the ingredients, semi-products or even products are delivered ready-made. Thanks to this, our chubby colleague, who happened to called himself a chef, will not have to sweat and worry too much. The only thing he should worry about is how to open a container. This way he may gain more time for himself, for breaks, sneaks and caring for his noble butt. Now he can scratch it anytime with a free hand.
Is this really what you expect from a restaurant?
In my opinion, we are not going to restaurants to pay for something we can cook ourselves without the need to graduate from a culinary school. And most certainly, we are not going to restaurants and pay for something that we can simply buy in a supermarket and microwave at home. To restaurants like that, I say NO, thank you.
As you have probably guessed, our hero-chef doesn’t necessarily have to work hard and run around the kitchen to make everything ready on time. In fact, the hero-chef has no worries at all. All he needs to do is to warm up what he ordered and stored. Maybe spice it up a little, so the dish gets an original flavour. In the free time, he can take a cigarette break, preferably accompanied by his fellow. That duo may feel really offended when they must do anything for the customer who, quite frankly is paying their remuneration. You may call it a dream job, but the quality of food served is really “adequate”, and I assure you, this is not what you want to pay for.
From the restaurant’s point of view, it is usually easier and cheaper to employ someone like the chubby chef. I tell you why. The owner is only paying for someone who gets the food out from the kitchen. No expertise. No passion. Certainly, not a chef who knows his worth. These things come with an extra cost. Logically, if our hero had at least best intentions, culinary and dietary knowledge, he most certainly wouldn’t be looking that. He would pay more attention to what he’s eating, and more consciously selects products for his dishes.
A real chef
What features should a real chef demonstrate to survive in such a brutal world as a professional kitchen? Of course, it’s the culinary knowledge combined with passion, and creativity which allow following new trends and the most important dietary novelties. Moreover, a cook must have unexploited energy, resistance to stress, and be able to move around the kitchen quickly and nimbly, solving many obstacles underway. Oh, wait.. he actually should prevent the majority of problems before they appear. If we had more cooks like that, three out of four restaurants would have got a different menu. You would be positively surprised. As for now, in most places, you get overcooked steak which is called raw, and fries you can get in every market, which the chef dare to call home-cut. Luckily, our culinary world is taking steadily bigger steps towards natural cooking and avoiding semi-products. Thank God! Unfortunately, semi-products or ready-made products are used way too often. All for one’s comfort and to cut costs. And it seems it’s also one of the reasons why some cooks tend to be called chefs, even though they have no idea about real cooking. That’s why they can’t stay in good shape.
Certainly, there are situations when the corpulence of a cook isn’t a result of gluttony or laziness. I hope, I have not offended anyone in any way. If on the other hand, if you are a healthy bloke, perhaps you should stop and think. What does your life and work in the kitchen look like? Are you sure you aware of your culinary decisions? What are your nutritional habits? Are you aware that your habits influence your menu and your work? Think about it before you call yourself a real chef.