A good, hot kitchen

Maybe I can only say this because there is no restaurant at the very top of my resume anymore; I miss working in a kitchen. Not my kitchen at home, not my training area at work but a real, fire breathing, cook like you have a match in your pants kitchen. It has been a really long time and I think I have gotten soft. Too used to the beige cube and my extra large computer screen, recycled air and a perpetual “white noise” buzz. No fryers, no dragon size BTUs, no degreaser, no stinky, kitchen-only work shoes, or masses of oil, rice, dough or hamburger. And now I am totally surrounded by homogeneity and even though it isn’t like my office mates don’t have hutzpah or that we don’t have fun or that they aren’t super smart, it is just different in a kitchen.

I have done hard time and I swear I will make my kids do hard time too. Everyone should have to work in a kitchen sometime in their life. And for me it isn’t all about the action and adrenaline, it’s about the team and the “you can’t sink us” attitude that comes at the beginning of a Friday night dinner rush. For me is about working with people totally unlike me. Learning about them because you can’t, not learn about someone you are sweating like a beast next to for hours. Learning about raising kids and paying a mortgage in a country you weren’t born in and that accepts you only to a point. Learning about coming from nothing, and sometimes worse than nothing and making something and learning about hope that your life is going to be great, and learning that you never give up on that hope. Learning how to make “real” cerviche and about how the hottest hot sauce makes a potato chip divine and how words cannot explain what a freezing cold beer tastes like at the end of a shift. And once you are in the pits of a restaurant with these people, you are mostly family for life, and really, they are no different from you.

There is a commoning factor that comes with the heat and the space and the work that levels everyone out. And when the pressure pounds hard, that levelness creates synchronicity that makes a kitchen magic. Different people become one and not for some massively important mission, just simply to get food in mouths and to collect a paycheck. Finding that kind of oneness makes me miss a good, hot kitchen.



Author: Eileen O'Toole

A quick service restaurant vet who loves food, teaching, learning and being a single Mom. Believes that waking up each day with a positive attitude and a smile on your face can change the world.

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